Growing up, God was always involved in my life, both at home and at school. I attended and graduated from a private Baptist school that my mom graduated from and my brother also attended. We always went to church every week, and to this day, we still do.
When I was 7 years old, I had a crush on my best friend. I actually didn’t even know what it was at the time, because I just knew that when I was around her I felt butterflies in my stomach and I wanted to hold her hand and hug her. I guess those are my foundational feelings when I began to understand I might like girls.
Fast forward to 6th grade, I had a killer crush on my teacher, like, way too much. Anyways, my parents sat me down one day and confronted me on the issue. I don’t remember what led up to this exactly, but I’m assuming I was showing signs of homosexuality. I vividly remember we were sitting on our couch, my dad had his arm around me and my mom was pacing back and forth in front of us. Quietly, my dad asked, “Do you like her?” (referring to my teacher) and very timidly I responded, “I don’t know. Yes…maybe.” A bit more firmly he asked again, “Do you like…like her?” A long pause later, “Like how a boy likes a girl?” And something sparked inside me. I did; I did like her, so why couldn’t I just say that I did? “Yes,” I replied.
My mom began to weep and my father placed his hand over his face. I knew in my heart I disappointed them; I had managed to break their hearts. My parents left the room, and we never spoke about the subject again.
Skip to my senior year in high school. We had regular mini church services in between our classes, and this particular one struck me. The guest speaker addressed the issue of secrets and problems people keep to themselves and how we needed to open them and fix every single one; my church and school always taught us it was good to feel convicted and to act on a conviction when God spoke to us. In that service, in my young, naïve, vulnerable mind, I felt convicted about my homosexuality. All these years later, I suppressed my feelings and convinced myself that it was a sin and my parents hated that part of me; I was also convinced that I had to fix myself. After the service, I took a step forward to do just that. I approached the only teacher I trusted (who also taught my mom) and told her everything. EVERYTHING.
She was surprisingly sweet about it the whole time. She expressed that I was one of the good girls in the school – always went to church, passed dress check, an example for others, showed my piers how to love the Lord, got good grades, and obeyed my leaders. She wasn’t wrong; I did everything in my power to be a perfect Christian girl, so that maybe I could erase my “unnatural” desires. Then, she began to tell me that this was an issue, but she would be able to fix it.
We met after school nearly every day for about 30 minutes. She gave me articles, books and passages of the Bible to read about homosexuality. I worked so hard to suppress my emotions; I looked at pictures of guys and forced myself to like what I saw, I pinched myself whenever I had an impure thought about my female classmates, I went to the bathroom and mentally yelled at myself when the thoughts wouldn’t stop, I told others that I had crushes on the boys in class, I went on dates with guys, I dressed really feminine, etc. On the outside, I looked like everyone else, but inside I was beyond normal, which is what I really wanted to be.
I grew frustrated, and I eventually hated myself. Long nights of crying myself to sleep, prayer and pleading for God to change me wasn’t working. It was breaking me apart. After a few months, I couldn’t take it anymore, I came up with this elaborate scheme to get my teacher off my back, which included me crying and thanking her for the help to cure me. She was so proud, but asked that I continue the reading and praying, “Satan may tempt you again; you need to be ready.” I promised, then went home to look myself in the mirror and question everything – the church’s teaching, the school’s moral codes, the professor’s beliefs and my own.
I graduated that year with a heavy heart and a bruised spirit. But slowly, I discovered who I was, what I wanted. And began to fall in love with myself. – the girl I wanted to be, not the girl my church expected me to be. And if I can just say, it was THE MOST liberating experience of my life. It’s as though my soul had been craving that decision all my life.
The summer after I graduated, I finally accepted who I am. I’m gay. *contended sigh* It still gives me a buzz when I say it . 🙂 And I’m ok with it. I’m learning to be 100% okay with it and I’m getting better every day. Sometimes, there’s still a battle with the old me and the new one, but I’m not afraid to face it head on now. The strict Baptist teachings have left a scar in my mind, there’s still plenty of things that remind me of my past self, but I am embracing who I truly am. I’ve never been more in love with or proud of myself; I find it very hard to believe that there’s a way that would ever be considered “unnatural.”
The first person I came out to was my best friend, who also attended school and graduated with me. We were both invited for lunch with our volleyball coach, a true Bible-believing, God-adoring, Christian woman. When our coach went to the restroom, I couldn’t wait anymore, I wanted her to know. “I’m gay.” My heart was beating so loud I thought the whole restaurant heard it, and my stomach sank so hard I questioned whether it was under the table. Before she could respond, our coach returned. But, later that night she explained that she loved me either way and it was actually very cool to have a gay best friend…
I’m still heavily in the closet, watching Pride parades from the television, but I have come out to a handful of loyal, trustworthy people. It’s a small, but great start. I’m not planning on coming out for another 10 years or so, but I’m ok with that now. After the long, heartbreaking journey I’ve been on so far, taking baby steps for now is no problem for me…