Episode #59: Lives Destroyed By Hillsong Church, Why A Church Is A Business & Why A Church Is Not A Home With Noemi Uribe, 2SLGBTQIA+ & Latinx Advocate

INTRODUCTION:

 

Noemi Uribe (she/they) is a queer Latinx advocate living in Boston, MA. Growing up in a Latinx Pentecostal church shaped the way they saw homosexuality and Christian theology. After leaving their families church and attending a Hillsong church in Boston, they thought they had found a safe space to finally question their sexuality and faith. But what she experienced was the complete opposite. After leaving and surviving religious trauma, Noemi is now speaking out in order to warn other LGBTQ+ people and allies of the dangers of church ambiguity on LGBTQ+ policies and bring the good news of queer theology. 

 

 

INCLUDED IN THIS EPISODE (But not limited to):

 

·      Noemi’s Traumatic Hillsong Experience 

·      Noemi’s Vulnerable Account Of Childhood Abuse

·      Some Epic Hillsong “Church” Shade

·      Undercover Conversion Therapy at Hillsong & Lakewood (and other churches)

·      How Churches Abuse Their Volunteers

·      The John Gray + Carl Lentz Connection 

·      Welcoming Vs. Affirming aka A Side/B Side

·      Dope Fiends Have More Love Than Church People

·      Why You Must Scrutinize Your Pastors

·      Why You Don’t Really Know Your Pastors

 

CONNECT WITH NOEMI:

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/noemimiu

LinkTree: https://linktr.ee/noemimi.u

 

CONNECT WITH DE’VANNON:

 

Website: https://www.SexDrugsAndJesus.com

YouTube: https://bit.ly/3daTqCM

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SexDrugsAndJesus/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sexdrugsandjesuspodcast/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TabooTopix

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/SexDrugsAndJesus/_saved/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/devannon

Email: DeVannon@SexDrugsAndJesus.com

 

 

DE’VANNON’S RECOMMENDATIONS:

 

·      Pray Away Documentary (NETFLIX)

https://www.netflix.com/title/81040370

TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk_CqGVfxEs

 

·      Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed (Documentary)

https://press.discoveryplus.com/lifestyle/discovery-announces-key-participants-featured-in-upcoming-expose-of-the-hillsong-church-controversy-hillsong-a-megachurch-exposed/

 

·      Leaving Hillsong Podcast With Tanya Levin

https://leavinghillsong.podbean.com

 

·      Upwork: https://www.upwork.com

·      FreeUp: https://freeup.net

 

VETERAN’S SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS

 

·      Disabled American Veterans (DAV): https://www.dav.org

·      American Legion: https://www.legion.org

 

 

INTERESTED IN PODCASTING OR BEING A GUEST?:

 

·      PodMatch is awesome! This application streamlines the process of finding guests for your show and also helps you find shows to be a guest on. The PodMatch Community is a part of this and that is where you can ask questions and get help from an entire network of people so that you save both money and time on your podcasting journey.

https://podmatch.com/signup/devannon

 

 

TRANSCRIPT:

 

[00:00:00]

You’re listening to the sex drugs and Jesus podcast, where we discuss whatever the fuck we want to! And yes, we can put sex and drugs and Jesus all in the same bed and still be all right at the end of the day. My name is De’Vannon and I’ll be interviewing guests from every corner of this world as we dig into topics that are too risqué for the morning show, as we strive to help you understand what’s really going on in your life.

There is nothing off the table and we’ve got a lot to talk about. So let’s dive right into this episode.

De’Vannon: morning, everyone from the discovery plus documentary. Song megachurch exposed. I have with me today. No Emmy Orbay and she is a queer Latin X advocate in this here episode. Noam renders a real and raw account of her time.

Under the oppression of Hillsong church, she talks about the dangers of church ambiguity. When it comes to [00:01:00] LGBTQ plus issues, she talks about her abusive childhood y’all and so much more from the moment I saw Nomi on this documentary, I was bonded to this girl and I knew that I wanted to talk to her. I’m so excited. We got to shoot this episode because I felt like it was extremely cathartic and healing for both of us. And I hope you get healed too.

Hey, beautiful bitches out there and welcome to the sex drugs and motherfucking Jesus podcast. Hallelujah, tabernacle and motherfucking praise. I would say the happy what the fuck independence day weekend is. We’re about to record this here on the 1st of July, but who the fuck feels independent considering the fuckery that the damn Supreme court just did.

So I have with me today, I hope I don’t butcher your name. Nomi [00:02:00]

Noemi: close. 

De’Vannon: Yes. 

Noemi: It’s pronounced no Emmy. So just think I have no Emmy awards. No 

De’Vannon: Emmy, not yet bitch, but you will hopefully. No. Emmy UBA. UBA. Yeah. UBA, no Emmy UBA. And So what do you think about this whole independence day and how it doesn’t really fill all that independent anymore?

Noemi: As an AFAB, it’s really awkward because I no longer have bodily autonomy according to the Supreme court and as a brown person, I’ve kind of already known, known I didn’t have the same liberties as other people. So it’s kind of like an oxymoron of like on one side, it’s like, I just lost more rights.

And on the other was like, bitch, you knew that was gonna happen. Like, come on. so, yeah, it’s a little, a little weird, but not surprised, honestly. Unfortunately. Now [00:03:00] you 

De’Vannon: said in a, a what’s 

Noemi: that, that means A female, a assigned female at birth, which means I’m I’m non-binary. So I do not identify as a woman.

I’m more like gender fluid there’s days when I feel more feminine and that side comes out a little bit more and I’m okay with people calling me woman or using the pronouns, she, her. But now that I’m in more of a allowing myself to be, I identify more as non-binary on that spectrum. And I use she a pronouns and yeah, I identified now more with AFAB rather than a woman.

So, yeah. 

De’Vannon: Hells. Yeah. Thank you for that education. We’re gonna talk more about that towards the end of the interview, when we reference your beautiful resource list and you had a whole Prevo pronoun thing going on on your link tree, which I so, so impressed with. So, so y’all, I’ve been. This is one of [00:04:00] those interviews that I’ve been working my death off for, for a long, long time.

And, you know, you know, I felt like I won not even a lottery, cuz this is invaluable to me, but this is like jackpot score. Hell yeah. I was able to get this interview. So discovery plus released a, a documentary, a three part documentary each part’s about an hour long that came out months ago and This, this, this, this beautiful soul here was one of the people featured in that documentary.

This documentary was the most epic shade that I ever saw through a heal song church in Australia. The well, well deserved shade too. I might add. And, and no, Emmy was a person who was featured in this documentary. I love the work that discovery did, but when it was done, I felt like I felt cheated. I was like, I wanted to see more of no [00:05:00] Emmy.

And so I reached out to her and I’m like, girl, you need more screen time than what they gave you. So I’m gonna give you a whole hour to just talk about youth and so . Thank you. And so tell me, what was your experience like being filmed in the documentary itself? 

Noemi: It was definitely different from being talking to a reporter.

So I had done articles before we had started and I say we, because it was a collective of us who had left Hillsong who kind of reconnected after we left in about early 20, 20. And we started like talking about our experience and we came across a reporter who was interested and they became interested after Carl was fired Carl lens, who was a former pastor of Hillsong NYC and of the east coast.

So after all that shit show went down, [00:06:00] everyone was like, wait, you’ve been talking in the, in, so on social media, you’ve been calling out people. Can you tell us a bit more? And mainly they were like, do you know Carl, did you ever talk to Carl? So it was really awkward because they clearly had a direction they wanted to take.

Things in. And they wanted to often like flip stories say things I didn’t say. And it was just like a constant back and forth of like, please don’t like misinterpret my words. This is what I meant. This is how I’m going in a documentary. It’s your face, your voice in your words, like you’re speaking. And people are hearing from you directly, and that’s a very different experience, especially when you have three cameras pointing at you, but you have to be facing another person to not be looking directly into the camera.

