I want to thank all of those who graciously shared their coming out stories for the RocOut interview series for National Coming Out Day.

I don’t often talk about my coming out story, or if I do, I don’t talk about it in depth.

I mention the heartache from not being accepted by my parents, or the people at the church in which I was very involved.

I talk about the need to find people who accept and support and show you the love you need.

And I talk about the importance of accepting yourself.

But what I don’t talk about is the self-denial and depression, suicidal thoughts and pain that comes when you are faced with a reality and an identity that is so foreign and incredibly opposite of what you are taught is acceptable- both by society and the God you are raised to believe in.

You see, I was raised in a conservative, Christian environment. Being “gay” was sinful, and I was certainly going to hell.

Coming out was about a 2 year long process. I was hurt very deeply by the associate pastor of the church I was involved with who used my need for counseling against me- the second time in my life I was sexually assaulted.

I’ll never forget the moment that I prayed to God, “Kill me or change me” at the altar during a church service.

I’ll never forget my aunty, uncle and cousins and the wonderful work family who embraced me when I was very much alone.

I’ll never forget searching the Bible for hope, at 2 or 3 am.

And I’ll never forget the email I sent to family members about two years later, coming out fully.

Accepting oneself is a journey. Understanding our multi-faceted identity doesn’t happen overnight. And at the end of the day, learning to love oneself is vital. I’ve not just survived. I’ve learned to thrive.

And so can you.

If you need advice, you can contact me, or the the Out Alliance. If you are feeling depressed, or need someone to talk to, call The Trevor Project.

You aren’t alone. And you are loved.