by Rebecca Allen
I was raised Southern Baptist, like so many other Southerners. One thing was made very clear in my religious education: homosexuality was a one-way ticket to Hell. So you can imagine the horror I felt when I realized in 3rd grade that I liked my best girl friend the way the other girls liked boys. I stuffed it down, and as I grew into middle/high school I became very promiscuous – with guys. I did everything I could to prove to myself it wasn’t true, and I prayed every night for hours for God to take it from me, because I was so scared I would go to Hell, but I couldn’t seem to shake the feelings I was having about other girls.
Then I met Brianna at the age of 16, and the first time I kissed her the whole world shattered. I could no longer deny what I knew about myself…I was a lesbian. Brianna and I were together for about a year before our parents caught on. That was an unfortunate incident in itself. Bri’s mother came home early from work and found us sleeping in her bed together. On top of the covers. Naked. Needless to say there was a lot of screaming, and she called my parents to tell them what happened. So I didn’t really have to “come out” for myself. I was threatened with a “Pray the Gay Away” camp, so I threw myself back into the hetero scene, marrying my best guy friend at the age of 21. He knew I was gay, but we really cared about each other, so we thought we could make it work. You can guess how that ended, but I did get two beautiful children out of the deal. By the time we got divorced, he had turned into a raging alcoholic and I had fallen in love with his best friend’s wife (a love that was returned, for a while), so it was just a big mess. That fell apart (how could it not?) and I moved states to return to my hometown.
Obviously, I had to come out again to my folks as an independent adult, and found that it really wasn’t any easier. They have struggled with it because of their religious beliefs, but I truly think they have made some major headway in accepting who I am and seeing it’s so not a choice. At least we’re moving in the right direction, and I am so very thankful for that.
After a few failed attempts at relationships, I met my partner, online of all places. I could not find a more devoted, sweet-souled person. We have been together ever since, raising the kids as our own, and I am finally in a place where I can be honest with myself and others around me about who I am. Now I’m working on my degree and my writing career, as well as being an LGBT activist. My life is so full and so wonderful…I would not change a thing.
You can be gay AND happy. AND successful. AND fulfilled. For everyone out there still struggling, hang in there, baby. We’re all behind you.
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