Testimony - aka A Coming Out Story

Disclaimers: This is not a story as such - it's an idea I got - in the Christian world people are encouraged to develop their testimony on how they became a Christian.

For most of my life I have been running away.

I have spent my entire life questioning who I was, whether or not people liked me, whether or not I was dressed right, did I look ok, was I good or bad looking, why didn’t people like me, what did I need to do to fit in, did anyone else feel like I did, and so on.   And with the internal stuff I also spent hours debating on where I should run away to and whether anyone would miss me if I were gone.  Some of what I anguished over was physical – the utter bewilderment and desolation after being abused – but most was internal - I remember standing waiting for someone to pick me up, looking at the traffic and wondering what it would feel like to step in front of the next car.

On the outside I did all the expected things … I went to school, I went to church and did all the expected social things. I left school and got a job, met a guy, got married and had 2.5 children (ok so I didn’t have the .5 child).  I remember thinking a few weeks before the wedding that I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to get married, but if I didn’t then what would happen if no one else ever wanted me.  Unable to risk that possibility I went ahead with the wedding.  And yet I was trying to run away inside.  I still questioned everything internally but had no one I could talk to about how I was feeling.  According to the ‘fundamental Pentecostal’ church I attended I should just give everything over to God and they would go away.  And so I did that … again and again … but they didn’t go away.

And still I ran.  On and on.  It was a never-ending attempt to figure out why.  Why I constantly felt like this; why I was not satisfied with who I was; why life was so hard.  And all the time no one guessed.  I became so good at hiding my true feelings.

The predictable happened – he left and started a new relationship.  For nine long years I was alone.  I retrained, started a new career, had lots of friends, and was successful in my job and in my position in the church.  But still I ran.  Inside I was a mess. Mixed up, unable to figure out what the hell was happening inside my head.

Then one day I stumbled into fan fiction – Xena fan fiction.  I remembered the TV program but hadn’t ever heard about fan fiction.  From reading fanfic I ventured into email lists then into irc and chatrooms.  And it was there that I slowly began to be able to ask some of the questions that had been bothering me all my life.  Inside, as my questions were answered, I stopped running, stopped questioning and began to accept.

One day, in a moment of clarity, I suddenly realised that some labels are to do with identity – who we are – and at that moment I realised that I was a lesbian.  It was ok to be a lesbian – it wasn’t going to be easy – but that was who I was.

If it were not for that moment I would still be running.  Instead here I am sitting enjoying my life – 2 wonderful (sometimes) children, a partner with whom I’ve shared part of my journey (and who will read this once it’s finished), a successful career and friends.  Those internal questions are largely gone – they were a product of uncertainty and disquiet – of having to fit a round hole when I was a square peg (or the other way round).

So is this the end of my story … I don’t think so.  I look forward to discovering things that were hidden to me during my years of running.  I’m still discovering things about myself too.  What a waste of 40+ years. Living in a society that only recognised certain types of behaviours and ways of life and totally ignored that there were any other possibilities.  I still find it hard to reconcile a lifestyle I lived as part of (and am now only tolerated in) with living life as a lesbian – part of the difficulty of the journey.  But I am hopeful.  Hopeful that liberal minds will win out.  That others will see that just because someone is different doesn’t mean they should be shunned and isolated.  And I am grateful.  Grateful to those who already acknowledge joy in differences and strength in working together for a world where all are tolerated regardless of colour, race, gender or gender identity. 

In the Christian world people are encouraged to develop their testimony to share with others.  This then is my lesbian testimony.

Thank you for listening.

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