Texas Is Not the Only State: Confessions of a Lesbian Exile in New York

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If you’re at all like me, it is possible that you have been in a situation at some point where it is appropriate to compare your life to The Chronicles of Narnia.

I recognize that there could be a variety of reasons for this to happen, so to clear it up real quick here are three examples of Narnia-like scenarios that I am NOT going to talk about right now:

1. “OMG the animals are talking!” Or: that time you got high with your best friend in the middle of the woods.

2. “DUDE! The main characters in The Chronicles of Narnia have to come out of a wardrobe to get to Narnia at some point and a wardrobe is basically like a pretentious version of a closet!” Or: that time you came out of the closet.

3. “Why the fuck am I surrounded by people who constantly feel the need to make questionable religious allusions for no reason?” Or: that time you accidentally wandered into a Bible study when you were looking for the student-athlete luncheon, but then you realized that this Bible study and the student-athlete luncheon were actually the same thing and no one told you that you were supposed to have a working knowledge of the Bible in order to play basketball at this school.

(Ok, so maybe that last thing just happened to me.)

No.  What I’m talking about here has a lot more to do with feelings.  Specifically, the feeling that the world that I am currently living in, much like Narnia, cannot possibly be real. Also, the feeling that any comfort or safety I may have right now is only temporary; the feeling that I can be thrust out of this fake world at any minute without warning.

I am a twenty-something queer kid who grew up in a conservative, south-Texas town, now lives in a sheltered but liberal college environment in New York, and is about to graduate into a reality of rampant unemployment that – if I’m not so lucky – could possibly send me hurtling back into the conservative Texas world I’ve so vehemently renounced. Simply put, I exist in two different planes; my past in Texas, and my dreams of a future in New York. And I’m terrified that the one that I currently exist in will suddenly disappear.

VIA ONCEUPONYOUANDME.TUMBLR.COM

Once upon a time it was just Texas, and that was okay for some time. But then I moved to this place – New York – where everything feels so much more vibrant and accepting and hopeful and inspiring and exciting!  There’s no reason why I would ever want to leave this place, but the truth is that sometimes I have to.  Sometimes I have to go back to the place where I came from.  Because I still have financial and emotional ties to my family.  Because it’s where I had sex with my first girlfriend.  Because it’s where I fell in love with my best friend when I was sixteen.  Because it’s where I got drunk for the first time and got stuck in a pecan tree.  Because it’s warm there.

Let me tell you a little about the Texas that I grew up with.

I know there are really wonderful, open, positive parts of Texas, but where I lived, those horror stories you’ve heard are unfortunately true. I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back it all seems incredibly backwards.

During the fifteen years I lived in Texas, I saw a state take “conservative” to a suffocating elevated level of personal identity. There’s a type of Texan particular to my town (and a few others like it) who blindly accepts gender roles and identifies with nationalism, guns, SUVs, and football. For this type, it’s best to “save yourself” for marriage, marry young and wealthy, settle down in the home you were raised in, send your kids to the Bible camp that grandfather founded and go to the same church your parents got married in. “Saving yourself for marriage” is key — if you can’t do that, then you’re unwholesome and (more importantly) “un-Texan.”

It was everything you’ve heard: the captain of the football team was crowned homecoming king, the head cheerleader homecoming queen. Their families threw a big fancy party replete with custom-printed water bottles featuring the royal couple’s faces. When they got married last year I’m pretty sure the world stopped spinning for second. But underneath the surface things weren’t quite so picturesque. We had sixteen-year-old rich white girls squandering their inheritance dealing heroine out of their Suburbans. We had classes which favored white cultural capital and dismissed people of color altogether. We had rednecks ramming their jacked-up trucks into softball bleachers and police station buildings, stay-at-home moms covering their children’s asses by paying off the deputy, and everyone else turning a blind eye. “Kids will be kids,” after all.

I tried to be a good Texan. I went to church once and bible camp for two summers, but by junior year of high school I’d lost faith in “talking to Jesus” as a problem-solving method. Plus I could feel my political views veer liberal and my sexuality veer obviously queer, which was a tough way to feel, totally surrounded by this school’s conservative curriculum.

VIA PHOTOBLOG.STATESMAN.COM

Around this time my parents, inspired by an incriminating email they’d seen pasted in my journal, hacked into my email account and found the coming out email I’d sent to my best friend. It was an email address I’d secretly created to avoid my parents’ watchful eyes, and they printed out the entirety of my account and brought it to the local Behavioral Health Specialist. The Specialist told my parents I was “acting out of a need for attention and an inability to grasp certain ‘important mature concepts’ due to my youth and social ineptitude.”

So they put their printed-out emails in a folder and locked the drawer. Later, I’d pick the lock, remove the email that had gotten me in trouble, and flush it down the toilet so I could deny ever saying: “Sometimes I think I might be a lesbian…”

The only out gay kid in my high school committed suicide two days before graduation, and after briefly blaming the parents, the entire community proceeded as if nothing had happened. It was back to BMW-boyfriend-backstab-bitchslap chatter. Needless to say, I felt like a stranger in my town, my home, and even in my room. I kept MapQuest directions to Albuquerque in the glove compartment of my car, just in case I needed to run away. When I graduated, I moved to upstate New York for college.

To suddenly go from outright discrimination to open-hearted acceptance is confusing as hell because there is no way something that seems this RIGHT could last forever. It was getting increasingly impossible for me to masquerade in Texas like I was anything other than exactly what I was, which was queer. But in between, with my life the way it is now, it feels like a volatile middle ground, and I’m not sure how much to trust it.

The shit really hit the fan this summer. When the semester ended, I didn’t go back to Texas. Instead I got in a jeep with my friend headed for New York City, sent a stupid email to my parents saying that I might not be getting on the plane, and turned my phone off for a week. I’d landed an internship at Logo, which I knew my parents wouldn’t approve of. They didn’t, but eventually (with some help from my school’s Dean of Students) I called my parents. I refused to go back but agreed to fly there every other weekend to discuss “the decisions I had been making.”  The biggest of which, as far as they were concerned, was my sexuality.

Meanwhile at Logo, things were awesome! Some days it’d be admittedly hard to focus, but mostly it was straight up phenomenal and I felt like I was doing work I could see myself doing in the future. I was in the West Village when the NY Senate passed gay marriage, I went to Pride for the first time. I even met Dan Savage!

