From lesbianism to grace - Pastor who renounced gay lifestyle on a mission to convert homosexuals
Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
The Reverend Michelle Smith, 43, had been flirtatious with females ever since her introduction to lesbianism at age nine, a lifestyle that she says left a void in her life.
"I was in dead-end relationships and I would just go through the motions at times. I was an introvert, no one knew what was going on inside of me and I would just put on a mask as though I was happy. But while I was hurting inside, I would just lash out at people because I was very angry about different things," she confessed in an interview with The Sunday Gleaner yesterday.
But after 26 years of this "unacceptable lifestyle", she renounced her homosexuality and is now on a mission, using the gospel to convert persons in the gay community.
Smith, who is a Jamaican living in Trinidad, found comfort in lesbianism, which she thought was her only hope, since she was living in a family which had nothing positive to offer.
She grew up in Greenwich Town, Kingston, with her father and siblings, but the tender touch of a mother was missing in her life.
"I came from a dysfunctional family where at the age of nine, I was molested by an older girl ... . That was my introduction to lesbianism. My dad had a nightclub which was like a whore house. He couldn't read, so when he sent me to school, I wouldn't go. I would be around with friends," she said.
Her life at that age was characterised by degrading activities that literally destroyed her childhood. It never stopped there. It ripped into her teenage years in the form of more vicious molestation and rape, this time from the male of the species.
"At the age of 13, I was molested by an older man, and at the age of 19, I was raped by my sister's husband. So my life completely spiralled out of control and I just got more into it because, at that time, I didn't like men anymore and I thought that all men were the same. I got more into lesbianism because it was not painful," she explained.
She said with the absence of her mother in her life to nurture her, she found it easier to interact with females, hence she became a full-fledged butch lesbian (the 'male' partner in a lesbian relationship).
Dressed like a man, down to the haircut, is how she described her lesbian days. Quite the opposite of the long-haired, make-up wearing woman in skin-fitting jeans and hoop earrings who chatted with The Sunday Gleaner.
"I thought I was a man trapped in a woman's body. I had penis envy. I wanted to take the hormone shots so that I could change, but thank God I didn't do it ... ," she said.
Phallic envy was just one thing she had to deal with. Another was the stumbling block that the lifestyle presented. No one wanted to employ her.
She turned to drugs for a livelihood.
"Of course, living in that environment, I couldn't read, so I got street smart and I got involved in drug smuggling. I started to smuggle drugs all over the world and I started to make a lot of money. But even though I was doing that, there was a void inside of me. There was an emptiness, and I would try to fill it with sex and money."
Icarcerated in England
But it was her dealings with drugs that led to her transformation. While incarcerated in England, she realised that her life was no good.
"Going to prison, for me, was actually saving my life. I got time to stop and think about my life and reflect, and I didn't like who I was, and so I wanted to know if God was really real, if there was a God who was able to bring this peace to me and to give me some understanding about who I am, and so I embarked upon that journey," she explained.
After her 18 months in prison, she took on a new life and went in search of God.
"I started going to church and I decided to get baptised.
"The first spirit that came out of me was the spirit of lesbianism. For 26 years, I thought I was a man trapped in a woman's body, and at that time I saw curves that I never saw in my entire life. That is when I knew I was a woman," she said.
So at age 35, Smith started puberty.
"I can now experience peace. I am no longer an introvert, I no longer have low self-esteem. I now know who I am. God delivered me. I was shocked because I thought that I was going to die a lesbian," she explained.
Further deliverance was to come for Michelle Smith. She went to Florida to be trained as a missionary, but she was unable to read.
"I was fearful that they would have told me that they have no use for me in the ministry because I would have to read the Bible. I told the pastor's wife I could not read and she said, 'God will teach you', and that is exactly what happened," she added.
But not only can Smith read, she has authored her life story in a book entitled From Lesbianism to Grace, and is now on her second publication, which is to be released soon.
She was ordained in Trinidad as a missionary in Without Walls Evangelical Outreach, and later as a minister in Soso House of Praise.
She praised her family's support, describing it as a tower of strength.
"My family didn't discriminate against me. I think my family loves me very much. I don't think that my brothers had actually liked the way I was living, but they didn't let me feel uncomfortable."
Since her conversion, she said she has been using her experience to touch the lives of others so that they too can be converted.
She said homosexuality is demonic, which is evident in the Bible, and it is time for the churches to play their part in reaching out to the group.
"It is a very necessary topic. In a time as this, the Church should never have any taboo subject because people are suffering in silence and we should deal with the issues and not try to put them under the rug and act as if this is not happening," she said.
She bashed the gay rights movement saying it is wrong as it is not an act of God.
The Rev Michelle Smith now mothers an adopted child and has high hopes of getting married in the future.
Rev Michelle Smith can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org of telephone 837-5975.