CONTENT WARNING: THIS COMING OUT STORY CONTAINS DESCRIPTION AND/OR DISCUSSION ABOUT ABUSE AND VIOLENCE.
My journey is far from over, stalled out yes but not over…not yet. I was born and raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons-not the polygamist version). When I look back over my life, I realize that I felt different, broken…a mistake when I was 3 or 4. Going through life, church every Sunday, church activities almost every evening, seminary in the mornings…year after year. I tried so hard to be just like everyone else. But I felt something for women that I didn’t feel for men…while I didn’t understand what any of those feelings meant I knew I needed to keep my secret…a secret I didn’t even know about. I didn’t meet anyone who was gay until I was 21-ish and still had no idea I could be gay until I was 24 or so. Xena was the first suggested gay anything I had ever known. I fought against it so hard, I was always the “tomboy” and hated with a passion when someone would call me gay. As if at that time I even knew what gay was, I just knew that you couldn’t be gay and be in the church. You can’t go to heaven unless you marry in the temple. I had to be straight but I hated the idea of being with a man. After all, men were the ones who told me what I could do with my body, men were the ones that used my body before I ever knew what my body was for. But women were safe, soft and caring. I fell in love with my best friend in 1st grade but had no idea at the time what I was. Who I am. Just that I had to keep it a secret. I tried killing myself in high school…for a lot of reasons really, but mostly because I felt and had learned that I was a mistake, that something was wrong with me. I wasn’t normal. But I tried so hard to be what everyone wanted. My junior year of college I met gay people for the first time, and suddenly life started making sense. Their stories were like mine, the confusion, the loss and the horrible lonely ache of feeling like you can’t be you. At that time though, only church members were really in my life…when they started suspecting I was kicked out of two separate housing locations, I lost my all of my friends. All of them. It wasn’t hard coming out to my mom, bless her soul she has loved me and supported me even when I hate myself. She is the only reason I exist now. Dad, well…I’ve blocked most of it out but remember him with a steak knife. The majority of my family loves the sinner but hates the sin. I’ve been fired from jobs for being gay. I’ve been beaten up, called names, spit at and threatened…but I can’t change who I am. I still feel like a mistake, either waiting to die or waiting for life to start…and while I have no idea what actually happens in the afterlife…I know that I live with integrity. I help those less fortunate than me, I help lost and abandoned animals, I give to charities and I work with some of the most challenging of clients in my professional life…I’m not gloating, not puffing my chest. Just saying that I’m being me, all of me. I am gay. I love women. I love helping others. I firmly believe that if we do our best every day, no matter what the best looks like…that maybe God/the universe will understand that I am the way I was made as God intended. Yes, I still feel broken, lost and a mistake…and if being gay keeps me from heaven, then sadly I admit okay. I cannot change who I am any more than I can change my blood type. I cannot change my faith even if my church hates me. Coming to terms with yourself is not a destination, it is a journey and I am far from the end. Yes some days are better than others, and some days I am a victim to my own mind but this I promise…I will never give up my integrity as a good human. An empath. A gay Mormon. Had God wanted me different, then I would be different. No matter where you are in your journey…know others have been there. While the steps are not the same, the feelings are. Don’t let anyone steal your shine. You are worth it. Every little bit. You are worth it and so much more. Be at peace and know you are loved. <3 Deb