I have been so afraid of what could happen if I wrote this post. But I’ve been learning over the past few months that fear shouldn’t and cannot be used as an excuse to not do something that you need to do. So here we go.
My name is Shannon. And I’m gay.
I’ve known for as long as I can remember that the way I felt toward other girls was maybe a little bit different than most. I wouldn’t have labeled myself as gay, but there was definitely something extra that I felt. Honestly, I just thought I really wanted to be friends with certain people for some reason. And so, beyond knowing that I was maybe different, there wasn’t much that happened, in terms of expressing my sexuality, for the majority of my life growing up. I did what I was told to do: go to school, work hard, and go on dates with different guys. But there was something missing, and I never felt fully at peace.
During college, I started to notice these feelings towards other girls more and more and I tried to run as hard and as fast as I could away from those feelings. I grew up learning that it was wrong and that if I allowed myself to give into those feelings and desires that I would be living in sin. So I moved from city to city and then from state to state to try and escape being gay. But no matter how far I moved, or which school I attended, or the type of people I surrounded myself with, it never went away and at the end of every day I was still gay.
I believe it is a difficult thing for any person to go through, seeing as it is not the norm for society. For me, everything was made more difficult because I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, often known as the Mormon Church. Before I go on, please understand that I love this church. I love what it stands for, and I love the people that are a part of it. It has allowed me to come to know my Savior, Jesus Christ, and my Heavenly Father and the love that they have for me as a child of God. It has played an extremely important role in my life and I don’t mean to degrade it simply because I don’t understand or agree with some things.
But it is difficult for me to sit in church on Sunday or in an institute class during the week and speak about eternal marriage with a future husband when I am wanting to date girls. And it is hard to sit there and discuss the topic of homosexuality and have people who don’t experience it make comments about simply choosing to live the gospel instead of acting on those feelings. Until you experience it yourself, it is impossible to understand the magnitude of divide that there is in your life. When your brain tells you one thing based on all the church lessons you have heard growing up but your heart tells you another thing because you find the girl in your class really attractive, there is not an easy choice.
Last year, I decided to move to the east coast. I chose to do so in order to attend school and see a new place. But I also did it in order to get away from the life I had known, and have the opportunity to decide who I really wanted to be. I debated for days and weeks and months on what I would or would not allow myself to do. Ultimately, I found a place in my life where I was able to accept another part of me, and I also had found a person that allowed me to give and receive love, and to feel both understood and accepted for who I am. And because of both of those, I am able to write this and post this and let others see me for who I am. It is often said that you cannot love others until you learn to love yourself. But I find that a little misleading, because as I am given the opportunity to love others, I am in turn learning to love myself more and better.
Now, my life continues to have a divide. My beliefs and my feelings are at odds with each other, and I can’t seem to find a way to have both sides be fully at peace. In other posts on this blog I have written about the goodness of God that I have found despite the trials that I go through. And I can continue to say that He is still good. Sometimes life doesn’t feel good, when my heart feels broken and my hope seems to run thin and the path ahead looks cloudy. Yet in those moments, as I continue to learn to trust God in both the big and small things of my life, I know that things will work out. Eventually my heart will heal, and my hope will be renewed, and the path ahead will be lit up, if even just for a moment.
Being gay isn’t all that I am, and I don’t want it to be the focus point of my life. I think that it is less important to focus on what I am, and more important to focus on what I do. And as I continue through my life, what I want to do is continue to grow into a better friend, and daughter, and sister, and person. I want to continue to learn and improve my life and hopefully leave some good behind in whatever places and people I meet along the way. But still, this topic is important to talk about and it is important for people to know that they aren’t alone in the fight. You can call or text or facebook message me, whatever works. I am here for you, and I’m grateful that many of you will be here for me. Life is hard and it’s unclear a lot of the time. And I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little bit scared of what the future does or doesn’t hold for me. But I’m also really excited because I know there are good things ahead. These aren’t the cards I would have chosen, but they are the cards I was given and it’s up to me to make the best of them.