Emma: I grew up Southern Baptist. I didn't know that I could be gay. It was never an option. It wasn't until my senior year of high school that I realized that I could be. It really took a friend of mine being like, "Look, dude. I think you need to think about this." I was like "No, no, no... okay, maybe."
BW: Do you remember when you started being attracted to girls?
Emma: I wasn't allowed to read Harry Potter so of course I started reading Harry Potter in secret. I had a 6th grade crush on Emma Watson. A huge crush. I was just infatuated with her. I was always looking up what she was wearing. I was just obsessed with her. I also had a crush on my 7th grade English teacher.
BW: Did you date guys in high school?
Emma: I did because that's what you're supposed to do. I had guys that I was friends with who were aesthetically pleasing. We talked fishing and guns but It just never clicked, you know?
So finally in my senior year I felt more comfortable with myself but my family is very, very religious. It was really hard to reconcile. I started to have an enormous battle with depression. I was in this terrible, dark place. I had a bunch of a friend pressure. I had a bunch of school pressure. A bunch of drama going on, period. Pressure at home, because I wasn't doing good in any area, because I didn't have any place that felt like I had acceptance. I had so much turmoil going on inside, and I was in such a pivotal time of my life... I'm supposed to be making all these decisions about college, and what I want, and who I'm going to be, but I couldn't because I had no idea who I was.
My mom actually asked me if I was gay. She was fixing my hair before homecoming when I was a senior. I was wearing a dress and I was like, "This is awful! I don't want to wear a dress. I don't want to go!" I had a date, but it was just a guy friend of mine. I was just so uncomfortable. And she asked "Do you think you're gay?" And I said, "I don't know. Maybe." That was the worst thing I could have said, because then she was holding on to that "maybe".
My faith still meant a lot to me, but I strayed away for for a long time, because I felt like it was one or the other. I couldn't have both. It was worth it to me to try to make one part happy. I tried to have some sort of wholeness, but It was a huge piece that I was leaving behind. When I realized that [my faith and my sexualuty] weren't mutually exclusive, that was a huge turning point in my life.
There was a woman that had been in my grandparents church for a long time that I was pretty good friends with. She was really cool and I respected her. She must have suspected, because she kind of brought it up in conversation. She was the first person that was religious, that I knew personally, that told me it was okay. I never forget that conversation.
She was talking about how the minister at her church had been a closeted lesbian and had some sort of falling out with her partner and her partner outed her to the church. She was telling me how it caused disruption in the church. Then she just kind of stopped and looked at me in the eye and said, "You know, you're born how you are, and God made you. Scripture says you're beautifully and wonderfully made." In that moment I realized that God made me who I am.
[Today I'm a Christian but] I don't want to be labeled a Christian. That's why I struggle. I thought the hardest part about coming out was going to be coming out in the Christian world as a lesbian, but then I realized there's a second coming out, and it's coming out as Christian in the LGBT world. That was the most terrifying thing. I tend to not really talk about my faith a lot. I try to just live it.
Part of these collections: Coming Out