You kind have to get like, comfortable with that. And we spent about [00:07:00] five hours recording. So I was able to sit with them, share all of my story and I knew all of it. Wasn’t gonna make it because if they shared everyone’s story, like completely, we would still be watching it right now. It’d be like seasons long from all the abuse and things that Hillsong did.

But I, I understood why they didn’t include as much as they did. It was more of the three episodes were more of like setting the stage for people to understand what Hillsong is, who they are, what they do. And I, I was, I’m gonna be honest. I was a little frustrated that they didn’t include more of my experience, but I understood the direction that the director went in.

The director and I are, are. Are like friends. Now we, we meet up often. Actually. I just met up with him last week and we’re talking about projects or different things that are happening to [00:08:00]continue on to allow more people to come on board. So yeah, I think my experience overall with the documentary was a good one.

It definitely, there’s still a lot of content that hasn’t been shared that was recorded and I’m hoping that they use that in the future because they have it and we’ll see how things go from there.

De’Vannon: Thank you for that beautiful breakdown. What was what was something that was really important that you did share that didn’t make the cut that you would like to say right now? 

Noemi: I think something that was really frustrating that wasn’t included was my experience being a queer person at Hillsong that was not mentioned, it was not brought up because that’s like the basis of what happened at Hillsong.

The how their they’re. How can we [00:09:00] call it? I’m like forgetting my words right now. They’re they’re. Purposeful ambiguity of Hillsong, like of their, of their policies, of their LGBTQ policies and how it affected my mental health drastically and how they approach supporting me through my mental health crisis.

And the drastic difference between friends between Pastor who was unqualified to support you through pastoral care? Because at hillside they don’t, they don’t even go to accredited school in comparison to a pastor who was there for me as well. And she had gone to seminary and had her master’s in divinity and was taught how to be there for pastoral care for someone Those were the two big things.

So LGBTQ policies and their lack of or their ambiguity, their lack of, of [00:10:00] clarity on LGBTQ policies within the church for volunteers and for attendees and members and their lack of qualified pastoral care when it comes to any mental health, mental health crisis or anything that happens of abuse within the church.

And you’re seeing a lot of that now where they had that lack of experience, that lack of care for people that you are seeing victims being shamed victims being said that they are gossiping. So it’s like a back and forth 

De’Vannon: Uhhuh, as you’re saying that. And I’m so sorry that you had this terrible experience.

It reminds me of the of the Exodus. Movement, which I, I learned more about from the pray away documentary, which is on Netflix and how they mm-hmm , you know, there was a, there was some buckery in there with them using these supposed psychologists and whatever the case may be to come [00:11:00] in, you know, and buffer, you know, their motives to try to do conversion therapy.

It also reminds me of say, like, say under that, that last rat ratchet ass president’s administration, how he would have these random. Doctors of all kinds of shit that had nothing to do with pandemics coming in, giving medical advice. Mm-hmm so it sounds like they were just trying to get people who sounded more important than what they actually were.

Yeah, for sure. And then, you know, when we’re setting in, in front of all of these, you know, the television watching, you know, the presidents in the news or in church, you know, we’re, we’re positioned to believe them, so they know they can take advantage of our naivete and our GU ability. 

Noemi: Yeah. And to go along with that Hillsong a few years, Like a few, probably in like early 1990 to mid two thousands, they were actually, I’m not sure if my timeline’s correct.

So don’t quote me on that, but I know they were affiliated with [00:12:00] the conversion therapy organization in Australia. And I found this out after I left and I did more investigation on my own. And when the organization came upon more scrutiny of what they were doing in Australia, they disassociated, but the practice within Hillsong continued.

So I experienced some of that in Boston. 

De’Vannon: Yeah. Fuck. That’s when you think it can’t get any goddamn damn worse. Yeah. I, 

Noemi: the same, the same reaction you’re having right now is the same reaction I had when I found out. Yeah. 

De’Vannon: Okay. So you attended Hillsong Boston? Yes. Okay. So conversion therapy. Let me write this down because okay.

I’m, I’m like I’m channeling my inner Tina Turner bull from what’s love got to do with it. None of your ho GAO numb of [00:13:00] your holding GAO. If y’all, haven’t seen the movie, you need to, it’s a Buddhist chant that apparently help you keep your shit together. I love that. so, okay. So in the documentary, you, you know, presented as a, a volunteer, this is where I bonded with you because when I was at Lakewood church in Houston, Texas, which is under Joel Ostein, our largest megachurch here in the United States, mm-hmm , you know, I was a big volunteer there.

And when I saw you, I was like, oh my God, here’s another person who, who had given their soul, heart, mind, body money, time and wage too much. And a lot of shit, we can never get back to a church only to be treated like shit mm-hmm . And I said, I, my souls reached out to you. And I was like, you know, cyber hug through the TV.

I hope she feels it wherever she’s at right now. And and so when, before I got fired from, from Lakewood church [00:14:00] and I hope one day we do like a leaving Lakewood because there’s other people out there who’ve been fired from lake, you know, volunteers. Yeah. But fired for not being straight. I know this because I’ve come across them in gay bars and stuff.

Wow. And when the conversation came up and they were like, yeah, that happened to me too. So I hope somewhere, somewhere, somewhere, someone will wanna do a documentary about the, the abuse that Lakewood church does because people are, are leaving there as well. But we’re, we’re here to talk about you, but they’ll, 

Noemi: they’ll protect people like John Gray.

De’Vannon: Ho

motherfucking God

cuy son. That’s one of the things that I do not understand why I say like Oprah would give him of all fucking people, a show. Okay. I’m looking at him. I’m going closet gay, man. [00:15:00] I’m going. Oh yeah. Amongst all the things 

Noemi: my Gayar is like going off when they see him. Yes. 

De’Vannon: And, and people are like, well, how do you know?

I’m all like, bitch, it’s abundantly clear to those of us who know. And I didn’t know that his. I don’t even know what sort of adjective he would attach to that, you know, reached, you know, globally enough, you know, and you mm-hmm I’m like, 

Noemi: well, Hillsong gave him a platform too. So that also helped him. Yeah.

He went, he went to Hillsong conference and preached at a few. 

De’Vannon: Yeah. You know, that doesn’t surprise me because Joel Ostein in the, the, the fucker who runs Hillsong shit, you got so many, you got Joel, the musician, John shit. Yeah. Your pastor, you know, they’re all like Brian Houston, you know, they’re all like buddy, buddy.

Noemi: Oh yeah. And Carl, Len and John uh, Don gray were friends before Carl [00:16:00] even came to New York and before John was even in Houston. So they knew each other way before. Stand. Yeah, so they like followed each other because Carl went to the inauguration of when John Gray received a church in Greenville. So he was there, 

De’Vannon: bitch.

Birds of motherfucking feather flock together. 

Noemi: Yeah. It’s all. We have a small world everything’s interconnected, especially within evangelicalism. 

De’Vannon: This is why I’m glad we’re having this conversation. Dumb ass Christian people. And I can call them that because I used to be one setting there, all deer in the headlights and believing the image that preachers put supposed preachers and prophets and whatever put forth.

I never questioned anything. And I boss the damn bullshit and I, I just don’t like the fact that I did that. And so that’s like a huge reason why I do what I do now, Noam and I are gonna tell y’all this truth. [00:17:00] And you can sit there at your damn church and keep being a dumb ass stupid bitch. Or you can wise up and leave or adjust your expectations.

Or, but if, I mean, just fucking go because yeah. Get out run while you can. So, oh my God. So, so the conversion therapy, but when I got fired, let wood church offered me what I call a conversion therapy package. And so when you said that, that word. It triggered it in my ear because, you know, Joel Ostein does not get on stage and go, Hey, we like to do conversion therapy behind the scenes.

