This post is part of the “Our Stories” project, where readers submit their testimony or coming out story. It’s important to engage in meaningful and life-giving discussions about a topic that is too often silenced. When you tell your truth, you help someone else accept theirs.
I feel like I have a lifetime of stuff I want to say. In efforts to share pieces of my story, the following are true answers to questions that I now have a voice to answer. I wish to go back in time with the “Interviewer,” in order to speak up, starting at age seven.
(Interviewer) Hello, young lady, I have noticed that life has been painful for you; colic as a baby, bladder surgery at age 3, stitches in your head at 4, and your tonsils removed at 6. What do you think about life so far?
(My Voice) For a while I thought life was all about going to the hospital, but now the hard part is that I figured out I’m not a boy and that I never will be. I have been praying to God that I become a boy so that I can feel right and get to do all the things that boys get to do. In Kindergarten, a teacher told my parents that I had an identity problem. I’m not sure what that means but I had to start bring dolls to show-and-tale instead of cool hot rods and fun toys.
(Interviewer) Why did you think you were a boy?
(My Voice) I don’t know, I just did. I even had a friend who thought I was a boy. When he found out that I was a girl, he did not want to be friends anymore.
(Interviewer) What do you like about life?
(My Voice) I have fun with my brother, and my parents love me so much. We go camping together and we learn about Jesus and God at church. “Jesus Loves Me” is my favorite song. It makes me happy.
(Interviewer) You are not the little kid I remember, and you are getting ready to enter Jr. High. How are you dealing with the reality that you are not a boy?
(My Voice) What?! Oh, that silly childhood confusion. The problem was that I loved sports and things that boys usually do. I still have a great time playing soccer, basketball, and football and I love building tree houses with my brother. Life is fun. It is wrong to want to be a boy, but it is okay to still be athletic and like things that boys generally like. People call me a Tom Boy and say that I’m going to grow up to be a beautiful woman someday. See, I’m older now and I know right from wrong. I’ve got it all straightened out.
(Interviewer) Are you excited about going to Jr. High?
(My Voice) Not really. I’m nervous. My friends are changing. Our interests are different and I’m afraid I won’t fit in. But, I’m looking forward to playing on the basketball team!!
(Interviewer) You are a teenager! How did Jr. High turn out for you?
(My Voice) I hate life! I feel so messed up. I can hardly talk to anybody at school or at youth group. If it were not for being on the basketball teem I would want to be home schooled. I hate going to girl parties. They like to talk about boys and make up and hair and I don’t know how to relate to them. I like playing basketball with the guys, but other than that I don’t know how to be their friend. One guy asked if I would be his “girlfriend” and it did not make sense to me so I told him “no.” I figured it is too early for that kind of thing. I mean, you really can’t get married till you are an adult. I just want to focus on being the best “Christian kid” that I can be and trust that God will take care of marriage when it is time. You know, there is a time and a season for everything and it just isn’t time for being interested in boys.
(Interviewer) I noticed that your ears are pierced, why did you decide to finally do that after refusing for so long?
(My Voice) Oh…..Yes….. That’s hard to share. Someone told me there was a rumor that me and another girl were queer. I did not know what queer meant, but she explained. I was so upset because I never thought “that way” about this girl. And I knew what other kids said about “those people.” And I knew what my church said about “those people”…..well, actually my church hasn’t said anything about “those people.” I just know that it’s so bad that nobody talks about it. So, I got my ears pierced to prove people wrong and I have started making myself wear skirts to school once a week. I hate it! I hate earrings, I hate skirts, I hate dresses, I hate make up, I hate having to be “lady-like.” But… it sure seems to please everybody else.
(Interviewer) Wow, seems like Jr. High has been discouraging.
(My Voice) Yep. I finally got sent to a counselor. I had become increasingly shy and would come home from school to just sleep on the couch. I wished I had never been born. My parents were very worried. They hated to see me so unhappy and did not know what else to do to help. I agreed to go to the counselor and ended up in a psychiatrist office and was diagnosed with social phobia.
(Interviewer) Social phobia? Why and what caused that?
(My Voice) The doctor found that the extreme shyness and depression was not from any trauma or abuse, so I guess he blamed it on Social Phobia because I dread social events and am not “boy crazy”? I really don’t know. Maybe my parents could give you a better answer. I was put on some anti-anxiety meds and I continue to have visits with the counselor who I find to be very pleasant. I feel really good when I’m with her. It’s kind of embracing. I don’t understand it, but I look forward to our time together.
