I am engaged.
I never thought I would be able to publicly utter this sentence. I never thought this sentence would be celebrated for me. I never thought well-wishes would come from all corners of the map and from people of all backgrounds. Luckily for me, the times changed and so did I.
I was 13-years-old. I knew something was different about me. I felt an attraction to the lifeguard on duty. I could not name it. I did not understand the feeling, but it was there. I did my best to ignore this foreign feeling. It remained persistent and present.
I buried it. I hid it from the world. It was a sin, and I would go to hell for feeling this way. The spiritual leaders in my life told me so. My feelings were so natural and innocent until they were turned over to those of faith. I wanted to be a person of faith. I did my best to hide my sinful urges.
There were magazines. There was the internet. There was my imagination. There were dares and the innocence of puberty. There was college.
I would date a young woman for most of college. We would talk of marriage. I would rage. It was not her fault. I was not being true to myself. She deserves an apology. I am sorry.
I would graduate from college single and free. I would fall head over heels for a guy but being in Oklahoma would not allow me to open the closet door. I feared rejection and disapproval. I feared the loss of friends and family. I had to make a choice. I needed to be selfish for a little while.
I looked toward the Pacific Northwest. Seattle would present an opportunity to reinvent myself. On the other end, I would not find something drastically new. I would find something more honest and a truer version of myself.
There were apps. There were mistakes. There were scary moments. There were slow revelations. There was the first boyfriend. There was heartbreak. There was a man who would become the center of my whole world.
We would date for nearly six years before a shift in our relationship status.
On bent knee in downtown Oklahoma City, I would ask him to marry me. With a changing city as my backdrop, I explained why the question had to be asked here. I needed to reclaim Oklahoma City for myself. I needed to return unafraid. I needed to ask free from the expectations of others. I needed to celebrate with friends and family. I needed to know things had changed.
The world reacted. We should never count likes and comments, but I admit this time I did. Five-hundred people joined in our celebration from near and far. Still, I could not help but think of those who never said a word. I thought of the weddings I attended. I thought of the moments of congratulations offered by me. I thought of the joy I felt for them. They were stealing my joy. They were consuming me. They were still people I was trying to please.
I know their reasons. They look upon me with sin written across my forehead. I will never be able to convince them otherwise. I will never be able to convince them of what we share in common. Their joy was mine, but mine will never be theirs.
Yet, I am engaged. This sentence is still true. In the summer of 2022, I will marry a person who makes me feel special, capable, loved, protected, smart, accomplished, sexy, handsome, funny, creative, and a thousand other emotions. We will commit ourselves to a life together. Through trials and tribulations, we will promise, in front of family and friends, to love each other unconditionally.
When I say, “I do,” I will think of where I have been, all those people, places, and the pain along the way. I will look into my husband’s eyes. Those who served as roadblocks will not be lost to time and space. For me, a hush will fall over them. Distance will make them matter less and less. Then a new chapter will begin.
Be good to each other,