Is it possible for a gay person to be fully self-actualized while ascribing to the Christian faith? Is the phrase “gay Christians” inherently oxymoronic?
The Faith Diaries, a web series spin off of Lifetime’s “UnREAL” expertly challenges this dichotomy between Christianity and homosexuality. The series begins when Faith, a deeply religious woman, moves to West Hollywood with her more than best friend, Amy. These two women were raised in “God’s country” and lacked exposure to anything other than traditional, heteronormative relationships.
This type of “God fearing” upbringing is common in the United States and up to 85% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people report being raised in a religion that is “homonegative.” The natural solution for many LGBT individuals is to either abandon their faith or to suppress their sexual orientation. The Faith Diaries refuses to accept that Christianity and homosexuality are mutually exclusive.
Breeda Wool, who plays Faith, describes the series to Out Magazine as “a story about one person’s relationship to God and their relationship to love and discovering that those two things are not at odds.” This series is unique because neither Christianity nor homosexuality is portrayed negatively. Far too often, mainstream media treats “religion as a problem, and only as a problem” while most Christian programming refuses to show homosexuality as natural. However, The Faith Diaries manages to explore Christian themes, such as forgiveness and love, without negating the importance of accepting your true self.
When Faith and Amy first arrive in Hollywood they are two reserved “simple country girls” struggling with internalized homophobia. Neither woman can even utter the term “gay” let alone refer to the other as “girlfriend.” They were conditioned to view homosexuality as sinful and any expression of same-sex love makes them deeply uncomfortable.
As the couple spends more time in Hollywood, they become infatuated with the freedom and vibrancy of the culture. “It’s like I’ve been living in this black and white world,” says Amy. “Now we’re out here and everything is in color.” Unfortunately, Amy experiences a kind of sensory overload that causes her to lose sight of her strict morality. She falls prey to the temptations of the big city and begins a relationship with another woman behind Faith’s back.
Some might claim that Amy’s infidelity is caused by an innate depravity of spirit. Many gay people are familiar with the age-old “abomination argument” about homosexuality found in Leviticus 18:22. “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination.” Amy’s error in judgment could easily be used to condemn gay people as a whole. However, The Faith Diaries takes great care in emphasizing that Amy’s iniquity has nothing to do with her sexuality. It is entirely about being unfaithful to Faith.
Within a Christian framework, sex can be viewed as sacred, beautiful and powerful. This reverence for sex as a holy experience is rarely, if ever, applied to homosexual or queer people. Gay intimacy is typically viewed as scandalous and innately less spiritual than straight sex. Working to subvert this norm, The Faith Diaries boldly states “making love to a woman you adore is a beautiful thing, it’s a religious thing and…it’s a God thing.” Speaking about homosexual intercourse in a positive, Christ centered manner is essentially unheard of in modern media.
The Faith Diaries is so intriguing because it promotes traditional Christian values like forgiveness and love without condemning homosexuality. This series contests the idea that gay people are either sinners, for acting on their God given orientations, or saved, by denying them. In a society where fundamentalist pastors call for the death of gays, depicting two lesbians as strong pillars of Christian morality is groundbreaking.
Weeks after confessing to cheating, Amy returns to Faith and asks for forgiveness. Faith, realizing that her own inability to embrace her true identity is what drove Amy away, instantly welcomes her back into her arms. As they lay snuggling in bed together, Faith and Amy plan to attend church the following morning, which, they shamefully admit, neither has done since moving to Hollywood.
Following the service, Faith is overcome by God’s love and claims she felt her “whole body melt” as she listened to the sermon with her girlfriend, Amy. In the final moments of the series, Faith is presented with the opportunity to publically acknowledge her relationship when a cashier asks if Amy and Faith are paying together or separately.
Prior to answering, Faith turns to the camera and says, “I realized this is my test, this is my true test from [God]. Not to pray away the gay but to tell the truth about my love for Amy and to tell the truth about my love for myself.” She confidently responds “together” and kisses Amy as the line “I was blind but now I see” from Amazing Grace overwhelms the scene.
Faith and Amy’s love story proves that two women can have an intimate lesbian relationship without compromising their religious beliefs. Altering, lessening or completely abandoning a belief in God is not required to embrace your sexuality. In fact, Faith’s acceptance of her lesbianism actually brought her closer to Christ. A woman can love Jesus and pray with the same amount of ferocity regardless of whether a man or a woman is holding her hand.
Accepting yourself and being able to live authentically is a “form of self-actualization [that] is powerful and wonderful.”. It is finally being able to see that the whole world is indeed, in color.