A young woman has shared with me this letter to her family. What better day to share it than Independence Day?
I know that I should probably tell you this in person, but I’ve always been so much better on paper. I have something important to tell you, and I want to ensure that my thoughts are as clear as possible. We aren’t known for deep family discussions, for which I am glad, so the awkwardness of a family meeting would have been painfully evident. I also have no intention of putting any of you on the spot. Know this: I love each of you more than I can put into words. Please remember that always.
Over the past two years I’ve been wrestling with something very large in my life. There’s no way to ease into this, so I’ll tell you upfront and then try to explain. I’m gay. Now, I don’t know if this shocks you, disappoints you, or angers you, but it’s the truth. I have a feeling that it doesn’t shock you as much as I might think. I’ve felt this way most of my life, but only in the past few years have I come to question what we’ve been taught about this topic.
By the time I realized this about myself, I already knew that it was a very big sin—and it couldn’t be an option. Basically, I learned to ignore it and pray it would go away. I didn’t know how this had happened; when I was younger, I thought I had a demon. As I got older, I decided that it was something I just needed to beat—my test, I thought. So that’s how I’ve lived my life keeping this temptation under control and praying it would go away.
Several things have challenged this over the years, but probably the single most heart-wrenching challenge was watching [name omitted] suffer. Seeing him so desperate to change, but not being able to do so, made me seriously question whether the way he was was really a sin, a temptation to be beaten — or something bigger than simple explanations. At the time though, I don’t think I ever related this to myself, because I had it so guarded and locked away.
Since then I’ve tried hard to understand what makes some people this way. I’ve read many angles, many sides, several books and hundreds of stories, most of which have dispelled a lot of untruths and half-truths about being gay. I still don’t know that I have any clear cut answers for why some people are this way, but somewhere along the way I realized this isn’t something people choose or control. I do agree that you can choose not to act upon it; I’m a perfect example of that. But I’m also a perfect example of doing all the right things and still feeling the same years later. If it were going to go away, I think it would have gone by now.
After finally being truthful with myself, it was quite another struggle deciding if I wanted to tell anyone. Honestly, at this point in my life, it might be easier to keep it to myself—and believe me, I’ve considered that option many times. I’ve been doing that for a long time, but I just don’t find any legitimate facts that support the belief that being the way I am is anything other than how some people are made. I have no desire to live a life that’s wrong; I think you know that about me. But I also don’t wish to live a life based on unfounded assumptions and misgivings either. I’ve come to realize that, whether or not I ever tell a soul, this is who I am.
To be clear, I’ve always loved my life! I’ve had an amazing life, which made the option of silence all the more tempting. To my benefit, I really do love being by myself, and consider myself lucky for that—it’s made things much easier for me. But as much as I love my life, it’s never been a completely honest life. My intentions were honest—I’ll say that—for I was honestly trying to live the life we’d been taught and believed was right.
I don’t really know where this leaves me. Acknowledging this to myself has been amazing, but it hasn’t changed much about the way I live, or the decisions that I make. It’s given me more compassion for people in general. It’s also made me more comfortable in my own skin, since I’ve stopped hiding from myself. This has given me a confidence that I didn’t realize I was lacking, and I’m thankful for that. In truth, I’ve realized that this is only part of who I am, and not something that necessarily defines me.
I hope you understand that I didn’t make this decision to tell you without a great deal of thought. It’s all but consumed my thoughts for the past two years. In the end, I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t want anyone in this family to be someone they’re not because they were afraid of what others might think. I think we’ve been raised better than that. I also appreciate the fact that I’ve been raised to search for truth. While this probably isn’t the truth you expected me to find, I am a stronger, more honest person because of it.
Whether this shocks you or not, this probably isn’t the easiest thing to hear. I regret deceiving you; I regret deceiving myself, but what I did, I thought was the right thing at the time. I’m not asking you to change your views or your opinions. But I am asking that you give me the benefit of the doubt and know that I didn’t make this decision lightly. I’ll talk about it as much or as little as you want. Know this too: I am even happier now. I never realized how tiring it was to live such a guarded life.
I’ll say it again: I love you all, I love being a part of this family, and moving back here has been the best decision of my life. I hope this doesn’t effect what we have; but know that you are free to respond and react however you feel is right. Again, forgive the letter and the length, but I doubted my ability to do this justice in person.