What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series click here. Today’s guest post is by "V".
Raised in an uber Christian home, which involved going to Sunday School every week, participating in Christmas and Easter pageants, and being well-versed in the "hell fire and brimstone" way of condemning sins, I was also taught from a very young age that the only “non-sinful” relationship was one between a man and a woman. I was expected to grow up, meet the love of my life (a god-fearing man), get married, and have a few god-fearing children of my own.
Living in Canada in the early 2000s meant much church-vs.-government campaigns to stop the legalization of gay marriage. During this time, I was in high school and lived with my grandmother, who was devoutly involved in the church. She went on long petition-signing and letter-writing campaigns put on by the church to try to convince her Member of Parliament and the Prime Minister of the day to oppose the legalization of said “sinful” marriages. I was expected to help her with this, which I did; however, deep-down, I felt very conflicted. I remember thinking to myself, "Why not just let people who are in love be together? Why do you care so much?!?!"
I can’t really tell you the first time I remember secretly thinking a girl was attractive, but it has always been there to a degree, whether I liked to admit it or not. I more than looked up to the pretty girls in my junior high and high school. I downright checked them out. I never had the typical crushes on the “cute boys” in school, however I’m sure I could have listed 10+ girls who I thought were attractive. However, I never thought anything of it. I was Christian. Good Christians follow the teachings of the bible, which includes liking boys if you’re a girl and not having sex until marriage, among other things. And so the feelings got buried further and further down in my subconscious. Throughout all this, I still went to Friday night Youth Group at the church, and dated (and fooled around with) boys—most of which I found myself quite disinterested in fairly quickly in our adolescent relationship. I felt like they were friends, rather than more.
Into my late teens and 20s, I went on to gain some distance from the church, the institution of religion and all the condemnation that comes along with it, which I really needed. I explored my own ideas of right/wrong and what the meaning of life was to me (vs. what it was SUPPOSED to be, according to the church). At the age of 23 I met a guy who I had a lot of fun with and who I was comfortable with. Being a super type-A person who has always had goals and timelines for everything, my end goal was to get married if it felt right. After one year of dating, we got engaged. A year later, when I was 25, we got married.
Unfortunately, though, when looking back, something was always missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it then, however, and just chalked it up to ebbs and flows in the relationship and “married life” setting in. Without saying too much, the frequency to which we were *ahem* involved *ahem* was very sporadic and non-existent, even, for weeks and weeks and weeks at a time. All the time. When it did happen, I felt numb and distant, and unfulfilled in all possible ways. I feigned interest. I faked things for five years. I just wasn’t interested in him romantically or physically, though I continued to cave and do the deed (reluctantly) when he bugged me enough.
Sure, we travelled the world, enjoyed shared love of mountain biking and other sports, adopted some dogs and cats and bought a house, and we really did get along personality and wit-wise… But that (much-needed) spark wasn’t there. We really had to fight to be compatible physically and romantically. We both knew something was missing in our relationship. We went to a ton of counseling appointments. We looked into (and almost went through with) adoption. We went on a lot of trips. We bought a lot of nice things. But nothing really worked. Actually, in January of 2013 in an exercise during one of our adoption training sessions, we were each asked to write our deepest, darkest secret on a piece of paper and put it in a sealed envelope. On it, I wrote that I was attracted to women. No one saw it (it was shredded after), but even the act of writing that and seeing it in text in front of my eyes made me dizzy.
Later that year, around the three-year mark of our marriage (five-year mark in our relationship) when I was 28 years old, I began wondering if it wasn’t US that was the problem, but instead if it was me. I talked to friends who knew me very well. I described how I was feeling and how things were between us. One (gay, female) friend asked more questions about my indifference and propensity to become buddies with guys (instead of continuing romantically with them), both presently and in my past, and whether maybe I could be gay.