Noemi: Of course, they’re not gonna do 

De’Vannon: that. No, my fault was when I applied to volunteer in the kids’ ministry. Ooh. They had on the application. We do not want homosexuals working with our kids, but having just gotten out of the military during don’t asks, don’t tell I was like 22, 23. I was thinking in my head, okay, this is just [00:18:00] another one of those don’t asks.

Don’t tell moments no big deal. So I just went on with it. Okay. I didn’t understand the severity of just, you know, how they think, how church people think you’re either straight or pedophile. Mm-hmm that, that, that’s just, that’s just desperate. Yeah. They think 

Noemi: homosexuality and pedophilia go hand in hand.

De’Vannon: Yeah. Well, not even homosexual bisexual train if you’re yeah, that’s true. Straight or pedophile, that’s it? Yeah. Those things. And so. So then they were like, yeah, you gotta change the gay shit. If you wanna stay here and stuff like that. So what did you see like this? You know, and as you’re saying, like basically behind the scene, you know, all of these people, Carlish John Gray, Joel Ostein, Brian Houston, everybody’s friends behind the scenes.

So they’re exchanging ideas, best practices and everything like that. So that’s why I’m not surprised. You’re seeing one thing pop up at Hillsong. You see it pop up at Lakewood at other churches, too smaller churches we’ve never heard of, but smaller churches like to mimic [00:19:00] Hillsong. Oh yeah. And Lakewood.

So what, what did you see in terms of conversion therapy? A hill song? So 

Noemi: first we have to set the stage for what conversion therapy looks like within evangelicalism, because it is very different from like an Exodus. They’re not gonna be explicit, like. Exodus times. Okay. When that organization existed often conversion therapy within a church is more subtle of.

Telling you, you can not, you don’t have to identify it’s all about identity mm-hmm . And that’s the direction that Hillsong took. So I had to be in some mentorships. That’s what they called it. When I finally came out to my leader during my time, I was a leader at Hillsong. I was leading a connect group, which is like a small group during the week for people who spoke Spanish, because I wanted to bring more of my people, Latinx people together or [00:20:00] Hispanic to be more specific.

And I was a service lead for a team called events. And we were basically in charge of running the whole church, making sure that everything was running correctly. We were like the middle man between the leaders, the pastors and all the other teams. So that was us. So I was one of those service leads. I was one of those leaders in that team.

So as I’m like in these leadership positions, I start questioning my sexuality. I come to my leader of the team and like kind of a good friend and let her know like, Hey, this is happening. I’m coming out to you. At the time I was identifying as bisexual, just because I was too afraid to fully accept that I was gay.

Mm-hmm mainly because of family reasons as well, the way I grew up in a Pentecostal church that was like super fundamentalist. So at the time that, that was the safest [00:21:00] identity I’ve I felt I was okay with. So I come out to my leader and she says, okay well, the things you’re doing right now are fine because you’re not like facing front.

Like you’re not in front of people, like on stage. But if you do wanna do things like that, it’s we can have a conversation. Conversations can continue. So I started asking her questions, like, what does this mean for me as a person within the church? What does this mean? In general? At the time I was still identifying as this gender.

So my gender identity wasn’t even coming into question. It was just my sexual orientation. And so she said we can continue these conversations and see where things go. So as time continued and the conversations continued, I started noticing a pattern of then wanting me to identify as a child of God, rather than queer, or rather than by, or rather [00:22:00] than LGBTQ.

As something that was mutually exclusive and it was being pushed more and more, but the opportunities to grow in leadership were being reduced and drastically being pulled back slowly. They started affecting my mental health. So then they started blaming my mental health on my sexual orientation saying that because I’m identifying this way that my mental health was going downward spiral, that it was all interconnected.

So for me, that was really frustrating because that was obviously not the case. It wasn’t an internal thing. It was more of the, the external affecting my internal within my community. And it got to the point where the leader that I was talking to could no longer Quote unquote control me. So she kind of ghosted me and moved me onto the next pastor.

So I [00:23:00] went and had to be talking now to a higher up someone above her. And he approached me with. Calling it mentorship. So we had to meet at more scheduled times with my previous leader. It was probably once a week that we would talk and the conversation would come up with this pastor. It was now more scheduled and I had to go and meet with him more frequently.

And the conversations continu to, why are you identifying this way? How can we remove that? How can we get you to give it you’re all at Hillsong and remove this part of you. And he started giving me more of an open perspective as to what was happening in New York, where there was people there who were LGBTQ, but we’re no longer identifying that way because Hillsong had convinced them to no longer do that.

So he was saying, I could connect you with these people. They’re amazing. They can help you out in your journey. And I was. [00:24:00] No, because they’re not mutually exclusive. So this was happening within Hillsong on my own. I was already going on my queer theology journey of learning about queer theology, learning about side ACE, I B what a, what is affirming mean within Christianity?

What is the difference between welcoming and affirming? Because we hear those two words a lot within evangelicalism, mainly. And so, as I was becoming more confident in, in who I was, and in my identities on the flip side, I was getting all of these questions from hill song, through the mentorship of trying to convince me to identify otherwise.

And when I was in these meetings, I could now be more confident and say, no, These aren’t mutually exclusive identities. These are two completely different identities that don’t intertwine. Well there is intersectionality within them, but they’re not mutually [00:25:00] exclusive. And that’s when they didn’t like that anymore.

When I would ask explicit questions, they would always be to around the Bush until I was very detailed on the questions that I was asking. And I learned how to ask questions through queer theology and through other people who had done it. I started asking things like if I were to ever get married and my partner happens to be of the same sex, would you perform our marriage as a pastor clergy who has that authority under us law?

And they would be like, oh, well his Hillsong church doesn’t really perform these kinds of things only for friends. And I was like, Ugh. Okay. So I was like, as my friend, because they would call themselves that to me in order to make the conversations feel more vulnerable. Supposedly I was like, as my friend, would you marry me and my friend who my partner who happens to [00:26:00] be of the same sex and they would just kind of beat around the Bush until I got a straight, no, I was like, okay, great.

One answer. Number two. Would you hire, would Hillsong church hire someone who is openly queer? Who doesn’t have to hide anything and maybe even happens to be married with someone of the same sex. And they kind of were just like, kind of quiet about it. And they were like, well, we have these like values and beliefs in hill song and the person who we hire has to align with them.

So I was like, so is that a yes or a no, like give me the straightforward. And until he finally like, said, no, well, we wouldn’t, we can’t do that. I was like, okay, check number two. So I started getting all of these straightforward answers and it took me about a year and a half, almost two years to get those straightforward answers.

And that was my turning point of. This is no longer a [00:27:00] community. I am safe in. My body knew that and my body kept telling me that, but your brain is often takes a little bit longer and your heart takes a little bit longer to come around. So once they finally connected the two and I reconnected with my body I was able to, to leave.

So that was some of my conversion therapy experience at Hillsong. 

De’Vannon: Thank you so much for sharing that annoying me. So I heard what you were saying like about. How they are, they’re not upfront with it. They’re not gonna get on stage, like the Exodus, move it and be like, yeah, you’re you gay people.

You’re gonna become UNGA today. So the way they did it for me at Lakewood, they, they offered me like books. They were like, we pre-selected these books for you to become UNGA. And I have a feeling that had I accepted that and went into submission. Then it would’ve led to all the things that you just said, you know, all the different counselors and everything like that.

Yeah. Yeah, 

Noemi: I had to [00:28:00] do devotionals as well. As part of like the, the mentorship, some of them were we wage war. So like your mind is in warfare and you had to fight against your mind. And as I would do the devotional, whatever I wrote down, I had to take a picture and send it to my leader and they would have to read through it to ensure that I was in including anything queer, any queer theology, that it was more generalized the way they wanted it to be.

