lesbian

Why This Mormon Lesbian Shouldn't Have Waited So Long to Come Out

At the age of 27, I announced my sexuality to family and friends: an agonizing decision, since my religious background (Mormon/Church of Latter Day Saints) does not agree with homosexuality. 

Though I was in adulthood when I came out, my teenage years bore many instances where my homosexuality shone through. I chose to ignore these; I dismissed them (or, to use another word, suppressed them) as something that would eventually go away and eventually be gone forever.

My lesbian sexuality, however, never disappeared.

While my suppression seemed to work throughout my adolescence — I was no longer a lesbian! (supposedly) — it did not last into my adult years. I got married to a good man and we had a daughter. After my baby was born, the combination of years of denying my true self and hormonal changes affected me in such a way that I could no longer ignore my sexuality.

I went through a difficult period of time where I isolated myself from my family and friends, most of whom follow my same religion. After I announced my lesbianism to those I cared about most, I had an intense feeling of abandonment. It was not a good time for me to finally release my sexuality and finally accept it myself — I’m unsure that there is ever a good time.

While I was now free from the burden I’d been holding inside for so long, I had a new burden that wasn’t much easier: I now had a family of my own, and I was scared to lose my husband as a friend and my daughter as my own. Many battles between my spouse and family ensued.

~~~

I give you this background about my situation to offer some advice as an adult.

I will begin by saying, I doubt that coming out as a teen is much easier than it is to come out as an adult. It’s probably more difficult, in a sense, as you are finding yourself and discovering all that is within you.

Then again, for me, I believe if I had come out as a teenager, my family would have had an easier time with my announcement. Not that it was all roses — but it’s clear that coming out as an adult after having started a family caused more problems for me than, I feel, it would have if I would have done it when I was younger.

My point is: no matter when you decide to tell your friends and family of your sexuality, it can be difficult. But now, looking back as an adult, having suppressed my lesbian sexuality all throughout my adolescence, I need to tell you: suppression is not the best plan of action.

So here’s my advice: If you know your sexuality or gender identity, despite your religious beliefs or family values, be true to yourself and care enough for yourself to be open about who you are.

There is nothing wrong with being a part of the LGBT community. There is nothing more liberating than identifying and realizing that you are part of a great movement and society where you belong no matter how you feel or what your sexuality is.

~~~

Sure, it’s easy to justify not coming out: people won’t understand, my family won’t love me, I’ll be made fun of. It is easy to shy away from that part of yourself by hoping it will go away or hiding it from yourself.

So, if you're struggling with what to do about your sexuality, coming out and finding the real you, I suggest you make a plan.

·       Decide when and how you’d like to let your family and friends – the people you care about.

·       Don’t wait too long to share it with others.

·       It’s okay to be selective with who you tell. Maybe you only want your parents, siblings, and best friend to know at first. Something to consider, though, is that the people you initially tell may share with others. While you can request that they not speak to anyone about it, be aware they may not honor that request.

·       Be prepared for the worst possible reaction. If you’re unsure how people will react, expect that absolute worst scenario. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s a measure to prepare and protect yourself.

·       Consider counseling. If you don’t already have a therapist or counselor, it may wise to seek one out, preferably one with LBGT experience.

There is nothing wrong with expressing who you are and how you feel.  Be true to yourself and love yourself always — there is simply nothing better.

 

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

'Be Beautiful You': A Lesbian's Advice to LGBTQ Teens

I certainly didn’t always feel this way. In fact, for much of my life I hid away in my musty, dark closet because I didn’t want to come out for fear that I would be...well. Rejected.

SMH, for sure.

I figured out I was a lesbian when I was 17 and just out of high school. That summer I happened to meet my very first lesbian crowd and before long, I had my very first lesbian crush. You must know, though, that this occurred more than 20 years ago.

You know, when homosexuality was like the plague? A mental illness. Disgusting.

SMH, again.

I played around in the gay crowd secretly my first couple years of college and felt pretty good about my life as a lesbian, but still I did not “come out.” No. Instead, I ended up getting married to a man mainly because I wanted to settle down and have children.

~~~

It never occurred to me that I could have children while in a relationship with a woman. Remember, back then couples were not really doing that and, in fact, some mothers were getting their kids taken away from them by social services if their homosexuality hit the public.

I settled into marriage with a man and life was alright, but I truly was never happy because I hid my true sexuality. I adored being a mother, but something was missing.

Once my kids hit their teen years and my role as a mother decreased -- you know teens don’t NEED mom so much -- I was faced with a decision to stay in a dead relationship or bust out of the damn closet once and for all to live the life I wanted to live.

I so wanted to be in a relationship with a woman!

So I made the break. Scared out of my mind, I left my marriage and I came out as a lesbian. I declared that no one would dictate the way I would live my life one more day. I wanted to be in full charge of my life and that included my sexuality.

Was it easy? Oh, no way. It was the hardest thing I ever did and it was hell for a while. I faced rejection, ridicule, fear, shame, and a lot of emotional turmoil.

That was almost 8 years ago and today I am grateful that I came out of the closet and faced all that came with it. I have embraced my sexuality and my children have embraced it as well. They love me for who I really am and that means the world to me.

