I will never forget the feelings I had when I first came out. I felt free, I felt scared to death, I felt excited, I felt as if elephants were doing cartwheels in my stomach.

I was not young. I was thirty; yep, the big 30! What took me so long? I grew up in a very small town. My grandfather and my uncle were ministers. I was taught in youth group that being gay was, “like having sex with animals.” I didn’t have anyone else in my life that I knew that was gay and I knew intuitively that I wouldn’t be “allowed” to come out in my family. I deeply buried any thought that I could be gay. It was a long time before I gave myself permission to own my truth.

I played the game. I was a people pleaser, I went to church, I was the president of our youth group, I went to India to build a church; expecting to be a missionary. I went to a Christian College and received a BA in Theology and a teaching degree; expecting to be a youth minister in a church. I was kind, I acted happy; I wasn’t always….. happy.

I covered up so much which meant I had to put something in my life to block my truth. There were dark nights. I was suicidal. I made gestures. I became anorexic and suffered with bulimarexia. I was driven. I was a perfectionist. I was not like all the other girls. I knew I wasn’t. I didn’t know why.

Then it happened. I met her. She worked at the same graduate assistant office for the graduate program where we both worked. We became inseparable. We were soul mates. I still couldn’t own it….. until the day she was going to move out of the home we rented together because she was in love with me and couldn’t live there anymore.

That was my turning point. It scared me to death to think she would leave. I had to figure it out. My fear of losing her was greater than my fear of what religion had taught me, greater than the fear of how the world treated gay people, greater than the fear of how my family, friends, and coworkers would treat me.

It wasn’t easy. It was a long journey. I got help. I talked it out. I read an amazing book; Is the Homosexual MY Neighbor to look at different view of the damning scriptures I was taught. It was worth it. I finally had hope.

Living authentically, speaking my truth and walking my talk has opened my life up in amazing ways. Today, I am LEGALLY married to my soul mate; she never left. We have built an amazing life. We have deep respect and love for each other. I have transformed my pain and shame into authentic power. Homophobic statements, losing friends and family, not being hired for jobs does not detour me from living my truth. I AM created from love and I choose compassion and love as my guiding values. I know that I AM worthy to be seen, heard, valued, respected, and to have equal rights. I will ALWAYS STAND for Equality and Compassion.

To you, our youth; don’t give in, don’t give up. As the It Gets Better Project states… It GETS BETTER! Know that you are worthy. Know that you are uniquely you. Stay connected to people who reinforce this for you. Don’t allow the misinformed to take you out of your future. Lead with Love for Yourself! You matter! You can make it!

Love and Light, Midge