Obviously my parents couldn’t handle it. I was in some other world and they knew it. It was a manic summer: soaring all day, focused on all the things I had to write and videos to edit and then at night crying and smoking cigarettes on the steps of my downtown apartment building.  And when I boarded plane after plane, LGA to SAT, I crawled into my shell and died. Each time.

By July 9th, my parents were officially uncomfortable enough with my life in New York that they’d decided either I’d quit my job at Logo or I woud not return to college in the fall.  I received the following in an (actual) email from my father:

Notwithstanding, if we were to agree to your return [to college], it would need to be under the following conditions:

1.  You leave your MTV job by 7/15.

2.  You meet with Mom and me 2X per day to discuss issues.  Need positive attitude with willingness to change!

3.  You meet with [Behavioral Health Specialist] 2X per week

4.  You work out 2X per day to improve health.  Need to upgrade personal grooming for senior year.  Would like for you to start now while still in NYC!

5.  Stay away from Rainbow [school’s GSA], LGBT activism for senior year.  Need proof that you are out of Rainbow and off the mailing list.

6.  No contact with [people who we think are negatively influencing you].  No exceptions.

7.  No Internet, blog participation under your name or alias.

8.  No acceptance (written or verbal) should you get offer from Logo.  Other MTV/Viacom areas ok.

9.  Need open-minded discussion about sexuality, LGBT culture in light of recent issues.

10. Immediate withdrawal from [College] if found lying or non-compliant with our mutual agreement.

11. No return to [College] if parents feel [you are] not ready to handle things.

12. Open to regular visits from parents at [College].

13.  Church every week.  Perhaps join a church/prayer group at school.

14.  Parents have active participation in course selection, thesis, job search, and graduate school selection.

I got that email and everything seemed over. I’d stay in Narnia forever and never go back to that other world where I was nothing.  In Narnia, I could do anything I wanted.

When it came time to fly home on July 15th, I packed my suitcase and instead of taking a cab to LaGuardia, I took the express train to Harlem and crashed with my friends at Columbia. I let them paint my toenails all different colors while I stared at the ceiling and tried to forget everything.

On Monday at Logo I had to show up but I didn’t talk to anyone. I didn’t do any work. I just sat at my computer and cried. All I can remember feeling was guilty. Not lost or hopeless or scared or confused, just guilty. I hated myself for doing this to my parents again. But also, they’d send me a list of impossible demands. Who was really at fault?

That morning my Dad flew all the way to New York to “get” me. By then I felt so guilty that I’d lost my resolve. All I wanted was to forget it ever happened so I could return to school and my friends there. I wanted this shit to end and frankly, I didn’t have the guts to go through with it like KC Danger did. I spent the next three weeks convincing my parents that I was “well enough” to go back to school.

It’s been three months now and I’m here; I made it back. School is still like Narnia to me, and Texas – well, it still exists.  And I still exist somewhere in the middle.  I am still straddling the thickening line between these two strange realities. But now it’s more complicated, as once again I’m pretending to adhere to the rules laid out for me on July 9th: pretending to be straight again, pretending to be okay.

But this won’t last. Before long I’m gonna have to choose. But if I choose to stay in Narnia, I can’t go back to my other world anymore. It’s all or nothing. You can take the girl out of Texas, and you might even be able to take the Texas out of the girl. But once you have, where does she go from there?


Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.

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Lemon has written 16 articles for us.

87 Comments

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    You are incredibly brave. As someone who had it easy coming out I can’t even imagine what this feels like for you. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. We are all rooting for you and I am secretly hoping you choose to stay in Narnia. It’s sunnier here and we have cookies and glitter.

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    I empathise so, so much with this post.

    My circumstances aren’t exactly the same, but at the end of it I’ll have to make a similar decision, and I don’t know what I’ll choose either.

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    this is beautiful. i understand this so so much. i’m thinking about moving back into a home where coming out made everything feel 100 percent worse, and made me feel like an unwanted alien in a world i’d once occupied. having no money when you graduate is the number one reason graduating will suck. i’m doing all i can to save up – good luck! please do you and live in narnia as long as you can. take a lot of photos.

    it’s going to be okay i promise.

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    Step One: Find your own therapist. They can be an ally against your parent’s (homophobic?) “Behavioral Health Specialist” while helping who deal with all the shit that’s being piled on your psyche right now. You should be able to find someone who’s willing to work with you on money, since you obviously aren’t going to get help from your parents. Does your school have a program? No therapist, even if it’s through the college your parents are paying for, is allowed to report to them without your permission.

    Besides that, I don’t know. Love and support and good luck.

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      Hey Lemon, you’re brave and amazing and no one can do you except you. That being said, I so agree with Oak. Having an ally where you are with some real knowledge about what you’re going through, that could really help. I wasn’t brave enough to find that in college, and I think I have a good idea of what you’re feeling. I have very conservative Baptist parents who won’t talk about things they find unpleasant. I was basically pressured into coming out to my parents three years ago, and though I’ve been around and lived at home on and off, we haven’t all had a frank or real conversation about my being gay since. The email from your dad sounds pretty much like what mine would write.
      It’s scary. It’s scary as fuck being dependent on people whose values seem so against your well-being. There’s nothing to excuse that, not a misguided sense of wanting to help you, not fear, not religion, not anything. They may have control now, but they can’t control you. You deserve better than that, we all do. Keep fighting, be independent, and use your strength! Thanks so much for writing and know that you have a loving, supportive, glittery, magical community here.

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    fellow SAT lesbian here.

    although i grew up around up around exactly the same things you talk about (i lived just down the street from the infamous conerstone megachurch), i was lucky enough to go to a really great high school that had a lot of really accepting and welcoming kids in addition to the crazies. i’m glad you’ve got new york at least. good luck with everything.

