IHOP was where my Christianity died. It’s also where my identity as a queer person was fully recognized. Is it god or is it just a middle aged white women in a trailer park next to an abounded theme park? It sure wasn’t god. It wasn’t god that told me I couldn’t have a seat at the table because my gender was too big to fit. Was it god? Or a middle aged white man who could motivate traumatized young people with promises of importance in the kingdom? Something none of us had ever felt. It wasn’t god. God didn’t that have us fast for 40 days. He didn’t ask us to fill his army. It was never god’s to fill. It also wasn’t god that I started telling me to jump off the bridge every time I road my bike over the highway overpass to get home. The last time I had an anxiety attack was a week before I came out, which was a few years after I left Kansas City. I moved to IHOP with some STUFF I needed to work through. I left hearing voices, recovering from a car running me over, mostly unhoused and very very gay. Sometimes I wonder what my life would look like if I hadn’t decided to go through living waters. Or to IHOP at all. I can say that it altered my life unlike any other year I’ve lived. Some very good things came in the form of relationships I have cherished since. But mostly it just added to the pile of questions every new therapist I have asks. I showed up to pray the gay away. I wrote that in my application to IHOPU. My gender and sexuality felt impossible to reconcile inside the church, because, they are. But many of my friends were involved in IHOP, most of them were also gay. They seemed like they were doing so well and I was struggling in a city I didn’t know. So I decided to go and try. I told myself I would give it 110%. I would be above reproach. Because - if I couldn’t get straight here. I wouldn’t anywhere. And - I did not get straight. Nor did anyone I know who went through the program. I haven’t really forgiven myself for joining. And I may not anytime soon. But I’m grateful that someone spoke up. I’m grateful for the lives we’ve made for ourselves after and I’m grateful that other young people may not be pulled into it. I know this story isn’t very linear, but neither is trauma.

- Full-Time Staff Bookstore~2010-2012