20 - Melissa Hansom
Married to Beckah Hansom
Colorado Springs, CO
Wife. Mom. Zelda fan.
With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know….
“Probably always. I remember always being curious about girls and crushing on them. My first girlfriend was in high school, we were best friends and it just developed into a relationship. After high school I did have a few more relationships with men and women, none of them were necessarily healthy or good for me, too much drama. I was young…”
How old were you when you came out?
“I never really came out, I think it just was. I never sat down with my parents to have a talk or anything. I believe they may have known that I had an interest in girls, but perhaps it just wasn’t something they were comfortable talking about and I guess neither was I. I came out to Colorado from Arizona in 2008 to live with my sister and her husband, I believe it was mostly my sister trying to get me out of the ‘gay lifestyle’ and come to God and go to church. In that moment in her life I think she felt she was doing good, living for God and helping me. For a long time, I felt that being Christian and going to church, following God was what I needed and I was convinced for a while that it could get rid of my attraction to women. I was even convinced to go to a husband and wife type of Christian counseling who could help rid me of homosexuality. It’s weird to think about it now and it gives me the creeps, they would have me repeat things like ‘I am not a lesbian’ and ‘I am not attracted to women.’ When the counseling ended, I was, to them, ‘cured’ as long as I kept up with prayers etc. Throughout all these years I used religion as a way to not be with men, even after all the counseling trying to make me hetero. I used the ‘I’m waiting until marriage to have sex’ and trying to stay pure for my future husband etc. It was great, it sort of helped keep me from having to do something I know deep down I didn’t ever want to do again.
Skipping forward to 2016, 8ish years after trying to be a Christian and not truly me, that I decided to go to a Lesbian MeetUp, where I met my wife. My parents are very happy for me and there never seemed to be an issue about me being gay. They are very accepting and love us…”
Biggest fears or concern about coming out…
“I didn’t grow up religious at all… I know we believed in God, I don’t know why we did but we did. I remember, but I think I just thought [being gay] was wrong probably just from society. My parents never told me it was wrong, but there was always that nervousness of ‘They can’t find out…’ My high school girlfriend’s parents were really religious though. It was always just hidden. I guess there was a fear… I had a friend who was out in school… and he went through a lot of bad stuff. He was spit on, teased and bullied and seeing that was scary… and then also, if you were a lesbian in high school, it was considered ‘hot’... I didn’t want that attention either.
I think another fear of coming out was what my sister would think. She knew about my interest in women, and she always thought something happened to me. I think a lot of people think if you are gay you were probably molested or had something like that happen to you, and she thought I could do that to her kid. I remember when the movie Black Swan came out, I went to go see it with my friend and when she found out, she was very upset and angry because there was a lesbian scene in it. Her thinking was, why would I see that knowing I had ‘struggled with homosexuality’ and something like that doesn’t help. She basically said, ‘You either change yourself for you, or do it for your niece…. Because we don’t want that in this house’ ...especially around my niece.
I eventually moved out. It’s very odd with her, when I decided to go to that lesbian meetup and never having told her that, she told me something along the lines that ‘if I’m gay, I should just be who I am’ (I can’t remember what she said exactly). So, it is like she knows deep down that you cannot force a person to be something they are not. Currently, her and her husband have specific requests about my family seeing my niece and nephews. Their children are not allowed to know I’m married to a woman, we cannot show any affection toward each other. I basically have to hide my family from them and my life, they don’t even know my son is their cousin, just my “friends” kid. It is very hard to not see those kids because I was basically there for them every day since they were born, and now all they know is that their aunt Moe doesn’t visit them. I almost guarantee my niece knows a little of what’s happening...that my wife and I are in a relationship. She maybe just doesn’t have the words to describe it and unfortunately, has parents who aren’t willing to explain to her. I’ve never really put my sister in her place until recently, I can’t lie to the kids, and have decided that I will not put my family through those conditions, that’s not fair, that’s not healthy. [To her], we can’t all be a family.”
First crush that made you question your sexuality?
“Scully from the X-Files for sure. She was smart and pretty and I just loved her. I still have a crush on her. Also, there was another lady, Marcia Cross from Desperate Housewives. She was on Melrose Place in the 90’s, and I remember seeing her as a child and I was like, ‘Whaaaat?’ ...So, it’s redheads basically!”
Favorite part about the community?
“It’s definitely diverse. I’ve never had this many different types of people in my life before and it feels great. I felt more closeted with friends when I was trying to be ‘straight’
What is something you would tell a younger you?
“You’re okay just the way you are... I was always told that there’s something wrong with me. Not necessarily considering the part of being gay, but there’s always been something wrong with me, according to my family… ‘You’re too shy… You’re not feminine enough… You’re not gonna get a boyfriend…’ It’s okay, don’t listen to that. You’re okay. You’re enough. You are 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?
“Take as much time as you need. Don’t feel pressured”
What in your life are you most proud of?
“Recently finishing school was a proud moment - Bachelors in IT - so I can get a new career. I also think I’m a pretty good mom too.”