~~~

Today, I stand as an example to others who fear coming out of the closet and assert that being gay is quite normal. It is my genetic makeup and I find that being with a woman is what suits me and brings me joy relationally. It is refreshing to be completely open and honest about my sexuality and be able to have a loving relationship with another woman.

Nowadays homosexuality is more accepted than when I was young, but there are still pockets of resistance. If you are struggling with your sexuality, maybe it’s time to discuss your feelings with someone who has been there and has come out embracing and celebrating his or her sexuality. You can be freed from the shame that has plagued you for years and live your life loud and proud.

My advice? Go gay all the way. Allow courage to rise. Get around those that will support and encourage you. Fall madly in love with yourself, because you are so worthy!

Did you hear me?

You are worthy! Beautiful! Uniquely fashioned in a most epic way.

Be you.

Be beautiful you.

~~~

To read more about my story, visit me here: Everyone Has a Story. Here's Mine.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

 

What Adults Can Learn from LGBT Youth

Recently, I attended a conference for the LGBT community. It was an enlightening experience and I encountered LGBT people of all ages and from all circumstances, including differences in race, home life, religious beliefs, and more.

I was most impressed, though, by the LGBT youth I met there. This is you

You are so strong and so bold to be living your life as authentically as possible. I suppressed my feelings about being a lesbian for many years and came out as an adult. You, however, have chosen to branch out, find yourselves and express your true self. It was simply inspiring to see such a strong group of young people.

I also met family members who fully supported their LGBT children of all ages in their life's journeys. I hope this is the case for you, too: that your loved ones treat you with respect and love you just as you are.

~~~

Let me share a few things I, a lesbian adult, learned from you, an LGBT teen, at my recent conference visit.

1.   It’s okay to believe in who you are.

You’ve inspired me to be me and believe in that. I am a strong individual who can be like you and love myself. 

2.     I don’t have to be closeted and alone.

I watched so many LGBT youth at the conference interacting and forming new friendships. Not that you were in cliques, but you were loving and accepting of each other. I saw you being “out,” coming together, and making connection so you don’t have to be alone on your journey.

3.     Strength comes from within -- and it's infectious.

So many of you exuded strength beyond anything I have possessed. You encouraged and showed others how to be strong and how to share that strength so others can feel and grow from it.

4.     I can live happily in the LGBT community no matter how old I am.

I was so impressed how comfortable you were in your own skin. I loved watching your happiness and how it spread. It showed me that in my journey as an adult, I can be happy just the way I am ,and that many of you already are living happily just as yourselves.

In the end, I found that you, as youth, are a driving force in forging the LGBT community's way forward. You are strong, new pioneers opening up the way for many others to express their sexualities and gender identities.

You are the new generation who will lead and create a brighter future for us all.

 

Photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley / Flickr.

My Decision *Not* to Come Out, Or, Balancing Self-Acceptance and Privacy

As Coming Out Day (October 11th) approaches, I start thinking about the pressure to 'come out' thatLGBTQA individuals face and how it has affected my own life and my relationship to the community.

I've never 'come out'. Shocking, right?

I have been out lesbian since I was 19 and yet I can safely say that I have never once had a talk with someone else that began with any variation of "I'm gay." Not to my friends, not to my parents, not to anyone. It's not out of a sense of shame or a fear of rejection, no. It boils down to one very simple fact:

I am a very private person.

~~~

What do I mean by "private"?

Private about my health, private about my work, private about my relationships. Just generally private. And I like it that way and have since I was in middle school. It's why my parents don't think I've ever had a date in my life (but that's another story).

But it seemed that being gay negated all of that desire for privacy in the eyes of my LGBTQA friends.Everyone around me insisted that 'coming out' was the way to go. All I had to do was start the conversation and I'd have a much better life. My parents would know the 'real' me and my friends and I would have a stronger relationship.

In theory, this was all wonderful. But as I faced down the prospect of opening up to everyone, all I felt was dread. I really, really didn't want to do it.

And why should I? I never wanted to discuss my personal life with my parents. While I know they aren't homophobic, we weren't (and never will be) the kind of family that shares that sort of stuff. As for my friends, they were far from homophobic and I didn't talk much about my romantic life with them either.

~~~

So how was 'coming out' going to improve my relationships?

