Updated: Apr 27, 2020
Growing up a Jehovah's Witness was hard. You don't celebrate Christmas. You don't celebrate birthdays. And if you're a girl, you DON'T kiss other girls. Being gay wasn't really a frequent subject of talks at the Kingdom Hall. And the few times that the topic came up, it certainly didn't seem to apply to me! I loved my best friend Dana and sure I wanted to kiss her... but that didn't make me gay. She was just a good friend! A good friend who happened to be really pretty who also liked to "practice" French kissing.
(Flash forward to 2020, she now also identifies on the LGBT spectrum lol).
Every time I got to pick my family's seats before service (three times a week) I would try and pick the row behind Therese J's family. I'd spend a total of 4 hours a week staring at her perfect black curls inhaling her Herbal Essences hair gel wondering if it felt as soft as it looked. Totally not gay at all! And this was the lie I told myself. For half a decade!
I lied to myself when I spent my whole going away party (my family and I moved out of state) in the bathroom making out with Dana and crying about how much I would miss her. I cringed when my college best friend's mom found us cuddling on the couch and said "If I didn't know better I'd think you two were funny". I knew what she meant. It just simply didn't apply to me! I lied to everyone and I lied to myself... until the day I didn't. I was 20.
My mom had asked me before if I was "living an alternative lifestyle". Over the last year I lived at home, she'd grown increasingly suspicious. My answer was always a loud affronted NO!! I wear dresses and heels! I love mani/pedis with my besties! I love Jesus!
The last time my mom asked that question, "Are you living an alternative lifestyle?". The answer was a tear-filled YES! I cried because I was scared. I cried because I was relieved to finally tell the truth! And I cried because I knew what that answer would cost me. I was disfellowshipped (think Amish shunning) from being a Jehovah's Witness a week later. The night my mom found out was the last night I'd ever go home. The locks were changed, the door was shut and I was asked to get my belongings from the driveway a few days later.
When people ask me: So how do you feel about religion now? Was it all worth it? Do you miss your family? My answer is always the same. I have absolutely no regrets. Sometimes what seems like the worst moment in life can also be the start of the best moments. I miss my family every day, and it broke my heart to have lie to them for years. And it was killing me to lie to myself. I try to remember that the Bible says "God is love". The Bible also says that love always hopes. I still hope one day my family is able to see love as love. It's messy imperfection, so beautiful and so worth fighting for. Because you CAN love Jesus and still love girls! 💕