Last week Victoria introduced ‘must stay gay and trans’ legislation to parliament. While the bill outlaws already illegal monstrosities such as shame-based counselling and actual torture, the proposal will actually suppress the right of people like me to exercise their free will to leave the LGBT lifestyle and raise their children to embrace ordinary traditional values. The government will openly offer all the help in the world to enter the LGBT life, but make it illegal to receive any help exiting it. Welcome to the Hotel California.
This coming December marks 10 years since I left a psychologist’s office having a new found freedom. Many steps of healing and working through unresolved pain had taken place prior to this moment. It had been a long road. A long road of struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction, gender confusion, as well as heartache over previous lesbian relationships.
Prior to this pivotal occasion, despite appearing as though I had life pretty worked out, inside I was a basket case. Everything I touched, I seemed to succeed in — sporting achievements, a university degree, and job opportunities around Australia. By all outward measures, I was living a great life. Deep down though, I was miserable. I ached for connection, meaning, and a soulmate. At various points, women came into my life who, for a time, fulfilled that role –- and for the most part, it felt like a puzzle piece that just fit. However, time revealed that this was not the best fit, for either of us. We damaged each other, sadly, in ways that are still unresolved today. I am not speaking of everyone’s experience; I am simply speaking of my own. While others may reveal another side to LGBT lives, this was not my experience. Just as their experience is valid and increasingly being validated by society, so my experience is also valid. The freedom and joy I came to find, after getting professional help to actively pursue a heterosexual life, is just as valid. Here is why.
Ten years ago, if I, as an anxious, unhappy, and lonely person, had been unable to find the positive, caring and ordinary counselling of my choice, I shudder to think what would have happened. I dare not even imagine. The sinking feeling in my heart tells me that it would not be a good place. It would be a place of helplessness, hopelessness, and despair. And yet, the government wants to slander the help that I received and call it bigoted “suppression practices”, but in reality, it is simply accessible help and support to come out of an unwanted LGBT life.
Back in 2009, I actually had a taste of the ‘stay-gay and trans’ approach that people would be subjected to under this proposal. While living in Queensland, my anxiety became unbearable, so much that it affected my eating habits, and I lost an incredible amount of weight. I went to see a GP to be placed on a mental health care plan. During my appointment, I kept the details of my issue quite vague by stating I was “struggling with some personal issues”. His questioning became persistent, then quite vulgar (he wanted details and to know if I had been raped). At which point, the ‘timid and anxious me’ revealed that I was attracted to women which conflicted with my Christian faith. His response astounded me and made me want to be swallowed up by the earth there and then. Firstly, he told me that I should accept being gay and continue to live that way (regardless of my desire to change). He then proceeded to argue with me about the existence of God, and told me that those who thought there was a God were delusional. I was literally fighting for my right to get help to live my life the way I wanted! If I had wanted help to continue living as lesbian or to come out as transgender, just imagine all the assistance he would have offered me! To this day I do not know how, but somehow, I walked out of that clinic with the required paperwork in my hand to see my psychologist.
For the next few minutes, however, I sat in my car wondering if there was even any point to this pursuit. Maybe my life was going to be like this forever. I had experienced an attempted suppression of my true identity, and realised how demoralising it is to have no hope and no freedom to make the choice about what’s best for me.
Thankfully, I was able to get the help I wanted to pursue the life I wanted, and it didn’t involve any harmful, abusive, or suppressive practices that the government and some activists are leading the public to believe are commonplace. I discovered a whole community of people who were in my very situation, exploring a way out of the LGBT life – and like me, they did so without any hate or contempt towards their former LGBT community. I was introduced to people who had not only walked away from the LGBT life, but had been out of the life for over 20 years and were walking examples of joy and contentment (If you need proof, start here or here).
Finally, I had hope. I began to let go of this all-consuming ‘identity’ and finally felt free to be me. I stopped defining myself by my sexuality, and instead defined myself by who I was created by, and who I was created to be. This was the most freeing revelation in my journey and is still the most determining factor of the full and vivacious life I live today.
While my main reason for wanting to leave my lesbian life was for faith-based reasons, I know firsthand that there are many other reasons why people within the LGBT community wish to seek another alternative. Whatever the reason, the ability to access the reasonable supports that I did, should be available to everyone.
Today, I am happily married to a patient and gracious man, and together we have a delightful two-year-old with another one on the way. As I consider my current situation, my concern regarding this bill turns to the world my children will grow up in. My husband and I want to raise our children according to our beliefs, which is our right as parents. If our children choose to reject those beliefs as adults, which is their right as individuals, we will simply continue to love them- and that is how it should be in a civil, multicultural society.
There was a time I never thought it was possible to acquire the stability and contentment that I now live with. Yet I dread to think of the many people who will not only think change is impossible, but live in the reality that change is impossible due to the heartless, suppression laws the Andrews government is determined to be implement.
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