So, because it's raining and all I've been listening to is Emilie Autumn, here it is: the kids aren't alright. They're not even close to alright. And some of them aren't even breathing anymore.
And here's the funny part, the thing that makes me laugh until I cry, because this, my friends, is honest to God fucking hilarious--the kids came from perfect families. I'm talking about myself, and the kids I grew up with. We were the lights on the hill, the salt of the earth. We were the ones from two parent families, that went to church every Sunday, that courted, that never looked at a lady's bosom if we were male, and never wore anything that could cause a brother to stumble if we were female. We were the homeschooled, the conservatives, those above and outside the influence of this filthy world, and we knew it. We knew we were the best of the best, the marines in the Lord's army, wrapped in the armor of God, illuminated by the light of our celibacy, in all ways perfect, beautiful, joyful and above all, righteous.
And we weren't close to alright.
Last November I lay on my back on the top bunk of a dorm room bed, reading Terry Prachett to keep myself out of my own head. I was a twenty-one year old closeted lesbian, two months into her first semester at a conservative Baptist college. She had been to three schools in three years, descended into severe depression, recovered enough to attempt to finish her degree, fallen in love with her best friend and been loved in return. She had been put on her RA's watch list after admitting with no remorse "Sometimes I'm not sure what I think of God" and "the church wasn't there for me when I needed them".
The stage was set for something, a revolution? A realization? Fate? Whatever. I got a phone call from my mother. We chatted, I didn't mention that I had been too depressed to get out of bed and go to class several times in the last few weeks, and hadn't attended a chapel service since the beginning of the semester. I'm a perfect kid from a good family, remember?
Throughout the course of the conversation it was revealed that a young woman I had grown up with (we'd been friends on and off throughout the homeschool co-op days) had been cutting herself for a horrific six years. In silence. Completely alone, and too ashamed to ask for help. Salt and light. City on a hill.
That's what changed me. Not the fact that I like girls. Not the fact that the Christian counselor I went to (a grand total of once) told me my depression stemmed from an inadequate appreciation of God's grace and my worth as a redeemed sinner. Not the multiple admonishments of "you just need to pray more" and "try reading the Bible when you're down". Not the shaming, or the guiltmongering. It was the thought of that frightened little girl, bleeding alone.
These days I call myself (mostly in the privacy of my own head) a post-Christian. Yeah, I don't even know what that means most of the time. Mostly it means I don't really care about theology. I try to live like Jesus did--that is, to love with every fiber of my being. Sometimes I think that God is kind. Sometimes I think that God is a woman. Sometimes I think God is energy. Sometimes I think that God is petty and cruel and I understand why the devil did it. If that's not heresy, I don't know what is. But if it's the case, I'll tell Satan hi when I see him.
The strange thing is I'm happier and healthier than I've ever been. When my girlfriend left me, I made it through. When my parents judge me, I'm okay. When I see a homeless guy on the street, I stop and wave and say hello if I have the chance. I cry when I hear about gay kids committing suicide, I grin at snarky feminist comments, I get angry when bigoted conservatives act like compassion is weakness, and I love.
Maybe the kids are fucked not because secular culture is corrupting them, but because Christian culture is destroying them. After all, this bipolar sodomite came from a "perfect" two parent, conservative, homeschool family. She's not alright, but she's getting there, and she's still breathing.