My sister Amy was one of the first people I ever came out to. My heart was pounding, emotions near the surface. With tears streaming down my face I explained what it was like to grow up gay. How as a young boy I had been called “faggot” and “homo” and how hard I tried to change who I was to be accepted by others. I shared with her how alone I had felt carrying the burden of being gay in a homophobic world and how heavy it was to hold the secret from everyone, including those I loved most. How my whole life I didn’t feel worthy of love because I was gay and how afraid I was of losing the blessings that had been promised to me if I were to act on my gayness. As I sobbed my sister Amy stood up from the couch across the room, came over to me and just held me. She had never held me like this before. I felt so vulnerable yet so comforted in her arms. She said as I cried, “I’m so sorry you’ve had to face this alone for so long. I wish I would have known sooner so I could have told you I love you no matter what. It breaks my heart to think that little Trevor was carrying so much hurt for so long.”
Amy instantly became one of my biggest allies. She normalized the things that I was learning to be comfortable with, like when she was so excited to hear about Jack, the boy I was dating, who later became my husband. She taught her kids that love is love and that boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls. She volunteered at the LGBTQ+ resource center that I went to regularly. She helped me plan my proposal to Jack and let me do it in her backyard. At the place where I knelt to ask Jack to marry me, she had placed two drawings of Jack and I under a rainbow that her kids had drawn in preparation for the event. When I felt angry that I was gay, or hurt by those who rejected me after coming out, or overwhelmed by the changes I was experiencing, she would sit with me through my emotions. She helped me believe that I was worthy of love, of feeling love for and from another man, of starting a family that felt authentic for me. I leaned on her love for me when I didn’t have the strength in me to love myself. Amy was and still is a practicing Mormon.
It didn’t seem hard for her to love me or support me as I came out and left the church and married a man. I think she just wanted me to be happy and not feel broken or be alone any more. She was a ring bearer at Jack’s and my wedding and signed our marriage license as a witness. She had opened her heart to Jack and treated him like family well before he was officially my husband. In her wedding speech she talked about how happy she was that Jack would be her brother-in-law and how much she loved him. I was so happy to know how much she loved and accepted him. She could see how wonderful he is because she humanized him and let him in rather than push him or the idea of him away.
Now Jack and I live in our first home with our two dogs Cliff and Widget – follow us on @doggydads! We’ve been married over a year and are supporting each other in pursuing our passions. We mow the lawn and grocery shop. We bring our dogs to the dog park and pick up their poop. Sometimes we argue. We have jobs, we pay the bills, we go on trips, we make dinner together. Our life feels so familiar. We forget that we are two married men. We often forget the struggle and heartache we felt grappling with our faith and our sexuality. We have taken with us all the wonderful things we learned in the Mormon church and left the things the hurt us behind. We did the work (and continue to do it) to learn to love ourselves exactly as we are and to feel worthy of the love we have for each other as two human beings. And because of that, we have so much love to give others. I feel like I got my life back when I came out as gay and allowed myself to love how I was made to love.
To Amy, and to those who love and support their LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters like she loved and supported me – thank you. You cannot overestimate the power that your love has to heal those who feel broken.
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This In My Own Words story is a contribution from Let’s Love Better, a Facebook group dedicated to helping people learn to better share love, while fostering an atmosphere of understanding. When we know better, we do better.