My coming out story was painful.
I can never explain what it’s like to have my parents disapprove of who I love, not because this person treats me badly, but because this person is a woman. Or what it’s like to be asked to try conversion therapy, or to not talk about anything in my life that has to do with being gay, or to hear that they fear for my soul.
I can never explain the heartbreak of being asked to hide my marriage, to betray my authentic self, by an employer because my job was tied to the Catholic church and my life was in direct violation of the church’s teachings—even though my work was highly commended and being of benefit to those at my job was always high on my priority list.
I can never explain how I hated myself so deeply because I couldn’t change who I was to comply with the demands of my religion that told me I was “disordered and unnatural.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church). Or the pain that haunts me today when I think about how I believed them and thought I was better off dead, attempting to take my own life because carrying the shame, pain, disapproval, and rejection every day was an unbearable weight.
I can never explain the feeling on my wedding day of knowing that my dad would not be there to walk me down the aisle. Or the pain of sitting out the father-daughter dance, wondering what I had done that could possibly be so bad that my own father wouldn’t show up for me.
I can never explain the fear of always worrying whether the new people in my life will slowly back out of my life like so many people have done when they find out I’m not who they thought I was—meaning straight.
I can never explain the sadness of seeing generations after me still going through this. LGBTQ youth are still one of the highest risk groups for suicide, not because of their sexuality or identity, but because of the social, religious, and familial rejection, abandonment, discrimination, and abuse.
But I can explain love.
I can explain that judgement and pious superiority are not love, and why Jesus chose to not spend his time with the pious leadership and rigid rule imposters during his time on Earth.
I can explain the compassion and acceptance of my sisters and other family members and close friends who held me up when I was breaking apart.
I can explain the embrace of the LGBTQ community in Philadelphia that gave me a home when I didn’t feel I could go to mine, a place where we could connect and spend holidays together.
I can explain the joy and excitement of finally stepping into my power and using my intuition and inner guidance as my GPS. The joy and excitement of developing a relationship with the Universe and knowing, feeling, and trusting that it always has my back.
I can explain the peace and gratitude that comes from taking this painful experience in my life and being brave enough to share it so those who are still suffering can find H.O.P.E. (Hold On, Pain Ends) and know there are people who have experienced and care about what they are going through.
I am proud to be me, to have survived things that I thought would certainly break me. All I was and all I went through have shaped who I am today.
I’m still a work in progress and I’m proud to be healing, growing, changing, and opening to new perspectives.
And I am proud of every other person who has faced overwhelming pain, fought to be true to their authentic self, and still kept love in their heart.
So, hold your head high and know that when we stand together, we never stand alone.
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