The world around me conditioned me to hate, to think different was sin. It crept up on me like the night creeps up on the day. I knew before I knew. It hit me like a truck, but it had been falling as a light snow my whole life. I internalized homophobia so deep I rejected the truth. I told myself if I was anything but straight, I would kill myself.

My mom would rant about gays being screwed up in the head and if they were allowed to marry, we would be one step closer to bestiality. The thought of them holding hands in public made her sick and her rants made me sick. I kept a quiet hate embedded in myself and as the truth became harder to hide I stifled it with a blade. My depression got worse as I turned to self-harm to punish myself for who I was. I was heading down a path that would either lead to two things: becoming straight, which was impossible or committing suicide.

The delusions that held me started to fade when I became friends with a boy who was out as bisexual. He cracked open the door to the closet and helped me realize I was not alone. I began to research online and read stories and information all about people who were LGBTQ+. I wasn't a sin, my love wasn't a sin. I was not damaged, I was not screwed up in the head. This was not something I chose to be, this was how I was born and that was OK. The path that I was on changed from that moment as I learned to accept who I was.

The door began to open bit by bit over the years until eventually, I was out almost completely; the only people who didn't know was the church and my family. I had to keep on a mask of the straight, Christian daughter and I could feel it chipping away at me. The part I played was shadowed by the dark place I used to reside and every day I pretended I could feel myself inch a little closer to that darkness.

I didn't have the courage to come out; it was a blessing in disguise when someone did it for me. I was angry that day, extremely angry, but if they had not outed me to my mom I don't know how long I would have pretended. Sometimes being gay is still difficult for me and I will find myself retreating back to that place of self-loathing and shame, but the supportive people who surround me are there to help remind me that I didn't choose to be this way.

I am not an abomination and I am not a sinner, for who I am and who I can't help, but love. Being gay is a part of me and it is not going to go away and that is OK.

If anyone reading this struggles with self-harm, addiction, depression, or suicide because they are LGBTQ+, please contact any of these hotlines for help.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255