I grew up in a Catholic household, attending private Catholic schools, and even a single-gendered Catholic high school. I completed the whole nine yards when it came to ceremonies and sacraments, said Grace before each meal, and always began and ended each day with a prayer. I was taught that no matter whatever troubles came to me in life, my faith would forever guide me in the direction of the right path.
Come high school, I began to struggle with simply being in my own body. I couldn’t connect to most aspects of God, or any sort of higher power, because my soul & spirit were so distant from my body. Instead of treating my body like a temple, I did the exact opposite. I struggled with self-harm, binge drinking, anorexia, and suicidality for many years. Anything that would keep me at a constant disconnect, I found most appealing.
Instead of going to college after high school, like most of the people that I grew up with did, I went for one semester, then spent 3 years in ands out of different treatment centers. No matter how amazing the people that helped me along the way were, or certain “epiphanies” that I would have, I never seemed to be able to maintain recovery longer than a couple months. Then, after what seemed like a hopeless amount of time, all of that changed in one bittersweet moment. It was the moment that my health took a turn for the worst, and I found myself closest to death.
After that day, I vowed to myself that no matter what difficulties came my way, I would not take the hardship out on my body. And after years of doing that, you could only imagine how many emotions came out, emotions that I had been suppressing for as long as I can remember. Memories that I didn’t even knew I had.
Allowing myself to feel, though it may have been the most difficult thing I have ever done, was the thing that saved my life.
It wasn’t long after that this leap in my life that I realized I had been barricading myself from what love really looked like for me. It had come to the forefront of my mind that I was much more attracted to women, even with a history of exclusively dating men. Then again, I was taught that I should only be with a man, and that any other way of life was completely unacceptable. In that moment, I had a flashback to a teacher telling my class, “Being gay is a fast-pass ticket to hell.” Even as a young teenager, I remember the anger I had towards the homophobic people I encountered, but also confusion on why I was so angry.
With all of these realizations coming together, and voices in my head screaming different things that I was taught growing up about being gay, I finally came to my own conclusion, my own acceptance: That if being gay was the “worst” thing I could do in life, then I fully surrender to proudly owning my sexuality. I have seen, and been through, an abundance of difficulties in my life, difficulties that almost took away my life a handful of times, and being gay was extremely far from that side of the spectrum. For years I chased after death, and this was the exact opposite; this was finally chasing life.
This was my happiness, love, and dreams, all coming together right in front of me.
Over the years, I have had many friends and connections within the LGBTQ community, and not once could I possibly ever think of some of the most amazing humans I had ever met, to be bound to total damnation because of their sexuality. I have seen, and experienced first hand, the hardship that comes when being a part of a stigmatized community. I have lost friends from suicide, watched addictions and eating disorders try to tear apart many lives, and the people who bring joy to this world, drowning in shame. And it never stops breaking my heart.
I want to live in a world were my children don’t have to identify as anything other than human. Where people can simply be happy for someone else, when the find the person they want to spend their lives with. Where death doesn’t have to be an “option” for those who feel so riddled in the shame of their sexuality. I want to live in a world that every persons knows, if they are breathing on this day, they are beautiful, and they are loved.