I am a woman on a journey. I am making my own acquaintance after many years of trying to be many things I am not.
I grew up in a conservative, fundamentalist Christian family. Most of my education came from small Christian schools and church. My education about sexuality, and homosexuality in particular, came from the various Focus on the Family books and publications by the American Family Association. Understandably, I was not able to accept the attractions I had for women.
Following high school and a year of junior college, I attended one year of an intensive discipleship training school where our only subjects were God and the Bible and how to live in a way that would please God and bring others to Christ (if you are familiar with YWAM, this school was like a one-year-long YWAM DTS school). This was a time of great confusion for me as the school was quite cultish, but reinforced everything I had grown up with. However, I couldn't continue to maintain the facade needed to live this life, and by the end of the year I looked great on the outside, but inside I was a mess.
It was when I graduated and left this college to attend the University of California at Santa Cruz (go banana slugs!) that I began to be able to face the truth about my life. In 1994, three years after my graduation from the one-year Bible college, I came out of the closet with all that "coming out" entails. Predictably, my family was upset. They did not kick me out (I wasn't living at home anyway), nor did they stop talking to me. But they were very upset, very unsupportive, and quite understandably given their religious framework, they grieved this news. In their grief I felt rejected. I was also treated badly by most of my remaining Christian friends.
In 1998, because I believed the lies of the ex-gay movement that said, "Change is Possible!" I moved to Denver, CO to take part in an Exodus-affiliated ex-gay ministry. I believed the half-truths that were told because I wanted to find a way to reconcile faith with my sexuality. I mistakenly thought the only way to do that was to work to change my orientation.
After five years of ex-gay ministries (including Exodus and Living Waters), deliverence (what some might call exorcisms), and reparative therapy, I began to realize that in spite of many other positive changes, my orientation had not changed. It was easy to ignore this fact because on the surface, so many things looked "ex-gay." I'd healed from significant childhood abuse. I discovered my feminine side. I became comfortable in my own skin. But I was still attracted to women. And finally I had to face this truth.
That's when I started realizing that being an ex-gay does not mean a change in orientation, but a change in behavior. The term "ex-gay" does not mean that someone becomes heterosexual. It just means that the person has stopped behaviors associated with homosexuality. I never remembered reading that in all the ex-gay advertisements!
In 2003 when I could no longer live with the lies, I started to slowly peek my head back out of the closet. Recently, I have started to speak my truth about the ex-gay movement and counter the lies it tells. It's scary, but at the same time, completely necessary--for me, and for others.
I am rising up from the ashes. I am beautiful. I am who I am.