My immediate response was to tell her how grossed out I was and how wrong “THOSE” kinds of relationships were, but my feigned distaste just didn’t last long. The more I thought about it--all those times checking out women and all the effort I had spent burying feelings of curiosity and attraction to them, paired with my religious upbringing and the constant gay slurs and put-downs I heard as a child/adolescent, the more I realized that maybe she was right. Heck, I had gone to the gay bar quite frequently with my cousin and every time my drunk self was being driven there by my then-husband, I would tell him that it would be my 'goal' that night to make out with a girl (haha). It never ended up happening, but I was always so so so determined to! Hm! It all started to make sense to me. Pandora's Box had been opened. There was no turning back. The day I stood, looking at myself in my bathroom mirror, and said out loud that I liked women, was a day I will never forget. I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders/subconscious immediately. I felt happier. I felt RELIEVED. I WAS GAY. And it was okay. It would all be okay.
I told my then-husband one evening soon after while we were lying in bed, my nervousness and awkwardness hidden by the darkness in the room. He chose to put his head in the sand, so to speak--to ignore the magnitude of what I was telling him.
He thought that maybe I was going through a phase, or, because I had been involved with guys physically my whole life up until then (and had not even kissed a girl at that point). He told me that maybe I was “bi”. He grasped at straws and suggested that we get a “shared” girlfriend that we both date. He was sure we could work through this—sure that we could stay together. I briefly entertained the possibility that maybe I was bisexual, but very quickly I knew deep-down that, no, I was gay. Completely and totally gay.
My husband moved his stuff up to one of our spare bedrooms in our newly-built home and we started to separate emotionally, as well. We became roommates. It wasn’t easy, and I felt bad, but I was excited to explore my newfound self after 28 years of unfulfilling relationships and not quite feeling as good as one should.
I told my family that I liked women. My mom asked me what my then-husband had ever done to me to “turn me gay”, which caught me off-guard. However, she was (mostly) kidding and actually ended up being quite supportive. Her favorite saying lately has been “Well, if you’re happy, I’m happy!” (I just don't think she is ready for any details at this point! haha) My sister sent me a few cute‘ love is love’ memes. My cousin, which whom I’m extremely close with, also told me she’s happy if I’m happy (and that she hoped I’d still go dancing with her at the gay bars, which has been one of our favorite past times!), which meant a lot. Every single family member I told was extremely supportive.
Of course, it helped that the super religious side of the family who condemned gay marriage and such were my step-dad’s family, who had become far less tight-knit as the years have gone on. So I didn’t really feel the need to call every single one of them up to tell them. My cousins who I’m close with would find out, and they, too, were all super supportive of me being happy—whatever that ended up looking like to me.
Every single one of my friends were also super supportive. Most that know me really well weren’t surprised that I was gay (gee, guys, thanks for not telling me! Haha), but they were happy for me to be living an authentic life FINALLY.
Whew! I was out, and it felt great. A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders once again.
Now that I was out, I figured my first plan of attack would first be to network a bit—meet some new friends in ‘the community’. Being that most of the gay people I knew lived across the province, or even across the country in the case of my friend, C, they wouldn’t exactly be the kinds of people to direct me on where to go to within my own city to meet people and such.
I excitedly decided to start doing things for me for a change. I quickly re-joined a sport I loved but had not played for three years due to a bad mountain biking injury: women’s ball hockey. The mecca of gay athletic women, it seemed. Oh, to think of all those years “wasted” while I played ball hockey as a “straight girl” *wink*.
I also put a profile on a popular dating website, my expectations not overly high. I listed myself as looking for friends for hanging out and liking pottery, plaid, scarves, home decorating, and funky glasses. I posted a handful of photos of myself doing things I enjoyed (biking, travelling, etc) where I thought I looked decent, and I hit submit.
I am now two years post-coming out, and I have never been happier. I eventually sold the house I owned with my ex-husband. Our divorce is finalized, and we have officially gone our separate ways. He got the cats, I got the dogs. Done deal.
I had a cute little townhouse built, which I've lived in for 6 months now, and it's everything I could have hoped for. I have dated three women since coming out, learning more and more each time. I am now dating a wonderful woman who treats me so well and is so sweet and kind and caring. We have an undeniable physical spark, and I finally feel really fulfilled.