I love stories. My two favorite questions to ask people are, “What is your story?” and “What are your dreams?” While I was in Thailand, I asked everyone I could these two questions. I loved hearing their answers and I honored the courage it took to share.
When I came home, I wondered how the answers would vary between the LGTB community in Thailand and here. So one warm February day, I sat down with a family friend, Elley, and over a cup of Dazbog, she shared her story:
When I was 8 my family moved to Jordan. Shortly after that, I began to be sexually abused by several men. Some of them I knew. Some I didn’t. Around that time, my home life went downhill. My parents were arguing all the time and I didn’t feel like I could turn to them, so I turned to other people for comfort. I grew up really quickly, but I like where I’m at now. One day, I vaguely told my mom was was going on. She apologized and that was it. Later I found out that my dad had confronted and threatened one of the guys who was abusing me, but it didn’t change anything. When I was 11, I stopped hanging out with the guys and that was finally when it stopped. But I didn’t have anyone then, so I started cutting.
After we moved overseas was when I noticed that I was having little crushes on some of the girls, but I didn’t think too much of it, at least not at first. I heard the term “lesbian” when I was 13 and it made sense. I kept it hidden, because I was pretty sure my family wouldn’t accept it, and they didn’t, at least not at first. But then again, I didn’t come out in the best way. I came out when I was 16 – in the wrong way – during a big fight we were having. I kind of just blurted it out, thinking it’d stop the fight, but it didn’t really. Life got hard then. There were new challenges. I had a girlfriend, and my parents told me that I wasn’t able to talk to her. No cell. No car keys. They put me into counseling. My family went to counseling too, and we were finally able to deal with the problems. I can thank my mom and dad for putting me into counseling now – I hated them at the time for it, though. Now, I can’t care about my car and gas as much as I do about going to counseling.
My goal every day is just to be as real as I can that day. It’s hard to find something real. It’s easy to get caught up in what’s going on around me. Digging deeper scares me. I’m scared of what I’ll find. My mom’s come a long ways in accepting my decisions. My dad… we don’t talk about it.
There’s too much hypocrisy in the church. Relationship is not what the church has made it out to be. I don’t go to church. I feel like all eyes are on me because I’m different. I don’t look like any average girl should. I used to go to a youth group where the youth pastor knew me and my family. One Wednesday night, me, my brother, and my cousin walked in to the room where the youth group meets. The youth pastor said hi to my brother and my cousin, and gave them hi-fives, but he just looked at me and turned away. No love. No respect. No nothing. Once someone gets rejected so much, they lose hope to try any more. The church has rejected homosexuals since the get-go.
I do still believe there’s a higher power. I love praise and worship – that was always when I’d feel a real connection with God. I love helping people through their problems. I love listening to peoples stories and hearing what they’ve been through and how that makes them who they are. I want to help people who have struggled with the same issues that I have – cutting, being homosexual, being rejected by family and abused.
I love youth and working with kids. I’ve always wanted to have a hangout place where people can come and be accepted for who they are and feel God’s love without the rejection. Maybe a coffee shop or a mechanic shop… I went to college for a semester in 2009- was going to go for mechanics. But whatever the place looks like, it would be a real free environment. A place where kids can worship God and we’d have discussion groups where the kids could hear other kid’s takes on things and not just the leaders’. It’d be a real cool place. Real. Free.
Thank you, Elley, for your courage and honesty. I join with you in your hope that your story will help to change the way the church sees you and others like you. I pray that God’s love will begin to be made manifest to you and the LGTB community through the church and that we will honor you for the amazing people that you are.