De’Vannon: Mm-hmm, so not authentic, not authentic, not directly from heaven through your heart, you know, filter through Hills song. Yeah. Just like these churches messages filtered, pre edited, and then supposedly divine. Yeah. You know, at least when they pulled you from , your ministry was gradual. I’m gonna talk about how you, how you felt like it affected your mental health more in depth.

Mm-hmm . So you were doing a lot there. And this is where, [00:29:00] why I was so excited to have you on my show because I had never met anybody who was as ingrained in their church as a volunteer, who was ripped away from it. So I really felt like, you know, we were siblings in a very kind of twisted yet comforting way.

yeah. From a bond trauma bond. Yeah. We’ve told a trauma bond. So, so I was the volunteer supervisor for Wednesday night, over a few hundred children. I’ve supervised 20 other teachers. And then also taught my own great group of third grade boys. I was in charge of the check-in kiosk as well. I also was a worship leader for the kid in the kid’s life for Wednesday night.

Then I also sang in the huge ass adult choir on the weekends too. Oh, wow. And when they, when they fired me, they didn’t gradually, they just chopped it all off at once. And so, and so Wow. I know the trauma that I experienced from having everything chopped off all at once. Now, you said it affected your mental health.

Is there [00:30:00] any kind of words you can use to describe the degradation that happened? 

Noemi: That’s a good question. I never thought of it in that way. I think for me words that I can use to describe it traumatic is like the biggest one because it activated my PTSD, I already had PTSD from a previous experience as an adolescent.

And it was more that was a very traumatic experience. So. being at Hillsong was like reliving it. And I didn’t know, because I was undiagnosed until more recently my therapist and my team of doctors have like finally diagnosed me and we can take a good, clear path towards healing. Mm-hmm . But at the time, I didn’t know.

[00:31:00] And so my experience at Hillsong was very traumatic and I was reliving a lot of, of what I had experience as a, as a young person as an adolescent. It was also very abusive because use of, because they tell you how much every single Sunday they appreciate you. But when you come down to your lowest moments of me being in a psychiatric hospital for trigger warning contemplating suicide, and almost like attempting it.

When I went to the psychiatric hospital, no pastor ever visited me when I was there and only like two friends from the church went. And so that for me was very eye opening because the pastor that I had connected with who was my best friend’s aunt, and she was part of [00:32:00] the UCC church, the United church of Christ, who is like the first church in the us that was openly affirming to LGBTQ people.

And she’s this black woman amazing mentor to me. She came and visited me. I’m not even a member of her church, but yet she came to visit me and the pastors where I was giving all of my time to. Never even bothered to send me a card flowers, call me nothing. They didn’t even like mention it. I ended up, I got discharged or actually it was around this time in 2019, that, that it happened.

I got discharged right before 4th of July. And that Sunday following I had to be in church and deliver the same quality, the same quantity that they expected from me as if nothing before I was even in the hospital. So that was very eye opening to me. So I’ll say very abusive and manipulative and gas lighting [00:33:00] because.

They, they want all of this work from you and they, they expect all of this free labor, but they don’t want to give anything in return. They don’t even bother to like check in on how you’re doing mentally, how you’re doing physically there’s people who would like break their arms and they would show up and still volunteer.

And so it’s very like when it comes to my mental health, it’s something that is very like, frustrating that they didn’t even see the signs of how I was spiraling down that any other person who doesn’t even know too much about it could see it. But yeah, I don’t know if that fully answers your 

De’Vannon: question.

It does. And it gives me so many more for whatever comfort is worth. Again, for our trauma bond. I feel like I’m a part of this. [00:34:00] Group of the church, kids who got their feelings hurt, you know, a church is a, and more than our feelings hurt. We were just damaged. Mm-hmm , you know, and really, really destroyed, you know, a church is supposed to be the safest space on earth and it is absolutely not that.

And, but, you know, I feel like we are, you know, all siblings now and I feel very much a part of the P of the people who have left hill song. I just feel that way. And so for, so for whatever is worth though, maybe it might bring some comfort to you on some level to know that you’re not alone. And the same thing did happen to me as well.

You know, I had, I had been volunteering. For years at Lakewood. And I’m sorry that it happened to you too. I feel like we could say we’re sorry. You know, so for so damn much. Yeah. You know, and it means a lot to hear that and to, and to be able to say that too, but when I got fired from there after all those years and the supervising, all those people, it was the same thing at Lakewood.

Oh, we couldn’t do this without you hashtag I am lake, [00:35:00] you know, mm-hmm, great. Great, great. You’re wonderful. Until we find out you’re not straight. And then it’s by Felicia bitch be gone. Actually, we can totally do this without you and nobody ever called or would ever to come and find out where I had disappeared to.

And the, the fucked up part about it is when I was homeless, you know, a drug dealer and all of that in Houston. Same, you know, because I really spiraled down after I got kicked outta Lakewood, you know, I can only imagine there’s goddamn dope things that will come and check on you. If you haven’t come to the dope house to the trap house in a day or two, they’re gonna be like, oh bitch, where’s T-bone we ain’t seen him in a minute.

We need to go find this motherfucker. Wow. Homeless, dope meth heads will come and check on you. They haven’t seen you. And the damn church people didn’t. 

Noemi: Wow. I, that kind of happened after I left. So the way I, they didn’t cut me off completely, but they were slowly pushing me out of like, I was ghosted by my previous [00:36:00] leader on the events team.

So I no longer felt comfortable being a part of that team. So I left it because I was like, this is really, really awkward. I started volunteering with a pastor supporting him, the pastor that was mentoring me. I was doing some admin work with him. And then those mentorships became ghosting sessions where I would show up and he wouldn’t.

And I did around four times, I showed up and he never showed up. Denver texted me, called me before or anything. So after that, I was like, okay, I can see what’s happening now. Like, they’re just trying to like push me out. So I ended up leaving. And no one ever even like, I, I ended up stopped attending in like early December.

No one ever even called or texted a few friends that knew that, like we talked a bit more called and texted me and checked in, but it wasn’t like a like a, Hey, how are you doing? Wish you could be here. [00:37:00] I ended up going back in December. 29th, 2019. Because the pastor who I was mentoring was leaving to Sydney to go be trained, to be a pastor.

I was like, wait, you weren’t even qualified to do this. And he asked me like, oh, are you attending any church? And I was like, no. And he’s like, oh, that’s so sad. And I was like, no, honestly, I’m doing amazing. Like my mental health is doing so much better and he kind of just stayed quiet about it. And he’s like, well, you can always come back.

This is your home. And I was like, no, it’s, it’s really not a home is where you’re, you’re welcomed in wholeheartedly for who you are and you don’t have to hide any side of you or any part of you. And I was like, this place is not my home because I do, when I walk into these doors and through these doors and he kind of just stayed quiet.

And I was like, this is just a house. It’s, it’s not a home. It’s just a [00:38:00] building with people in it. And I left and I didn’t turn back and COVID kind of helped with that cuz often when you leave a place You have a little inching to go back. It’s kind of like an addiction of like, wait, I’ll go check back.

So I did end up going in February of 2020 to just see some friends. And I was slowly kind of starting to feel like the need to be back there and COVID hit. And I had to, everyone had to quarantine and like no services in person. So that really helped me like rip the bandaid off and like not go anymore.

So I, yeah, 

De’Vannon: well, thank God for COVID, you know, seriously COVID day, a lot of great things, really. And so, so, and, and, and what Naomi is saying, y’all I want you to be sure you pay a close attention. What she’s saying is [00:39:00] that these churches. Use a lot of platitudes and a lot of repeat words that have no heart, no soul, no emotion, no feeling behind them.

It’s like, it’s a script, it’s a track they’ve been trained well. And if you listen to different churches, they say the same shit, you know? Yeah. It’s all very, like, everything’s gonna be all right. Everything’s great. We love you. You’re the best. You’re great. You’re the best ever, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

When they claim the prophesy, it is very general. I see great things coming from you. It’s gonna be your best year, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Okay. Everyone says the same thing. Yeah. Make your own decisions. We’re just letting you know it’s bullshit. And so , and I’m not saying every church is bullshit or every pastor is bullshit, but I’m saying you must scrutinize your leaders and not take what they say for face value.

