Earlier this month, we invited Vancity Buzz readers who identify as LGBT to submit their own ‘coming out’ stories as a way of empowering and inspiring others who may be struggling with their own sexuality.
The third of our reader-submitted coming out stories during Vancouver Pride Week 2015 details Wes’ story of coming to terms with his sexuality while living in a highly conservative Christian family.
Occupation: Project Manager
I was born and raised in small town Alberta, the youngest of five children born into a very conservative Christian family. My father is a second generation Minister and my mother’s parents were Mennonite missionaries.
My childhood was filled with weekly prayer meetings, church events and the majority of my social interaction involved other families with the same religious background as my family.
There was always clear expectations on how to behave and I was indoctrinated into the Christian, Bible-based belief system from a very young age. The difference between right and wrong was always black and white, there were no grey areas and no room for discussion.
As I entered puberty, it became very clear to me that I was different. I had an unexplainable curiosity and attraction towards other boys, which was something I had no control over.
Never feeling like I fit in with other boys my age, I felt much more comfortable around girls and the majority of my friends were female. Into my teenage years, this attraction towards men only intensified.
This was something I knew I had to hide, as it had been ingrained into my head that homosexuality was a sin. I would pray every night for God to change how I felt and “fix” me, but the next day would bring no such change.
As a result, I became very withdrawn and felt an incredible sense of loneliness, as I tried to hide my true identity. Attempting to reconcile my feelings with the belief system I had been raised in was impossible. This internal conflict and self hatred was a daily struggle and in my late teens/early twenties, I was in such a dark mental state that I would go to sleep at night hoping I wouldn’t wake up in the morning.
It took many years to come to terms with who I am and to accept the realization that I was gay.
The road to self-acceptance was a very rough one, but finally at age 26 I was finally starting to feel comfortable with who I was. By that time I had already come out to my close friends, but no one in my family knew my truth.
When I finally mustered up the courage to come out to my parents, it was a very emotional situation. Opening up about something I had fought for so many years to keep hidden was extremely difficult. I had no idea how they would react, but I knew it was time to be open and honest.
My parents’ response was that they will always love me, but that they don’t accept that I’m gay. They felt that I needed prayer and that God would change me and make me straight or “normal”.
This reaction didn’t come as a surprise, coming from my background.
I knew that their belief system was so strong, that they would never embrace this aspect of who I was. From that day onward, we never really discussed it further. It made me sad that they will never truly know me for who I am, that I would never be able to open up about my life and have a genuine relationship with them.
This was especially difficult when I’ve been in relationships, as taking a boyfriend home to meet them is definitely out of the question.
Fortunately I have an incredible group of close friends who love and support me for who I am. With them, I can feel comfortable being myself and opening up about all aspects of my life. They feel more like “family” than my actual family does and I am so grateful for each one.
Someone asked me years ago if I could choose to be straight, would I make that choice. My response then was a resounding “Yes!” Not having all the years of struggle, guilt, pain and lack of acceptance? I didn’t have to think twice about my answer.
But now, with all of those dark years behind me, my answer would be “Hell no!” I’m gay and I’m proud of who I am.
Share your coming out story with Vancity Buzz. Click here to learn how you can submit your story during Vancouver Pride Week.
Vancity Buzz is a proud media partner of the 2015 Vancouver Pride Festival