I have always been a tomboy. The boy my family never had. I wanted to be just like my dad. I followed him and learned to fix things, and loved to go golfing with him. I never played. I just watched him and spent time with him. I loved teenage mutant ninja turtles, micro-machines and building things. I was most comfortable in old jeans with holes, t-shirts, and baseball caps. I liked playing G I Joes with the boys my mom babysat and I was not too fond of Barbie dolls. In middle school there was a group of girls who thought it was their job to demoralize me. They called me a lesbian. At the time I thought that was absurd. I was a Christian and I could not be gay. They were just mean anyways and just trying to hurt me. I couldn’t admit that the words and whispers did hurt or it would never stop. I clung to my faith and friends at church. It was the only place I felt safe.
I never really dated much. I did have a boyfriend when I was 14. He was a good friend. My sisters and friends teased us because we didn’t really act like we were dating. We finally decided we were just friends. I think back now and I remember times with my friends when they were talking about some boy or male movie star who was “Hot” I would go along with it, but I never really saw what they did. Some part of me knew it, and I couldn’t let myself have access to that knowledge, so I tucked it deep inside. I remember an obsession with relationships, not boyfriends like other girls, but my close girl friends. I knew I talked about those relationships too much and there was “something off” about them. I felt it, but I was not able to think about it. Now I know what that “something off” was. It was the butterflies in my stomach when I thought about these friends. It was the way my heart beat faster when they walked in the room… it was the same feelings I seemed to lack towards boys.
I did not think of any of these things consciously until recently. I wasn’t able to tell myself the truth. I knew it though. I know that is part of what caused me to be depressed, and suicidal off and on from adolescence on. At 16 I started harming myself. I punched the brick wall of my house. I cut myself with a knife from the kitchen. I constantly thought about killing myself. I didn’t talk about it. I did reach out a couple of times to friends in high school. When I went to a Christian college 10 hours from home my world came crashing in. I did not have my little sister to yell at, or my wall to punch. I started cutting more and opened up to my RA about how much I wanted to die. I went to counseling and tried to maintain a normal college life. School, friends, dreams all the things every college kid tries to juggle. I made friends who needed help and poured myself out so I didn’t have to deal with my own issues. The second semester of my sophomore year I got a new roommate. We became very close very fast. It was with her that I made some connections about those butterflies. I was in love with her. I had let her closer than anyone, too close. When I realized what was happening I thought I was evil. I hid it from everyone including her.
Keeping that secret caused more and more self harm. I ended up having to leave the college because of my self destructive behavior. My parents took me home. I was there for a year and then went to a state college. I spent the next years trying to figure out how to stop being self destructive. I was in and out of therapy. I would do better and worse, deal with old issues and wounds; I would not face the sexual attraction to women for a couple of years. When I did I thought it was just something I struggled with. I ended up at a church that encouraged me to become the woman I was and strip off my tom boy look and attitude. They gave me hope that Jesus was going to change me and make me into the woman I was supposed to be.
I was trying to be who all the women around me seemed to want me to become. I wore their make-up and clothes. I dated two of my good guy friends in college and it didn’t go anywhere. I took off my baseball caps for a few years. I really tried, but I felt like I was uncomfortable in my own skin until I would revert back to my jeans and t-shirts. I kept waiting for the day I would wake up and be attracted to Harrison Ford and not Angelina Jolie. Years went by and when that didn’t happen, I got depressed again. I was starting to be resigned to living a lonely and miserable life. Giving up the idea of being married to a man was not hard. I really want to be a mother though. I felt I had failed God, that I couldn’t fulfill any of His purpose for my life.
Still all I had was the church. I was always involved. I never walked away. Where else did I have to go? I did not realize how much I was feeling that the only place I had ever felt accepted me was really rejecting me. The real me. It was in the middle of this realization, when I was not sure I could keep going that God led me to the truth. It has been a hard journey, and I would not go back. It started when I was watching a little lifetime movie called “Prayers for Bobby”. As I watched the story unfold I saw myself in it. I was Bobby. I was there hearing friends and family say all the negative things about gay people and hearing them about myself. A big difference between me about Bobby is that I kept it hidden much longer and mine was the loudest voice of judgment on myself. I was to myself what the mother in the movie was to her son. I had condemned myself. One layer at a time God revealed the lies I had believed about His word, His dreams for my life, and about gay people.
I started this journey after almost a year of DBT therapy where I learned to think differently. I know the skills I learned in therapy lay the foundation for me to be able see things from a new perspective. God gave me just enough at each step to keep me going. Through the whole process there have been a core group from my church who have been there for me. Three women and my pastor have walked through all the different parts of my journey with me. They have encouraged me and been in my corner as I was seeking answers. None of them believe as I do now that it is acceptable to live a gay lifestyle. The thing is, none of them tried to preach to me when I told them what I believe and how I had resolved my inner turmoil. I am in the process of seeking out a church where I can be accepted for whom I am, and at the same time I know these people are there for me when I need them. They have not cut me out of their lives. That is something huge.
Now I am starting to come out to friends and family. I have two supportive friends who believe as I do that God created me this way. My immediate family has responded as my friends from church did. We still love you and we still believe it is wrong to live a gay lifestyle. I respect their right to believe as they do as long as they respect my right to be myself and believe what I believe.
I was really expecting more rejection. I still may face that. I am trying not to take it too quickly. I am meeting so many amazing people. I am learning how much I didn’t know. One thing I do know. God has been there the whole time, with just the right people, just the right song, just the right book everything I needed to move forward. In the last two weeks I have started to shed the self hatred I have been carrying for 20 years or more. I thank God that he has set me free. I plan to take this one step at a time. If my story can help just one person understand, one teenager not feel so alone, one family to heal. It is worth sharing. Thank you for your time.