Anonymous 1’s Extended Story
Since the moment I heard about the opportunity to write this article I have not been able to stop thinking about it. It’s not that I didn’t know whether or not I should write it, but I’ve been contemplating over whether I should share my entire story or just little bits and pieces. This is extremely hard for me, but I know that by doing this I will hopefully help someone out there that is struggling with similar problems.
From day one in elementary school I never quite fit in. I remember desperately wanting to play sports with the boys, but being too shy to ask them if I could join in. I didn’t want to play with the girls, so this left me alone. As if that wasn’t already bad enough, I felt like a freak because while all the other girls were talking about boys, I was secretly thinking about girls.
Once middle school came around I was able to put two and two together: I’m a lesbian. Although I knew it was true, I couldn’t come to accept it because of my Christian faith and the sexual abuse that I experienced as a child.
I grew up in a relatively conservative Christian home that strongly believed that homosexuality was a sin. It commonly came up during discussions at the dinner table (you can imagine my extreme discomfort) and was referred to as ‘gross’ and ‘unnatural’. My dad even went to the extreme of saying that homosexuals are possessed and should be put to death. As hard as that was to hear, the part that bothered me the most was when they talked about what caused homosexuality. It was either one of two things: 1) God was cursing you so that you are damned to hell; or 2) you were sexually abused as a child.
Hearing my parents say this had me convinced that the sexual abuse that I experienced at ages 9 and 10 were the reason why I was gay. I figured that if this were true, then I wasn’t actually gay; I was just temporarily ‘damaged’ and could heal myself with prayer. As I got older, I became angry because, even though I had healed a lot from the abuse, my homosexual feelings were only getting stronger. I remember being so angry because if it were true that sexual abuse had caused my homosexuality, then why wasn’t it going away as I got better?
These things tormented me for years. There was rarely a night that I didn’t lie awake sobbing, asking God to change me. It got to the point where I didn’t see any reason to go on and I attempted suicide. But life went on, and I did my best to appear as a normal as possible.
My sophomore year of high school I began dating my best friend. Things really felt like they were improving. I thought that I had ‘conquered’ my homosexuality and I could actually picture myself marrying him for a while, but I was really just repressing my thoughts and feelings. Eventually reality struck and I knew that I was only kidding myself, but I remember looking at myself in the mirror and saying, “You are gay, but you are still going to marry a man.” Being an open lesbian was not an option for me.
I kept this philosophy as I left for school at Spring Arbor University in the fall of 2014. As fate would have it, I became best friends with a gay man. I had never met a gay Christian before and this opened my eyes up to a whole new perspective. I began doing avid research on the topic and watched many Christian LGBT Youtubers and eventually came to the conclusion that being gay is not a sin.
Knowing this, I knew I could no longer maintain a relationship with my boyfriend and I told him that I was a lesbian and we broke up. Telling him this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I felt overwhelmed with guilt because I knew I had just torn my best friend’s heart in half and I could see the pain written all over his face. Initially he just sat there in silence and shock, but then as I tried to talk to him he got extremely angry. Every time I went near him he’d push me to the ground and say I” never want to look at your face again.” Countless times he told me I was dirty and disgusting and it left me feeling broken in two. The quote ‘the one’s we love are the ones we hurt the most’ began to really hit home. As much as I wanted to hate him for this, I couldn’t. I can’t imagine what he’s gone through and I’ll always regret not being honest with him from the start.
Weeks later, I received a call from him. Out of revenge, he told my mother not only that I was a lesbian, but also that I was sexually abused as a child. He told her my two deepest, darkest secrets that virtually no one knew except for him. He said that everybody deserved to know my dirty little secrets and that I should get help. That was probably one of the most terrifying moments of my life. I was nowhere near being ready to come out to anyone (I had only come out to four of my closest friends at this point) and it was suddenly forced upon me. I would also have to relive the sexual abuse as I explained this horrifying secret to my mom. There aren’t many things that are as terrifying as coming out to a parent or telling them that you were sexually abused, and I had to face both at once. I remember dropping my phone as he said those words and crumpling to the ground where I would spend the rest of the day drenched in my tears.
After a few weeks of avoiding talking to my mom, I confronted her about knowing that I was a lesbian and that I had been sexually abused. Initially we did not talk about it at all, which caused extreme amounts of tension in our relationship. However, once we built up the courage to talk about it, I could tell she was very distraught about it. We avoided touch and eye contact with each other and neither of us could seem to get any words out. Eventually I broke the silence and told her that I was sorry that she had to find these things out this way. The only words she could find to say were ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I don’t know what else to say’. We sat there in silence for what felt like eternity. Not a single tear was shed and eventually my mom asked me to leave. It’s the worst feeling in the world when not even a parent can comfort you during some the hardest moments in your life.
