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I came downstairs in my light blue knee-length short sleeve dress and sat down at the kitchen table. My long brown hair was in a braid lying over my right shoulder. I sighed and turned on the television as I waited for my parents so we could go to church.
“Two women in Connecticut are legally married and Mrs. Peters is hoping to add her wife to her health insurance. Unfortunately, she is unable to do that due to federal law. There are many more cases similar to this popping up all around the country. There will be a rally held this afternoon at 2:00 on 67th Street to support gay rights. If you’re a supporter of gay marriage laws and gay rights, come and support the cause,” the woman on the news told me.
“That is disgusting. Who in their right mind would want to support gay rights?” my father said. He was coming down the stairs, tying his tie and fixing his hair. My parents were very strict Christians and literally hated anyone who supported being gay. We used to be very close with our neighbors two doors down until we found out that their son is gay. I never agreed with their ideas that being gay was bad, especially since I was a lesbian myself. I said nothing and turned off the television.
“Where’s Mom? She’s going to make us late again. I hate getting there late. Everybody always thinks that I can’t be prompt because you two are so slow,” I said, not bothering to look at my father. “I’m here! I have the keys now let’s get in the car and go!” my mother yelled as she came down the stairs putting on her earrings. We got into the car and drove across town toward our church.
Lord’s Baptist Church was a small church that had only fifty members. It had four rows of pews on both sides and a small wooden stage with a red carpet and a little podium. In the back was an extra room for Sunday school and restrooms. Being so small, everybody was very close and news about people in the church spread around fast. Though I had been going to the church since I was four years old, I wasn’t really friends with many of the people who went to the church. I knew most of the adults because they knew my parents. My best friend, Ella, was the only person I really talked to at church and the only one who knew I was gay. Ella was a tall, blond girl who looked as though she would be annoying and narcissistic; but she was the most selfless person I’ve ever met.
We walked in and my parents went to go greet everyone. I found Ella and went to go sit by her. I was about to tell her about my plan to come out to my parents, which I had been working on for a year, but the pastor and first lady were about to speak. Pastor Peter Thompson was a man of about thirty-five, tall with cropped black hair. He was wearing a suit and a cross necklace made of pure diamond. He got the necklace from his mother, who I had been told gave it to him to remind to stay pure and never do anything God would not want him to do. His face was sweating from the small lights and he looked particularly serious that morning. Jenna, his wife, was around thirty and had long blond hair and crystal blue eyes. She wore a knee-length white dress and a cross necklace to match her husband’s.
“Good morning, church. Before I begin my sermon, I want to address something that I think everyone has heard about by now. There is going to be a rally supporting gay rights this afternoon on 67th Street. As you know, God does not want us to have same-sex marriages. I think that we should go and tell these people how wrong they are. We have planned to lead a protest against this rally and the people who run it,” Pastor Thompson said. My heart jumped ship, drowned, and sank to the bottom of my soul.
But they weren’t done. Lady Thompson had something to say, too. “We would also like to bestow the honor of leading the protest upon one very special family. We feel this family embodies the very essence Lord’s Baptist and we would love it if they would help us in showing these sinners the way to redemption. Please come up here, the James family.” My stomach did a round-off into a back hand spring and ended in a split.
My mom and dad raced up to the small stage and nearly fought over the microphone before my mom just grabbed it out of my dad’s hands. “We are honored to do this and show these people how to become good, Christian people!” This excited the whole church until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I ran into the bathroom, Ella following behind me.
I went into a stall and began to cry. “Tell me what you’re thinking Emily,” Ella said. “I can’t do this! I can’t march out there and tell people they can’t be gay when I’m the same as them! The only difference is they’re not afraid to hide it!” I screamed in response. “Shh! Do you want someone to hear you? We need to get out here; I have something to show you,” Ella told me. We snuck out the back door and got in her car. We pulled out of the parking lot and drove until we ended up in front of the local art store.
“What are we doing here? Neither of us can draw,” I said, staring at Ella. “We’re going to go to the rally protest and we’re going to make signs and be good so no one will suspect a thing of us all day. Then, when we get to the rally, you’re going to go up there and come out to your parents in front of everyone,” she whispered, even though no one was there to hear her except me. I didn’t even know how to respond. The idea of coming out in front of everyone was ludicrous. All I could think to do was get out and begin walking, so I did. “Where are you going?” she called after me. “Church,” I called back.
I stayed at church and decorated T-shirts and posters against homosexuality. I managed to keep my composure as everyone said words of hatred and disgust about gay people. I slid one of the T-shirts over my head and grabbed a poster. I announced to everybody that we were about to begin the walk of protest, and the church rejoiced.
We walked for a solid half hour until we reached the rally. I was surprised at how many showed up. There were probably about 3,000 people there, forming a huge blob in front of a wide, tall stage. I saw people holding signs and wearing shirts with sayings promoting gay rights. I even saw some people from my school. That made me even more nervous.
It was just about to begin when my mom ran up onto the stage and yelled into the microphone, “Everybody at this rally needs to listen to me! You cannot keep living like this! God does not want you to live like this! I am begging you to stop! Now, my daughter Emily would like to share some words of enlightenment with you!” Nobody clapped or hollered when I came on the stage, everybody just looked mad. I would too, if someone just came out of nowhere and ruined my rally. I looked into the sea of people and felt their eyes piercing my skin. I had never in my life felt so scared to talk in front of a crowd, but I was determined.
“Hi, my name is Emily James. I am here with Lord’s Baptist Church. I’ve been raised with the idea that being gay is wrong, and that if you’re gay, something is wrong with you. But I’ve always believed that God loves you no matter what. I think that no matter what sexuality you are, you are loved. I’ve been living in a long, endless closet for so long filled with these ideas of hatred towards people that are gay. And now I’m coming out of that closet.” I looked for my parents in the crowd until I spotted them holding hands. It looked as though they could anticipate what I was about to say. “Mom and Dad, there’s something I need to tell you. I’m gay.” My mother gasped, and the audience cheered in an uproar of applause.