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    I feel like your story was once mine. The conservative family, the bible study, your parents going through your journal and finding out you’re a huge lesbian, your dad coming to bring you back from where you escaped to, them insisting that you will be straight… My story too. It’s not easy, but you’re strong. You will make it through this. You are a survivor. Do not go back. Do not live someone else’s version of you. You have your friends in NY who accept you for the wonderful, beautiful unicorn that you are and they will be the base that you need to move on from your parents control over you. You will find a job, you will find roommates, and you will live freely and happily. My parents have known for 10 years now and they still can’t accept it. I probably won’t ever be allowed to bring my gf home, they probably won’t ever come to my wedding, they will never get to know the real me and it hurts, and often i cry about it, but then I wipe my tears away and move forward. I live my life for me and in doing so, I’ve found happiness. You will too : )

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    This is such a brave thing to say. Thank you for this. I’m still in high school, still in Texas, but it makes a world of difference knowing there’s acceptance somewhere. Nothing but support from those of us still down here! Best of luck for the future

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    loved your article so much…i’m actually looking for personal essays just like this for a book i’m putting together about growing up gay in the bible belt. let me know if you’ve got any interest. i really think you’ve got an important story to tell. check out the website and let me know what you think! thanks! aswearebook.tumblr.com

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    Sitting in the library right at college and trying not to cry. Thank you. My parents are bad, but not as bad as yours. I have experience with an ex’s parents who were pretty similar. I completely and totally empathize with the Narnia feeling. There are things I miss about home, but the overwhelming feeling of being trapped and suffocated comes over me every time I visit. I go home as little as possible, but I am completely financially supported by my parents at this point.

    I am not only sad for myself, but for you and all the other queers like us- I am so angry that the world is this way and all I want to do is make it stop. No one deserves this.
    Again- thank you for writing this, for sharing your story. Know that no matter what happens, at least the power of telling your own story cannot be taken from you. We hear and we understand.

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    “Once a King or Queen of Narnia, always a King or Queen of Narnia”.

    Which is to say, your words made me teary, and I find myself on the verge of begging you to choose one way in particular, but also sensing you’re not in a place of decision right now and also that it’s a choice for you to make on your own. So I just want to say, however it plays out, Narnia is real and yours and when you leave it waits for you. If you go you will return someday, and it will be for good, and there will be no-one who can force you to the shadowlands.

    I don’t know you but I see it unfolding for you like the end of ‘The Last Battle’, where Aslan says – “The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

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    I have so many feelings about this. I’m kind of having a lot of feelings in general, so bear with me.

    My story has some similarities to yours. Not nearly as difficult, but I can relate. I grew up in religion(the Baha’i Faith, not Christianity) in the South(South Carolina, not Texas). My family is still very religious. When I came out to my mom, it went very badly. We didn’t speak for a while. But eventually she made an effort to have a relationship again. But things were still strained. And it was really hard. But I stuck to my guns, because the more amazing people I knew, and the better I got to know myself, the more I realized that I had done nothing wrong, nothing to deserve the feeling that I was less than anybody else, or less than the “person I was” before I came out. And it took a long time. Actually it took me joining the Peace Corps and moving to Morocco, but, 6 years after coming out, my mom is really trying to be my ally and understand me. She has finally come to respect me as a person and realize that the fact that I’m queer doesn’t negate the other positive things that I am or make me any less the daughter she knew before I came out.

    I didn’t move to NYC, but staying in SC I found my own Narnia in Charleston. And it was amazing and queer. I say this because there are so many potential queer havens for you, in many places, including Texas. Now I know so many of us have these degrees in liberal arts that are rendered all but useless in this economy. I was lucky because I also had an interest in EMS, and becoming an EMT allowed me to be financially stable and independent so my parents couldn’t have any say in what I did. However, I realize that this isn’t an option for everybody. I hope you can find yourself a good job to help you have options.

    But, in the end, I hope that you’re able to view all of the amazing things in yourself that are worth fighting for. I hope that you are able to come to your own decision for your own reasons, and aren’t forced in to a life that makes you miserable because the people who gave you life are now looking to take that back from you in the most hurtful way possible. Know that there are so many of us out here rooting for you, and that we thank you for sharing your story and your struggles with us.

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        according to wikipedia: The Bahá’í Faith teaches that the only acceptable form of sexual expression is within marriage, and Bahá’í marriage is defined in the religion’s texts as exclusively between one man and one woman.[1][2] Bahá’ís stress the importance of absolute chastity for any unmarried person,[3] and focus on personal restraint.
        While in authoritative teachings homosexuality is described as a condition that an individual should control and overcome.

        How sad :(

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        Yeah, the Baha’i Faith has this interesting aspect to it where Baha’is aren’t supposed to hold non-Baha’is to the same standards, so they shouldn’t be, and in my experience aren’t, homophobic towards nonbelievers. However, if you are a Baha’i and realize you’re gay, it’s not a fun experience. There are some pretty unpleasant things written about homosexuality in the Baha’i Faith, and it’s very explicit, unlike with most religions. It’s unfortunate.

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    You, and all the people who commented with similar stories, are so, SO brave and amazing.

    I may have been lucky enough to not have to go through anything you or the other commenters with similar stories have – I grew up in a liberal town and my parents are pretty okay – but I want to let each of you know that I’m always available to talk. Always, okay? Shoot me a message here if you need it, please. You have someone to talk to, and potentially somewhere else to run if you need it.

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    I had a pretty bad coming out experience which continues to be tough, but not nearly as tough as this. Thank you so much for sharing! It’s so encouraging to see other women bravely deal with these issues. Just think of how great everything will be after you graduate and get to do whatever you want where ever you want! And until then, you know who you are, and whatever you decide will be the right thing. Even though most of us will never meet, we are all here for you (and anyone else coming out or dealing with the aftermath of coming out) !!!

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    Wow, incredibly moving. It’s such a precarious situation to be in. You love them and want them in your life but not at the price of your freedom and integrity. They love you and want you to be in their lives but at the price of who. you. are. What makes you you. Which I imagine is tied into their love for you. So strange. Not to mention the financial ties which is probably a big part of why you are currently complying. I don’t know what your particular situation feels like or how heavy it feels on your shoulders. But I know the fear and pain of losing the people you love because of who you are. Because you love someone that they don’t love. Because the Bible told them so. It would be a lie to say the loss of these people stops hurting. It’s crushing to think the people who are supposed to love you no matter what, the people who helped form the person you are today are willing to have nothing to do with you because you want to love another human being. But there is no better feeling, nothing more soothing than knowing you have your dignity and integrity. I don’t envy the choices you will have to make. I hope you find peace from this in time.

    If you do decide to live in Narnia I think you should write a list of rules to your parents if they at any point want to be in your life. Might help them step back and see how controlling and foolish they’re being.

    I hope you make delicious lemonade out of these life lemons, Lemon.

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    “Need to upgrade personal grooming for senior year”?!?!?! Like, I mean, that whole “contract” is full of crazy/emotionally abusive nonsense, but holy cow.

