A gay Christian author wants youth to know they don’t have to choose between their faith and their sexuality.
Stacey Chomiak, an LGBTQ illustrator and author who recently moved to Chilliwack, is sharing her personal story about her young self as she struggled with coming to terms that she was both gay and Christian.
Chomiak’s queer, illustrated, young-adult memoir Still Stace: My Gay Christian Coming-of-Age Story is being released on Oct. 19 and there will be a book launch and signing in November.
She wrote the book because she doesn’t want others to feel alone.
“I’ve always wanted to share my story somehow because I never had anybody I could talk to. The term ‘gay Christian’ didn’t exist.”
Chomiak grew up in Winnipeg in a conservative, evangelical home and always loved attending Bible camp.
The book starts out when she was 16 years old, about 25 years ago, when she met a girl at church camp.
“I started to realize I had feelings for girls, but didn’t know what that meant because I didn’t even know the word ‘homosexuality.’ I was very Christian. I wasn’t allowed to go to sex ed,” she said. “I literally had to go to the library and look up what homosexuality was.”
The next 13 years were a struggle. Everyone in her life said it was wrong, including God. She thought she couldn’t be gay and also be Christian.
“I can’t exist being wrong. My faith is really important to me,” Chomiak said. “I couldn’t walk away from it, I didn’t want to do that, yet I couldn’t pray it away. I couldn’t get rid of these feelings.”
Her story of heartbreak, family conflict, trying to become ex-gay, wrestling with her faith and finding love all unfold in Still Stace.
“I remember feeling so alone for years.”
The book ends happily on her wedding day at the age of 30.
She’s hoping Still Stace will show gay Christian youth that they don’t have to change.
The suicide rate is “astronomically” high for teens of faith who are gay, she said, adding that she too had those same thoughts.
“I can’t pray this away, no one understands it and God hates me. So what else is there?” she recalled thinking when she was younger.
Chomiak is now married with children. She and her family moved to Chilliwack this summer and she recognizes there is a divide here between the queer community and the faith community.
“They do not mix, they do not overlap… but my story makes peace with both with a happy ending – which is rare.”
She wants people to have conversations, open their minds, meet other people and hear their stories.
“There’s no black and white to anything,” Chomiak said. “I’d love to get more positive conversations going so less people feel alone. If I can tell somebody else ‘You are beautiful as you are and flourish in that,’ that’s my hope.”
The book launch for Chomiak’s memoir Still Stace: My Gay Christian Coming-of-Age Story is on Saturday, Nov. 20 at Smoking Gun Coffee Roasters (101-46168 Yale Rd.) from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
She’s also part of a multi-author book signing event at The Owl and The Cat Bookery (105-45655 Tamihi Way) on Saturday, Nov. 6 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Folks can buy the book at either of those events, at The Book Man ($27.99), or by going to staceychomiak.wixsite.com/website.
Chomiak has a degree in animation and is currently art directing a series of shorts for DreamWorks. She also illustrated children’s book Rainbow Boy which came out in January.