Editor’s Note: The author of this story needs to remain anonymous for reasons you will read about. She is a rising 11th-grader and lives in Maryland. This article is part of our 2021 Youth Pride issue in partnership with the Urban Health Media Project.
I was only in sixth grade when I knew I was bisexual. I had first come out to my classmates; well, it was more like they had found out. Surprisingly, they were cool with it and accepted it. Looking back on it, I didn’t care what they thought about my sexuality, mainly because I’d been so used to being the outcast that it wouldn’t matter if they accepted it or not.
Growing up, I got bullied a lot. This bullying, combined with being an African immigrant, caused me to keep to myself for most of my younger years.
Both of my parents are immigrants from the same African tribe and firmly-rooted Christians in the faith. They are ordained ministers. My parents’ cultural and religious identities are defining traits for both of them.
I’ve grown up in church most of my life, and it felt suffocating trying to explore my sexuality when everything I was being taught told me my feelings were sinful and I would “burn in hellfire” for them.
One Sunday after church, we had just gotten home. I had made my way to my mom’s room after deciding I couldn’t keep my sexuality a secret anymore.
I remember feeling sick trying to find the words to tell my mom I was bisexual; after standing in my mom’s room for about five minutes, I finally found the courage to say, “Mommy I’m bisexual.” The frog in my throat had jumped out, and tears began to fill my eyes. I had come out to my mom!
She just looked at me like I was confused and didn’t know what I was talking about. It hurt for her not to accept me, but I thought she would pretend I had not come out to her, and life would go back to normal. If that had been the case, I would not be telling this story.
A couple of weeks later it’s Sunday again, and we’re at church. My mom is on the pulpit leading prayers. In front of the whole church congregation, she outs me without my permission and then proceeds to use it as a prayer point against the “gay agenda,” which I see as just another way to confuse children and declare their lifestyles sinful.
I have been to a variety of churches growing up, and the hypocrisy I’ve seen is galling. I’ve heard Christians say being gay is wrong and “of the devil” and that gay people will burn in hell, while those same people look the other way in the face of other sins referenced in the Bible such as infidelity and stealing.
That day, in that church, I was broken. I was hurt. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run away, but we were in public, and I didn’t want to cause a scene.
My mother went on like she didn’t do anything wrong and went back to her everyday life. I felt emotionally violated; my trust was betrayed. Ever since that day, our relationship has never been the same, and it will never be the same.
This story was published in the Washington Blade