    Good luck making it through these next few months (you are about to graduate in the spring, right?) — though it’s scary to jump into a world without even the kind of backhanded family support it seems you’ve had, it can totally be done and it will be so much better.

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      right?!? that part.

      in that same email, before the list of “rules,” there were 13 questions that i had to answer. they asked about sex and god and love and morality — unfortunately i could not answer them honestly…

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        the workout regime is so ludicrous and completely galling…my heart breaks for you to read such hateful, ignorant crap…
        (plus, don’t they know how many hot chicks you are likely to meet at the gym/with your new wicked guns? ;)
        you have countless friends and family here, we are all on your side, and finishing your education will give you more power in the long run. they wont have this much hold over you forever. stay strong and please, find a sympathetic therapist to help you process all of this. don’t let it creep up on you years from now.xox

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    We stay for the money.

    We stay, because if we do not, they say that they will cripple us, rip us from our homes, and starve us if we protest.

    We stay because we have no choice.

    How can anyone call that love?

    My coming out wasn’t at all like yours, and I was aware, at the time, that it was because I had no real financial ties to anyone. I could be mouthy–I could be cruel back. I could set my terms.

    But I’ve felt what you’ve felt, in different ways–I’ve made similar sacrifices, so that I could eat.

    Know this–whatever choice you make, is the right choice. And you can always run back to us, we will house you. There’s community out there, and we will wait for you, and we will watch out for you if you ask us too.

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    I have had a similar experience, and for this very reason have decided not to broach the topic ever again with my parents until I am financially independent from them.

    No one ever told me these things, so I am telling you them:
    You are braver than you could ever imagine.
    Your goal is to get through it. By whatever means necessary. This is not lying to yourself, or regressing, or whatever else you may find it easy to call it. You are getting through.
    You will find a support system and a life that is yours.
    Have faith in yourself. You will not do wrong.

    Is it unfair that we have to hide sometimes, especially from the people who we most expect to love us? Absolutely. Are there times when I want to scream and feel like I’m being choked, or, to be less melodramatic, times when I wish I could casually drop “my girlfriend” in a conversation with my parents? Definitely.

    But you come first. Your health and well-being are THE most important thing. Period.
    You will create a home and a life that is yours and seems completely worth living.
    You are stronger than you know.

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    I’m going to print this out and put it on my bathroom mirror and remind myself that whenever my parents being making unreasonable assumptions about me/my sexuality that somebody else already went through something very similar and that they are still alive.

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    My story is much like yours, but with 2 major differences: 1) my family was broke so I paid my own way through school and 2) I’m 36 and I got over years ago.
    You’ll be fine.
    You don’t need your parents’ money. Severe that chain ASAP. Tell your parents the truth and be bold about it. This compromise to get your parents money is crippling you. Don’t listen to the all the hysteria about the economy. You need and job and you will get one. As soon as you get honest with your parents and get off their money, you will hold your head high and feel free and proud and you will never go back. You will not regret it.
    Your parents are not respectful people and they never will be. They are incredibly invasive and controlling and will probably never respect your echoices.
    Please do not waste time hoping for approvael that may never come. You don’t need it.
    And the guilt over upsetting your family- I felt that guilt for years and you know what it accomplished? Absoluty nothing. It’s not your fault you’re gay. It’s not your fault they are homophobes. Coming out was your obstacle to overcome. Homophobia is their obstacle. Drop the guilt.
    Three years ago when I went to see my small-west-Texas-town-southern-baptist mother, she held me by the shoulders, told me I was a sinner and needed to go back to church and pray for forgiveness. I high tailed it back to Albuquerque and we didn’t talk much til w recently. This last visit she kept her mouth shut. You will have to teach your parents to respect your boundaries if they want you in their life.
    P.S. ABQ is not so bad. I have a large 1 br apt with private yard near the river and downtown for just $425! It’s paradise! Of course, I had to live in Manhattan for 4 years to appreciate it.

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      Lee I know you are trying to offer support, and believe me, we all feel tempted to scream the same thing, but the fact is, it is irresponsible to encourage young people to come out to their families at all costs. To sever their financial support while they are still so dependent could be even more profoundly detrimental in the long run. I’m glad it worked out for you, but every situation is different. Homophobia is inexcusable, it’s true, and I trust this beautiful girl will find her way free of it in time, like you did.

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          Agreed. Looking back, I wouldn’t have come out at 17, but at 21 – thus avoiding the 4 years of turmoil of my parents trying to shove me back in the closet. I felt that I should come out – that it was my responsibility to do so – when I was 17, but it really wasn’t the best decision in my personal circumstance.

          If you’re financially dependent on them, and they treat you as cruelly as they sound in this article – I’d say SCREW ‘EM and take every penny they give you. They owe you. Once you have the chance to be financially independent in a stable way then do so, but do it when it suits YOU.

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          coming out is a process, and different approaches will be right for different people. There is nothing wrong with doing it gradually – first some trusted friends and allies, then maybe harmless people you don’t know/colleagues… Don’t feel you are “lying” by waiting to tell your family. Sometimes a bit longer in your own skin gives you the armor you need to field their reactions. As well as that bit more maturity and independence to handle it if things (“god” forbid) go really bad. It is hard to feel dishonest like that, but unfortunately, often the alternative is no better. muchos love to all of you.

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    I don’t have any words to tell you how brave and strong and badass I think you are. Do you have resources at LOGO that you could contact- for job possibilities or even just advice and friendship? As a just-graduated queer girl, I can tell you that self-sufficiency is key. Look for a job, or for a fellowship or internship that provides housing. I’m living in the Bay Area on a tiny fellowship stipend for a year out of college, but I don’t have to pay rent because the fellowship provides housing- and as long as you have a safe place to call your home, and some work to do and some people who care- you’ll be okay.

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    Oh fuck. This hit me square in the chest. I grew up in a very similar place, 15 minutes from the Texas state line, and it was…warm weather and pecan trees and Confederate flag bumper stickers and church. Everything you described. Now I live in the wonderful hippy Narnia that is Massachusetts (with universal health care! and now an anti-trans* discrimination bill!) and I still have that scared feeling someone’s gonna make me go back. I would do nearly anything to not go back.

    But I know you will find a way to make your life work outside of Texas, and outside of your family’s approval if you have to. Friends will help. Co-workers and bosses will help. So will teachers and advisers and random people, queer and straight, if you ask for help. And maybe through many conversations, emails, and letters, your parents might come around.

