I was 19. That night was particularly cold for the college town in Alabama I attended – a small little place, which is still to this day unapologetic for its deeply rooted southern conservative views.
I can still remember the evening like it was yesterday because it silenced my sexual identity for even longer. It delayed the already painful secret and internal struggle of fighting off a piece of my truth as a queer person.
At this time in my life only a few people knew of my ‘gay struggle.’ I deemed it this then because I had yet to have found a safe haven of queer community to love and support me. I was leaning on the only systematic view of this I knew – it’s wrong, the end.
Because of this, I was subjecting myself to my own form of conversion therapy through a Baptist pastor’s wife. I attended ‘bible study’ to pray the gay away with another friend the entire year.
Why? Because I was programmed to believe through the use of the text five things:
Any other universe outside of this ‘mythical norm’ was absolutely an abomination.
It’s not hard to write the rest of the struggle for myself and so many youth raised inside of this very one-sided Western Culture ideology where man dominates woman.
Utterly lost, I lived for parties, the dark and alcohol. And, this is how my #metoo moment unfolds in the dark, at a party trying to hold my secrets and obey the norm.
He was a short sophomore. He joked a lot about how many women he had been with and how much of a gentleman he was to each and every one. The girl I went to the party with was my crush. We had both been secretly seeing each other, lurking in the darkness of dorm rooms, frat houses and back seats of cars. We both knew we were different, but we had not yet formed the language or the self love for ourselves to claim it.
This night, cold and damp, was harder than most. I was becoming more and more angry by the second, as I kept choking down the words of “I’m gay, but I’ll get over it…” because it started to feel entirely wrong. Thank you, Jesus.
So, that night as a 19-year-old college student I got hammered and came out to a few people in the room as the party died. Let’s name the room, as if it were Clue.
Immediately, the room shifted from giggles and chugging cheap beer to “Oh my God, what?!” This was the first time I experienced all the questions – “Why? How? When?” I was told, “It’s a phase,” and “I can turn you straight.”
A few hours later, I found myself in a haze. But, this time it wasn’t because I had acted on my girl crush curiosity – to my horror, I was becoming another victim of sexual assault. I woke up, pushed Short Sophomore off of me, and ran from the house.
Blindsided, confused and utterly freezing I wondered up a street. It was 3 AM when I finally got a ride home.
Later, Short Sophmore would brag about ‘turning the lesbian straight’ and ‘how bad I wanted it.’ For the rest of that year I tried harder than ever to not be gay.
It would take me 9 years through the process of coming out, learning about myself and reclaiming my faith in God to understand that this incident wasn’t my fault.
I’m sharing this so that other queer people know that they’re not alone. After the #metoo movement began, I knew this part of my testimony had been missing from the story. It wasn’t until I read Steph Grant’s story that I began to process that other women have faced what I have.
I know my identity is rooted in my relationship with Christ, and within that relationship are all the pieces that God carefully/thoughtfully placed together to build me. By design, we were each born into our own unique characteristics, gifts and loving ways to live a life designed by love. There is no other you and there is no other story like yours.
Christ teaches us to build our home upon him – the rock. But, we still have the job of building the frame, the rooms and the decor that makes up our home. This is ever-changing, as we are ever-changing in how we ask questions, view God and participate in a relationship with our foundation. (Matthew:24-29)
But, for some, we’ve been shown the floor plan of someone else’s house. For some, we have been told to stay here until called upon.
The moment I decided to examine my home is the moment I began to develop not only self love to my sexuality as a piece of my personhood, but developed a true intimate relationship to Christ.
Light your home. Paint the walls. Explore every inch of the house you’ve been building. And, ask Christ to show you where it hurts and I assure you he will not only do that – he will help you heal and see anew again.
These words are not my own. These are the words that belong to my father who has created us all in his loving image and asks us simply to live into the love we were born through – amen.
Reposted with permission. Read the original post on Medium here. You can follow Rachael’s writings at www.queerinfaith.com or follow them on Instagram @rachaelmward