Like most people who learn the truth about me, words of praise quickly turn to uncomfortable silence. Suddenly, an invisible wall of disapproval separates us. I no longer belong. Who I am and how I am received leaves me feeling unwanted and rejected. I am today’s Samaritan woman (John 4:4-26), leper (Luke 5:12-14), tax collector (Luke 19:1-10), eunuch (Acts 8:26-40), and the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Yet, as the Gospels remind us, God calls everyone to His table. He certainly called me. I will never forget the day I personally met Jesus. It was my first year of university. After being around Christianity and rejection my whole life, I decided to separate myself from the Church. But God had other plans for me. At the Campus Student Club Fair, I was convinced to join the Ryerson Catholic Chaplaincy, which I later regretted. After a couple of weeks of attending different events and meeting all these amazing people, the Lord asked me a question: “Will you follow me?” It was September 29, 2013, the feast day of St. Michael. After hearing the story of how he defended heaven, I thought to myself, if he could do all that, then why can’t I fight my insecurities with the Lord? His love pierced my mind and heart. At that moment, in the mess of my life, I knew He loved me. He died for me. He wanted me – all of me. Everything changed that day. So the question became this: if God wants me, why does His Church struggle to include me? While the Church does not consider my homosexuality a sin and teaches respect, compassion, and sensitivity towards my orientation, the view that my same-sex attraction is disordered and that any sexual intimacy is contrary to natural law because it is closed to the gift of life and can therefore “under no circumstances ... be approved” (CCC, 2357), is heart wrenching – I am unacceptable. I am a scandal: a wayward Catholic, like the divorced, the single mom or dad, or unmarried couples living together. But here is the paradox: I am at the table. So what to do? If the Catholic Church is to be an authentic and prophetic voice in today’s culture, she must make it safe for faithful LGBT Catholics to have theirs, and to receive that voice as the Father, who is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4-5), receives all His children. The LGBT community can no longer be treated as if we don’t exist. As Fr. James Martin, S.J., author of Building a Bridge, so eloquently put it, “the Church sees the LGBT community as a problem, not a people.” Our community is denied Catholic burials, hospital chaplains refuse to anoint those dying, and LGBT Catholic support communities are animated by heterosexual men. I love my Lord, and I love His Church with all my heart. I long to be received by her, and so I faithfully wait on God who promises that “no testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing, He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). I place all my struggles in this promise. I struggle with the idea that for me, being a faithful Catholic means marriage is off the table. I struggle with a Church that sees me and calls me disordered, and I long for a community that listens and hears me and walks with me in my struggles. And so I took a risk. I wrote this article because I have a dream that one day, my beautiful Church will be more open, and inclusive of the LGBT community, and have a place for all those on the periphery. I’d like to thank groups like Courage and AIM (that work with LGBT Catholics) for giving me and all the others who feel forgotten a place to have fellowship. The support they give is immeasurable! This article was originally published in our 2017 Salt+Light Magazine: Youth Edition. To view the full magazine, visit our website www.saltandlighttv.org or click HERE. Chelsea Santiago is a Performance Production Student at Ryerson University, a member of the Ryerson Catholic Student Association, and a Youth Leader at Nativity of Our Lord Parish.I’D LIKE TO INVITE YOU INTO A WORD ASSOCIATION GAME! AS YOU READ THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS, PLEASE SAY THE FIRST WORD THAT COMES INTO YOUR MIND. HERE WE GO. “AT 21, I AM A DEVOUT CATHOLIC WOMAN.” WHAT WORD COMES TO MIND…? OK, NEXT. “I AM A YOUTH LEADER AT MY PARISH AND A STUDENT EXECUTIVE AT THE CATHOLIC CHAPLAINCY WHERE I ATTEND UNIVERSITY.” WHAT WORD COMES TO MIND…? HOW ABOUT, “I HAVE SEVERAL TATTOOS AND BODY PIERCINGS.” WHAT WORD COMES TO MIND…? OK, LAST ONE. “I AM A LESBIAN.” WHAT WORD COMES TO MIND NOW…?