Petra comes out of the closet

When I turned 18, my parents urged me to register to vote so I could help defeat a school levy that would increase their property taxes. But at school, I realized that voting against the levy would deprive staff members and fellow students of services and equipment they needed. And though I would soon graduate, my brother was a year–and my sister was three years–behind me.

So I voted FOR the levy.

We went through some hard times as a family. We relied on food stamps and commodities, got free lunches at school, and my brother, sister, and I were able to go to college thanks to federal grants.

So now, when I vote, I make sure others have access to the social programs that enabled me to achieve what I have in life.

I grew up a fundamentalist Christian. I didn’t know much about politics, but it seemed pretty clear to me that, had Jesus been alive, he would’ve been a democrat. He fed the poor, healed the sick, forgave people, and encouraged us not to judge one another. He also considered wealth to be more of a liability than an asset.

When friends came out of the closet, I knew Jesus would’ve gathered them in a warm embrace, so I did, too. And when I learned about the failed birth control and post-partum PTSD that led to friends’ abortions, I just opened my heart wider and loved them more.

I don’t know when Christianity and republicanism became conflated, but it forced me to make a choice. To stay in integrity, I had to let go of something. I chose to let go of my religion but continued to model my own life after the life of Jesus.

I’ve kept quiet about this. I haven’t wanted to upset people I care about or lose their love. But my silence isn’t serving me. I can’t take care of people by withholding who I am from them anymore. I need to follow the example of my gay friends and muster the courage to come out of the closet:

I am a democrat to the marrow of my bones.

And I am no longer a Christian.

There is a cost to coming out. My own mother is 100 percent sure I’m going to hell, which makes serving as her caregiver painful for both of us. But I cannot change who I am to put her mind at ease. I cannot, as is the case in the Grimm Brothers’ version of Cinderella, cut off parts of myself to fit into the glass slipper of fundamentalist Christianity.

So, there you have it. In our current political climate, I understand if you feel the need to cut ties with me as a result of this revelation. If so, know that I appreciate the role you’ve played in my life. I release you in love.

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