When I came out, I was 34 years old and living with my ex boyfriend; I had inklings of my sexuality since I was 18. As a university student, I signed up for the gay/lesbian alliance at my school but I felt different than the others in the group because I was too scared to come out. I dated an endless string of men, never happy or really sexually attracted to them, I never stayed long. It was always me ending relationships and moving on, though again, I was too scared to admit to even myself that I was gay.
I had more crushes on women than on men. When Jennifer Lopez hit the music scene, I seriously began questioning my sexuality. Even though I was living with my first real boyfriend at the time, I had pictures and posters of her everywhere. At 28, I moved out west, leaving a second man behind, only taking 2 duffel bags and my 2 cats with me- to go live my gay friends. I lost EVERYTHING. I found out later he sold a lot of my stuff and the rest just got tossed out. I HAD to leave though. Whenever I was in a relationship with a man, I felt suffocated, phony and I lied to everyone around me. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t a big fan of sex either. All of my ex boyfriends complained about that. It was just that sex with a man felt wrong to me and I had tremendous guilt and self hatred for ‘doing the act’ as what I referred to as “quarterly sex”. Every three or 4 mos, when my boyfriend would complain, I would give in, usually under the influence of alcohol. It got to the point when my boyfriend would come home with a bottle of vodka for me, I would shudder.
I tried desperately for years to hide who I was, being sometimes, ultra feminine to hide the lesbian inside. When I was six years old, I had this friend, Denise; she was my bestie for a few years. I had been out of school with bronchitis (I was always sick) and when I came back to school, my friend came running up to me in her little blue raincoat and threw her arms around me for a big hug. I stood there stiff, not wanting to hug back; I thought that if I did, all the other kids would think I was “queer”. It was 1980, that was the most frequently used term at the time. The fact that I thought that way at six, leads me to believe that I’ve always been gay.
As a child I played with both Barbies AND dinky toys. I loved cars! My father is an auto mechanic and given the choice as a kid to either help my mom bake or go out in to the garage with my father, I always chose cars. I hated playing things like “house” and “school”, I’d rather be outside climbing trees. My sandbox with the big yellow Tonka trucks was my favorite summertime pastime. I’d be out there for hours with my male cousin as we built roads and constructed little towns in our imaginations, complete with truck sounds that we would make with our voices.
As I got older, I discovered make up and became interested in boys. This seemed like the natural thing to do. I never liked the traditional boys though; instead I went for nerdy guys, or feminine men, some of which turned out to be gay later. I always liked shorter men, as a tall woman, I liked to tower over them and hug them but that was really it. I liked the company of a guy. I still do- just not in a sexual sense. I have things in common with boys that I couldn’t talk about with girls; things like cars and motorcycles, music, wrestling and nerdy stuff like Dungeons and Dragons and computers. Girls seemed to talk mostly about clothes, hair and boys, I found this boring. So I sought out boyfriends, except once they wanted to become physical, I bowed out of the “relationship”. I wasn’t interested in that. In my late teens I had boyfriends and things happened but I never had sex with them. You know, your usual teen make out stuff. Again, if the guy pushed too much, I’d break it off. I didn’t appreciate being bullied in to sex. This was MY body and I would decide when and if I would go that far. I didn’t until I was 21 with my boyfriend of 8 months. It was a first for both of us and he was my best friend so it seemed like what you’re supposed to do. We were together for 7 ½ years, even engaged. I still wasn’t happy though and when he confided in me to having some kind of relationship with a stripper he met online, I was done. I no longer trusted him and without trust, there’s no relationship. I moved on, but it would still be years before I technically “came out”.
It was 2008 now, I was living with my ex boyfriend. He was nice guy, kind, caring, compassionate, handsome, we had similar interests, BUT all was not right. We had a hard time connecting; I actually preferred talking to and spending time with my female friends. I started getting that feeling again, that I was being suffocated, I couldn’t really be myself and I felt pigeon-holed in to this version of myself that wasn’t real. I got very depressed, feeling stuck and not knowing how to get out of it.
I did something drastic and I signed up for an online dating site unbeknownst to my boyfriend, I set my profile as “Woman seeking Woman”. I felt like if I could meet a few women, it would become clear to me once and for all, “Am I really gay?” I met a few women on line but one made an enormous impact on my life.
Through talking with this girl, and sneaking away to spend time with her, my feelings became more than I could handle. I was pretty sure I was in love with this girl. She was all I could think about and I NEVER got as excited to see ANY man as I did her. We talked constantly, day and night. It was time to confront my boyfriend and confess that I was indeed in love with a woman. He deserved to know the truth and I felt like I had to set him free, free to find happiness with another.
So in 2008, I came clean to him and told him I had met a girl. To say he was shocked is an understatement. He could tell something was up, like so many of us can when our partners become distant. It was heartbreaking, I felt like shit for breaking this guy’s heart. I told my parents we had broken up but I never explained why. My father and stepmother NEVER knew about my sexuality. Even though as a teenager, my walls were covered with Madonna. I had even bought this life size poster of her from her “Erotica” period where she is wearing only jeweled pasties and a thong. My stepmother saw it once and asked me angrily if I was “some kind of dyke”, she doesn’t remember saying that to me at 18 years old but I certainly do. If only they had rifled through my bureau drawers, they would have found pamphlets given to me by my psychologist entitled, “So, I think I’m gay…” True story, they actually said that. So I was afraid to come out to my parents. After years of a tumultuous relationship with my father, we finally had a close relationship that I was terrified of losing. I had heard similar horror stories from friends and I was scared this would happen to me. I told no one. Within a week of telling my ex I was gay, I had somehow managed to work myself up with enough guilt to renege my confession and try to “work things out” with my boyfriend of over 3 years. I distanced myself from the girl I developed feelings for, essentially deleting her from my life. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. For months, I laid in bed, praying to God to take away the heartbreak and depression, to take away my feelings for this woman, to in essence, make me “normal”. Throughout my months of prayer, only one answer came to me and it came frequently, “Just be you.” I started feeling as though, God made me this way and he didn’t expect me to ignore it and be someone I was not. I kept hearing messages around me that in effect meant to “be my genuine self” and if my genuine self is a lesbian, then, so be it.
