Hey there! My name is Kristen and I am from PA, USA. My wife, Brittney, and I have been together since 2012 and married since August 2017. We have two amazing kids, our daughter, Hailey, who is 2 and our son, Aiden, who is 6 months. Before I dive deep into our story, let me start by saying I am forever grateful to have found an online community because it is a main reason I became so comfortable with my true self. I wish this existed for a confused, 14-year-old me who swore I would never be able to live the happy life that I only dreamed of. I grew up attending Catholic school from kindergarten until my senior year of high school. I frequently heard the words, “being gay is a sin” and listened to family and friends talk about how gross it was. I knew I was different, but after hearing that I didn’t want to be.
I wasn’t like the other girls in my class. I didn’t care about boys and wearing makeup and cute clothes, I was totally cool with staying home and watching Lizzie McGuire because you know, Hilary Duff. I continued to fight the feelings I had for other girls and try my best to fit in, but this made me an angry, jealous, depressed teenager. I was mad at everyone, myself, classmates, my family, the world because I could not figure out what to do with all the feelings I had inside. Junior year of high school brought an almost 3 year secret, romantic relationship with my best friend that added to my confusion and anger. After 3 years, she told me that she did not feel the way I did and that she knew she wasn’t gay. I was alone, she left me for a guy and not only did I lose what I though was my first love, I lost my best friend. I was depressed and felt no urge to live because I had no one to help me through this. Years of secrets and feelings began to build up I tried being “normal”, hoping my past was just a phase, but then in walked Brittney.
We went to college together and Brittney started an innocent, but flirty conversation with me and got my number to invite me to her birthday in the city. We headed to the Gayborhood for a fun night out and my world was forever changed. I saw people like me, living their best lives and I slowly started to come out of my shell. I wanted to be just like them. Happy, out, proud, and unafraid. I won’t lie, I fell hard, fast for Brittney and there was something about her that I couldn’t let go of. Two months later we made it official and so began our relationship. A few months into our relationship we knew that this could be a forever thing and we needed to tell our families and friends. Most were accepting, but we did struggle with a few that took months to years to come around to our relationship.
Something I didn’t understand as a newly openly gay woman was that I would spend the rest of my life “coming out” to people. What is your husband’s name? Do your kids look like you or your husband? What does your husband do for work? Are you sisters? Wow, we had no idea you two were together! Honestly, for the first few years of our relationship I would just go with it because I was uncomfortable, but once we had kids I knew I needed to proudly own who I was to everyone for them and for myself. We need to continue to be proud and let everyone know that our families matter too because that is how we change the world. I am proud that my wife and I got married at our dream wedding in front of 170 supportive family members and friends. I am proud that we were able to use science to create our children through RIVF. I am beyond proud that I found the most unbelievable, supportive online community that continues to educate the world and change the views of people everywhere. I am so happy that my kids will see other families like ours and understand that there is no “normal” family. A family is created in love and happiness with a group of people that will love you unconditionally.
As much as our story seems “perfect”, it is far from it. I struggled with a lot of mental health issues from years of anger, depression, anxiety, and the need to always be the person that someone else needed me to be. Brittney has seen me at my absolute worst and I have caused heartache in our relationship because of my inability to cope with my mental health. It was just another thing that I was ashamed of, terrified of, and didn’t want to be true. I was in and out of therapy, on and off of different medications all throughout our relationship. I was a rollercoaster ride, but Brittney stuck by my side because she knew who I could be with the right help. I had postpartum depression and PTSD from my pregnancy/birth with Hailey and just 7/8 months ago, before Aiden was born I hit my rock bottom after working the frontlines as a COVID Nurse. I truly felt like my marriage, my ability to be a parent, and my life was over. I found myself again in a deep depression with moments of uncontrollable rage and chaos. This is about to get real… I started cutting again, that’s how I was coping, by inflicting pain on myself. I sat in my room time and time again with a bottle of pills wanting to take every single one and never wake up. I found myself on the floor hysterical crying, panic attack after panic attack, unable to breath because I couldn’t handle myself anymore. How could I feel this way? I had everything I ever wanted, a wife, a daughter, my wife was pregnant with our second son. What was wrong with me?
Something clicked and I knew that if I didn’t get the right help, I could potentially end my marriage. I started an Intense Outpatient Program 4 days a week, individual therapy, and appointments with a psychiatrist that finally listened to me and gave me the right diagnosis (Borderline Personality Disorder/Anxiety) and medications. My mental health and diagnosis was another thing I needed to learn to accept, but that is a whole different story! It took about two months, but I started to feel truly happy and sane. I opened up about years of hiding who I was, accepting my sexuality, along with other childhood issues that I never truly worked through. Getting help was the best decision I ever made. I now can teach my kids proper ways to cope with their emotions and I know I can be the best mama that they need. I’ve opened up on my Instagram and it’s a relief and therapeutic to be completely open with others about my true self. I am always learning and I will continue to work on myself while trying to help others. My door is always open for those who need it. Happiness doesn’t always come overnight and sometimes it needs a little time and hard work. Be kind with yourself, be patient, and never give up hope. You are never alone and to anyone who needs to hear this, I am here to listen, help, or give support! Never underestimate the power of the LGBTQ+ community!
Kristen + her wife own their own Etsy small business making onesies and home decor – you can find that HERE.
Read other coming out stories: