CARRYING THE SKY UPON OUR SHOULDERS
June 24, 2020
People say, ‘Don’t let labels define you’. But it is with great regret that I admit that with a label and my own association with it follows reason, experiences, and memories. Though my label may not define me, my experiences do. When some children and young teens slowly come to the realization that they are not the default- straight- they are in a time of immense brain development. What occurs in their life during those stages will stick and forever be a part of who they are- for better or for worse.
This is my story...
When I was around eleven years old I developed the biggest crush on my childhood best friend. My love for her was immature, more of an infatuation than anything else. I loved her with every bit of my being. Unhealthily in love with her, I didn’t realize that my love was not just a friend type of love until I reflected a few years later. She was my first kiss. My whole world shattered when she didn’t feel the same way about me. In an excuse to essentially mentally break up with her, I cut off our slowly dying friendship as we grew away from each other.
My family was catholic when I was growing up and this had a profound effect on me. Confirmation classes, church youth groups, homeschooling catholic co-ops are still burned into my memory. They loved to bring up controversies constantly. Abortion- bad. Gay people- bad. Sex- bad. Liberalism- bad. If you did any one of those you had a ticket with your name on it to hell. While slowly realizing I was in fact gay, I was preached at routinely. I wouldn’t give in to them, I argued with them every day. I put up a fight because even though my family was catholic, they believed in God not a fear-based religion. Even though I rarely let those obnoxious adults have their moments of satisfaction, deep inside me their comments chipped at me. I claimed that I only supported gay people- I wasn’t one myself. But I worried and thought and thought. I thought for a solid two years of my life that I was going to go to hell.
"With a label, and my own association with, it follows reason, experiences, and memories."
I knew my close family would support me being a lesbian. They loved me no matter what and I grew up knowing that no matter what did, said, or who I was, they would still love me. Yet my more distant family was different. I had family members want to talk to me about gay people. Because what else do you converse over with a twelve year old other than gay people and demoralize them? I was told many things that I will never forget. ‘I don’t think gay people are bad people I just think that gay actions and giving into that is a sin’. ‘Gay people shouldn’t be able to marry each other, whats next? People are going to start marrying animals and children and objects!’. ‘I would never say anything to a gay person, I just want no part in it, no association with them’. ‘I would never let any gay people near my kids, they will influence them and make them think it’s an option.
"Coming out is... not only telling people, but it’s also that while you utter the words to them (when most of the time they already know you are gay) you are admitting it to yourself."
I am now in an amazing place with my sexuality. I have figured myself out and am ready to be unapologetic. I was always fierce about it, but I am even more today. Coming out to people is becoming easier because sadly it is not the default and I must preface to people. I have wonderful supportive friends who also belong to the LGBTQ+ community and together we carry our burdens. The burden becomes very heavy and we must shift it to another’s shoulder some days because this world has a lot of hate in it.
When I came out to my close family, it took a span of months. First I told my older sister, then my mother, my father, and my grandparents. The thing about coming out is that it is not only telling people, but it’s also that while you utter the words to them (when most of the time they already know you are gay) you are admitting it to yourself. Admitting that I was gay is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Slowly, one by one, I did the deed. I was fifteen. Immediately, my mother decided that we were going to change churches and become Episcopalian where they openly supported the LGBTQ+ community. Christmas Eve and Easter are the only times I have gone to church in the last two years because just the building and the service makes me have a panic attack. The last time I entered a catholic church I almost threw up and sobbed.
to be unapologetic
THE FACT THAT THE PERSON I LOVE BOTHERS AND GIVES PEOPLE A REASON TO BE HATEFUL AND EVIL ROBS ME OF MY PEACE.
THE FACT THAT I HAVE TO BE READY FOR A FRIEND'S MIDNIGHT PHONE CALL WHERE THEY ARE SOBBING KILLS ME.
THE FACT THAT THE LITTLE DISCRIMINATION THAT I HAVE EXPERIENCED IN MY LIFE TOOK SUCH A TOLL.
THE FACT THAT THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO MAY FOREVER HATE THEMSELVES FOR SOMETHING THEY CAN'T CHANGE.
THE FACT THAT SOME STATES LEGALLY ALLOW CONVERSION CAMPS.
THE FACT THAT NOT UNTIL THE DAY I AM WRITING THIS I COULD JUSTIFIABLY BE FIRED FOR LOVING ANOTHER WOMAN.
THE FACT THAT AROUND THE WORLD PEOPLE ARE MURDERED FOR BEING THEMSELVES.
I am sick and tired of my friends and just everyone who is a part of the community hurting because of something they cannot change. This burden that we share is heavy upon my shoulders and I just want to rest. I want to rest from the constant hate comments and threats people receive. I want to rest from my fear of meeting new people and having to tell them I am gay and them not liking that answer. I am tired and weary from this burden but I am getting stronger daily. Together we can hold that burden as heavy as the sky.
"I want to rest from my fear of meeting new people and having to tell them I am gay and them not liking that answer. I am tired and weary from this burden but I am getting stronger daily."
This pride month as we celebrate from our quarantine lets not forget that the battle has not been finished. We have far to go and together, carrying the weight of our hearts hurting, we can achieve greatness. Let’s not let another generation go by and experience the same pain we have felt.