    Wishing you (and anyone else in a similar situation) the best.

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    I grew up in The Woodlands, about 45 minutes north of Houston. High school and my family are pretty much exactly the way you described it here. Except my family just refuses to acknowledge me. They still expect me to come home for all holidays and blah, but continue to talk about how any day now I’m going to bring home a “nice christian boyfriend” and that I’d be “such a pretty girl” if I only “did something with my hair and put on a dress”.

    My solution was to run away and join the military ,not sure why I thought that was a better option, but I’m much happier now, and though I know it’s not a career path for me I’ve actually met so many open minded and wonderful people. Even if it’s not the same as being in a completely open and queer community.

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    Thank you so much for sharing. Although my parents reaction wasn’t on the same level as your parents I know what it’s like to run away. California is my Narnia.No matter what happens, Narnia can’t be taken away from you because it’s belongs to you and you alone. I’m in awe of your bravery.

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    I just want to say thank you so much for writing and sharing something like this. My parents are probably going to be on the same level and at the moment, I don’t think I can ever come out to them in any way, but still, your bravery is an inspiration and I’m hoping you find (and keep!) your Narnia soon enough. <3

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    If you can, stay in Narnia. Its the only way to get your parents to come to terms with you and what you want, if you move home all the power rests with them. It why I hightailed it to Scotland and am refusing to come home even if I remain unemployed, its why many of my friends are here. One of my friends gave in and moved back to Belfast and his parents, because of course if he lived there and with them he would magically stop being gay. He’s still there now. He’s still gay. He’s gone back to living the secret life he lived in high school. I know you love your parents but you are not responsible for their feelings or beliefs, especially when they conflict with who you are. Its really really hard to stop trying to please them at the expense of yourself, to stop trying to compromise who you are and what they want, but oh my god its worth it.

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    Can you talk to your dean and explain the situation and ask what options there are for aid packages under the circumstances? You’ve only got to pay for one more semester, I think. Also, is there an LGBT group on campus? If you’re not already connected with them, tap into that group for support and ideas.

    Otherwise, just keep your head down and this will end. And don’t go back after graduation. I’m sorry.

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    Rewind about 13 years, and this is me. It’s spooky – from the therapist, to the promised-and-pretended straightness for their benefit, the struggling to get through uni with their constant interference in my life. My mother checking my emails, and texts, listening in on my phonecalls when I was at home. All those ultimatums – god it’s so familiar.

    I was financially dependent upon my parents, in order to get through my university degree – I’d imagine you’re in the same boat. I know it sucks, but my approach was to basically suffer through it til I graduated (perhaps I shouldn’t have come out in the first month of uni eh…tough 4 years!). It meant I had a degree, and therefore job prospects that would allow me to get the hell out of there. I don’t feel guilty for taking my parents money, I figure they owe me!

    I am the hell out of there, and have been for almost a decade. I left the country, and I travel go see my family 3 to 4 times a year.
    Unfortunately, I can’t say that my parents ever got over their nonsense. BUT they have gotten better, enough to have a sort of uneasy truce between us. They’re just not the type of people to be able to truly get into the 21st century, and that’s just how it is.

    You can stay in Narnia, I have. You don’t have to go back. You’ve made the big effort to get out of there, keep the momentum up and stay away from them. It might mean that you don’t get to stay in New York, but not being in NY doesn’t mean that you have to go home.

    The way I see it, it’s like a rocket being launched into space, all the hard work is done at the start. Once you’re far enough away, the gravitational pull of the earth isn’t enough to pull you back to the ground. You’ve done all the hard work of getting yourself this far out of their sphere of influence, stay outside of it – now you have the freedom you can go where you choose and choose how you live your life.

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    I’m all for Narnia! I encourage you to finish school and then do what YOU want. Your parents cannot control you just because they help you financially. You will eventually be able to take care of yourself…so i would question them on their ‘unconditional’ love. You have to be yourself and do you…or face a lifetime of unhappiness and thinking in hindsight. Best of luck to you….and i’d be happy to hear your progress months from now.

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    As many others here I’ve been in a similar situation, and all I can say is that independence is there if you focus and go for it. Emotional attachments can be burned, and financial dependence can be worked around. Of course going to college probably complicates things, I just ran off from home to live with a roommate in another country in poverty until I got a job. Now I have a house, fiance and a career. So sometimes making a drastic, completely selfish choice pays off. You’re the most important person in your life and you can’t compromise that by caring about people who aren’t worth it.

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    you are so brave, lemon. thank you so much for writing this, reading it meant a lot to me.

    i agree with the other commenters who suggest finding your own therapist or some sort of ally so that you have support in this. your parents are being incredibly close-minded and abusive and i hate that for you. please remember that you have choices, always. you don’t have to bend to their demands. you are your own independent, beautiful person with a good head on her shoulders and a big heart. you will figure it out, i promise.

    much love from north carolina <3

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    You guys! Thank you for all of the love and support you’ve expressed for me and for each other. Also, thank you for sharing your own stories; they are beautiful and heartbreaking. I just don’t think anyone should have to feel like this ever.

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    “Or: that time you accidentally wandered into a Bible study when you were looking for the student-athlete luncheon, but then you realized that this Bible study and the student-athlete luncheon were actually the same thing and no one told you that you were supposed to have a working knowledge of the Bible in order to play basketball at this school.”

    I’m still making my way through this great article, but I just wanted to note – If you’re in a public school and something like this happens (assuming the student-athlete luncheon is a school-sponsored event), you should contact Americans United for Separation of Church and State. That shit is illegal. Especially if there are also teachers involved – teachers are not supposed to be taking part in any religious (or anti-religious) activities at school, they need to be entirely student-run (they can supervise those things but that’s about it).

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    And wow, now that I’ve read all of this – you are so, so brave. This all makes me feel so fortunate that my parents are LGBT-positive and the biggest dilemma when coming-out was that my mom wasn’t totally convinced I was “really” bisexual – not that she wasn’t accepting of bisexuality or me dating girls. My heart goes out to you. I hope you figure it out somehow. I’d talk to someone at school about it, too, to see if there is anything that can be done for kids like you whose parents are making their lives impossible. I know that my school has a scholarship now for LGBT students whose parents have withdrawn financial support due to nonacceptance of their sexuality.

