I didn’t come out to anyone until my wife and I kissed for the first time. After growing up in church, choir rehearsals, and youth group meetings, I was in deep denial that I liked women. It took a hallway crush on, incidentally, a girl in choir, to admit it to myself. And my best friend, now wife, Abby, was the first person I told.
Abby basically came out at birth. An uncle looked at her, said “that baby is gay,” and when she kissed girls in elementary school, nobody was surprised! She was unabashedly gay: she flirted and winked, she was “out” to everyone, and she held girls hands in the hallway.
I was fascinated, and a little scared, by her bravery. I didn’t think I could ever be as bold as her. But when we started dating, a week after our first kiss, I felt brave too. I brought her flowers in front of the teachers, we kissed on our way to homeroom each day, and when it was time for promposals, she staged an elaborate fake wedding to cheers from friends and classmates.
But at home, my bravery disappeared. My parents made it clear that they were not going to acknowledge my relationship, so I wasn’t to mention it. I hid my smiles behind closed doors. I came home just to sleep, and left before breakfast. And I actively avoided Sundays, feigning headaches every time my mom tried to get me up for church.
It took three years for my mom not to change the subject when I brought up a date with Abby. And I still feel that energy from her sometimes—a fear that if she acknowledges my sexuality, it’ll be real. But I commend her. It took a long time, but she is finally starting to overcome the messages her church instilled in her. I’ve welcomed her back fully into my life. She gets to see my full smile, my full bravery, and my full love. And Abby and I loved having her give a Bible reading at our wedding.