Living in The Shadow of My True Self

My name is Franklyn and I grew up in a very traditional family setting with where I am the second last born of ten siblings. My family is very Christian; I remember when we were little, my dad made sure we went to church every Sunday and there was no two ways about it.

Growing up, I think I knew right from the get-go that I wasn’t like any other girl. My attraction to the same sex goes back to when I was about 6 years old. At the time I paid no attention to these feelings because I was raised to believe it wasn’t right to be drawn towards people of the same sex.

As I grew older, this attraction only intensified. During my teenage years, I remember the girls I dated in high school were always just my “friends” to my family and other friends as I just couldn’t bluntly call them my girlfriends. Long story short, I’ve never come out to my family and I don’t know how to do it, just thinking about the process of opening up to them gives me a migraine.

I am scared of breaking my family’s hearts because I love them, particularly my dad who has been an amazing role model in my life. He was in the army back in the day, although he is retired now, which made my situation even more complicated as I didn’t want to ruin his reputation. As my sisters got married and had kids, people started questioning why my life wasn’t heading in the same direction. I was so frustrated about the situation that I eventually decided to move out of our family home.

Life at school wasn’t any easier as I vividly remember having to make up imaginary boyfriends just so I could fit in. I had to keep my relationships secret for my own safety and my partners’.   There’s however only so much pretending that one can do, I felt like I was suppressing myself just to accommodate the people I love.  I was sinking into depression and started wishing I could just disappear. The world that I come from does not and will never accept people of my kind. In order to pass as what people like to refer to as normal, I had to keep my sexuality to myself.

A few years ago after the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, people felt they could take matters into their own hands and do whatever they pleased with gender and sexual minorities. My partner and I were arrested from inside our home because our neighbors were suspicious of why two women who were clearly not related were living together – I felt like we were being crucified for being who we are.

That’s when I knew that I had to do whatever it took to get out of the country because it was only going to get worse with time. I slowly started to save up money to facilitate this move. I knew this was the only way I could ever live without having to pretend I was something I am not.

My own country deprived me of my freedom and happiness while constantly living in fear but now I can be true to me.