I am going to jump ahead a bit. Deana and I “dated” for about a year while I continued on the “business relationship” with my husband; we were really just together for the financial pieces and the kids. But around a year we started the divorce process on friendly terms, though I never told him about Deana. I moved in with Deana and it was a very happy time, all things considered. But we both had no intentions of “coming out”; we both had huge risks of losing our jobs, we were both very much in love and happy, but both felt our relationship (as wonderful and fulfilling as it was) was wrong. This was a weird time for us……being so very happy and whole, but feeling as though everything about our relationship was illicit. I had no desire to tell my family (apart from my mom), and she felt the same way about her family (she has 7 siblings, she being the 3rd born and the oldest daughter). So, all the people in our lives and work believed she was helping me out as I transitioned to being divorced. This made a lot of sense to everyone because the cost of living in Southern California was so high. Eventually, we bought a house together – using the same “it’s too expensive” argument – and even had a room designated for me, though I never even spent one night in it. We were very careful during this time.
Also during this time, we remained involved in church as well. Our careers at the Christian Credit Union were going well, both of us having received several promotions. We also had “weekly staff meetings” held for all employees, though it really was a chapel and included worship and a message. I was part of the worship team there as well as the worship team in our church. Deana and I would often read through the Bible trying to decide if we were breaking God’s heart, but were not willing to break up with each other, so we felt double guilt. During this time, I also went back to college, hoping to obtain my bachelor’s degree which I had started on and off since my first marriage, though did not sustain due to babies and finances. Deana was a huge part of that, attending some classes with me even though she already had 2 degrees. Finally, I enrolled at BIOLA University (Bible Institute of Los Angeles), in their BOLD program for working adults (Bachelor’s in Organization Leadership Degree). I really wanted to go to a Christian University and the degree required a minor in Bible, so that was right up my alley. But, to enroll you had to sign a moral contract, and declaring you were not homosexual was part of it. I signed it – what could I do? – and added yet another layer of deception. I often chastised myself that I had given up one lie, to move in a new one. It was very difficult.
I loved BIOLA and worked hard, graduating in 2009. My work, who was associated with the university and in fact included many in leadership who got their degrees there too, encouraged my efforts. I was already a supervisor and was on the track for leadership. I was often sought after for work related activities as well as ministry/biblical teaching tasks. Despite the duplicity of my life, things were good and my faith (as well as Deana’s) were very strong during this time, even as we would quietly question how much we were disappointing our Lord.
About five years into this, I had reached a boiling point – I could no longer lie about our relationship. It was wrong, and I felt we should at least be honest with our family. This was a bone of contention with Deana, who felt it too risky with our jobs to tell anyone. One night while we were hanging out with her sister and my best friend, Deana had a little too much to drink and suggested that she and I were together. She then back pedaled, saying it was a joke. Her sister and my friend had suspected for some time, and seemed to be wanting to assure me that they supported our union, but when they sat with us to basically say “we know, you can trust us”, Deana turned livid and began to speak so negatively about homosexuals she could have been at a Baptist pulpit bringing down fire and brimstone. It broke my heart on many fronts; not just the rejection of finally being able to be honest and have two close people accept us, but I realized that I had been leading her to do something that was against her core. In retrospect, I also realize she was very scared of our house of cards crumbling, but at the time I didn’t allow for that to take hold of my emotions. I want to be clear though, my actions after this point may have been under the umbrella of “I have forced Deana to go against her convictions”, but were more from my hurt of the rejection than any care for Deana.
Shortly after that, I left Deana. It was the hardest thing I have ever done and now something I contribute to one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done, but I would no longer live with the duplicity, and I could not feel her hold me without hearing the vicious things she said that day about basically our relationship. Sure, I could tell you I was being honorable, releasing her from the sin of our illicit love, but I was too hurt to continue with her despite my overwhelming love for her. She was completely blindsided by my actions, as by now we had adopted two kids from Russia, she was not working, and relied on me financially. In her hurt and anger, she posted a blog (we blogged very heavily back then) “outing” us, divulging our entire relationship for all to see. As many of her followers worked with us (her blog had started as part of our adoption process, or really HER adoption process since everyone didn’t know we were a couple) it was quickly communicated to the leadership.
Despite just the week before having been told by the CEO that I was a “rising star”, I was brought into HR and basically interrogated for 5 hours. Even when I needed to go to the bathroom, I was escorted and a woman stood outside the stall as if I was a criminal. I refused to speak about anything apart from my job performance, though I heard how my “moral failing” disqualified me from leadership, management, and even playing the drums in the worship band. It eventually ended with them saying we would reconvene the next day and they would let me know what would happen to my position.
