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October 2017
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Lesbian life in the Bible Belt is hell


Betty in a conversation with the interviewer

“A profile of a lesbian girl living in the Bible Belt”

Betty had her coming out one and a half year ago. She had one more month to go on her high school and decided to come out in front of the whole school, during the annual Eastern celebration in the auditorium. Although lots of people were overwhelmed by this all of a sudden coming out, she received a standing ovation. Everyone was proud of Betty and they praised her for her courage to come out for everyone. She only got positive reactions and this made her feel very happy. Being a lesbian was of no problem for Betty and her whole neighborhood accepted it immediately. Betty had heard of people who had a worse experience by coming out, but she couldn’t imagine this. Until she moved to the Bible Belt.

The Bible Belt is the name given to a strip of land in the Netherlands, which is inhabited by a large number of conservative protestants. Lots of people who live there are against homosexuality and use the Bible as a source of reference. These people interpret different pieces of text in their own way and say that the Bible forbids homosexuality. An example of such a piece of text is 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 which articulates: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor reviles, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God”. For conservatives in the Bible Belt, such pieces of text are confirming their ideas of homosexuality. There are two ways for them to see homosexuality. Some people see it as an illness of which people can be cured. It is then seen as a certain phase which will go over by praying, reading the Bible and going to the church. Other people in the Bible Belt see homosexuality as something that you can have in you. They argue that you can be a homosexual, but can’t practice it. This means that you can’t have a relationship with someone from your own sex, that you need to hide your homosexuality for the outside world and that you have to try to have an (in their eye) “normal” relationship with someone from the other sex.

Betty knew about these certain thoughts people living in the Bible Belt could have. Nevertheless, she decided to start living there, because she wanted to study at a Christian university in the Bible Belt.

Her journey began in August. She had found a house through a website and moved in a week before she started her first semester. Betty didn’t immediately feel comfortable around her new housemates and classmates, so she decided to postpone the fact that she was a lesbian. “I first wanted to know people well before coming out. Besides, I didn’t want to get all the attention on me immediately and I didn’t want to have a stamp on me”. She felt it was more important to show other parts of who she was. Furthermore, no one asked her about her sexual orientation, so she didn’t feel the urge to talk about it.

A month later, Betty still hadn’t told anyone in her new neighborhood about her sexual orientation. On one night she and her roommates were talking about relationships and suddenly the topic of homosexuality came up. “My roommates had a heated discussion about it and all of them agreed that homosexuality was a sin”. Meanwhile, Betty remained silent. When her roommates asked for her opinion, she decided to be honest and told her roommates about her secret. Her roommates reacted surprised and didn’t know what to say. Instead, they just left the table and let Betty sitting alone at the table. “I felt embarrassed and rejected and started to cry. A few roommates came back to me and said that they wanted to help me to cure my illness”. These words did make feel Betty even more rejected.

Life went on and Betty felt that there was a distance created between her and her roommates. Nevertheless, she felt that the time had come to reveal her inner self to her classmates, as well as to the friends she had made at university. Since Betty had made lots of good friends there, Betty expected them to react more positive, but the opposite happened. Some of the friends that she regarded as good friends kicked her out of the group and some even spit on her as a reaction. Betty felt even worse than before, but as there were still a few friends who accepted her, she now at least knew who her real friends were.

A few days later, while Betty was walking to the supermarket, a few strangers came upon her. They screamed: “You ugly monster. We will beat all your sins out of you, so you will never think of a girl again”. In the end, beating her up is what they did. Betty felt horrible and discovered that the guys were from her church. At that moment, she felt like she was living in hell, regarding all the bad things that happened to her and because this new society had acted so mean towards her and didn’t accept her.

Betty decided to move back to the nice and safe place she used to live in when she was younger. “Despite everything, I don’t feel any hate towards the people in the Bible Belt, as I believe that the vast majority of the conservative Christians aren’t hateful bigots at all”. She is convinced that only a vocal minority of them are aggressive towards homosexuals. Nevertheless, this minority still made it too hard for her to live there. Betty still believes in God and found a new Christian community that totally accepts her for who she is. She is still convinced that homosexuality and religion can go together, but she never wants to live in the Bible Belt again.

Written by Anne Kik

Note: Another name was used in order for Betty to stay anonymous.




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