Creation is not black and white, it is amazingly diverse, like a rainbow, including sexualities and a variety of non-heterosexual expressions of behaviour, affection and partnering occurring in most species, including humans. The ability to reproduce is only a small part of the creation. Before God created male and female God made an even more important statement; ‘it is not good for mankind to be alone’. This is fundamental to all heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Lasting relationships are based on love, trust and commitment, not sex or reproduction.
― Anthony Venn-Brown,
If someone would have told me ten years ago that I would be sitting on the couch next to my beautiful wife watching the 2016 summer Olympics writing my story about coming out, I would have told them they were absolutely crazy. But here I am. Doing just that. I did not grow up knowing I was lesbian. Reflecting back on my childhood and going into my teen years, I can kind of put together some of the puzzle pieces or clues. But to be honest, there was no real defining moment in my life when I knew I was lesbian.
I went to a very diverse high school. There were people from all social classes, races, religions and orientation. It was not out of the norm for me to see girls kiss in the hallway or boys holding hands walking to class. When I would see them I just thought to myself
“that’s good for them, but my family would kill me if I ever wanted to date a girl.”
Even though I really did not feel opposed to the idea of it. I was more opposed to how my family would think of me. I would think about what if I did date a girl, how would I explain that to my mom? I knew she would be upset, so why go through the trouble telling her I’m lesbian if I was not even sure I was yet. I had never been with a girl before how do I know that’s for me? So I left it at that.
I left my home state of Washington for sunny southern California to attend college at California Baptist University. I grew up in a catholic household so the Baptist way was completely foreign to me.
By no means was I expecting to find God and my future wife in the same place, but it happened!
At a Baptist college, I found someone that I adored from head to toe without any restrictions. I have only been with one woman and now she’s my wife. I remember the first time I saw her I thought
“If I were lesbian, I would be with her.”
I had no idea that she was lesbian at that point in time either. We were friends until we weren’t. I started off by confiding in my roommates. I told them that I did not know how to explain this, but that I had a girlfriend now. They were for the most part very understanding. The way they acted towards me did not change whatsoever. Then I told my sister. She laughed hysterically until she was crying when I broke the news to her. She explained the reasoning of her laughter was that our mother had always thought that she would be the gay daughter. My sister couldn’t wait to meet her. So now it was time to tell my parents.
I dwelled over this for five months before dialing the phone from school to finally tell my mom I had a girlfriend. That was the most awkward conversation ever. She had no words to say to me. She kept saying,
“I don’t know what to say” and “why would you do this to me?”
I was so upset because I was secretly hoping it would turn out differently even though this is exactly what I knew would happen. She said she needed time. We did not talk for the two weeks following that call. I wanted to respect her and give her whatever it was she needed to understand. After the way my mom reacted I did not want to tell my dad at all, but my mom told me I had to be the one to tell him. I reached his voicemail, so I decided to just text him. I sent him a picture of my girlfriend in her Army uniform with this message.
“Dad this is my girlfriend. I know that this is not what you were expecting from me, but I am truly happy and hope that one day you can be happy for me too.”
He replied back in the most unexpected way. His response,
“I love you no matter what. I don’t care as long as you are happy, safe and a contributing member of society.”
I had to laugh at the contributing member of society part. Once my mom met her and saw how happy I was every day that was when she finally accepted everything.
I had a very positive experience coming out. I knew that there were people who were not going to agree with it, but the people that were meant to be in my life would stick around. And they did. Me coming out did not change who I was as a person. I’m still the same friend, daughter and sister. I just chose love over everything and that looks different than the norm. I have been blessed to live in a state that is completely accepting of LGBT. People here are more concerned about recycling than they are with who you love. Yes, there is a LGBT community, but we all live so harmoniously here that I don’t feel like I need to seek out people who are like me because I feel accepted into society. I know this does not stand true for most places around the world though. There is still so much work to be done to make everywhere feel as safe as I do in Washington. So much change has happened in recent years for the LGBT community and it is only continuing. My marriage is recognized now in all fifty states where as before there were only a handful of states that legalized same sex marriages. While this has been a slow process to get to where I am today I would never change any piece of it.
Love conquers all.
Shelly DeLeon has a B.A. in Kinesiology and she is currently working as a Dance Instructor at Debbie’s Dance Studio.