I had a remarkable experience right before I came out. I relied heavily on my faith at this time, and being a Christian, teaches you, for the most part, that living a life of homosexuality is a sin. I had meetings with the pastor’s wife at a church I had been attending and she just re affirmed that belief. It wasn’t 2 weeks later, I was browsing through Chapters (a large chain bookstore) when I almost ran smack in to this bright orange display of books. The book was called, “Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians” by Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge. This was a HUGE sign to me. The book gives you basis to love yourself and who God made you and makes you realize that we are made special and unique. It gives you a spiritual weapon of you will to defend yourself against hardcore religious groups, hell bent on making you hate yourself and threatening you with the flames of eternal hell. This book gave me the strength I needed. Armed with a renewed sense of faith I planned my escape…
It’s 2009, June and I have met a friend that would play such an important role in helping me officially come out. Dinah, I can never thank you enough for being there.
So things have been tense with my ex and I for months, he starts taking more time off work to spend with me, one day we take a walk to one of our favorite walking trails. I finally confessed to him that I felt I was very much gay. He accuses me of having feelings for my friend Dinah- whom he’s met and we’ve broke bread together but that was not the case. She was a friend who had gone through an eerily similar situation a couple of years prior. She gave me the strength I needed to come clean and be honest with him and myself. He didn’t take it lightly; in fact, he kicked me out of the apartment. It was my friend Dinah who came and got me and put me up for the night, making sure I had a way to work the next morning. I felt like I had a genuine ally in her. Over the course of the next few days, he calmed down and let me come back home. All my belongings as well as my cat were there and I needed some rest big time. I then moved in to the spare room as we worked out a plan that I would move by July.
The next step was to inform my parents. This would seal the deal. I made a visit out one Sunday and just sat and talked alone with my stepmother. She knew my ex and I were breaking up but she didn’t know the reason. I took a deep breath and blurted out, “I kinda like women!” The look of shock on her face was something I won’t soon forget. I waited for her wrath, her opinions of disgust. Instead, she made a joke. “Chastity Bono!” she said laughing. I informed her that I was actually content with being a woman and that gay isn’t the same as transsexual. She didn’t seem to really care! I was so relieved. I couldn’t begin to express my gratitude for that reaction. I was more afraid of telling her than my Dad who always hated the men I brought home anyway. It was her, that helped me with the cash to move out of my ex’s place and in to my own. I will ALWAYS be grateful to her for that. My dad was easy, I told him and his response was, “Yeah? So? It explains a lot” then he laughed. I was so blessed! I had prayed for months for reactions like this. “Please let them still love me” I would pray to God, and it worked, and they did.
My close friends were pretty easy, most of them are really progressive, artsy, just want people to be happy sort of folk. There was one that threatened me with the fears of hellfire and gnashing teeth but I deleted her, I felt her opinion was just so back woods and uninformed that I actually felt sorry for her.
My best friend at the time had just converted over to Pentecostal. I had attended that church with her a few times and I have nothing against them. They are a very nice group of people- they just don’t believe in homosexuality. I had to stop going to that church because inside I felt like I wasn’t really welcome unless I portrayed a certain stereotype. I lost touch with my best friend for a few years. I missed her tremendously. Our spiritual beliefs just didn’t mesh. She informed she would not attend a “gay wedding” because she didn’t believe in it and I wasn’t invited to hers at her church. That can damage a friendship because you constantly feel unaccepted by the other party.
I am happy to announce however, that I reached out to her last year and we got back in touch and I love her just as much as I did years ago. I have tremendous respect for and I feel like she has respect for me as well. It was literally like no time had passed when we caught up again. I am very grateful to have her back in my life.
I really wanted to share my experience with coming out, in hopes that it may help just one person; that one person who’s struggling with their sexuality and faith. I strongly feel through years of prayer, that God just wants us to live our lives genuinely as He made us. Be kind and compassionate to others and don’t live a life of promiscuity. I’ve never been a proponent of sleeping around, whether you’re gay or straight it serves no purpose. The only sex that matters is the kind you share with the person you’re committed to.
It’s legal for same sex marriage in the Province of Nova Scotia, so August 13, 2001, my love, Melissa and I tied the knot in front of our friends and family. It was a very happy event. At the end of our ceremony I heard my father shout, “I just gained another daughter!” That made me smile and cry later. I am so grateful for my family and the way they handled the situation. I am so grateful to the friends that were there for me and stuck by me throughout this entire process, and most of all, I am so grateful to have found such a wonderful partner as my Melissa. She really is the cat’s pajamas and I love her to pieces. She’s always there for me, eternally supportive, laughs at all my jokes and makes me breakfast when I’m too lazy too. It is my hope that EVERYONE finds a partner like I did. I have been truly blessed and I thank God for finally having the strength to live as me.
My Wife Melissa and I on our wedding day
*If you’re a Christian struggling with your sexuality and coming out, I HIGHLY recommend this book http://bulletproofbook.com/
Live Humbly, Be Compassionate, Live Graciously,
Artwork (LGBT PRIDE) by Neko Samma on DeviantArt http://thephotographer4you.com/announcements/president-obama-lgbt-proclamation-june-2011/