You can read part 1 here.
Growing up, I sat through lessons about how my body was inherently evil, that my thoughts and attractions were sinful and unhealthy. I grew up in the age of the Purity Culture Movement, the height of purity culture dated between the 1990s and early 2000s, amid the flush of “modest is hottest” theologies. I grew up surrounded by language codified around victim-blaming, slut-shaming and heteronormativity. I had attended retreats where we were told to pray for our future husbands, where we placed white roses on the altar as an homage to our purity in veneration of the Virgin Mary. I did not wear a purity ring or sign a purity pledge, but the expectations placed on me reinforced the ideas embedded in these objects none the less. I learned over and over to keep my candle unlit until marriage.
I had repressed my sexuality so far that it felt non-existent. I had shamed and punished myself for years whenever I felt any sexual attraction. If I felt ashamed of my attraction to men, my response to my feelings towards women was far worse, avoiding the eyeline of Victoria Secret models and magazine covers. I didn’t know who to talk to about these feelings—I was conditioned that my thoughts about men were sinful but forgivable. Everyone struggles with attraction prior to marriage. But who could I ask or talk to about my attraction to women? I was worried that what I told a priest in confession would somehow make its way back to my parents or friends. Despite their unconditional love, I worried that this would be the line in the sand, a sin so ugly and unnatural that I wouldn’t be welcome back in our Church.Continue reading ““For I know the plans I have for you:” The coming out story of a queer Catholic raised in the Purity Culture Movement part 2 by Emma Cieslik”