I was 19.
That night was particularly cold for the college town in Alabama I attended – a small little place, which is still to this day unapologetic for its deeply rooted southern conservative views.
I can still remember the evening like it was yesterday because it silenced my sexual identity for even longer. It delayed the already painful secret and internal struggle of fighting off a piece of my truth as a queer person.
At this time in my life only a few people knew of my “gay struggle.” I labeled it this then because I had yet to have found a safe haven of queer community to love and support me. I was leaning on the only systematic view of this I knew – it’s wrong, the end.
Because of this, I was subjecting myself to my own form of conversion therapy through a Baptist pastor’s wife. I attended “bible study” to pray the gay away with another friend this entire year.
Why? Because I was programmed to believe through the use of the text five things:
- You are a woman – The rib is not your own kid
- You were created for the American Dream (God’s Dream) of marrying a “nice” man and placing a beautiful white picket fence around your home
- You’re job is to have children and stay silent
- Your parents are the law of God
- Do not question any of this
Any other universe outside of this “mythical norm” was absolutely an abomination.
It’s not hard to write the rest of the struggle for myself and so many youths raised inside of this very one-sided Western Culture ideology of man dominates woman.
Utterly lost, I lived for parties, the dark and alcohol. And, this is how my #metoo moment unfolds in the dark, at a party trying to hold my secrets and obey the norm.
He was a short sophomore. He joked a lot about how many women he had been with and how much of a gentleman he was to each and every one. The girl I went to the party with was my crush. We had both been secretly seeing each other, lurking in the darkness of dorm rooms, frat houses and back seats of cars. We both knew we were different, but we had not yet formed the language or the self love for ourselves to claim it.
This night, cold and damp, was harder than most. I was becoming more and more angry by the second it seemed as I kept choking down the words of “I’m gay, but I’ll get over it..” because it started to feel entirely wrong. Thank you, Jesus.
So, that night as a 19-year-old college student I got hammered and came out to a few in the room as the party died. Let’s name the room, as if it was Clue.
- Short Sophomore
- Girl Crush
- Two sorority sisters (yes, I did that)
- And, a guy I considered at the time to be a good friend
Immediately, the room shifted from giggles, chugging cheap beer to “Oh my God what?!” This was the first time I experienced questions of “Why, How, When, It’s a phase…” and so many other questions that brought forth the bold statement “but, I can turn you straight.”
A few hours later, I came out of a black haze to darkness. But, this time it wasn’t to act out my girl crush curiosity – to my horror I was becoming another victim of sexual assault. I woke up, pushed short sophomore off of me, and ran from the house.
Blindsided, confused and utterly freezing I wandered up a street calling one person over and over again who knew – she knew I wasn’t this.
It was 3 AM when I finally got a ride home.
The next day was a funeral procession of friends holding, consoling and never once saying say something. We all conformed to remaining silent.
What came next was a wave of guilt and shame.
He went on to joke about turning the lesbian straight. He bragged about how bad “I wanted it” and how he achieved the goal he set out for proving I wasn’t gay. For the rest of that year I tried harder than ever to be straight.
It would take me 9 years through the process of coming out, learning my person and reclaiming my faith in God and relationship with Christ to understand that this incident wasn’t my fault.
And, I’m sharing this for two reasons:
After the #metoo movement began I knew that this part of my testimony had been missing from the story I share and it pressed upon me to explore sharing it.
It wasn’t until I read Steph Grant’s story, that I began to process that other queer women have probably faced what I have and need to know they’re not alone.
Here’s what I have come to believe:
For me personally, I know my identity is rooted in my relationship with Christ, but within that relationship are all the pieces that God carefully/thoughtfully placed together to build me. There is no other you and there is no other story like yours. By design, we were born into our own unique characteristics, gifts and loving ways to live a life designed by love.
Christ teaches us to build our home upon him – the rock. But, we still have the job of building the frame, the rooms and the decor that makes up our home. This is ever-changing, as we are ever-changing in how we ask questions, view God and participate in a relationship with our foundation. (Matthew:24-29)
But, for some, we’ve been shown the floor plan of someone else’s house and it is not our own or unique to us. For some, we have been shown and told to stay here in the parlor until called upon.
The moment I decided to examine my home is the moment I began to develop not only self love toward my sexuality as a piece of my personhood, but developed a true intimate relationship with Christ. We were busy asking questions like, “do we really need this picture in this hallway?” aka “Do you need this abuse in your life? Show me where it hurts?”
This is how we begin to leave the dependent nature of dark club walls, dark spaces and the darkness we are living our secrets – whether that is being queer or not.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another..”
Light your home. Paint the walls. Explore every inch of the house you’ve been building. And, ask Christ to show you where it hurts & I assure you he will not only do that – he will help you heal and see anew again.
These words are not my own. These are the words that belong to my father who has created us all in his loving image and asks us simply to live into the love we were born through – amen.
Peace to you all.