(Interviewer) Time sure does fly, you are nearly done with high school with just a few months to go. I can see that basketball has continued to keep you in school. Does the medication help too?
(My Voice) I guess it helps. I don’t seem to feel as depressed. I’ve had some hard times as one girl called me a “MUTE” because I did not answer her when she spoke to me. I do socialize pretty well with the basketball team, and I’m more involved with youth group activities. I have had a few disappointments in some close friendships with girls. I keep getting attached to one and then once I feel comfortable it is like she moves on and does not want to be close friends anymore and it hurts. It’s confusing! I’m very loyal and kind, and I don’t cause trouble. Sometimes I worry if there are still rumors that I’m queer and so they don’t want to hang out with me. If this is what they think, I don’t understand why. I really don’t have that kind of interest in them.
(Interviewer) Are you starting to become interested in boys?
(My Voice) I am passionate about being pure. I am focused on my relationship with God and trust that God is preparing me for just the right guy. Recently a friend of mine that I enjoy mountain biking with, told me he had feelings for me. I was not sure how to respond to that. I might have messed up. I mean, I love hanging out with him, but what does it mean to have “feelings” for someone? I keep wondering if the romantical thing will ever happen, but I just don’t seem to know how all that stuff works.
(Interviewer) Do you still hangout with the guy?
(My Voice) I made it clear I wanted to definitely be friends. Soon after, our time together dwindled and he had a “girlfriend” who he spent more time with. I’m still dealing with my sadness over that. Maybe I should have told him that I had “feelings” for him too. But, I’m still not sure what that is. I just miss riding bikes with him.
(Interviewer) I’m sure the right guy will come along.
(My Voice) Oh, yes, I’m confident that God will provide. I continue to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” I continue to pray that God will guide me in all that I do. In fact, I was baptized last year. Yep. I finally did it last year. It is later than most of my peers, but I wanted to be sure it was something that I was doing in relationship with God and not just because other kids were doing it or because I was told I would go to hell. That thinking just did not make sense to me. I love the Lord, and I want to honor the Lord with my life. In fact, that is one thing in life that I know for sure….oh, and I know I want to play college basketball, but other than that, life is confusing!
(Interviewer) It has been difficult to track you down. I heard that you ended up going to 4 different colleges and have left Texas. What happened?
(My Voice) Long story short, I followed my dream to play college ball at one Christian college, which fell through. I gave up the dream and went back home to complete an associate degree at a nearby junior college and then spent one semester at the university in town. During that time, I found out about a smaller Christian college in the Northwest, where my dream of playing college ball was fulfilled as they were starting a women’s basketball program. It was an excellent school that provided me with wonderful friends and has played a major role in nurturing my relationship with God.
(Interviewer) Wow, that is pretty neat how that turned out for you.
(My Voice) I’m thankful for the whole experience as I can totally see the hand of God at work through out all of it. I have even overcome some of my shyness and I rarely feel depressed.
(Interviewer) Did you meet a fine Christian young man while at the Christian college that perhaps God prepared for you?
(My Voice) Nope.
(Interviewer) Did you even look?
(My Voice) Look?! I’m trusting in “God’s timing.” You know, “The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.” Haven’t you ever heard of Joshua Harris and “I Kissed Dating Good-bye,” and Elizabeth Elliot and her book “Passion and Purity?”
(Interviewer) Yes, those are good books about purity, but how will you know when God is ready for you to get married?
(My Voice) I don’t know. There have been a few guys that I became friends with and thought maybe this could be the start of romance, but really, they were just friends. I never had desires to pursue a marriage relationship. I just know that I’m not interested right now and perhaps God has something else in store for me.
(Interviewer) Do you think you might be a lesbian?
(My Voice) What?!!
(Interviewer) Oh, did I offend you? I just know that some people are attracted to the same sex and maybe that is why you aren’t interested in guys?
(My Voice) Well…that just can’t be. It’s just not an option.
(Interviewer) So, you have never thought about this?
