I was homeschooled for the entirety of my K-12 education, so I grew up pretty sheltered by my Pennsylvania Dutch family. I didn't really discover I was, in some way or other, queer until pretty late in high school, and didn't fully come to identify as a lesbian until college. I've always embraced this part of myself, whatever the label I put on it was.
I didn't really even think much about LGBTQ+ people of any kind in my early life. Among the adults in my family, LGBTQ+ people were just sort of a punchline. But unconditional love was preached a lot in children's church, so maybe I thought it was strange, but I never thought there was anything really wrong with being LGBTQ+.
I've definitely stopped seeing anything "deviant" about LGBTQ+ people, what with being gay and all. I went from not really thinking about LGBTQ+ people to identifying as one of them and being a staunch ally. I want the world to know that you don't have to sacrifice one aspect of yourself for the sake of another. Faith and sexuality are in no way mutually exclusive! God calls us to be honest.
Finding communities of people like you is really easy thanks to the internet, and really affirming; knowing you're not alone can save your life. Public libraries are wonderful! Reading broadens our horizons, makes us smarter, and tells us things we might not learn at school or from our families–including that there's nothing wrong with being queer.
How would I describe my life now? Free. I came out the night before my 21st birthday, after working on the tech crew for a production of Bare: A Pop Opera, which is a musical about two young men coming to terms with being gay at a Catholic school. My parents had come to see the show, and after it, I introduced them to my partner. They shocked me with how supportive they were, and I feel closer to them than I have in years. I live with an aunt who has always been supportive of me, and I'm not afraid to be everything I am. God has blessed me in ways I never could've imagined!