The other day I watched the film ‘Into the Woods’ and in spite of mixed reviews, I kinda loved it! I love any kind of musical, and so a musical with cleverly written lyrics, an intriguing story, some poignant themes and queen Meryl can’t be wrong in my book!
I think Anna Kendrick plays Cinderella amazingly in the film as it looks at the slightly more complex thought processes and feelings that our beloved Cinders may have been going through: Do I deserve this happy ever after? Do I want this happy ever after? Is this who I really am and mightn’t it just be safer to stay in the old, familiar surroundings of my stepmother’s house? Are the kind of questions that I think Cinderella is asking herself as she runs from her Prince Charming and articulates them in her song ‘On the Steps of the Palace’.
The song has a couple of lines in that struck a chord with me which I’d like to share: “But then how can you know who you are till you know what you want which I don’t? So then which do you pick: where you’re safe, out of sight and yourself, but where everything’s wrong? Or where everything’s right but you’ll know that you’ll never belong.” I sympathise with Cinderella as she finds herself in a quandary because during the tail end of last year I found myself in a similar situation stuck on the steps of my own palace, trying to make a decision…
Many of you will know, either because you know me well and walked the road with me or because you read some of my blogs, that 2014 was a particularly difficult year for me. In April due to a situation that doesn’t need or deserve to be agonized over any further, I had a total crisis of confidence. I forgot how to be Lex. I lost sight of who I was professionally, personally and spiritually and without any warning the rug was unceremoniously ripped from beneath my feet. I fell on my bum and stayed there for months, feeling dazed confused and without direction.
For weeks I had no clue as to where my life was going and what I could possibly learn from this horrible situation. I figured it was just a meaningless stain in my story leaving nothing but a painful scar and some less than favourable memories. But then a little voice in me dared to whisper “What if?” What if it wasn’t all just meaningless and it was down to me to make sense of things, find some meaning and try to learn a few lessons? What if, as awful as last year was, there could be some redemption? What if some beauty could grow from even these ashes?
So I decided to leave some stuff in 2014. I decided that in order to remember who I was, gain back some of my lost confidence and ultimately learn how to finally be a bit happier and more comfortable in my skin I needed to make some changes. I needed to admit some things to myself, be honest with the world and choose happiness.
And so it was with that decision in mind that towards the end of last year you would have found me in a similar state to Cinderella from ‘In to the Woods’; stuck on the steps of the palace, rooted to the spot, halfway between running from one thing and toward another, unsure of which would be right or bring the positivity I was so desperate for. Asking whether I stayed in the familiar, where people “knew” who I was but everything felt wrong, or run in to something new where it would mean I may never “fit in” again, but that things would finally feel right.
With a good deal of trepidation, a few misgivings but oddly enough, for me, no tears I knew I had to run towards the new, I tore myself from the steps of the palace and made a decision.
In December, for the first time in 15 years, I told someone that I am gay.
(I’m just giving people a minute to either recoil in shock or finish saying “I knew it!”…or both)
Of all the “blogs that I said I’d never write”, feminism being one and singleness being another, a coming out blog was top of a very secret list that only I ever saw. I’ve known that there was something different about the way that I am attracted to people since I was 10. I convinced myself it was a phase, realised it wasn’t a phase and then vowed that no one would ever know that I actually felt like that because it was wrong and not allowed. Nobody ever said that to me explicitly, it was just something that I told myself. I guarded this secret uppermost; making jokes about girl crushes thinking that if I was the first to make the joke, other people wouldn’t think it was a sensitive issue and something that I was actually struggling with.
But last year I got to a point where I was sick and tired of always denying half of who I am, never being completely honest with the people I love and there always being a reason that I could never be fully happy. A point where, at the grand old age of 25, I asked myself if one day I fell in love with someone and had the chance of potential happiness, would I deny and ignore that because I was so scared of what people would think and always telling myself it was wrong. And I couldn’t really give an answer.
I agonised over who to tell, how to tell and when to tell this thing that felt impossible to articulate.
But I will forever be indebted to those first few friends and family members who I came out to, for their love, acceptance and ultimately their grace in allowing me to share this thing with them. For listening and really hearing, for asking their questions sensitively and basically understanding that I am who I have always been.
I realise that there is a huge risk in writing this blog and doing this all so publicly. But every time I’ve told someone, while the telling has been scary, as soon as the words are out there is a huge “rightness” that I feel in finally allowing someone to really know who I am. I’ve always been a heart on the sleeve type girl and have shared some pretty personal things on here before. While I wasn’t going to publicly say anything at first and just allow it to be an open secret, I realised that actually I needed to write (cos that’s how I roll) and, with the encouragement and confidence I’ve gained from the wonderful people I’ve told so far, I decided that this was something I not only could but needed to do.
I know that there will be some friends, some good friends, who completely disagree with what I’m doing and have huge theological questions for me. Believe me I still have some big theological questions for myself. It’s ok if you disagree with my decision to come out, it’s ok if you think that homosexuality is wrong, my coming out is not a request for permission. I am simply having the courage, finally, to tell my friends honestly who I am. I ask you, if you do disagree, to remember that its still me, just a happier version of me, and ask that we can disagree while still standing together as brothers and sisters in Christ.
I thank God for the way he carried me through last year when it honestly felt like I couldn’t go on. I thank God that he knew me inside and out before I was even born. And I thank God that we love, whoever that might be, because he first loved us. A perfect, eternal and enduring love.