One summer, at Jesus camp. She met a girl, and all those feelings about being “different” suddenly went away, and things clicked. Leah and her new friend kept their relationship a secret for several months, meeting in the woods to sneak kisses and hold hands. A real life romance novel.
One day they decided to open up and share their relationship with their inner circle of friends. But the new relationship status didn’t get them any “Likes.” Their friends saw this as a rebellion against god and lectured them on how wrong their actions and feelings were. The inner circle forbid the two girls to see each other, and everything came to a crashing halt. So, the they split up. Peer pressure is a helluva drug.
A year went by with no contact till Leah heard through the grapevine that her summer fling had attempted suicide four times since their split. She reached out, but only received more radio silence till one afternoon weeks later, a letter showed up.
“Please don’t contact me. I can’t be friends with you. I can’t see you. I can’t support your lifestyle. I can never see you, ever again.”
They never spoke again.
I’d like to tell you that what happened with Leah and her girlfriend from Christ Camp was an isolated incident. But, It’s not. Studies show that suicide is the leading cause of death among Gay and Lesbian youth. Nearly thirty percent of the gay youth attempt suicide near the age of fifteen.
When religion didn’t fix her, Leah went searching for answers in a place you’d probably least expect. She joined the United States military. And it changed her love life.
Leah had always liked the idea of joining the Air Force, and when she applied, she was accepted.
Once she was there, Leah found comfort in a small group of ladies who were all gay. More importantly, they were openly gay. It was the first time that she had hung out with a social group of people who were gay, and didn’t care. This was also the first time Leah’s life that anyone had made it feel okay.
Even though none of them talked about their lifestyle choice at work, this was still a huge leap in life for Leah. She felt like she fit in.
After Leah spent a few years in the military, she did a ton of soul searching. She found herself battling for many years with the grandiose idea of religious guilt and what everyone perceives as “right” and “wrong.” Leah remembers thinking that even her worth in the world was somehow affected by the fact that she was gay. That because she was ‘different’, God wouldn’t love her anymore.
I asked Leah if she was still religious after all her soul searching, and her response ended up sounding like something her hippie physicists parents would say.
“If God is truly everywhere, it implies and infiniteness. Right? So if God is that big of a deal. There is no way I could ever comprehend in this particular dimension, with my brain, and in this life. Like, I dunno if there is even a God or not… And I don’t think it’s my calling to figure it out, either. I tried for about ten years, and I got to a point where I thought; Maybe I’m just supposed to make people laugh.”