Lesbian/Queer (she/her) // Colorado Springs, CO // Mom. Hatchet Owner. Avid Whiskey Drinker.
On gender identity/expression…
“Regarding gender expression, I’m a little bit more masculine presenting…. But I just want to wear whatever the f*ck I want to wear, and not have to be put in a box. There are times when I want to present way more masculine, and there are times when I’m okay with a little femme…. But not soups femme… EVER. Lesbian, you know I’ve got the lady parts, and I’m fine with that… not looking to transition or anything, but kind of a little bit non-binary-ish…”
With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know?
“That’s a tough one for me… so, I grew up in the Mormon community, LDS. I think there was a really long period of denial where brain wouldn’t let it be on the radar at all. So, in middle school & high school, now looking back, I can see that a lot of my friendships, like those that I would consider my best friends, were definitely a crush thing going on… but I could not allow that into my thought process, because of the community that I grew up in. When it started becoming more of ‘my soul not letting me push it away’… that was much more in college. I didn’t even fully identify with that until grad school. At that point, I was in a hetero marriage, and there were a lot of social expectations and cultural pressures from that community to ‘start popping out babies’ and stuff like that… I had a classmate I was really close with in grad school, and there were just lots of feels happening. Which I didn’t act on, because of values… even if I was lying to myself, I wasn’t going to do that. That was really the eye opening, like ‘Wow… I’m slowly killing myself from the inside out with this denial…’ I was always very accepting and had lots of friends in the LGBTQ+ community, so it wasn’t internalized homophobia, but there was a lot of shame and denial happening. It was eating at me. Slowly.”
On preferred pronouns…
“I am comfortable with she/her pronouns. I have been called ‘sir’ many times, and it doesn’t bother me. I guess I don’t really care what you call me, as long as it is respectful…”
On her coming out experience…
“I was 28…. It was nerve wracking. I moved to Colorado knowing that I was going to get a divorce, and come out… but I had no idea what that would look like. I had a couple of friends who also grew up Mormon, and had since come out…. So, when I had decided, ‘This is my next step…’, they were the first to get a text saying, ‘I don’t know what the f*ck to do…. I’m terrified, but this needs to happen…’ That was really helpful, they all had a really supportive response that carried a theme of: First, I’m so honored that you would even tell me this… and Second, this must be so hard for you. That was really cool…
Then I started to find the community here in Colorado Springs, to just make some friends and figure out how to go from there…. And I ended up meeting Melissa (wife) at a Lesbian Meetup group with no intention of jumping into a relationship or anything… just needed some queer friends here in Colorado. I had maybe about a dozen across the country, but none here in Colorado Springs. We started hanging out, and it didn’t take too long to realize that there was something there… at the time, I was living with my mom in this transition… with a kiddo. I needed some extra support, but I had not come out to [my mom]. We start hanging out, things are developing, then there’s the pressure, I guess, to come out to mom now. It was Mother’s Day, not too long ago, and there had been some drama with some cousins that I have in town, some really unfortunate circumstances… some of my cousins were making really homophobic comments, and I have another cousin here who’s also gay and out – they were making homophobic comments knowing that their brother is gay. There were also suicide comments in there – I have a brother who died by suicide… So my mom came home from this family dinner on Mother’s Day really shaken up about what had gone down… She’s telling me the comments, and a little bit about the situation – I had been to the dinner earlier and left – then I take a deep breath, to muster all of the courage I could find, and said, ‘Well Mom, there’s something I wanna tell you… ‘ and I came out to her. She was amazingly supportive… I think that it helped that she had seen how miserable I was before, and her focus was just, ‘I don’t care… as long as you’re happy that’s all I care about.’ That was a huge relief… There were still a lot of nerves, probably because for the next 6 months, anytime I would run into to someone, or be talking to friends from other places (other times in my life), and have that coming out…. I have a close cousin up in Denver… there were lot of nerves and doubt with coming out to her. I have not had a poor experience coming. There are people that don’t have much to say… but I haven’t had an all-out negative response. Doesn’t take away the sheer terror of it all.”
Biggest fears or concern about coming out…
“Probably losing close supports. Just losing someone that meant a lot to me because they didn’t agree with my choices…”
First crush that made you question your sexuality?
“Keira Knightley…. I’m a big soccer fan, so when she was in Bend It Like Beckham… I don’t even remember how old I was… at least middle school, probably really high school… I printed off a photo of her from the movie – she’s had soccer shorts and a sports bra on – and that was hanging in my room. Not a poster… just printed on regular old printer paper. Super-duper gay.”
Favorite part about the community?
“Something that I really have enjoyed is having kind of an instant connection with a lot of the community here in Colorado Springs. Maybe it’s because Colorado Springs has such a huge conservative nature about it, that I feel like our community is pretty strong and welcoming in spite of it. Pretty open door…”
“When I see or hear about cliques within our community… it doesn’t happen here as much, but I know it happens a lot. I would just really like for us to come together as an LGBTQ+ family… as a community.”
What is something you would tell a younger you? Advice for anyone out there who feels like they can’t come out, or they don’t have a community to be a part of?
“To my younger self… it’s okay. To others… you might be surprised… I can definitely relate to the pressure… Feeling alone. You might be surprised at what’s out there… what you can find when you take that step, and you have that courage and bravery. There are lots of resources out there, too. Maybe your community is small, maybe there isn’t a large LGBT+ community, but making connections online, in a safe way, while you work towards finding a community that you feel a part of is something you can do…”
What in your life are you most proud of?
“Overcoming barriers and obstacles…”
With the state of the nation and the world in its current state, what’s one thing you would change if you had the power?
“Like I’ve got a magic wand situation? I am a huge fan of Brene Brown and her work on fear, shame, vulnerability, courage, and connection… so I would magically have our leaders – nation, world, state, leaders across the board – be able to get all of [her work/findings] into their brains, and start behaving that way, and acting from that place of empathy and connection… instead of DIVIDE, BLAME & SEPARATE…
I think the current political climate, or any diversive climate where it’s an ‘all or nothing… these people are sinners… perverts…weirdos…’ Whatever it is…. We can’t find commonalities because you just want to look at this one thing instead. I find it really infuriating…:”