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Reality or Fiction

TV may be a life-sucker, but for me coming out of the closet, it became a large part of my salvation.

As a member of the generation X club, I had grown up as an adolescent watching reruns of The Brady Bunch and Family Ties. As a teen, I watched every single episode of the original Beverly Hills 90210 with my eyes glued to the screen, but I didn’t find a single portrayal of a lesbian or bisexual character.

And I noticed their absence. My closest friends were the characters on the television screen. Scared of my own shadow, I rarely went out during my teens and especially preteens. I rarely talked to anyone outside of my family for fear they would find out the real me.

I didn’t realize then how attractive and personable I could be. A gigantic mole on my back echoed the mole that existed on my soul that made me less than everyone else around me. I carried the excessive guilt and low self-esteem with me everywhere.

My deepest secret remained hidden in a media world of limited to non-existent coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. It was hidden in a society that consisted mostly of church-goers who recited the same broken record; homosexuality was a sin and sexual crimes were second only to murder.

I was a 17-year-old trying to find solace in a world I didn’t relate too — on screen or in the real world. I didn’t find healthy ways to deal with my growing depression or even the slightest media exposure for my evil secret except for MTV’s The Real World and the news surrounding the Salt Lake City School Board’s choice to ban all non-curricular school clubs in order to stop the creation of the first gay-straight alliance in Utah .

Unfortunately, unlike on television, my problems didn’t get resolved by the end of the hour. After a few semesters at LDS Business College, I downed a bottle of Zyprexa and my heart stopped. It was my first suicide attempt but definitely not the last.

I prayed hard every day through the end of elementary and until after graduation that I could be someone else. Someone not evil. Someone not diseased. Finally, seeing the first main teen character I could relate too happened right after I left my teens. His name was Jack and he appeared on the teen TV series Dawson’s Creek.

For someone who didn’t even cry during ET, I started bawling as Jack read his poem about a boy and couldn’t stop for hours. Part of my tears were out of relief. Through the brilliant writing of Kevin Williamson, at last I understood that I was not just a freak, destined to burn forever. I now understood I could be both happy and gay.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Willow and Tara were also a lifesaver for me. Finally, I got to watch not only an actual lesbian character, but one who had liked and even dated men before. She reminded me of me, except for the full red hair and the adorable facial expressions. I liked her, better yet I related to her. That was, until Tara died and Willow decided to go on a murdering spree and attempted to destroy the world. But even then I understood Willow’s pain because my own pain was so deep.

After a long road of medication changes, attending Valley Mental Health’s adult program called Pathways and going through intensive therapy, I gradually became better. But, I never became straight.

A few weeks ago, I drove home from a West Valley City Council meeting with a wide smile on my face. The non-discrimination ordinances that covered lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people passed, thankfully due to Equality Utah, the city council and Mayor Mike Winder. Even though I witnessed a few slams from people there about how my sexual orientation was a bad lifestyle choice, my mood didn’t dampen because I knew they weren’t right. In fact, they were dead wrong. My sexuality wasn’t a choice, a disease or an evil curse.

I sped home and ran into my house. I said hi to my Dad and hugged my dog before storming downstairs to rewind Glee on my DVR. I sang along to the beautiful music and ate a big box of Cheetos. When it was over I turned the projector off, picked up my dog and laid her on my bed. Then I brushed my teeth and took my medication. I kneeled down to pray, but this time I thanked the Goddess I was me and not anyone else.

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