I Chose Myself

A Reflective Essay On Coming Out To My Religious Family

Braileigh Belair
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readSep 21, 2023

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Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park. Photo by Author

My first time experiencing the great pacific northwest was during the height of covid in October 2020. The plane ride was more than six hours long and I was an anxious wreck the whole time, not just because I am afraid of flying. I was also hiding a shiny engagement ring in my jacket with plans to propose to the love of my life in the middle of a rainforest.

Growing up semi-poor in Oklahoma, I had never seen such a place in my life. The closest I got to this experience in my teenage years was devouring the moody, rainy imagery that was described in the Twilight series. I was captivated by my surroundings from the start.

Everywhere I looked, vivid green. Lush ferns half my size, ancient pines stretching high into the canopy above. Maple leaves larger than my head. I wondered what secrets this forest held.

Hiking through this magnificent place led me to reflect on how I managed to be fortunate enough to even end up here with the person that I want to marry.

I knew I was different at a young age. That’s how I perceived myself anyway. I was socially anxious, loved to read, and play video games. I was of a lower social rank compared to my popular, sports-playing female peers. I preferred my own company, along with my childhood cat and a good book.

I was raised in a Christian family, a mix of Baptist and Pentecostal. You know, that traditional, southern, “gays go to hell and Harry Potter is bad”, type of culture. From a young age I heard comments from my grandmother mostly, but sometimes my parents as well, that didn’t sit right with me.

My grandma spent a lot of time watching TV, and we often did this together. I was always on the edge of my seat whenever a TV show featured a gay character or scene. She would instantly change the channel, but not without telling me, “This sin shouldn’t be celebrated on TV!” This was very confusing to me because I never felt that these people were different from anybody else.

Did my ears hear the kind and non-judgmental teachings of Jesus differently than others? Did my brain perceive the Bible incorrectly?

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Braileigh Belair
Human Parts

32, Registered Nurse. Lover of cats, coffee, and books. I am a deep thinking introvert with an oceans worth of thoughts in my head. Come get lost with me