My name is Tab, I am a 26-year old woman living in Saint Louis, MO. I never thought that one day I would share this experience with anyone, since being a homosexual has been one of the most lonely life experiences at times. It is a narrow path all its own, and it's one I felt I had to walk alone. I had a straight friend of mine say to me once, "I am shocked you use the word 'homosexual,' that's the clinical definition and I heard you guys don't like that." No, I just don't like the word "lesbian" – it reminds me of a lizard or reptile of some kind.
My younger years were afternoons spent playing with Barbies, dolls and The Little Mermaid. After I joined my first soccer team at the age of 6, I fell in love with the sport and competition. I preferred boy clothing, Adidas jackets, shoes, etc. I loved cap guns, waterguns, playing dodgeball and basketball, riding my Dyno bike and collecting Pogs and Slammers. At one time, I really wanted to be a boy. I felt like a boy, on the inside. I remember one birthday my mother made me invite a girl because I invited all boys to my party. I was around 8 at the time, and I chose the prettiest girl I knew. She later became my crush from middle school through high school, from recess to her being crowned homecoming queen. It was hard having feelings toward someone I never had a chance with because of my sexual orientation. It was difficult having these feelings toward someone for so many years, knowing that I was just not her kind, or any girl's kind. It was hard being gay in high school.
When you are holding a big secret for so many years, and when you don't like who you are, life becomes an uphill battle you fight all alone. I tried coming out to my cousin early on, at the age of 11. When she didn't keep the secret, it hurt me really bad. I was looking for anyone to say it was okay and there wasn't one person then. The reaction I got from the family members she told pushed me deeper into my shell for several years to come. I denied the incident altogether. I struggled internally because I believed God would turn his back on me if I decided to live these feelings out. I played sports through high school, developed a few more crushes on girls but dated a boy consistently. I just remember feeling disgusted when he kissed me. I was masturbating to women. I secretly slept with my best friend for the first time at 16. For me, the conflict built up inside of me so bad that I turned to pot and alcohol. It didn't help that my mother asked if I was gay during this time and when I confessed that I was, she told me that I was disgusting, cried, turned the car around and dropped me off at my aunt's house, completely abandoning me, the problem.
I was living in conflict with myself this entire time. I thought I was going to have to carry this lie my entire life. I thought there was something perversely wrong with me. I thought I could fix it if I just tried to open my mind up to men.
By 18, I attended reparative therapy, or conversion therapy. Yes, I am one of those. If there was any chance I could change it, I wanted to. When I went to one class, an opposite reaction took place. I finally accepted I was gay and being gay was not something I could change. It was a moment in my life when I was ready to come out, and I did. I started going to gay bars, talking to other gay women online, and I came out to my friends and family. I became a part of the gay community and hung out with other LGBT teens frequently. It was a good time in my life because finally my outsides matched my insides.
I had my movie moment at 19, when I met my first love. I found a girl who I found attractive, who was a normal girl like me. The earth slowed down when we met. I've been in a couple of relationships since then, but I haven't been out on a date with a man just to see if my tastes have changed.
I used to torment myself and force myself to date men, and I never want to feel that way again. What I can say is, I am grateful to live in the time period that I do. It's a progressive period and we are heading toward a better understanding. Things have changed drastically from my first trip to Chicago Gay Pride ten years ago. Churchgoers used to line the streets holding signs like, "AIDS is God's way of punishing gays." At 19, I was verbally attacked by these people when holding my girlfriend's hand at Pride. Now, the front lawn of this church is covered in gay married couples, many with their own families. It's amazing to be a part of this community. As for me, I am in a three year committed relationship with a beautiful woman and I wouldn't change being gay for anything.