And if you get that feeling like something might not be right, then don’t [00:40:00] rationalize it. 

Noemi: Yeah. And I think when it goes back to scrutiny, this pastors who are actually trained to be pastors and who are qualified to be, pastors are okay with scrutiny. They want you to scrutinize them. They wanna be better.

They wanna learn from what mistakes they’ve done and how they can improve upon them. Pastors who are not, are often huge narcissists who are just doing it for their own, like up like upping their ego and their narcissism. And so when you call them out, it’s like calling out all of who they are. And so they point the finger at others, which is what often happens with people like Brian Houston, Carl lens, John Gray, Joel Stein, where they’re like, oh, it’s not me.

God called me. How can I do anything wrong? It’s these people, these gossipers. And so they’ll point it back at other things. And so those are the huge differences I’ve seen where scrutiny is really well [00:41:00] welcomed from other pastors who are actually trained to do it in comparison to pastors who are not.

De’Vannon: You’re right. My, my evangelist Nelson who raised me spiritually and everything, very high clevery woman, a true prophet test, not none of this vague shit. If she said something was gonna happen in 10 years on the day did, and there’s many, many people who can vouch for that though. She’s no longer alive.

She told me when they PA you know, a preacher pastor or whatever you wanna call it is either gonna be really, really strong or really, really weak mm-hmm . There is no in between when it comes to this and the reasons for that, or a whole topic of discussion for another day, but it is the truth and you see weakness, doesn’t have a.

Narcissism doesn’t have a face. So what I’m saying is you could be looking at a well-dressed person. Who’s talking himself, a preacher, prophet, pastor, whatever, with all the money and all the, as kisses around them [00:42:00] and all the congregation. And you might be looking at somebody who has fallen or somebody who’s a total narcissist and you don’t know it.

Mm-hmm . And so. And I can tell that people who go to churches have not accepted the fact that their preachers could be anybody because when the, the preacher’s scandals come out, that everyone’s clutching their pearls, like it’s so impossible. They did what they did stole the money, fuck the thousand bitches or boys, whatever the case may be.

Well, if, if you were levelheaded and you understood that that person on stage is human and can do anything, you might not appreciate what they did, but you wouldn’t be so taken aback. Mm-hmm then that lets me know that people setting in churches, just like how I used to. And you used to give these people too much credit.

So I just wanna remind people that preachers, when they go up there are at work and they’re putting on a show just like most people do when they go to work. That is one side of them. And you also don’t spend really any private [00:43:00] time with these people, as much as they call you family and friends. Bitch, can you pick up the phone and call them on a bad day?

Will you be going with them on the next family vacation? Mm-hmm you don’t really know these people. 

Noemi: That’s true. My dad, my dad was actually a pastor. And so that’s very true. People thought they knew him by what they would hear on Sundays while he preached or by grabbing lunch with him after church. But people didn’t really know him at all.

Like I, as his kid knew him, but whenever someone would be like, your dad is this, this and this. I was like, actually, you’re kind of incorrect. This is who he is actually. Mm. But you’re very true. Yeah. That’s true. Mm-hmm 

De’Vannon: hell she from, from being a dope dealer, I used to sell drugs. The district attorneys, lawyers, very rich.

I’m surprised, very rich old men who like to smoke crack and get fucked in the ass by ethnic men who on the, who come [00:44:00] out. on Mondays looking as conservative and white as ever. But. Bitch. From Friday night to Sunday night, it’s crack and Dick. 

Noemi: Wow. But is the Bible say there’s nothing new under the sun.

De’Vannon: It not nothing new, but some shit, some shit is still like Gastly. Yeah, but, but we’re saying all this to let you know that you don’t really motherfucking know people, you can be married to people and you don’t really know them. So how the hell you really know this damn preacher mm-hmm , but you wanna know them and it makes you feel special because you’re, you feel some sort of attachment to someone who’s on TV or to someone who has money because you wanna be around power and people are well, they make you, they make 

Noemi: you think that you know them too.

They do. Yeah, they play, they play a good game and like people and they’ll get like shows [00:45:00]made of them and, and that just exalts their ego, but it’s not who they really are. 

De’Vannon: Mm-hmm lying sucks the shit. And and I heard you say that something happened in your adolescent. Is that something that you’re not at a point where you’re ready to talk about?

Noemi: No, I can talk about it. So I had, I, how can I explain it? So I moved to Mexico when I was 11. My dad was a pastor and he became ill and he had become undocumented as well. And so it was best for him to move back to their country. So to my parents’ country which was Mexico. And so my sisters and I moved with them and we experienced some trauma there because all of my dad’s brothers were [00:46:00] also pastors and they were the worst kind that you could ever meet as well.

Cheating on their wives, political, like they they’re in it for politics and money. And so I saw all of that. And that for me was like very eye opening as to what the church really was. And my cousins stayed in it because like, it’s the family business and the ones who couldn’t take it anymore would leave and they would be ostracized or they would come out and no one would talk about it.

It was just like a, like O overall, it was very, very bad. My dad ended up passing in 2012 and I was around 16 years old. And one of my uncles, one of my dad’s brothers offered to allow me to move back with him in the us, him and his wife and his family. And my SIS, one of my sisters was already living there with them [00:47:00] working.

And my mom couldn’t afford high school in Mexico anymore for me. And so it was just cheaper for me to come back to the us because I was a citizen here to go to school for free at a, at, at high school and finish off and hopefully go into college. If I could get scholarships or whatever. So I ended up moving my second semester of junior year and I lived with them for about a year and a half.

And that was probably the most traumatic experience I’ve ever had. I was basically became their maid. So they wouldn’t do any housework. It was all my responsibility. I didn’t know how to drive and I still don’t because it’s very traumatic. I’m still processing it, but they signed me up in a school that was right outside the school zone so that they had the power over when I could go to school or [00:48:00]not.

And I would have to beg to be taken to school every morning or oftentimes they. Restricted food and what I could consume. And if I hid food in my room or purchase anything they would find it and eat it or take it out or throw it away. It was just a lot of very traumatic things. And yeah, I, I was there for about a year and a half and I survived.

And the day I left, I never looked back. I was actually kicked out a day before my graduation for high school, because they were angry that I had gotten into a four year college full tuition because at, at their house, it was very traumatic, but my, my safe Haven was school. And so I dedicated so much time into school.

I had top grades. I graduated with so many honors and like top [00:49:00] 5% in my class. And I was given a full tuition scholarship to a state school in Arizona. And so they were angry that they couldn’t maintain me in this system of abuse. They wanted me to go to a community college that was close by. So again, they could continue to drive me.

They can continue to do all these abusive things. And I found a way out of it by going to school or going to a four year university, they were very mad. So I ended up being kicked out the day before I graduated like literally within two hours, they were like, you need to leave now. So that was a my experience there.

And I’m so processing, I don’t remember a lot of it because a lot of it was very like shut down, but yeah, they, they are still pastors in Arizona, so, yeah. 

De’Vannon: Hi.[00:50:00]

Yeah. I just told her, basically. I’m sorry. You partially think , you know? Yeah. Well you got a lot. Oh, Jesus Christ. When you said family business, do you mean like the church 

Noemi: mm-hmm the church is a, is a family business. Once someone becomes a pastor, they’ll pass a church onto their kid. 

De’Vannon: Yeah. I wanted to just point that out because that’s, that’s very much a thing.

And you do see the church going from one son to the next, usually something like that. Yeah. And when I, 

Noemi: when I ended up leaving my family’s church in like junior year of college, I went to my pastor and let ’em know that I no longer wanted to be a member of the church because it was the same church organization in Mexico as it was in the us.

