Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day, a day we celebrate every year in hopes of encouraging LGBT people and their allies to come out to the world. The social awareness holiday started 26 years ago on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, so we asked some of our favorites to share their own coming out experiences. Below, Grammy-nominated Mary Lambert shares her Coming Out Story.
I think knowing you’re gay is one of the most difficult things to reconcile, especially if you’ve been raised in the church. I think oftentimes the idea of gayness doesn’t seem applicable to you if you’ve been boy-crazy you’re whole life.
I was obsessed with boys. In retrospect, it was the obsession of being loved, not the attraction. While those obsessions were happening, I was making out with my friends. I thought everybody did that! I knew that I thought girls were more attractive than guys—I definitely enjoyed kissing girls much more—and was oblivious to the fact I often checked out girls. It wasn’t until I met a girl in high school that was an out lesbian that it ever occurred to me I could be gay, too.
I was 17 and I was crazy attracted to her. From that moment on, everything made sense. I literally just started dating her, and told my friends and family, “Oh hey, I think I’m gay and I’m dating a girl now and she’s a total babe—hope that’s cool.”
I feel like I’m one of the fortunate ones who didn’t face too much discrimination. My family was supportive, my friends didn’t change their opinion of me. Of course there are narrow-minded high school assholes who live to make everyone else’s lives miserable that throw crap at you or try to screw with you, but I always felt bad for them. They’re going to be that way their whole lives and I get to have this wonderful journey and my heart gets to find happiness.
The demons I faced during my coming out were internal. The shame that came from the evangelical church that I was attending devastated me. The crazy thing is I grew up in the church and was active in it during this time, so I totally understood every intention. I knew and still believe that religious groups really have every good intention. They’re scared of what they don’t know and they simply want to save you from hell. It’s a harmful rhetoric that is preached to many congregations, many denominations.
That thinking, however, is extremely misguided and very damaging, especially to a teenager. In my songs “Same Love” and “She Keeps Me Warm,” I sing the line “I’m not crying on Sundays.” When I was 17, I cried every Sunday after service, wanting so badly to be attracted to guys the way I was with girls. I attempted suicide twice. The inner turmoil killed me. It was a slow process, coming to terms with two seemingly contradictory lives: the Lesbian and the Christian.
I started praying a lot more, reading my bible, and stopped listening to someone else interpret the bible for me. I wrote music and poetry and let myself cry and love myself and love others. I realized that my God, the God that I believe wouldn’t ever punish love. True, honest love. — Mary Lambert
Mary Lambert’s new album, Heart on My Sleeve, comes out next Tuesday, October 14.