It took me 29 years to hold this truth and stand firmly in it.
See, I’m the daughter of a Baptist preacher. That may seem like an arbitrary statement, but, at age 16, when I first felt that the construct of heterosexuality could not contain the fullness of my identity, the few conversations I dared to have pushed me into a place of deep repression.
In my college years, that repression met my religious beliefs producing a toxic brew of anti-LGBTQ sentiments. In that season of my life, I offered up words to friends and strangers alike that I now realize were unhelpful at best and devastating or triggering at worst. As I reflect on this time, I understand how critical it is for people to have unobstructed, affirming space to unpack desire, attraction, and preferences. My experience allows me to see that denial of these things doesn’t just inspire personal suppression, it pushes people to try and thwart the liberation others in their communities may be seeking.
I wish I could say that I have never imposed barriers between people and who they desire to be, but in the near decade and a half between me first questioning my own identity and coming out as queer, there are multiple instances of me (somewhat ignorantly) perpetuating harm. I remember passionately speaking out against measures promoting LGBTQ equity or using the Bible to tell people that their attractions or their personhood was sinful while also sharing that God loved them. I didn’t have room to work toward accepting who I was or to realize that I had became a deterrent to others journeying towards their self acceptance.
I could scrub the story of my liberation clean of the ways that I have been complicit in upholding oppression for my LGBTQ siblings, but that would neither be honest nor speak to the fullness of my journey…”