By Aleshia Hutchison
I stepped out of the proverbial gay and lesbian closet eleven years ago, not just to friends and family, but also to myself. Like every other little gay boy and lesbian girl, I knew for a long time I was different from my friends, I just couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly what that difference was. But when I finally figured it all out and I realized I liked other girls, I felt the weight of not knowing lift off my shoulders, just as the weight of dread settled onto my chest.
My mother and her family were not shy when it came to sharing their religious beliefs about anything, including homosexuality, and I knew what they were all going to say about my revelation. Little did I know those same beliefs would lead me to more blessings than I could ever imagine.
Not long after I turned 19, my best friend told me she thought she was bisexual. She told me she’d been going to lesbian bars and clubs with lesbian friends and was finding herself intrigued by other women. I felt like this was my chance, I could safely tell the first person ever how I had feelings for girls too, specifically the girl I was talking to. Needless to say, my best friend was shocked, but welcomed me with open arms—eventually quite literally. This was just one more thing we had in common. At the time, I was living over two hours away, attending college, but I started making an effort to go home every weekend I didn’t work so I could experience the lesbian bar scene as much as possible. My mother still knew nothing.
A year later, after I made the decision to move back home, citing I missed my family and friends, a situation arose in which my best friend’s car was on the fritz. She called and asked if I would be able to pick her up if the car died and she was closer to me than she was her girlfriend. I told her it wasn’t a problem, but I’d be saying a prayer for her car because I didn’t want to drive an hour to pick her up!
Once off the phone, I sat staring out the window while my mother, who just had her gall bladder removed days before, kept drifting in and out of sleep. Somehow, I decided this was the moment I was going to tell my mother I was dating women, that I was a lesbian. I stuttered and stumbled through my words, and my mother kept guessing what things were wrong: “Did you wreck your car? Did you get fired from your job?”
When I finally blurted out the truth, she sat in silence for what seemed, to me, like eternity. I should have expected the words she finally said. I knew her opinions, what she was reared to believe, and what she had reared me to believe. My mother simply told me my feelings and actions were “from Satan,” and she wouldn’t have “that stuff” going on in her house.
Those words were just the beginning of years of questions and accusations, demands and ignoring. My mother and her family, especially the elders of the family, refuse to acknowledge my sexuality. I’m sure it was hard for them to understand when I dated a couple boys in the middle of everything, my last ditch efforts to please my family and convince myself…maybe…I wasn’t living this extremely difficult lifestyle. But when Rachel and I finally fell in love, in the spring of 2007, I prayed that their minds would change. But instead, it seemed like things just got worse.
I had been friends with Rachel’s cousin for about 4 years before, and Rachel worked for and with my mother for a couple years before I ever even knew she existed. Then Myspace was popular and Rachel randomly decided to send me a message there, telling me to “text a chick” when I got the chance. I waited a couple nights, then I did. One text message changed my life. We talked all night long till I fell asleep, sending incoherent messages while Rachel laid on the floor of a hospital emergency room, waiting to hear her grandmother’s prognosis. She came to my apartment the next day and we’ve been together ever since.
Rachel and I come from the same backgrounds. We were both reared in Pentecostal churches, me in a Holiness church, and Rachel in a Charismatic church. We both had fairly strict upbringings, Rachel more so than me. Being the amazing woman I would soon learn she was, Rachel was able to help me to stop smoking, drinking, and cussing. We started doing Bible study lessons, listening to Christian music, and living our lives not as lesbians who happen to be Christians, but as Christians who just happen to be lesbians.
My family wasn’t and still isn’t satisfied, and I am fairly certain they never will be. But I’ve found the woman of my dreams, who finally helped me realize my mom was and is wrong. I can live my life by my faith and my sexuality, both at the same time. I pray, on a daily basis, that my mother, her family, and everyone who shares the same views will come around, to see the error of their ways, and realize as they’re judging–that they, too, will someday be judged.
Aleshia Hutchison is a freelance writer and lives in Centerville, Ohio, USA.