At the time, I had been going to therapy as I was really having a hard time with not sharing my relationship with Deana to our family. I told my therapist what had happened at work, and she immediately put me on disability so that wasn’t subjected to their “torture” as she called it. During that time, I had sought legal and other help to see what options I had, but the credit union had recently filed as a religious organization (yeah, lending money to churches is religion? Hmmmm) and their stance was that they could absolutely discriminate based on their religious beliefs. Anyway, I never went back and did end up negotiating a “departure package”, but in an instant I lost my job, 99% of my friends related to work, 100% of my friends related to church, and was even told I could not attend church or step foot on the credit union’s property. Nor could my children or my eventual grandchildren.
At this time it was very dark for me. I had lost Deana, I had lost my job, I had lost most of my support system, and I was seriously questioning my faith as I had seen a side of it that was so venomous, it appeared like they were instead followers of Satan. In fact, despite being told the information in HR would be confidential, rumors and details from that meeting (and not the blog) went in every direction coupling me with many different women at the firm in addition to Deana. If I had to label myself at this time, I would say I was “an agnostic that loved Jesus”. I didn’t want to kick Jesus to the curb, but anything to do with church or Christians were no longer part of my world. I was extremely hurt by Deana, who I blamed for causing this mess (it was easy to ignore my part in it). Adding to my negative view of Deana was my best friend (who was a Director at the credit union and ultimately lost her job as they learned she knew about my relationship with Deana) would tell me horrible stories about Deana and what she told HR after the blog was read. I believed everything I heard that was negative about her, and all the anger and hurt I felt for everything that was happening I laid on Deana’s shoulders. But at night it was a different story – at that time, I would cry for her. She was my home. I truly thought I was created to be with her, and in those moments the “evil Deana” did not exist. I was too scared to reach out to Jesus other than to ask Him to hold me so I could sleep.
Having lost everything, it’s hard to hide. So, since the proverbial crap had already hit the fan, I decided I’d update my family. Kirstie was the first person I told; she was 17 at the time. I was so nervous, but it went extremely well and she’s has been accepting and loving from day one. She often shares that anyone that insists being LGBT is a choice, they should have seen my face that day; I was so scared she thought I was going to tell her I was dying and the fear of losing her was obvious. She says no one would come out with such fear if they had a choice. But I didn’t lose her. My siblings all seemed not overly shocked, in fact, a few said they always thought I was and the others said it made sense. Of course my mom already knew. My Dad was loving, though he said his wife Ellie would probably have an issue with it (she is a Charismatic Christian), though she’s never treated me differently. My Dad has gotten a bit more conservative and has told me he is concerned that I might be going to hell, but I have long since accepted he is speaking from a place of love.
For her part, Deana did the same, and received many of the same responses from her family. Her Mom was extremely supportive, her siblings the same, some even saying they’d seen us give small kisses to each other over the years. It is almost funny to look back on now.
Deana and I reconciled about a year after the fiasco, though candidly we often saw each other during this time and never really left each other. While she absolutely posted the blog (and took it down, though too late), she didn’t do the majority of things my best friend accused her of. And, really, I loved her too much not to be with her, and she loved me too much not to be with me. We both made mistakes and had regrets, but our love sustained us. We never really reconciled with any of our close friends during that time, but many whom we worked with have since reached out to us and most are advocates, if not supportive. Our kids are thriving. We were legally married in NY in 2011. Though we lost everything, we have been restored ten times over and are so thankful.
Our walk with the Lord was not immediate, however. I was truly jaded and if I heard the words “Christian”, “Evangelical”, or “Church” I immediately associated them with hateful, judgmental people. I wanted nothing to do with any of it. While I was not willing to throw Jesus in with that, my relationship with Him was strained at best. There was a part of me that felt that, if He had only healed me, I wouldn’t be in this mess. But the main thought at this time was that the majority of Christians wanted me dead and had no love in any part of their being for me or anyone who fell outside of their boxed view of humanity. The only piece of church that I could NOT let go of was worship; it was so ingrained in me that I kept listening to it, played it, participated in it in my personal way, and let that be my church.
That is hard to sustain, however. I wanted my kids to know the love of Christ in a real way, and if I was honest with myself, I missed the fellowship. I found a new job in Texas and we moved in 2009; once there we found a gay church (I say that because there were mostly gay men in attendance) and my views changed. For the first time ever, we were honest about our relationship AND opening worshiped, prayed, and learned about God! I became part of the teaching staff, and was slowly healed to accept my faith and not basically hate Christians.
(I’m rushing a little sorry, but this is getting long)
One of the things I learned there was that being gay was not as bad as we were told. A great resource of this is Shaw Ministries, one of the women I met and worshipped with. She had an excellent dvd that breaks down the scriptures. I am not sure if she updates her site, but you can find it at https://shawministries.org/ She also has a blurb at our old church here http://www.crossroadscommunitychurch.us/homosexuality-and-the-bible.html