Posts Tagged: coming out

An Open Letter to Jeremy Camp: The Strength and Strain of Coming out

April 20, 2016 Katie A Uncategorized 0 Comments

(for those who don’t know, I was a moderator for Jeremy Camp on his message board. He is a Christian musician and I loved being able to support him, his music, message and other members on the board. This open letter chronicles my coming out experience)

“Several years ago, I was one of the few in my area who would attend every local show you did here. I was there at the first show in Rancho Cordova when the power blew, I was at the shows at the huge church in Roseville. My brother and I went to the shows together, he even took photos at the show at UC DAVIS and hung with you and the crew backstage.

These years and moments were a huge part of my life. I worked tirelessly to promote you and the events, to attend them, to share the word and your music with others.

Not only that, but I was also a moderator on the message board. I loved it. I loved being there as an inspiration, a supportive person and to encourage others. I had late nights shutting down the spammers, I worked with other admins to dissolve drama. I shared my story, my testimony and my struggles.

I truly felt welcome, loved and supported there.

That all changed in an instant.

I started seeing so much hate on the board toward the LGBT community. It was shocking. Appalling. It blew my mind. For a group that felt called to love and support others, these members were doing the exact opposite of that. Instead of embracing everyone as Christ had, they turned their backs and spewed hateful words towards the community.

It was a personal blow.

For weeks and months I struggled with this. I spent nights crying, days trying to find a way to avoid the hate yet still be a moderator. I tried to show that love, compassion and acceptance Christ had. I was one of the few who did.

Eventually, it came to a breaking point. These members needed to see that a gay person was not some kind of monster. They needed to see that people of the community were normal, loving people who led normal lives and worked with so many in various communities.

As one of the main moderators in the Sisters in Christ board, I chose to come out as lesbian.

I couldn’t stand seeing the hate these members were spreading. They had to see they were damaging one of their own, hurting me down to the bones.

I knew that the post would be hard to swallow for many. I knew I’d likely face backlash from it. But Jeremy, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. They needed to know that I’m a normal girl who loves Christ, who loves encouraging and helping others.

I posted it, and shortly after, signed offline for the night – partly out of anxiety and because I’ve always struggled with chronic illness. I took a deep breath and knew that I had done what is best for me. I had to do this.

By morning… I woke and all hell had broken lose. While I had a few long time friends on the board supporting me, encouraging me and letting me know that while they didn’t agree with my “lifestyle”, they still cared about me.

Unfortunately, the bad outweighed the good.

Members of the message board started to harass me. I was threatened. I was told that because I was gay, I was going to go to hell. I was told that I could be stoned to death because I am gay.

Worse?

Worse was members of the admin and staff team lying to me. They told me they had sent an email explaining their stance and actions, but I never got that e-mail.

Even worse than that?

The main admin of the board, C (as we all knew him by), took to the general part of the forum and publicly humiliated me. The actions of the team made it very clear that I was never welcome on the board – the humiliation continued as members stalked me on forms of social media, sending me harassing messages. I had been publicly humiliated on a board with thousands of members…

All because of what I said. Yet, he (and others on the team) took that step to humiliate me. That? Jeremy, that’s what still stings the most. How is this showing Christ’s love? How is this loving others as He loved us? Jesus took the time and spent time with people no one else did… yet his followers, they did the exact opposite.

The situation came at a time where I was depressed. I was struggling and so much. The situation nearly pushed me to a suicide attempt. How was I supposed to feel like I am loved, cared about, and supportive when people who claim to show Christ’s love can act so cruelly?

It’s been several years now since this all happened… some days are better than others. Some are not. What remains is how hurt I am. It shows in the panic of coming out to others, to stepping foot into a church. It shows in the nights where I’m in bed crying.

What happened to me on the board should have never happened. The moderating team and admins should have treated me as a human being. Instead, I was lied to continuously about that “email”, I was publicly humiliated. I was stalked and harassed.

I am writing this because I need you to know what happened. I can’t get this closure without you knowing what happened. Maybe you already do, I’m sure you heard bits and pieces several years ago.. but I wanted you to hear it from me. I wanted you to know how hard this has been for me, that it hasn’t yet healed.

Since then, I have really struggled with my faith. I don’t feel welcome in a church. I’m scared to come out to people involved in church or the Christian music community. I still carry the weight and scars from the experience because people who claim to follow Christ quite literally made my life a living hell.

You may not even remember me, or even read this email, but I need to you know what happened, and how it has affected me over the last few years since it happened.”

Was this easy to share? No. In fact, I am anxious and terrified that some of these same people will come back into my life and start the same issues as they had when this situation first unfolded, but I also know that it is my time to speak up about this.

I won’t stay quiet anymore. I will speak up. I will encourage others. I will support others. If you are struggling with coming out and/or the aftermath? I am here and so are many others.

 

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Better Not Bitter: My Coming Out Story

May 18, 2014 Katie A Whirlwind Life 4 Comments

“Forgive, sounds good. Forget, I’m not sure I could.”

 

That simple line from a song became something of a theme song to me back in the spring of 2007. I screamed to that song. I sobbed to that song. I sat in a numb daze to that song. For days, hours on end. It was the perfect song for what I had just experienced, and even today – seven years later, it still fits in so many ways.