"But you have to come out," I was told. It's a matter of pride, of self acceptance. For some, I'm sure that's true; but I was (and am) comfortable with myself, comfortable with my level of openness.

Why, I would ask them, did I have to 'come out'?

Suffice to say that the term 'internalized homophobia' got tossed around a lot in these conversations. Eventually, after several anxiety-inducing attempts to 'come out' the traditional way, I gave up. Those "I'm a lesbian" conversations were never going to happen.

People I knew complained. I was told it was my job to be an example. To show people -- especially young people -- it was okay to be gay by being open about it, especially as a leader. But, I wondered, isn't it better to show people that being gay doesn't change who you are on the inside?

Being a lesbian didn't fundamentally change who I am or how I live my life. Why should it change the way I interacted with the people I cared about? As I told many people, I shouldn't have to sacrifice my privacy and comfort just because I like women.

~~~

Of course, never having had the 'coming out' talks doesn't mean I'm in the closet. People have made their assumptions and I let them. I'm not exactly secretive. I once got outed on Facebook because of a picture someone else took of me at a Pride rally. And while I will (sometimes) confirm peoples' suspicions if asked I try not to volunteer the information upfront.

This choice has led to a few funny (and awkward) conversations as well as a few break ups; but I'm glad I did it my way. Being a lesbian changed my life but, as I said before, it didn't change who I am.

A lot of times people treat coming out like a gay right of passage. Something you do to find acceptance and build close bonds. However, it seems like the pressure to do it has increased and that's not okay.

If coming out works for some people, cool. You do what you have to do to be happy. But it's not for everyone. Not everyone can or wants to come out. Some people, like me, don't need the same level of openness to be happy.

We are a diverse community. As such, it's time we stopped putting pressure on each other to do things the same way. So this Coming Out Day, remember to respect each other's decisions -- whatever they may be.

 

Photo courtesy of Q Thomas Bower / Flickr.

Let's Be Real, Being LGBTQ in High School Isn't Easy. But You Can Get Through This.

All your feelings aren't easy, ok? Let me just start out with that. Let me tell you that right now. I was there once, and I get it.

You’re in middle school, or you’re in high school. Hormones are going, you’re nervous about everything, all that matters to you is the gossip of the school. You want to be cool, you want to be noticed, you want someone to care about who you are.

Same time, you don’t want to try too hard, and you don’t want to be an outcast. They say it’s easy, but it’s not.

~~~

There are some people who look back on their time in high school and call it the best years of their lives. They loved it. They probably aren't you. And they are not ever going to be you. But you can’t see that far down the road, and I understand that.

Right now, all that means anything is Friday night. You want to have a voice, and no one is giving you one. You have a bunch of passions, but you’re scared to let them show. And you have feelings for people. Feelings that no one else has. Feelings you don’t understand.

It’s hard. All these feelings come up that you don’t recognize. You try to make sense of it all, but it seems nearly impossible. So you go to school, you play the game, you try to fit in. It seems like the easiest thing to do, when in fact, you have never worked so hard in your life.

You say things you never meant to say. You comment on girls because all your other guy friends are. Or you hide the fact that you don’t belong in the body you’re currently in. Or you sit with the other girls, watching the football team, and you lie to yourself that is is how you’re supposed to live your life.

It’s a constant struggle. There are fears and doubts. There are miscues and wrong turns. Tomorrow might be a better day, but that’s no guarantee. Tomorrow, they may figure out your secret -- see into your closet -- and you’ll never know a moment of silence again. The rumors will start, the insults will begin. You’ll lose everything you tried so long to create.

Or at least that's what your mind says.

~~~

So, no. It’s not easy.

But this is my pledge to you, the first of many. You will get through it. You will make it out alright. Yes, they can hurt you. Yes, the bruises may go away on the outside, but they live long on the inside.

Still, I beg you to keep going. Keep pushing, keep fighting. Fight to find the community that makes you happy. If it’s in drawing, find artists. If it’s in theater, join the drama club. If it’s in construction, make friends with the designers.

But what if you’re an athlete and they don’t accept you? Or what if you’re an outcast and you don’t do clubs or activities? Talk to someone then. Talk to a therapist. Talk to a doctor. Find whatever outlet you can.

Everything’s got something they love in this world.

~~~

No. That's not easy.

You might cry yourself to sleep one night. You might look at the calendar, and wonder how you’re going to make it through another day. But you will. I promise you that. You’re going to live, and love, and be free again.

Right now, no. It’s going to hurt. But you can find a better way. You can find groups, you can find friends, you can find help. It’s never too late.Years from now are miles away. So just focus on today. Just fix what you can.

But never give up. Never quit.

This world belongs to you. You are beautiful. You always have been. And you always will be.

 

Photo courtesy of Victor Bezrukov / Flickr.