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    i’m from the south as well, i got out too, and am now going to school in london. even though my situation was/is not nearly as bad, i really empathize with you. even though i am not out to anyone there, your town, your family, and their reactions are so unfortunately real and resonant to anyone living in that kind of environment, in or out of the closet.

    I never comment but you are so brave and your writing is so lovely and stunning that i had to..sending love and good thoughts your way x

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    This is very well written. I have to say that, I was just so struck by the quality of the writing as well as its content.

    What really strikes me, though, is how much this could be a glimpse into my future. I’ve grown up in a bubble of conservatism, clinging to my well-cultivated veneer of assumed heterosexuality with both hands. Now that I’m writing up college applications and preparing to transfer out of town I’m half exhilarated and half terrified of peeling off that outer coating and setting it aside… most of the time.

    Family and place of origin are hard to just leave behind. Financial ties make it extra hard–there’s not always a way to have your cake and eat it too. I really hope you and everyone else in your position has enough lifelines, a good enough support network, and enough room to maneuver outside your family’s sphere of influence to outlast their ignorance. You will be amazed at how much some people will be willing to help you, if only you ask.

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    Lemon – this is a really lovely, moving, story; thank you for sharing. As others have mentioned, seeking mentors through your school’s LGBTQ center or reaching out to other support programs in the area may be helpful:
    http://www.gaycenter.org/youth/resources

    Gaining financial independence from one’s parents is a struggle for many of us, and my heart goes out to you for having to make so many difficult decisions. To help finance your education, you may want to look into the many scholarships that exist for LGBT students, and also speak with the financial aid office at your school:
    http://www.finaid.org/otheraid/gay.phtml

    I wish you all the best luck, and, as Ron Weasley wrote, please don’t let the Muggles get you down! (I never read the CoN so I had to go with an HP allusion…)
    <3

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    A heartbreaking story, which I’m sure is unfortunately a reality for many many people.

    When it comes down to it though, you only have two real options…

    1.) Continue to repress who you are as a person to satisfy your parent’s ideals (a horrible choice I would never wish on anyone) until you are able to cut ties with them (financially, emotionally… all ties)

    2.) Start preparing now for cutting all ties with them. Try to figure out what you can do to become self sufficient, even if it requires you to take a hiatus from college until your financial situation is better… etc. There are a lot of potential resources available that may not be readily apparent. Additionally, you seem to be very well written… and if your Logo internship went well, there might be an immediate opportunity there as well.

    Good luck, and you have my sympathy for having to deal with this and I applaud your strength in realizing that you can’t be the half of person your parents want you to be as opposed to the whole person you need to be for yourself.

    And remember, family isn’t necessarily who you’re born to, its those who support you for being yourself in the face of the traditional. Even if you lose your biological family (hopefully they will eventually come around) you can always create a bigger and better family that will not try to change you into being what they want.

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    An open letter to the Concerned Parent:

    So. You have a child, or rather you have a young adult. Now that your child has reached the age of increased autonomy they are going to do a lot of things that you might disagree with. They are going to ride the subway WAY later than you’d like. They are going to wear jeans with holes in them and let their hair hang lank in their pretty face. They are going to live in a sketchy part of town, with furniture scavenged from the curb. Passion, rather than health insurance is going to guide what job they choose. They are going to get a damn cat in spite of their allergies. They are going to vote Democrat. And they are going to love someone (or several someones) and you may not understand why.

    But as dire as this may seem, if I were to ask you: is your child wanted by Federal law enforcement? Have you personally witnessed them dealing/using crack? Have they ever been ejected from a library for accusing a fellow patron of being Satan? and you can honestly answer no, well then congratulations! You’ve done a pretty good job and you can ease up just a bit. If your kid ever calls you up to ask for money it’s way more likely to be for rent than bail.

    I know how hard this is to hear but you’ve got to let them fall on their ass. And it wasn’t easy when they were three and it’s no easier now, but they are an adult. You’ve had nearly two decades to lead by example, and to demonstrate that you are always going to be there for them, to give them a hand, another piece of advice they’ll just shrug off, or a hug. Go ahead and offer advice, but remember they may not take it.

    You may find yourself disagreeing with their choices and you may feel that you have no choice but to prevent them. Bear in mind that nothing is going to make your child more tenacious than actively trying to stop them from making life choices. Your child can walk right out that door and they don’t ever have to come back. And a child who has no home to return to is far more likely to wind up in a situation (like homelessness) far worse than where ever they are now. 

    I hope, I really do, that you have the grace to look at your child and the mess they call their life and say (with feeling) “I love you” and that’s it. Because nothing is going to give your child greater strength out there in the big, wild world than knowing that they are loved. 

    Sincerely,

    A Punk Kid

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    I grew up in south Texas as well, and i understand exactly what you mean about those small town stereotypes. I was fortunate to have been raised by an open minded mother who always told us to “do what you want as long as you are happy, go places i wasn’t able to go”. When my ex-gf’s parents found out we were more than friends, she sent her to a christian psychologist, my then girlfriend at the time had a father very similar to yours and also gave her ultimatums. He wouldn’t continue to pay for her college and car if she continued to see me. So she pretended to be straight, and I haven’t seen her since I moved to Austin. but i do know these days (four years later) her family have adjusted and are okay with her sexuality, which I’m glad to hear. The day i graduated high school, I had all my stuff packed and said I had to get out, since I was a kid I always realized there was so much out there better. There is more in life than just having kids, staying a housewife who’s husband goes hunting every weekend in his huge gas guzzler, and the most exciting thing are football nights. yuck. I’ve been living in Austin since then. It is the ONLY place in this entire state i love. I sometimes forget I live in TX. I will miss Austin when I move to the west coast, but will not miss the rest! ALOT of my friends recently flocked to NYC this summer after graduating and visiting this winter can’t wait:)

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    This is exactly my situation right now, down to my dad sending me an email (although his contained a list of books about corrective therapy and satanism. wat. celebrating Halloween does not a satanist lesbian make.)

    Anyhow, I don’t know whether my parents will pay for next semester, and I know I won’t be able to afford it without their help. The stress of not knowing and being in this limbo type state is hellish.

    I’ve been trying to hide my life from them, but sooner or later, they’ll find out what I’m studying Queer Theory and being super queer, and I’m scared as fuck.

    So thanks for writing your story because it reminds me that I’m not the only one going through this right now.