And I continued to attend when I came back to the us They were angry, cuz they were like, wait, people know you within the church. Like this is your last [00:51:00] name. You are basically set up like the women’s ministry within the church was already building me up. Like I was already volunteering with them, going to conferences with them.

They were like building me up to be one of the leaders once I got married obviously. And so for it to be me to just like leave my status behind, they were very like dumbfounded and kind of angry that I would like leave their church organization. But for me it was like, no, like I can’t be in this anymore.

This is very like abusive and yeah. It’s it’s it wasn’t for me.

De’Vannon: That’s so that’s so culty. Oh yeah. felt like you wanna go now you stay. Yeah. , I mean, I’m laughing at the absurdity of this and the fact that it’s not so rare, it’s not like you, it’s not like this sort of thing doesn’t happen. No, [00:52:00] because with media, people are now able to tell their stories with pastors have been getting away with this shit for years.

Oh yeah. Possibly, ever since church ever were mm-hmm I heard you say, you talked about like questioning your sexuality and I just wanted to let you know that I did that too, you know, because of the church. And I went out and I got me girlfriends and everything, and tried to UNGA myself and it didn’t work.

So I just wanted to, to let you know that you’re also not alone. Wondering what the church is gonna think. If you date someone of the same sex and everything like that, I rearranged my personal life because of the church of how I thought they might think and everything back in the day. Wow. And so I’m just saying that, so that, that you hear it from someone else, because I think that is very healing.

I think it’s very healing for you to get your story out today. I’m feeling a spirit of healing here. I don’t, and I don’t mean that the way the churches say, oh, there’s a spirit of this and a [00:53:00] spirit of that. Like I just really feel a very cathartic thing going on here. yeah, I hate it when I say something and I sound like those fuckers still.

Do you ever have that happen to you? 

Noemi: I do. Christian 

De’Vannon: Christian.

And I heard what you say about, you said about the trauma that you went through and how it, your mind shut some of it off. So it’s kind of like a blank space. I wanna let you know, you’re not alone there too. Cause when I was homeless and everything from the time I got kicked outta Layfield, I spiraled down to, I ended up homeless on the street with HIV and hepatitis B and so oh wow.

In my mind, shut off a lot of the too, it took me years to remember, you know, much of what happened. So[00:54:00]

one of the things that you mentioned in the documentary, the leaving Hills song documentary, one thing that impressed you about Hillsong when you first got, there was the fact that like everyone could wear what they want. You saw diversity, you felt like it was gonna be your home mm-hmm . And I wanted to highlight this just to, to, to mark the reasons why these churches have created like.

We’re given a foothold in the first place. So the fact that it stood out to you, and this was the same thing. When I went to Lakewood, you know, nobody’s judging me for what I’m wearing, you know, original churches, original churches, you know, more modern, recent churches made a big deal over what you wore, stuff like that the music was inconsistent or the musicians just wouldn’t be there.

You know, sometimes when you would go to church and stuff like that. And so, and then it wasn’t diverse. You would be a bunch of white people, a bunch of black people in my experience. Mm-hmm . And so we go to these other churches. and [00:55:00] it’s almost like they looked and saw, okay, this is what has pissed people off about churches up to this point.

Mm-hmm this is more like a business decision. This is what the customers hate. So let’s just give this to them in a different package. Yep. What do you think 

Noemi: that’s exactly what happened within Hills song? Because when Brian Houston was leading his church in Australia he was supporting his dad.

First of all, Frank Houston, the, the, the actual pedophile in this whole story He Brian Houston came to the us and started seeing what churches were doing here and took that back and decided to make church more like a business. And that’s when he started changing the name. That’s when the music ministry started growing more and it grew so much, they brought in a celebrity to sing with them.

So they made it an actual business and, and often [00:56:00] Hillsong other churches tend to replicate what Hillsong did and they’re basically replicating their business model. So yeah, mm-hmm, you’re right on it. 

De’Vannon: Yeah. So y’all just because some preacher looks all holy in divine, you have got to, to get discernment for yourself or just some common God street sense, shit, something you can’t just.

They’ll be like, oh God is leading us. No bitch. All you saw was that this, this business model worked across the, the waters and you just went and did it. And of course you can stand there and say, oh, it is Jesus. No, it’s not the same way churches have a good kids program. I don’t really think it’s cuz they like the kids so damn much, but they know that the parents, kids bring the parents, the parents bring the coin.

Yeah. That’s, that’s really why I think that that’s the case. And so, I mean, sure you love kids, but if I think it’s of all, about fucking money. 

video1376668743:

Noemi: agree when [00:57:00] my dad was when we were in Mexico, we started a small group in this small town where they were all farmers and no one liked going out there to talk with them or anything because they were all they would call them Oaxaca, which are just farmer people who were from the Southern Mexico.

More lower class, no one likes that. A lot of classism colorism, my dad went and started a Bible study with them. So he asked my siblings and I, okay, who’s gonna go help me with the kids. And my sisters are like, kind of like nose goes. So I was left and I was like, fine, I’ll go and help. I started the kids’ ministry with him.

I started with about five kids and it, I was 13, 14, mind you, another kid teaching kids. And so I started doing the Bible stories that I had learned, and we would just play games the whole time. And all the other kids in the community started noticing that we were just playing, coloring, [00:58:00] playing. And so they would come for like the 10, 15 minute lesson.

And then we would go out and like chase chickens and like rail in the goats and like play around in the backyard. And that started bringing the parents in. So we went from a small group within about a year and a half, a small group of about 10 people. to almost like a hundred having to then pass it on to someone else because my dad didn’t wanna stay there long enough for, to establish a church, cuz he felt the need to like move on to a different location.

So we ended up leaving it in the hands of someone else. And there’s currently a church there now because of that small group that we started that brought people in because of the kids’ ministry. So the kids bring in the people, the people bring in the money. So I completely agree with that. 

De’Vannon: Yeah, God damnit.

I knew I was right. son of a bitch 

Noemi: and, and also the reason why I felt like [00:59:00] Hillsong was very diverse and. Was very welcoming and people could wear what they want was because I grew up in this environment where I wasn’t allowed to wear pants. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup. I couldn’t grab my hair. The typical, very fundamentalist church where the Bible is infallible.

It is. Without error, you know, like all this kind of things. So very fundamentalist church. And my, my dress code went with that. I had to cover my head before walking into service, things like that. Oh Lord. Yeah. So when I left that and went to a place like Hillsong where people were in like chunk glass, or they were wearing like whatever shoes they wanted, like sandals shorts, a t-shirt makeup on or hair was cut.

Like, it didn’t matter what they wore that for me was very like, oh my God, I can do whatever I want. And diversity was, I felt it was there because [01:00:00] I grew up in a mono-ethnic church where it was all Latinx people, Spanish speaking church. So to go to a, a church where you can see black and brown people and majority white people.

Yeah. But there was still black and brown people also there. That’s where I was like, oh, this place is diverse. Because I was like, noticing the difference between majority or 99% Latinx to like probably 70% white and 30% brown and black people.

De’Vannon: I say goddamn. That’s just, that’s just, that’s all I can say. And I’m gonna say this before we begin to wrap up and I, and I thank you. I appreciate so much of your time. I heard you, when you were talking about that you considered suicide and everything like that. I’m so sorry that that happened to you.

And it reminded me though, of someone on, so I’m gonna give a shout out right now to Tanya [01:01:00] Levine of the leaving Hills song podcast over there in Sydney. Tanya Levine was also. On the discovery plus documentary, I was just interviewed for her podcast too. Like last week, Matt, Matt, Matt Draper. And I did like a whole thing with Tony.

And so, but there was a guy on her podcast who also tried to kill himself over some hill song fuckery. And so I just wanted to throw that out there and say, you know, churches are causing homelessness, drug addiction, suicide mm-hmm and they need to be held to account 

Noemi: no, I agree. Yeah. I was on her podcast as well, like a three part episode.

