We're excited to introduce our friend, Lillie. We met Lillie through mutual friends and were immediately struck by her openness, her vulnerability, and her empathy. She is a truly Lovely human, and we're so happy to see her happiness.
Where did you grow up? What was that like for you?
I grew up in Powhatan county in a little neighborhood populated mostly by older retired couples. There weren't really any neighbors with kids my age, and I was homeschooled, so I spent a lot of my free time playing pretend games with my sister outside for hours or reading my favorite books.
How do you think where you grew up shaped your worldview? My hometown, parents, and social circle were very conservative and evangelical. I bought into it for a long time- till I was in my twenties. I even went to Bible College and studied to be a pastor! But as a closeted queer young person, I finally had to start questioning whether my existence was a sin. I ended up realizing that I couldn't believe it was.
How old were you when you came out? What was that experience like for you? I actually came out really recently, in September of 2020. I was 27 years old, had my first girlfriend, and I was terrified! Some of my family were not at all happy to hear this news. People I considered really close to me said and did things that I think I'll be unpacking for years to come, it was really horrible. I don't think I would be able to have most of my family at my wedding if I got married today. I've cried so many tears over this. But my sister Grace, my close friends, and some loving people who chose to reach out really showered me in love. Unfortunately I also got hit up by creepy men and got sent bible verses by people from my past, but what mattered the most to me was that I didn't need to hide anymore.
How was the coming out experience for your family and friends? I was told by some people that this news had negatively impacted their life, that they felt my "life choices" were detrimental to them personally. These people are the ones who think being gay is a sinful choice. There's absolutely no way to rationalize with someone like that. I just choose to protect my own emotional health by drawing firm boundaries around the way they are allowed to interact with me.
What are some things you learned about yourself during the coming out process? I learned that I am really strong. I chose myself and my own happiness over anyone else's opinions of me. As someone who grew up as a chronic people pleaser, this is big growth for me!
What advice do you have for LGBTQ youth and/or those in mixed-orientation marriages today? Choose yourself. Follow your gut. Who you are is beautiful and good. Don't come out unless you are sure you are going to be safe. Remember that when you come out to someone, that's a privilege you are giving them- more knowledge about who you are. Do it on your own time.
What’s your greatest attribute? I'm a very nurturing, patient person. I absolutely love to care for people, cats, plants... Really anything/anyone that will let me love them.
What makes life special for you? I work with kids, and they are such a riot. Most of the kids I work with are on the autism spectrum. They're incredible kids and I love getting to see them every day. I feel really lucky to be a part of their lives.
Who inspires you and why? Lizzo! She works so hard, plays so hard, and puts her beautiful self out there with absolutely no apologies ever. I want to be as in love with myself as Lizzo is with Lizzo. You can tell she is the kind of person doing the inner work as well as growing and incredible career.
What does your future look like? Hopefully: a wife, a couple of kids, a cute little house with a big backyard. At least two cats, maybe a dog. I finally get my graduate degree and became a mental health therapist. My wife and I take the kids to the river on the weekends, and we have solid queer friends we can call up to join us.