    <3

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    Hey Lemon,

    Your story reminds me of a poetry reading I went to in Durham a couple of months ago by Dorothy Allison, Shirlette Ammons, and Minnie Bruce Pratt called Out in the South. They talked a lot about exile, about being Southern and living in other places and not being able to come back really. I grew up in the same town as Dorothy Allison, a small, cold place called Greenville, South Carolina. When she began reading from her book Bastard Out of Carolina, starting in Chapter 2, “Greenville, South Carolina, in 1955 was the most beautiful place in the world.” I started crying in that sudden, surprising i-didn’t-think-i-was-about-to-cry kind of way. My mother was born in Greenville in 1957–Dorothy Allison was a southern dyke from my own hometown, where I thought I was the only queer, ever, in the whole world, and especially in Greenville. Hearing her words I was relieved, comforted, and angry–where had she been when I was growing up, hating everything around me? Why was I left to figure it all out on my own? Where were my fairy dykemothers when I was falling in love with my best friend in a town that is exactly like the one you described in your essay? Even though I understood and understand why she had to leave, I felt abandoned, I wanted her to have found me, even if it meant her being the old lady with a hate-blasted face roaming the hot streets of downtown with a dirty poster or a flag of some sort.

    My point in telling you this is a few things–firstly, that exile from home, especially in southern places, is actually a well-known lesbian experience. Minnie Bruce Pratt released a collection of poetry about having her children taken away from her in South Carolina because she was a dyke. Find that and read it. Read Bastard Out of Carolina and anything else you can get your hands on by these women. Secondly, if you’re going to be in Texas, fight back. You can’t stay in the South and not fight, you’ll drown. I’m living in Charleston now, which is somewhat better than Greenville. I have community here, I have gathered women around me who allow me to grow in a place that wants me to die. There are dykes all over the South who have stayed or come back, and who are fighting. You can get connected to us. The teenage lesbians in your hometown who are finding out what it feels like to kiss another girl are also scared shitless, and they need you, but they don’t need you to give up and stop fighting in any way, whether you are in Texas or NYC. They need you, and the dykes who will be born and raised just like you were in your hometown for the next 50 years will need you. They need you to stay and they need you to resist, subvert, overthrow–they need you to thrive, they need to see you. If you can’t do it in Texas, do it somewhere but don’t stop fighting. I hope this doesn’t sound preachy–I guess what I’m really saying is that I need you too. I need you to survive, and I need you to resist in places where you think you can’t. I don’t think that any choice you make is necessarily good or bad at this point, but whatever you do, just please don’t stop fighting and surviving, because I’m doing it for you, and I need you and all dykes everywhere to fight and survive for each other.

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    Your story is all too familiar with my childhood and college experience. I was very deliberate with when I came out to my parents b/c I, too, needed them to pay for school. Luckily I was able to make it past graduation and 1/4 of the way into my year-long student teaching. My parents made demands and I kind of had the “f#ck you” stand point in that I had prepared myself, at least, somewhat emotionally for a severing of all ties by either party. I also specifically planned to be away for Christmas and other holidays and breaks so that they would experience what it was like to not have me there. I guess I was kind of calling their bluff, if there was one. I “played” a very tough poker face and did my best to make them think that I didn’t need them. B/c in all honesty, I don’t.
    I love my parents very much and after 8 years our “good” relationship masks an underlying disapproval that will only go away when they get over it.
    I am strong, independent, and an adult, you are too. Best of luck.

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    I have a similar story. I made the decision to go back Texas after living in Philly, to be financially dependent on my parents during grad school. It was the worse decision I’ve ever made. Your happiness is most important. Do anything you can to stay there (or somewhere else far away from the hole that is Texas). I know that in this economy, being part of our age group and being financially dependent is extremely difficult, but I know we can do it. Twenty-six days from now, I am packing my clothes, loading up my car and waving goodbye to my family. My puppy and I are getting the hell out of here with the little savings I have and my new graduate degree and going to make a life for ourselves back on the east coast, this time for good. I am willing to do anything and I know you are too. You are too intelligent and too important to let anything hold you back. You can do this! You, I, all of us can.

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    You can do it. Parents who use money, education and your future as a compromise against your sexuality are not looking for you to be happy and complete, they want you to be in their control, and to know everything you “should” be doing. At your age you “should” be having amazing friends, incredible sex and wild nights out. You “should” be living your dream at LOGO, you “should” be doing activist work and whatever else your rainbow-y little heart wants to.

    It’s hard now. It’s impossible. It’s even outrageous. But one day, you won’t be in college any more. You could get a job and an apartment and a partner and create the Narnia you desire WHERE EVER and with WHOM EVER you want.

    And then you can send your parents the impossible list of things they need to do to keep you in their lives or not.

    Good luck, and don’t let anyone kill that piece of you.

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    You are a brave person. You seem to have done such a great job of holding your head above water- which means you know full well it sucks now, but it’s not forever. I went through similar things. I mean, I am not from Texas which makes a huge difference but I know what it’s like for parents to be holding money over my head. So, out of respect for myself, I took out loans. I told my parents they didn’t have to pay for me and I got a job and worked my ass off through out school to pay for the rent. I don’t know how you feel about taking loans out (everyone’s different) but it was the only way I could find to please my parents in my own way but also respect who I was/am. Once you are financially separated it changes things. And again, it’s different for everyone but I am able to live my life and touch base with my parents every one in awhile and they don’t have to pay for my life. You be you!

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    I am 30 years old and have lived my life in Texas (both Houston and Austin metro areas). I grew up in a rural town. At least 10% or more of my graduating class (1999) came out as gay or bi. It wasn’t fun at the time. But everything literally got better after high school. It sounds like the major problem here is with the parents and not the geographical location. Of course, I was extremely lucky to have (mostly) liberal parents and surrounded myself with like minded friends. When visiting friends who went to college in NY and NJ, their peers always turned their nose at people from Texas. I always felt like saying, “just because George W is from texas, doesn’t mean all of Texas a. likes him, b. supports him, c. voted for him” And Texas is a huge “Purple” state. Red in rural (mostly) uneducated communities, blue in metro areas. So, sounds like a real southern class thing. I’d really hate for all of Texas to get pegged like this. Anise Parker (Houston mayor) is one of the first openly gay mayors of the US, too.

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    I know I’m commenting on a post a year old, so please don’t pounce. I just wanted to be ONE MORE VOICE standing with this writer in case she ever comes back to read it herself, wherever she is. She will have one more voice letting her know,”YOU are not wrong.”