Yeah, I, I completely agree. There’s so many of us, even when I left, there’s a few of my friends who I helped them get the support they needed by going to a hospital. If they needed a psychiatric evaluation, the amount [01:02:00] of people who ended up going to a psychiatric hospital are taking medication right now are in therapy, is like, I, I cannot count with one hand.

It is way beyond that. And it’s very frustrating and it’s very, there’s like this righteous anger that you have of the amount of money that we’ve had to put into place in order to heal from our time there. Like I was there two years and it’s taken me way more than two years to be in this place now where I can speak openly without it being very triggering 

De’Vannon: to me.

Me too. It took me a good, like 10. It took me 6, 5, 6 years after I got fired from Lakewood to walk into a church again. And then it took me probably like, you know, up until maybe like last year. So we’re talking about like another, like five, seven years before I could talk about it without just getting all pissed off and angry.

Noemi: Wow. I still haven’t been able to go into a church. I [01:03:00] went into a church for the documentary interview and that was very triggering cuz it was the first time I stepped in. So the producers and the director realized that. And so we were kind of like going very slowly until I felt very comfortable shit talking another church inside of another church.

De’Vannon: I’m here for all of that shit. Yeah. because you know, we go to these churches and it’s like, you’re falling in love with someone you become bonded and connected and you have a soul tie. It’s like a marriage and you just feel like you can trust it. You know, it’s so engrafting and emotional and the reasons why we feel like we need churches as a whole other conversation, but nevertheless, many of us find ourselves there.

And to have that relationship severed is I think it was O R one of those good bands said, you know, when a heart breaks, it don’t break even, you know? Yeah. You know, we’re all shattered and torn. And [01:04:00] roaming and lost, and the church is going on making more money. They’re writing more books, writing more music, you got your Darlene checks and your Cindy Cruz rat cliffs, flying all over your Israel, Hiltons and everything, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

And everything’s all great and wonderful. And you got your Joes and your Bryans, and everything’s all great. But under the surface, these people are built their success. These worship leaders, these pastors have built their success on the backs of people like us, who they have broken and shattered and discarded, and didn’t even turn around and go and see what happened to us.

Yeah, that’s true. And you know, the Bible speaks about how God will enter into judgment with these pastors who don’t go and look for that one. So they all have their day coming. You’ve been successful now, a bitch, but you just wait mm-hmm so you have a website that I want to tell everyone about, and it is your link tree.

Now I’m gonna put all this in [01:05:00] the showy notes. Okay. But it is link tree, you know, they spell it kind of funny. It’s like L I N KTR dot E E slash N OE, M IM I dot U. Your Twitter is at N OE IM IU. And this is totally gonna go in the show notes. You have a totally and kick ass link tree. You’ve got LGBTQ affirming resources, mental health pronouns matter.

And then you also have in Spanish, too record to And so I appreciate other resources that you have there. And so the last two things that I wanna ask you just pulling from like your passion for your resources is just what, what is the difference? What does a side B side mean? 

Noemi: So before I answer that one the reason why this [01:06:00] link tree happened was because, okay, so many people were reaching out to ask me for resources or asking me questions or a direct asking me to direct them into other podcasts books plethora of things.

And I did not have the time to like be sending everything every time I was basically copying and pasting the same list to people. So it got to the point where I was like, I should just put something together. It’s gonna take me a little bit longer, but in the long run, I can just direct them to the link of my bio.

And they started mainly on Instagram. And it’s the same username, N O E M IMI dot U. And the, the same link is in there as well. And so people could go in and, and see the resources. The two that I created, or the one that I created was more affirming resources for LGBTQ people. The one for mental health.

[01:07:00] I started finding different resources from different websites, from like the Trevor project to just like general like mental health websites that we’re offering lists of things. So I put that all together. And then the pronouns matters. I included that because people were asking me questions about my pronouns.

Why am I using two different types of pronouns? And so I was like, oh, that’s a great question. So I would have the conversation. And then I would be like, if you wanna learn more, you can go to this link in my bio. And there’s a, a link there that will redirect you to talk about it. And the anti-racist resources in Spanish.

I included that because. As a Latinx community, which is what I am a part of, we often don’t talk about our anti-blackness and there is a lot of anti-blackness within our community. And so I wanted to start a conversation and a lot of people wanted to understand a bit more where there was friends of mine who were saying, I don’t know how to [01:08:00] talk about this with my family, because it’s clearly there.

So I would direct them to this link. And I’ve also used the resources within it to have the conversations with my family. So we can now be more open about things like black lives matter understand why people like George Floyd died and why they were like killed in the hands of like the police and other folks.

So that’s part of why all of these resources are in there. Your second question around side a inside B, when I was learning more about queer theology, I. Started to learn about these two sides. Because I went to lunch with a group of Hillsong people and I was sitting at a table and all of a sudden, I don’t know how the conversation sparked, but I turned to the [01:09:00] person next to me and he was like, oh my God, I’m queer.

And I was like, oh my God, me too. And so we started having more conversations and he’s like, what side are you? And I was like, what are you, what are you talking about? I don’t know what you’re talking about. And so then he started explaining to me the two sides. So basically side a is that you are fur, wholly affirming that you don’t believe that being LGBTQ is a sin at all.

That it’s not included in any of the sins in the Bible that you are fully affirmed by God that God may do this way, that you are who you are and you are queer, fully and wonderfully made. And. To quote unquote and I hate using these words acting upon it is also okay. So to be who you are fully is, is good because you were created good.

You are a good creation of God. So that’s side a side. B is yes, this is who you [01:10:00] are. This is who you you have same sex attraction, and I’m using a lot of trigger words probably for you. But this is what side B is that you have attract attractions to people with the same sex and. That’s okay.

But if you act upon it and are in a relationship with someone or are more openly queer meaning that like you go to things like pride or you become you, you are in a relationship with someone, then that’s the bad side of it. And you shouldn’t do that, that you should be celibate that you should like be more compressing it down.

And that is your cross to bear for the rest of your life. That I don’t agree with. But if that is you I’m more than welcome to have a conversation around why I believe that is not a good side, but if that’s you, you know, go forward and, and be yeah, 

De’Vannon: besides [01:11:00] sounds like the dark side of the forest, 

Noemi: it is for me, it is, that’s what I.

De’Vannon: No, we don’t want that. And I’m, I’m so sorry to hear. Thank you for explaining that. Cuz I had never heard of that until I met you. Is the, the, the whole. You know, Hispanic people against black people is something I witnessed when I was a recruiter in Southern California, back in the early two thousands.

And the high schools, we had like black, Hispanic wars and stuff. And I’m like, y’all really gonna sit here and let these white people watch the brown people destroy each other. Exactly. Come on. 

Noemi: Like we were fighting together in the 1960s and like civil rights movement. Like we were able to gain more rights because of the black liberation movement.

And now you’re telling me we’re, we’re pitted against each other. Like that’s clearly a white supremacy trying to pit us against each other so that they could succeed. Y 

De’Vannon: Y Y y’all [01:12:00] we gotta, I mean, hopefully, you know, Hispanic people can take, read the room and take the temperature of what’s going on in the world.

Y’all white people. I’m not saying all white people, but you know, white people have had a monopoly in this earth because they went and took it and snatched it by force. And they don’t wanna let that go. Just like your abusers. Didn’t wanna let you go. These white people don’t wanna let women do what they wanna do with their bodies or let you, yeah.

People get married. They feel us slipping away from them. Yeah. You know, and there is enough conservative justices to help, you know, conservative people keep their hope, but that’s not gonna last forever.

You know, mm-hmm, , it’s not possible. Um, You know, our, the ethnic racist, you know, our population increasing in everything. And I was thinking about this earlier, but what the, what the people who try to oppress us and, and they, and then they claim they read the Bible. But it’s funny if they ever do that, they only pay attention to certain things.

