by Ainsley Gaebler
“God knew He wouldn't get my attention in a church. Churches didn't care too well for people like me. Me, being a gay girl. A gay girl who knew better than to let my feet take me where I didn't feel welcomed."
Jackie Hill-Perry. She's a poet, a writer, a speaker, a hip-hop artist and an ex-lesbian who believes her identity is in God and not in whether she's gay or straight.
"Your identity is not how you feel," she says. "If that's the case then all of our temptations [the desire to do something wrong] will define us."
Jackie grew up in a house where she attended church and knew all about God. However, she was not particularly interested in pursuing a personal relationship with Him. "I had grown up in the traditional black church, where sermons were presented in a loud and heavy way," she explains.
Her childhood was rough and rocky. She grew up without a father, was sexually abused at the age of five and experienced bullying at school. From the age of six, Jackie knew that she was attracted to women and by the age of 17, she started to pursue female relationships.
"The sin I wore on my sleeve was that of a lesbian: a label I had the courage to give myself at age 17," she says. "This label described an affection I noticed before I knew how to spell my name. When it happened on the playground, I didn't know what it was. I didn't quite understand why girls made me feel different. I hadn't seen any Disney movies that gave me the idea to desire sameness nor had I been challenged by some outside source to see Beauty and the Beast and wonder why Belle couldn't have been with someone as beautiful and biologically similar as herself. Where it came from made no difference to me. I liked girls, and I knew it."
Jackie recounts: "I was never the 'cute chick' but when I became a stud [a woman who takes the masculine role in a lesbian relationship], it seemed like every girl wanted me. I would be in straight clubs and have girls throwing themselves at me. For a girl that's insecure and craves to feel loved, that was like a drug for me."
Jackie frequented gay clubs and gay pride parades. She did drugs and was addicted to pornography. "I'd heard more times than I cared to count that what seemed to me a natural enough expression of love was, in fact, unnatural and flat-out abominable," she says.
Then, one night in her bedroom, Jackie had a face-to-face encounter with the God of the universe.
"I was having a very 'unspiritual' kind of night," she reveals. "The TV was on. The morning was hours away. My thoughts were boring and typical until they turned on me. Suddenly and randomly, I had the unsettling thought that my sin would be the death of me."
God came to Jackie's house that night and told her to leave her girlfriend and her homosexuality behind and follow Him.
"'But I don't want to be straight,' I said to God, meaning every single word. In fact, having seen God's words for myself, I never once had felt the need to question whether what He said was true. So when my thoughts spoke of my sin, which I knew to be a prompting from God and not my subconscious behaving unnaturally, I wasn't offended by the idea of my identity being a product of sin. What offended me most was the idea that it was to be the death of me. Because if that were true, then surely I would be asked to lay it aside for the sake of life.
"By calling me to Himself, He was after my whole heart. That night, I knew that it wasn't just my lesbianism that had me at odds with God—it was my entire heart.
"I sat up in my bed and thought deeply about all that was happening in me. I'd known about God for so long, but now it seemed as if God was inviting me to know Him. To love Him. To walk with Him. To be in a relationship with Him.
"Without a sermon, an altar call, or any emotionally laden music gesturing me to 'come to Jesus'—just sitting in my bed, with the TV on and the sun not yet up—I saw Jesus. He was better than everything I'd ever known."
So, as difficult as it was for Jackie, she, in obedience to God, left her girlfriend and her lesbian lifestyle and became a Christian.
Today, Jackie is a totally new and different person. She is married to Preston and has two daughters, Eden and Autumn. She shares the Gospel [the good news of Jesus saving us from our sins] and her inspiring story through poetry, speaking, books and music.
"The word of God itself, apart from Jackie Hill, testifies that people can change. So if the word of God is the word of God, then we need to deal with that and believe that it's true. I think we've made God very little if we believe that He cannot change people. If He can make a moon, stars and a galaxy that we have yet to fully comprehend, how can He not simply change my desires?" she asks.
Jackie has a message for people who have their own struggles with identity. "In Jesus coming to earth, dying and resurrecting from the grave, God is creating a way for us to be restored, for us to heal from our brokenness, for us to find our true identity in Christ. When we come to Jesus, in Christ, we're able to look at our bodies, see how we're made and actually look at them, with faith, and say, 'This is actually good because God says it is.'"•
Jackie's book "Gay Girl, Good God" is available in paperback and ebook.