How Buffy Saved My Life
When I was just coming out (to myself, if not to anyone else) my life felt hopeless. I was working in a church where I couldn’t be out, living with my mom, and feeling like my faith was fraying at the seams. I was lonely. I didn’t have any friends, not really.
I was exhausted from trying to figure out my faith. I felt like I needed to figure out all of the things right this second from what I believed about Jesus and the End Times and the Bible, to church and sex and…it was just too much.
And three small practices made a huge difference.
The first was, I started going to concerts alone. I didn’t have any friends to go with me, but I loved music and so every time a band came I bought a ticket and I went. I went to see Dar Williams and Indigo Girls, Tegan and Sara (where I got flirted with and someone slipped me their number for the first time) and Girlyman.
Each of these concerts was a glimpse of something. I saw out queer folks dancing and being affectionate with one another. I saw them joyful and public. I got a glimpse of a life. A community. A place where I could maybe, just maybe be out and proud and connected with others.
Next was Buffy The Vampire Slayer. (I know this has now become a problematic fave for a whole host of reasons, but back then it was a life saver.)
I first discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer when I found the first season on sale for $20 while on vacation. It was a show I wouldn’t have dreamed of watching when I was in high school. Vampires, magic, all of that stuff was evil! But I had heard good things about it and it was on sale! I put the disc into my laptop on the plane on the way home. I was nervous. The voices of my youth leaders were echoing in my head telling me that I was watching something “sinful” pressed play. I was almost immediately drawn into these characters and their lives.
Over the next couple of days I would watch the show in my apartment. I was ready to hit stop whenever I heard my mom making noise and thought she might interrupt me. I knew that she would be upset that I was watching such things. Often I would wait for her to go to bed and then I would watch an episode or two. When I finished season one I immediately went out and bought season two, and then season three. There was just something about the show.
I desperately wanted the friendship that the Scooby gang had. They had people they could call up, people they could rely on. I was feeling incredibly alone and lonely. I felt like I didn’t have anyone to turn to and so I lived vicariously through them.
I also appreciated the Willow coming out storyline; yet another aspect of my life being shown on the screen. I still didn’t really know any gay people, at least not very well. I had a couple of aquaintances but no one I could really talk to about things, no one I could hang out with. It sounds so silly, but that tv show got me through a lot of really hard times. I felt like I had companions (even if they were fictional ones) for my journey at a time when I desperately needed companions.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer gave me a window into a world where I could be myself. It gave me a dose of much needed courage and comfort. It made me feel seen in a way that the sermons I was hearing didn’t. It made me think that someday, just maybe, I would be surrounded by friends who wouldn’t think I was weird.
In a really dark time in my life, this show gave me something that nothing else did: Hope.
And finally I found Marcus Borg. A pastor who understood evangelicalism and who helped me to learn to read the Bible and understand my faith in new ways. His books “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time” and “Understanding Christianity For the First Time” helped me to see that there was a way to unpack the faith I had been taught and find new ways to understand.
These three things: concerts (especially by queer artists), Buffy, and Marcus Borg changed my life. I realized I didn’t have to figure it all out all at once. I didn’t have to come out fully to everyone if I wasn’t ready, but I needed one place I could be out. I didn’t have to have a ton of friends, but I needed to feel connected to community. I didn’t have to understand everything about my faith, but I needed to be putting in some work.
These small steps started to open me up. Within a couple of years of this I would be out to my family, I would leave my church where I couldn’t be myself, I would meet someone and start dating, I would find peace in my spirit.
It didn’t happen all at once, but it did happen. And it happened with small, repeatable steps as simple as watching a television show or going to an event or reading a book.
And it’s possible for you, too.
Flip Your Faith: Go from Fear to Freedom is an 8 week group program designed to get you unstuck and experiencing wholeness in both your sexuality/gender identity and your faith. Get all the details and register here.