57 - Aubree Averkamp Furlong
Aubree Averkamp Furlong
Lesbian/About the heart (she/her)
Married to Lizzie Furlong
Lover of all things music, food, animals, travel and love.
With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know….
“For sure when I was 21… when I met Lizzie.
But in reality, I think I always knew. Growing up in a religious household, I knew there were certain things that were off limits. I knew being gay was considered a sin, so it was never a thought in my mind. But I have memories of me getting in trouble for little things…like making my girl Barbies kiss. (lol) I got caught and was scolded, so from that point forward I knew it was off limits. I think for me it was like, ‘Oh… well that's not even a possibility so, I just won't do it again. I won't get in trouble.’
But I always knew if there was someone special enough, everything would change. And it did when I met Lizzie. She changed everything for me.”
On her coming out experience...
“Let me start by saying, I knew if I ever came out it was going to be extremely difficult, so I just kept my head down and kept doing me. Kept focusing and figuring out who I was. Becoming an adult is hard enough as it is…being in your 20s with new life experiences, then you tack on coming out, and sh*t just gets even harder.
I wish I could say my coming out experience was all sunshine’s and rainbows, but truth is… it was rough.
I was kind of pushed out, so I wouldn’t even say it was a true coming out experience. It was a shock and I didn’t really have time to process it. I had just realized I had legit feelings for a woman, and trying to navigate what that looked like for me. This was not one of the more pleasant coming out stories, but I am so grateful for the people in my life at that time. I was fortunate enough to have Lizzie, who is now my wife, and so many wonderful people that supported me through my journey.
There was a time in there that I had no communication with my family. That was the hardest part...going from being with them and talking every day, to nothing. Heart-wrenching. There were difficulties on both parts and I wish I was more understanding of my families point of view. I missed some important family milestones and I can never get that time back. I now recognize all that I missed out on, but at the time it just seemed so impossible.
Now, looking back I realize I could’ve handled things so much better. I allowed people to believe things about me because it just seemed easier than discussing it at the time. I mean, I went from being this ‘straight’ Christian girl in Bible college, and now all of a sudden, I’m gay! To most people, I think it was a huge shock, because they never saw it coming. I understand why people had ideas about me… it only made sense that something ‘bad’ must have happened to me. I think at the time I thought it would just blow over, but I didn’t realize till later that by not addressing the situation, I actually made things worse for everyone involved. Instead of standing in my own light and sharing the true joy I felt, I kind of cowered myself and that same joy, because I thought I was being ‘sensitive’ to others. There were probably things that I did that hurt people, not even realizing… it wasn't intentional. I was just trying to be me.
Things are good now and I'm finally in a good place with my family. We don’t discuss what happened...you shove some things back, obviously I'm sure a lot of people do in this scenario. You shove things back because it's just too painful to think about. There is no need to rehash old shit because in that moment, that time…we were all crumbling. Now we are all healing in our own way and getting to know each other all over again. I think we all just try to focus on our present moments and think about what the future could bring.”
Frustrations within our community?
“Just because you are in the community, does not mean you know everything about the community. I feel like being open and receptive can make such a difference. It is so easy to make assumptions within the community, but I think everyone should be treated just as they want to be. Every gay man is different, every lesbian is different…just like every straight male or female is different. No one should be categorized by sexual preference, because everyone is so different, and I think there is so much beauty in the difference. I am learning just like everyone else, but for us to learn we must be willing to listen. And as part of the community, we have to be willing to teach people…not just how we want to be treated and spoken about, but also the right way to treat people outside our community. Some people may sound ignorant because they don’t know any better…so, educate them. I think by not firing back with hate, we are showing the love and acceptance we want to see.
And just because you are gay, does not mean you do not love God. That also means God does not love you any less. I grew up in the church and I think some people view being gay as a trade. You can be a Christian OR you can be gay, you can’t be both. Being gay is a part of me, being a Christian is also a part of me, along with being a woman, friend, and so many other things…they are the makeup of who I am. Let people say what they want, but I don’t believe that there is an all loving God, but he happens to ‘hate the gays’. Don’t get me wrong, I struggled with my faith and what I believed. There were prayers, turned into tears and questioning God. Lucky for me, I believe in a loving God, and I was raised to believe I can talk with him anytime. So, I did and I do… I still do.”
Favorite part about our community?
“Everyone is so loving and welcoming. Nobody cares your gender, who you love, where you came from…everyone spreads love. The whole community is so supportive of one another and everyone has something they could teach you…whether the life lesson be big or small, there is someone there to support you through it.
This last pride we were able to meet this PFLAG mom and she was wonderful. It is something amazing to see people not directly a part of the community, coming to events and spreading love. Seeing pastors, parents and siblings giving out hugs to show a positive representation. I think that's so awesome to see that we're getting to a point where, yes there is still so much hate and ignorance around the community, but there is also a lot more understanding now because people are listening.”
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?
“It's going to be hard and it may suck for a bit, but once you get through it, it's going to be totally worth it. It is such a liberating feeling being able to be authentically you for possibly the first time ever. Allow yourself to feel that exuberant joy and it will carry you through any of the heartache that comes along. Even though it may feel like you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t know who you are, you will figure it out along the way. This is a whole new adventure and I think that’s the best part of life…taking each experience as a lesson and each life season as a reflection on all you’ve learned. You will learn to love yourself better!
Just remember to be kind and understanding of those around you. Even though this may have been years of hiding a piece of you, those years were also spent being someone that those closest to you thought they knew. If they do not understand, don’t be hateful, just help them understand better and get to know the ‘real’ you!”
What in your life are you most proud of?
“I am extremely proud of who I've become and who I am continuing to become…I have always known who I was to my core, but it is almost like meeting a friend for the first time, all over again. I feel like since my coming out I have discovered so many new things about myself…and because I was able to accept that part of myself, I am more confident in who I am and the choices I make.
This feeds right into being a better spouse and partner to my wife. We created this amazing life and every now and then we'll look around with a sense of pride and say, ‘we did this’.”
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?
“Oh gosh…this sounds so cheesy, but that all people would have a daily reminder that we are equals. We’re on this earth fighting the same battles and trying to figure out this thing called life. A reminder that no one is superior and there is no need to make anyone feel less than, because you can be and do anything you want. Instead of knocking each other down based on differences, learn from one another…educate yourself on things you don’t know about…and find out something about someone you don’t know. You may have more similarities than you think, and make friends with people you never expected to. I think we would all just be a little more cohesive and I think that the world would be a much better place.”