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Letter to my teenage self: Sally

What would I tell my teenage self?

I went to school in the 80s. Gay people were like John Inman on “Are you being served?”, my Dad called them rude nicknames that I won’t lower myself to repeat and the girls I envied at school were known as the “lezzers”. I had enough feelings that I couldn’t name or handle and more than sufficient unrelated bullying not to acknowledge these.

I became a Christian at 15, from a background of no church, and received my teenage background in God in a fundamentalist/charismatic church setting which was a proper culture shock but which I embraced with some enthusiasm – I knew very little else! I found myself trying to conform to teenage norms in “fancying” boys (Christian boys!) when to be honest it all felt muddled and complicated.

I so wish I could tell my teenage self that today I would be definitely comfortable defining myself as gay and getting there on “lesbian” which carries a powerful negative bullying charge for me. And that my theology is changing, softening as I am learning to allow for the fact that Jesus loves me – the way I am – with my imperfect understanding of who/what the heck I am sexually and my rather more tenuous grasp on the spiritual certainties I would probably have insisted on back then. Teenage self would have had no idea and probably written me off as a complete Christian failure.

Once I finally managed to come out more generally rather than just to selected friends, one solid perceptive friend said that my entire personality had opened up and my face had lost some of its remaining anxious look. My aunties & cousins were so encouraging – they wondered why it had taken me so long to be honest with them.

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