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Lesbian stayed in closet until her 40s over ‘fear that the devil was inside’ her

Ella Braidwood July 26, 2019

"Internalised homophobia kept me in closet." (Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

One lesbian has opened up about her experience of conservative Christianity, including being subjected to an exorcism, leading her to not come out until her late 40s for fear that the “devil was inside” her.

British-born Fiona Goodwin explained that she became a “born-again” Christian at the age of 15 in an article for the Guardian in the hope that it might stop her having sexual feelings towards other girls.

She said she knew that she was gay when she was 12 years old, while studying at an all-girls school in Cambridge in the 1970s, describing the realisation as “horrifying.”

Goodwin went on to explain that she continued with “wrestle” with her sexuality when she moved to London for university.

Lesbian had exorcism to rid her of “demon”

a religious image representing an article about a lesbian who grew up as a Christian
Goodwin explained that she became a “born-again” Christian at the age of 15.  (FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty)

In the second year of her studies, she confessed to her church pastor that she had kissed a woman.

Goodwin recalled that her pastor responded by telling her that she had a “demon inside me,” and arranged an exorcism in a bid to get it out.

“I was crying because four men were shouting at me and also because of the years of anxiety, grief and loneliness I had suffered,” she said.

“It seemed to go on for hours.”

Still, Goodwin explained that the practice did not work.

I was crying because four men were shouting at me and also because of the years of anxiety, grief and loneliness I had suffered.

She said that she finished her studies in London and nearly moved to Italy to become a nun.

However, she decided not to go after reading a passage in the Bible, which she interpreted as being about how she “had to live in the real world.”

Internalised homophobia kept me in closet until late 40s, says lesbian

Years later, Goodwin was working in London but studying in Los Angeles part-time and felt empowered by the people she met there.

She quit her job after finishing her course and moved to Los Angeles, where she came out as gay.

“The fear that the devil was inside me, plus my internalised homophobia, kept me in the closet until I was in my late 40s,” she explained.

“I was working as a teacher in London, but for one weekend every month I flew to Los Angeles to study for a master’s in spiritual psychology.

“For two years I was surrounded by people who didn’t care if I was gay or not; their only religion was authenticity.”

Goodwin, who is no longer a Christian, has now documented her experienced in a show called A Very British Lesbian, which she will be performing in at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

More: Cambridge, Christianity, lesbian

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