I had made the choice to come out to a group of people that had been an huge and important group in my life. I had been a moderator on the Jeremy Camp message boards for a few years at that point, I spent hours on there – helping out, hosting discussions, being an encouragement to young girls. Yet at the same time, I knew the time had come where I was sick of hiding who I was, sick of feeling closed off, exhausted with feeling like I was living a double life because I couldn’t be myself. I knew that I was potentially getting myself into deep shit, but I knew more than anything that I had to do this.

I couldn’t keep living a life where I couldn’t be myself.

Believe me, I knew going into this that it could turn into a big disaster, but I didn’t ever think it would turn into what it did. Did I question myself? Yep. Did I nearly delete the entire post I had written, spilling everything out, full of complete honesty just before I posted it? Yep. Was I terrified? Beyond terrified. I knew that I would face backlash, that I wouldn’t be accepted and that I could very well lose people I considered friends.

I was ready for that. I knew what I had to do.

I did it. One evening, I sat down and wrote probably the most emotionally raw, honest post I’ve ever written anywhere. I came out as gay to over a thousand girls in the section of the board specifically meant for women and young women to converse. Even now, I can still feel my heart racing when I think about that moment. Everything seemed to slow down and I walked away from my computer not knowing what to expect.

When I woke up the next morning, nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. Initially, I was relieved (and crying) to see that some of the ladies there were accepting of me. They still loved me, they still cared about me. Did they all agree? No, but they still cared about me. They still wanted to be a part of my life. It wasn’t until later that things started to change drastically.

It wasn’t until a few hours later that everything really began to unfold. I logged back in after doing errands and things around the house to find a private message calling me a liar, that I was unfit to be a mentor, much less a moderator because I was a liar. Shocked, I closed the message and took a peek at the post I had originally started. It was bad, because of how bad it was – I blocked out most of what was said. Seven years later, I don’t remember many of the replies I was given aside from a select few. I’m not sure I want to. What I saw was enough.

Monday rolled around and when I logged in to do my daily moderator duties, shit hit the fan.

Not only was my moderating status removed (look, I knew there was a chance it would happen and I had accepted that), but I was beginning to see the tendrils of something very hideous and hurtful unfolding on the message board, by none other than one of the site admins.

He posted on the general section (accessible to well over ten thousand members, plus those who are not even registered on the board) of the board a huge, detailed post of what I had done. It wasn’t done politely, it was explicit and very bluntly titled “who loves the homosexual more?”. He insisted that he had emailed me and told me exactly why actions to remove my status were taken, yet I never received any e-mail, PM from any of the other staff members. Not a word.

Until he made that post.

He continued to publicly go on in that post about how it was okay to hurt the “homosexual” but that they must keep “them” in prayer because Satan has a hold on all of us. For a community who is based on loving all as Jesus loved THEM, this was far from it. It was sickening. It still is. Seven years later, it still disgusts me. Another staff member posted how sorry she was that she never got the chance to get in touch with me, to help me “heal” and to “shine”. For years, she had my contact info. Phone number, e-mail addresses, etc – nothing. It was all a joke to her, a way for her (as well as the other admin) to make themselves look better than me in any way possible.

In the following days after everything started to unfold and take shape, I was:

  • continually publicly humiliated
  • harrassed
  • stalked on various platforms
  • threatened

I was constantly begged to return. I had members stalking me, finding me everywhere they possibly could (several who found me on Facebook without knowing anything other than my first name). I was harrassed. I was told that I was a liar, that I was going to hell, that I would be stoned to death for being who I was. The public humiliation lasted for weeks.

The stalking? Lasted for years.

A long time friend asked me shortly after I came out, “why did you do it? You must have realized what possibly could have happened.” I did. I had seen how they talked about the LGBT community, the hate, the intolerance. I knew what I was going up against.

My reply to her?

“I was just so tired of hiding it. I was tired of keeping my mouth shut about it, especially when heated conversations about homosexuality came up. I knew it would be hard and I knew some really nasty things would be said, and I accepted that. It’s happened before to others. I just didn’t expect that the other staff would handle things like they did.

Most of all, I was just tired of having to hide it from everyone. After four years of doing that, it had finally gotten to the point where I just couldn’t do it anymore. ”

I was tired of hiding it. I was tired of not being myself.

After seven years, I still get angry. It still hurts. I still feel betrayed. I still have night terrors about the entire situation, but I can also say that I’ve moved on. I’ve grown. I’ve changed so much in the last seven years. I’m a better person today than I was on the day I came out. I’m stronger. I’m happier.

I am not ashamed of who I am. I am not backing down from the choice I made. I don’t ever regret coming out to them. I stood up for myself, and countless others who were (and are) in the same situation for others. I made a difference. It took a long time to see that, but I made a difference.

It took seven years, but I know that by finally opening up and sharing my story – I’ll continue to make a difference. I want my story to help others, to encourage others to be themselves. Coming out isn’t easy, it’s something you do so many times in your life as I’ve learned over the last few years. What I do know is that I want my story to reach out to others, and I want to be able to help others. That has never changed since the moment I took that leap to come out on the Jeremy Camp boards.

Seven years later, I’m better, not bitter.

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