    It’s a horrible thing to realize that the family that should be biologically motivated to be supportive, tender, compassionate, and kind harbors in a strange world are, in fact, far more vicious than that strange world ever could be. Some families are so dysfunctional, they pick one member to be ‘the sick one’ or ‘the black sheep’ or ‘the frustrated rebel’. Pick an insult, any insult. Any will do, just so long as they all think you are broken and they have something to fix, then they are ‘right’ and they are ‘ok’ and they are blah blah blah.

    YOU are NOT wrong. You are NOT bad. You are NOT weak. You feel persecute because dammit, you ARE persecuted. I wish I could tell,”Don’t worry honey, they’ll come around some day.” There is NO WAY to guarantee that and if you wait, you lose.

    The very first bad thing I was in my family, even after being the only sibling to serve in a foreign land during a war and being decorated, was ‘the liberal’. I came home to a country and family that wanted nothing more to do with me AS I WAS and for WHO I AM. If I was willing to conform; to abandon my own integrity and beliefs; to sit silently at the table during Thanksgiving while they all railed against ‘the liberals’ and ‘those commie sympathizers’ and anything essentialy not white and not male and not religious, then I could be a part of the family. So long as I was willing to be the family landfill for all their neurotic b.s. and indirect communication, then they would be polite enough to include me, as if I wasn’t born into their brood.

    Let me tell you what waits at the end of the road when you let them do this: A helluva lot of resentment and bitterness towards them and yourself for handing over your freedom and happiness.

    It breaks my heart that ANYONE would have to choose between having a family, when they apparantly exist, or not. Sometimes, you have to create your own family. Build your own nest that is not beholding to nor dependent on people who don’t know the first thing about unconditional love but preach it every Sunday as if they do.

    I’ve lived in a mean, vindictive, petty, deseperate little redneck town just like yours. Where people routinely screw each other over for an acre land and then invite them to the pig pickin’ the next week. Who still practice ‘shunning’ with anyone who doesn’t hold their political opinions and live as they do. They’d make the mayor of Salem proud, let me tell you. And there you are, surrounded on all sides by dominating inbreds who are quite happy for you to live in fear and circle the drain if it means they can exploit you in ANY way.

    I can’t tell you what to do and wouldn’t, but I’d be lieing to you, and so would any other sane adult, who told you Freedom, REAL freedom, is easily had. It will require sacrifice, letting go, and moving on with the understanding that it might be a long while before you feel ok about looking back again. Know this: You are NOT alone. You will NEVER be alone. And there ARE good people in the world but if your gut says you are outnumbered by people who are intimidated by your personal happiness, then you probably are. TRUST YOURSELF FIRST. Wherever you go, whatever you do…listen to your gut instinct. It is very, very, very rarely ‘wrong’.

    You may not get things perfectly in your favor before you do what is best for yourself. You may have to accept that you won’t have every comfort and convenience right away. You may even cross paths with more scary people ( once identified…ditch them ). Remember that misery loves company and prefers that company to be more miserable than themselves. To all the women out in the world…watch each others backs, help each other out, go for your dreams and promise yourself every night that you will not let yourself down. That anyone else in the world can, but you won’t let YOU down. Stay smart, stay kind, grow wise…god knows we all need it.

    One more note..I’ve a friend who lived on the street for FIVE YEARS rather than go home to family. It was dangerous, no doubt, but she preferred that the danger of suffering like a stranded prisoner in her own bloodline AND she got back on her feet, is happily in love, returned to school at 40 ( so be nice to those single middle aged women, you don’t know what THEY’VE gone through either lol _), and also has a side business and reaches out to other women to help them get on their feet. She’s a true gladiator, a real champion, and, as far as I’m concerned, one of the few real ‘christians’ I’ve ever met. The point is, she chose her own path happiness over the silver spoon with the price tag of her self=respect on it. I know it’s hard, but for all that’s good in the universe it does NOT have to stay that way.

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    Wow. Your story is incredible and I don’t think I’ve ever related to something so closely. I grew up in Plano (so your “We had sixteen-year-old rich white girls squandering their inheritance dealing heroine out of their Suburbans” comment is particularly spot on), and now live in NYC.

    My parents don’t know about my sexuality but I can imagine they would have responded very similarly to the way that yours did. I have more bullet-pointed list emails of what I should be doing with my life than I can count, and they all include finding a church. I still go home sometimes, but you described it perfectly as existing in two planes. Each time I go back, I ask myself why I still do. And the answer is usually a combination of guilt for living a lie while they have always supported me, and somehow still the desire to live up to their expectations. And of course, to drink fountain Dr. Pepper, eat Tex Mex, and drive really fast.

    I don’t think this is as true in other states, but there’s something about Texas. As much as I can hate the conservative redneck hellhole parts, I still can’t shake state pride. I even defend it when I hear people in New York saying bad things about it. It’s ridiculous. I will always have that same emotional tie you talked about (but hopefully eventually lose the financial tie).

    I know I’m way late on the commenting and you probably won’t see this, but hey I just found this website and it’s my first comment. :) Thank you for the beautiful article and good luck with your life in New York.

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    I realize that this comment is one million years later, but it was very interesting to me personally for a number of reasons.
    I was born and raised in a semi-conservative conservative country, but my parents were amazingly open-minded and liberal. So my up-brining was very painless. And upon my arrival to TX (for reasons that do not matter anymore, but lets say I can relate to the experience you’ve described more than you know), which in comparison to what I was used to was strangely more free. Although I realized it was no place for me, I observed all those things you have described as an outsider.
    It didn’t make any sense at first, as to why people in this state (and I lived with a number of different families – from rural to city) were the way there were. Until I just accepted it as a cultural influence.
    So, thanks for sharing your story, I do hope that everything has worked out for you. You are a strong and clever individual who deserves the best.

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    oh hey lem. it’s almost two years later and i’m reading this (again) at my (parents’) kitchen table in massachusetts, having just moved back home after living with you in new york for a year. i’m so glad things turned out the way they did. you’re such a good writer and i hope you remember that. you are more than texas but you’re also more than new york and good things will keep happening to you because of your talent and drive and also because you deserve it and i do think the world works like that, sometimes. i wish i’d thought to reread this while we were living together, especially in the beginning; it explains a lot (in a good way) and it makes me love you even more. i love you and i’m proud of you. just keep writing, okay? it will keep you in narnia forever. xoxo.

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