Like in the, [01:13:00] like when the nation of Israel was under the hand of Pharaoh, you know, the Hebrew bomb tells us that the more Pharaoh oppressed them, the more they grew and prospered mm-hmm , you know? And so it’s not gonna be any different in this day and time, the more they try to come for us, the more we’re gonna take that pressure and turn it into to creativity, tend to creative energy.

Okay. And use it to propel us forward. So, you know, come on, keep hating us. You’re just gonna make us better. You know, our enemies are refining us. And so that’s, that’s true. I agree. And so, so y’all during this episode, Noami and I have preached to you about the dangers of churches. We’ve, we’ve been very vulnerable and transparent about the damaging things that happened to us at Lakewood church in Houston, Texas in my case.

And in her case, the Boston location of the hill song church, which is a headquartered out of Sydney, Australia, We want to be transparent so that, you [01:14:00] know what’s really happening behind the scenes a day is coming where our straight allies are not going be able to attend churches like this who are against us and still call yourself our friends.

Mm-hmm so you’re getting ready to get cut off. And I don’t care how long I’ve known you. If you still attend Lakewood church, we are going to have to say goodbye to each other. You can’t eat at Chick-fil-A shop at hobby lobby. Come, come around my house with a Chick-fil-A bag and you and a, and a new plate set from hobby lobby or whatever talking about, Hey girl, I’m gonna be like, bitch.

Bye . So it’s not going to work. Yeah, I agree. So, and as this Nomi was saying, there’s a difference between welcoming and affirming. So if you’re gonna insist upon going to churches, which I think you can approach God without a church, but if you feel like. You need a starting ground or something like that, that can be used for that.

You must outgrow them one day. You don’t need to stay at [01:15:00] churches forever at school, you gotta graduate. No, Emmy has a good resource list. You just broke it down. I have resources on my website and I’m starting to write courses to help you figure out how to approach God without a church. I understand.

We’re asking you to let it go. You gotta have something to go to. That’s why she’s giving you the resource list. I’ve I’ve done the same, but just remember question them. Are they welcoming or affirming? Are you a side B side? Welcoming is basically B side. Like you can come set up in here, but understand.

We think you’re evil or this is wrong with you. We’re not going. 

Noemi: They tolerate you. They don’t allow you to be. 

De’Vannon: Yeah. And that sort of energy is damaging to be around. Even if it’s not spoken, you’re hurting yourself internally. and just pay attention and remember the platitude, just because the church, the leaders say you’re a family and a member.

That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t question them, question them, question everything. Do you have any final words, [01:16:00] anything at all? You wanna say? Just what you, just whatever you wanna do. 

Noemi: Yeah. I think you were talking about like people leaving church or people leaving, like yeah. People leaving church.

I think for me, from my perspective, church is community. And, and people have come together in community of organized religion because they’ve thought that was church. But Jesus, didn’t establish a church. Yes. He gave Peters the hands the keys to the church or whatever, but the way that it was established was human made.

And it’s become a business model. And so when people talk about church and leaving church, I always say, yeah, you can leave organized religion church, but the church will always be [01:17:00] alive within people who come together and have like minded views, or just challenge each other and have conversations like the one you and I are having.

So you can have church really, wherever you go and, and in, and God will show up in that. If that is someone you believe in or the, the divine and the spirit of the divine will show up. And so that’s something that I live with now as someone who’s experienced trauma within the church I don’t seek to go to an organized.

Religion building because that is not a place where I feel safe, but if that’s a place where you feel safe, like feel free to question, and if they’re not accepting of the questions you’re bringing, then it’s time for you to question if that’s a place, even for you and for the people that you love. If they are welcoming of those questions and they want to challenge and, and have, and look for better place to serve each other then like, [01:18:00] great, continue to go on that journey with them.

I have experienced churches that are welcoming and, or that are fully affirming. And for me that, like, I love that they exist and I love that there’s people who can find safety in that. And it’s often something that’s very different from, we all grew up in obviously there’s no perfect church because.

We’re humans, but often those affirming churches are welcoming of the criticism and of the change and places who excuse their errors by saying, well, you’re never gonna find a perfect place. That’s where, you know, that’s different. And so I guess my last thing is like, you, you are the church and wherever you go, church will be there with you because you are a person and, and wherever two or three are gathered, that’s where he is.

Or that’s where God is. We’re not putting pronouns to God. But[01:19:00]

De’Vannon: yeah, you know, you are right. It wouldn’t. I, I said that same thing, you know, the whole, let me rationalize this. There’s no perfect church and everything like that. I said that same thing. , you know, when Lakewood was doing stuff and asking me if I had a girlfriend behind the scenes and saying the parents were complaining about my mannerisms and you know, I was like, I rationalize.

I was like, you know what, no, where’s there. No’s gonna be perfect. And then, you know, they go and get rid of us in their opinion for not being perfect. Although we had, we showed them mercy or they didn’t show us mercy. Yeah. 

Noemi: Yeah. And I think the queer community is the most equipped to help the church and wherever we are not being fully affirmed.

Like, I’m gonna be like Jesus. And the way he said, like I’m gonna wipe the dust off of my feet and move on. [01:20:00] And the places where I am fully welcomed and they bring me and they sit me down at the table with them, that’s where I’ll know, like I can set up shop and I can be. And I’ve found that within my friend groups, I have found that within my small community of people, outside of a church building.

But, and that for me has been church. And I think often non-farming churches and welcoming churches use that the lack of perfection to excuse abuse. But even Jesus called out the pharaohs and even he went and flipped tables in places like that. So, mm let’s do that as well. 

De’Vannon: Yeah. I’m all for flipping some shit over.

No. I, I hate that. I still feel like a fool when I think back over it. I hate that. I still feel like a fool. 

Noemi: Yeah. I think that’s like, I, I still feel it [01:21:00] sometimes. And I think it’s something that I’ve been learning, how to process it and realizing that by placing blame and guilt on myself, that I’m excusing their behavior and doing that.

And now I fully placed a blame on them in creating a system that I thought was safe. And saying, no, I, I’m not gonna victim shame myself. I was the victim of abuse. And I’m gonna call them out for doing that. 

De’Vannon: Okay. So then what you’re saying is like, when these feelings, like how I’m feeling now, I’m feeling like a fool from having allowed myself to be deceived by Lakewood church, come upon me.

Then I can be an Alchemist and convert that into yeah. Into the, the truth of the matter and go, no, I, I, you know, it’s not so much that I was a fool, but they manipulated me and took advantage of me in my vulnerable state because they saw that they could, 

Noemi: yeah. That took a long time to realize in [01:22:00] therapy, but yes, that’s it because you’re victim shaming yourself into saying, and that’s what they want.

They want you to churn it back on you so that they could continue this multimillion dollar system that they’ve created. But the reality is not that the reality is that it’s all on them for creating a system that was manipulative enough to convince anybody to come in 

De’Vannon: and to convince us, to deny our own instinct.

Mm-hmm . 

Noemi: Because they taught us to disconnect with our bodies. Evangelicalism teaches you to do that. So when you finally reconnect with your body and say, no, my body is good and you harm this good body that was created by the divine. The fault is on you for harming it. As a, a place that was supposed to be safe for everyone, it was supposed to be the representation of God.

Like you are not doing that. You are clearly anti everything. Jesus was[01:23:00]

De’Vannon: I’m going end it on that. Y’all.

Thank you all so much for taking time to listen to the sex drugs in Jesus podcast. It really means everything to me. Look, if you love the show, you can find more information and resources at SexDrugsAndJesus.com or wherever you listen to your podcast. Feel free to reach out to me directly at DeVannon@SexDrugsAndJesus.com and on Twitter and Facebook as well.

My name is De’Vannon and it’s been wonderful being your host today and just remember that everything is gonna be right.

 

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