Pain. Depression. Anger. Despondency. Fear.
Those words express those months of my life where I tried to live for others and when I thought that God wanted me to be straight; and those months were hell. I am still surprised that I survived. But that survival I can directly attribute to one person, and for her I am forever grateful.
One of my managers at work– Kathy – saw the pain and depression that was slowly taking over my life, and took me under her wing. She loved me unconditionally and made an sort of “intervention” if you will. She made sure that I knew that it was ok to be gay, that I was slowly destroying myself by living the lie of heterosexuality, and that I needed to be honest with myself and my family about my sexuality. She told me that God loves me for who I am, and that he created me special…that there was nothing wrong with me. I remember long nights at work talking with her about what was going on in my life and trying to work through my issues…and she was there at all times. No matter what I did or said, no matter what actions I took, she was there as a pillar to lean upon. Kathy literally saved my life,both emotionally and physically, and for her I am forever grateful. Without her influence and direction, I would still be living a lie and trying to please other people, that is to say, if I would even be alive.
During the time when I was coming to terms with my sexuality, I enrolled at the University of Memphis, where I also encountered people who appreciated me and cared about me regardless of my sexual orientation. My English professor, Leslie Terrell, encouraged me to be who I was meant to be. Another one of my Professors, Stephanie Blaisdell, went out of her way to ensure that I was on the path to recovery from my experience. You see I had written to her about my experience at Love In Action in an “About Me” paper for an introductory university class, and after she read it, she asked me to stay after class and talk with her about what had happened in my life. She was sincerely concerned about my well being and has kept in contact with me over the past few years.
Fast forward to today. I met the love of my life and married him in British Columbia. He has been a rock in my life, and has encouraged me time and time again on my path to recovery from my experience at Love In Action. I am not on the road to “death” by living the homosexual “lifestyle” like Tommy tried to tell me, for I am instead in a committed marriage. I have come out to my parents, and after a time of not, talking they have grudgingly accepted me and my husband into the family - though still not recognizing our marriage. Since coming out, other members of my extended family – who had been silent during my Love In Action days – have come out and said that they accept me and that it is ok to be gay (thanks Abby, Aunt Amy, and Grandma). That is not to say that all of my family has been accepting, for a few members of my family have basically cut me completely out of their lives. But living in honesty and openness is worth these small losses.
Many will ask me why I decided to tell my story; what was my purpose? As I said at the beginning, this issue has been getting a lot of media attention of late and governments around the world are taking a look into this type of therapy. But what pushed me over the edge, and "forced my hand" if you will, was when I watched the “Sissy Boy” segment on Anderson Cooper. They interviewed George Rekers and Joseph Nicolosi – two proponents of "reparative therapy”, who were adamant that their therapy does not lead to suicide and depression. I am here to say that as one who has gone through this therapy, it does! Reparative therapy makes those who are subjected to it feel worthless, abnormal, and evil. You can only tell someone these things for so long before they begin to internalize it and think that that they are true. Thankfully I survived, but only because there were people in my life who recognized the harm that such “therapy” has on an individual, and reached out to save me from self-destruction.
I also write this as encouragement to others who have gone through something similar. People will try to tell you that you are evil, that you are abnormal, and that you are sick. That you can only find true fulfillment with a woman (or a man for a lesbian), that God rejects you if you are gay, and that you must live against your very nature to be accepted by Him. That if you only fix what is wrong with you, you will be happy. That is NOT true; for I am living proof of it!! Some may say that I am living in “rebellion”, and that I am living a lie; that the “devil has deceived me into the homosexual lifestyle”. But I reject this notion, and instead can say that I am truly free. I am not living for others and what they expect of me; I am living in honesty and openness and you can too! You can be free of the shame, depression, and despondency that plague those living lies and can have true freedom and happiness. And you can know the true love of God…not a love based upon the “condition” of you being a heterosexual, but the unconditional love from God that isn't based upon your sexual orientation. That is the message of my story and the reason why I wrote it. Thank you for reading.