As far back as I can remember, I’ve known that something was different about me. I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly it was, but it was not something I was familiar with, or had much knowledge about. Something about the way I viewed myself in comparison with the way others viewed themselves was different. My interests were not the same as my friends’ interests.
The first time I’d ever really noticed an attraction to another girl, was around second grade, and she is one of my best friends. Later in my schooling, I continued having numerous crushes on girls, while not really feeling attracted in the same way toward guys. The only guy I dated was a sweetheart and treated me well, but I didn’t feel the same tugging attraction towards him as I did toward girls. I loved him but not in a romantic sense. It was rather a friendship more than anything, so we cut it off.
In my Freshman year of high school, I began to truly discover that I was indeed a gay woman. I fell head over heels in love with a girl two and a half years older than me. She was an upperclassman, while I was a young high school freshman, but I was beaming when she told me she had loved me just as much as I loved her. We met in the hallway, and she then she proceeded to kiss me. It felt different than the way my ex boyfriend had kissed me, or in the way anyone had kissed me for that matter. It felt good, but deep down inside, I didn’t know how to come to terms with telling my mom about her or my sexuality.
Years of religious indoctrination flooded my soul. How could something as simple as a kiss feel so right, when so many in my Latter-day Saint faith had convinced me that these feelings were wrong—and a product of Satan?
When I came home that evening, my heart sunk in my chest. I couldn’t bring myself to tell my parents what had happened that day. It just seemed impossible to muster up the courage to do so. After that day, I let her go, she was the first person I felt a connection with. But I didn’t have the strength or support to be honest with my feelings.
It spent the next year living in sorrow and guilt for giving up on the opportunity to love.
After a year of that incident eating me up inside, and getting approached by yet another girl, I was going to do what I had to do, without hiding a relationship and hurting another girlfriend. I decided to be open and honest about who I was as a person. I would come out to my mom and dad.
We were in the car, on our way to school. My mom drove me there, with my sister in the backseat. It would be better this way because if she was mad, I would be able to go to my school counselor and tell her about it. The whole drive there, we were having fun, talking about whatever we pleased, when I stared at my mom with a blank facial expression. I looked her straight in the eyes, not even flinching and said, “I have to be honest with you about something. You have to know what’s really going on.” I said. She stared hard at me, a whole plethora of different emotions enveloping her face, “I’m gay.” The words slowly dripped off of my tongue. My mom scoured at me, speechless, while my sister audibly gasped in the backseat.
My mother’s instant reaction was fear. And pain. She began yelling at me, saying that she didn’t need this right now because my aunt was in the hospital and this week was already stressful. She then began interrogating me, saying that I probably had other “fag” friends who were “making me gay,” she reinforced the same things I had heard at Church, that homosexuality was probably just a phase. And that this was Satan trying to destroy the family.
I started crying uncontrollably.
Her words stung, and her bitter attitude towards the community that I didn’t join by choice was heart-breaking. The way she reacted to who I loved shattered my immediate hopes of ever being with a girl. The rest of the drive was eerily silent. As we approached the parking lot at school, I flung open the door and walked the rest of the way.
That afternoon, after returning home from school, my mom told me she had signed me up for therapy to deal with my sexuality. She continued to tell me that lesbians were disgusting and that I could change if I wanted to—that God would help me—that the atonement of Jesus Christ was created for this exact scenario. I also learned that she had spoken to young woman leader, the bishop and many of her friends about my sexuality. She told everyone she knew about it without my consent, of course.
Three days later, without much of a choice in the matter (and with almost no positive discussion about it at home), I was in an office of a therapist. My dad was also there at the appointment. To my surprise, he was taking my coming out very well, much better than my mom. He told me that he loved me no matter what, no matter who I had loved. That meant more to me than anything, to have someone support me in that way, and it awoke a new sense of confidence and hope within me.
In addition, the therapist surprised me just the same. She told me that my sexuality was a part of me that I could not change, and to love myself just the way I am. Therapy soon became my new favorite place, where I was able to tell her and gain insight about my struggles, while also patching things up with my mom.
At 15 years old, I had come out to my family, and I don’t regret anything about doing so. It was a difficult process, especially with my mom, but I’ve learned more about who I was as a person. I am proud of who I am. I’m PROUD to have the courage to be my authentic self, and being able to embrace it within such a loving LGBTQ community.
My hope is that others can come out, so people like my mom can see that we are not disgusting. I hope that religious organizations can one day see that we are you! We are the sons and daughters and the brothers and sisters. We are not the lost sheep.
But most of all, I want other people to feel what I feel. I want the coming out experience to change you like it changed me. I can see clearer, I am happier, I am more free and I am learning what it is like to live unapologetically authentic. You can have it to!
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Each Sunday we feature a new Coming Out Story on the Latter Gay Stories blog. Coming out is an important process that is different for everyone; some experiences are difficult; while others are heart-warming and inspiring. Coming out is rarely easy—but your story will help others draw inspiration from your own experience.
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