After returning to school I was completely numb. Every day I went to class then I would return to my room for the rest of the day. About a month later, I decided to go home and talk to my mom again. We came to the conclusion that the best way to work through this would be to be frank and honest with each other about our feelings. She told me that she feels like she failed as a parent because she wasn’t able to protect me and that she would never be able to forgive herself. Emotions overwhelmed me and tears were pouring down my face as I cried out to her that it wasn’t her fault, she did nothing wrong, and that all I needed was her love now because the past does not matter. Again we sat in silence. This was the last time we talked about this topic.
The following day I knew we needed to have another tough talk before I went back to school. I asked her to be honest with me about how she felt about me being a lesbian and from the expression on her face I knew what I was about to hear was not going to be pleasant. She started off by saying that she loved me then continued on by saying that this made her very upset. She questioned why I would choose this lifestyle and that maybe if I would stop hanging with gay people then I would no longer have these feelings. I attempted to explain to her that being gay is not a choice and that I was born this way, but she continued to refer to it as a choice. After going back and forth for a while, she told me that it was okay for me to be this way, but I should keep it a secret. I agreed to keep it a secret to make her happy, but I knew I could not keep this promise because the only thing worse than having a secret is being forced to keep a secret.
Now fast forward into reality. Word has gotten around and a lot more kids on campus know that I’m a lesbian. This scares me because I heard the things that were said about my best friend behind his back. People would say things like ‘we have to love him even though he’s going to hell’ and others were more blunt in saying ‘I don’t want to be seen with the faggot’. I even had a group of girls confront me and say that it’s not morally correct to hang out with homosexuals so much because they could corrupt me. Part of me wants to stand up and say ‘hey, that’s not right!’ and ‘That’s me you’re talking about’ but then the other part of me doesn’t want to become that girl that everybody is pointing at and whispering about behind my back. I’m starting to get to the point where I realize that people probably are talking about me, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that students are talking and becoming more aware that there are LGBT students on campus. This is the first step to changing.
Coming out has been an extremely difficult process for me. It was forced upon me when I wasn’t ready and some days it still feels like a dream. Many have been very loving and supportive and others have been the complete opposite. People very close to me have told me that they hate this about me and would rather I commit suicide then succumb to the homosexual lifestyle. At Spring Arbor University I feel like I can’t be open and be myself and at home or when I’m with my extended family I hear constant talk about how terrible homosexuality is and how gay rights should not be passed. No matter where I turn to, it feels like I’m facing negativity. I remember bursting into tears when I looked at my trashcan and saw that I had finished my third box of Kleenexes in a matter of just twenty-four hours. I knew at this point that something had to change. I could not live like this any longer. Someone very dear to my heart told me, “Surround yourself with people who are only going to lift you higher.” I decided that I was going to transfer because even if I can’t find peace and acceptance in my home, I knew I at least could at a new school.
As I have come to accept my sexuality, I, of course, have had to go back and wrestle with the question of whether or not the sexual abuse I experienced as a child caused my homosexuality. The plain and simple answer is no. I came to terms with this just by learning more about myself and reading other peoples stories online and doing research (a great resource is Pandora’s Project). First off, looking back at my childhood, it makes sense to say that because I didn’t fit in with everyone, I was an easy target to a predator. I was extremely shy and was frequently secluded from the crowd. So, in a way, my sexuality contributed to the reason why I was abused. Also, by the time I was abused, I had already been questioning why I was different from all the other girls. Secondly, I know myself well enough to say confidently that I was born this way (cue Lady Gaga). Quite frankly, being a lesbian just feels right and natural to me, I couldn’t imagine myself any other way. Since coming to terms with this, I also feel a more love and connection with God because I know that I’m finally being the person that He created me to be.
Sharing such a deep part of me is not an easy thing to do. I still have a long ways to go in terms of coming out and getting to know myself better. My dad and my extended family do not know that I’m a lesbian so doing this is a very scary thing for me. I know there are many more people in my life that are not going to be supportive that I have yet to face and that’s hard to think about. What gives me the courage and strength to open up myself to you all is knowing that telling my story may help or inspire other LGBT members who may be facing similar obstacles as I have.