39 - Mary Gibson
Colorado Springs, CO
Mother of one son. Musician-singer/songwriter. Loves working out.
With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know….
“I probably first realized it when I was in 5th or 6th grade. I just knew there was something different about myself. I was very much a tomboy. I always liked things like G.I. Joe and He-Man, instead of Barbies. I liked playing sports, playing with the boys. At that age when you start maturing, I started to notice things about girls. I still had crushes on boys but there was always something different about girls…”
On her coming out experience…
“I have two coming out stories... The first time was when I was 18 after I finished high school. I didn’t really come out in high school even though I knew I was gay. When I was 18, I came out to my friends. I didn’t come out to my parents. I never verbally said anything to them. My brother knew and my friends knew. I had relationships for a short period of time...
When I was 20, I started to go to church, and therefore I was being taught that I shouldn’t live the gay lifestyle and that it was wrong. So, I stopped dating women. I was conditioned to believe that I should look for a man and get married.
Fast-forward to almost 20 years later, it’s been more of a transition... There’s been a lot of change in the last few years. Now, I am more-or-less coming out again because while I was in the church I remained “straight.” I would say I was not gay anymore, or that God ‘freed me’ from that, but it’ wasn’t true. So now I’m realizing it all the more that I only suppressed my sexuality. I’m in the process of coming out again...
I got married to a man when I was 35, just over 4 years ago. Long story short, in the midst of that marriage we had our own sets of issues... Through that process, the desires to be with a woman came up so I had to start dealing with that too. At first, it was more subconscious but then started to come to the surface. In the past year there are some things that have happened in our relationship that brought it up again... But, I’m at a place in life where I don’t think it’s wrong anymore... I don’t think it’s a sin anymore... Now that my beliefs are different, my life and my decisions and what I really want are changing. I’ve been separated from my husband for a while, in process of getting a divorce. It’s kind of like coming back to myself. I have come out to my mom and some close friends. It’s been really nice to tell people. And also to know that a lot of those friends are really supportive. Even my Christian friends, who are evangelical, they don’t care. It’s a relief.. I thought everybody was going to call me a sinner...
For 12 years I was part of a spiritual restoration ministry devoted to prayer for healing and deliverance, casting out demons, that sort of thing... There were a lot of great things about it, but the idea to cast out the spirit of homosexuality... ‘Pray the gay away…’ took me away from who I really am. Instead of being accepted for who I was, a lesbian, I was taught my feelings were caused by a demon...and I believed them! At the time, I truly believed that I could be “delivered.” But if I look back to my 20’s and my 30’s, of all the times I was attracted to a woman, I’d blame it on a spiritual attack and suppress it. Now, in the present, I know that it isn’t an attack, but rather a part of my sexuality...a part of who I am.
I have grown in my relationship with God over the past 20 years. God has brought me to a place of, ‘Hello... this is part of who you are!’ and not to reject it. It might be heresy to many to believe God loves gays, but I’m ok with being a heretic…”
Biggest fears or concern about coming out…
“The only concern I’ve had is the fact I’m married to a man. I’m not a single person, I have a family to consider too. The process is complicated. My husband is very conservative and not okay with it; I’ve had to be more thoughtful and considerate of him. If I wasn't married, nothing would stand in my way. I would probably just be like, ‘Oh hey everybody, this is who I am!’ For right now, I’ve said it to close family and friends but not out in public (like Facebook).
I don’t know if I want to say it’s a fear, but in a sense, I feel a duty to the Christian community that I’ve been a part of to convey my true feelings about being gay. There’s people in the ministry I was involved with, like the leaders, who I know are going to think, ‘She let the demon back in…’ It’s kind of like I want to tell them on behalf of everyone that is gay and Christian/ loves God... Maybe it’s ok, it’s not what you think it is.
I’ve always been ‘the golden child’ [at church] because I was ‘set free’. The thought was, “If she was set free, it must be true.” I want to be like, ‘Guess what? This is still part of who I am, and it’s not what you thought…’ Maybe I can chip away at that belief of what they think it is. I guess there could be a little fear behind it because you’re coming up against the machine, the system... There could be fear of retaliation, but at the same time I don’t care. I more-or-less want to do this, I already know what they’re going to think/say, but I don’t care anymore…”
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?
“With what I know now, to my younger self, I would say... it’s okay if it takes time. You’re not doing it for anyone else but yourself, so you don’t have to prove anything. This isn’t necessarily all of who you are and your identity. This is just a part of how you relate to someone else through your sexuality… Being okay with who you are and knowing this doesn’t have to identify who you are... I think some of us get caught up in that. Some feel like you have to ‘look’ a certain part, but that’s not who you are ultimately.
...if you feel like you can’t express that part of you to other people, be okay with that, accept where you are on your journey. For right now, just try to be patient. Maybe even put that to the side a little bit. You know that’s part of you, but focus on other parts of you that you can express and share as you grow as a person, or learn things about yourself and your relationships. Just give it time. Maybe there will come a time when you feel strong enough to say, ‘This is a part of who I am’.
At a Christian conference earlier this year, there was a very effeminate man. I believe he was 70 years old and never told anybody he was gay. He stood up and said that he was just coming out. It was heartbreaking... because he was part of the church and never felt like he could share that part of himself. You could tell how healing it is in his life to just say it, he was ready for it. Even for him, it took years of patience, he was 70... he was ready. You may need all of that time.
Don’t make it all about who you are, there’s so much more to you. Eventually there may come a time when you finally want to love somebody, or feel love the way you’ve always known. That will happen when you’re ready…”
What in your life are you most proud of?
“I’m most proud of having a son. I probably would have never had a child if I hadn’t married a man. Now that I’m older, maybe if I had a partner, if one of us wanted to get pregnant, I don’t know... At least for me, I know that wasn’t going to happen until I got married because of the way I believed. I’m so proud to have a son. It’s almost like it was all worth going through because I think unfortunately things aren’t going to work out between his dad and I.
Also, getting to a place where I can be honest and truthful to myself. I am thankful that I’m in a place of life where I don’t care what other people think, in terms of beliefs. You have to be strong enough to take criticism and judgement because it can break people…”
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?
“I believe if we followed something that Jesus said, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’, then I think we would turn everything around... I think if we all just loved each other, if each individual did just that. If I could give the world that love… the kind of love that is accepting, and the kind of love that wants community and togetherness regardless of who all of us are... I think that would flip the world upside down.”