(My Voice) Well….. I think you are safe…. to be honest, I hate myself at times. I feel like I have the wrong body. I don’t know how else to explain it. AM I CRAZY?! I feel foolish for hating the body that God has given me. Also, when I’m around some of my friends who are female, I get sensations in my body that I think might be sinful and I’m ashamed. When guys want to hug or get close it feels so wrong and gross. I also notice that I’m drawn to some females more than others. It is a strange kind of draw. Sometimes I think I’m being Spirit-led to be in their life, or something.
(Interviewer) Yep, you might be attracted to women.
(My Voice) NO!! I wouldn’t call my self a Lesbian. That can’t be. I’m not Gay or any of those other labels that people use. It is sinful. It is wrong. It is messed up! I’m going to keep praying that God guides me in this area of my life. I will keep praying for purity and a pure heart and trust that God is at work in my life for a good purpose.
***AGE 34 ****
(Interviewer) Hey, I just wanted to check in with you. I heard that you never moved back to Texas and ended up going to college again.
(My Voice) Yes, I became a PT assistant and get to serve the geriatric population in physical rehabilitation. I thank God for a career where I can fulfill my desire to serve those who are in need. I love going to work! And people would never have known that I was ever shy.
(Interviewer) That is great! What else is impacting your life these days?
(My Voice) Well…..It turns out that I’m most definitely attracted to women and have absolutely no attraction toward men. I have known my orientation for a lifetime, denied or justified it for the majority, and have been coming to terms with it in the last 4 years.
(Interviewer) Ah, that explains so much from your past. How did you figure it out?
(My Voice) I kept getting overly attached to friends who were women and finally I could not deny or justify my desires any longer. It was time to address this part of my life. It became fully clear to me that my so-called “Spirit-led” feelings were sexual feelings. Upon the “shocking awareness,” I initially felt that I must have been so tangled in sin that I could not even see how it happened….despite my focus being on Christ.
(Interviewer) Wow, how have you been managing all this?
(My Voice) I went through a season of anger, confusion, denial, blaming, depression, doubt, relief, and round and round to finally an acceptance. This is just the way I’ve been made and does not have anything to do with being sinful. It has been an unpredictable journey, with times of feeling stuck and times of feeling like I’m flying off on a most amazing journey with the Lord. I have had to grieve the ideal life that was expected of me and I fear getting trapped in the temptation of lust. I even avoid some close friendships with females in efforts to protect my heart.
I’m definitely wrestling with the Lord in a positive way. I’m learning so much more about scripture and how to approach scripture and how to talk with people about homosexuality. I’ve stopped praying for a “Jesus following” husband. Instead, I pray that God’s wisdom will reveal how those who are attracted to the same sex can move forward in a healthy, pure, and fulfilling way.
(Interviewer) How is your church handling all this?
(My Voice) Not very many people know right now. I hate the feeling of dishonesty by not sharing, but not everybody is ready to hear. I fear the judgment and disappointment from people who love me. In efforts to maintain integrity, I’ve told the ministers and two elders. They want me to stay in community with them and keep serving in the children and teen ministries (for now). I remain open and honest with them, and at this point in time we land on two different sides, but continue to be prayerful about how to move forward together.
(Interviewer) How are your parents doing with all this?
(My Voice) They are amazing! I could not ask for better parents. In the midst of their own grief of their lost expectations for their little girl, they have been open to listening to me and are seeking understanding. They don’t say, “we love you, but…..”
They say, “WE LOVE YOU.” And that means the world to me.
(Interviewer) I have one last question. Do you still feel crazy or messed up at times?
(My Voice) I do still have some hard days of frustration and confusion and even doubt, as I am human, but find peace in relationship with Christ over and over again. I am ready and willing to answer just about any question from anybody. This topic has been in the dark way too long and needs to be brought into the light for individuals and communities to move forward with the peace of God that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:4-14). No matter what happens, I will continue to pray the following prayer/song (written by Kirk and Deby Dearman):
Lord, make us instruments of Your peace;
Where there is hatred let Your love increase.
Lord, make us instruments of Your peace;
Walls of pride and prejudice shall cease,
When we are Your instruments of peace.
Where there is hatred we will sow His love,
Where there is injury we will never judge,
Where there is striving we will speak His peace;
To the people crying for release,
We will be His instruments of peace.
Where there is blindness we will pray for sight,
Where there is darkness we will shine His light,
Where there is sadness we will bear their grief;
To the millions crying for release,
We will be His instruments of peace.