I’m not broken.


strength through the agesTrigger warning/content note: sexual abuse, coming out.

I recently revived my monthly contribution here at The Exponent as part of our Queer Mormon Women* series, and it has me thinking.  How did my Mormonism affect my queerness?  When did the messages first get mixed together?

(In fact, these questions have been swirling around in my brain for so many weeks now that I have decided to start writing regularly again here.)

Like most things, they are connected.  I don’t know that I can separate them, at least not completely.  It’s this idea that I have been pondering since my last post; the idea that I thought I was broken for so long.  I thought the sexual abuse I had endured was what broke me, and I thought that the way it broke me was with regard to my sexuality.

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Queer Mormon Women*: Unweaving the Past

K and C at CA Wedding

This is a post by Kendahl, aka kmillecam, and is a part of the Queer Mormon Women* series.  Click HERE to see all the posts to date.

A lot has happened since the last time I wrote a post for The Exponent.  Over the years I have written about ceremonies, healing, and bodily rights.  I have written about my journey in Mormonism and feminism, and found solace in the voices here, blogger and commenter alike.  This particular brand of feminism here at The Exponent is my cup of tea.  These women are thoughtful and accepting.  You can see my other previous posts here.

As I perused the body of the work I have done here, I see that I have left out a defining portion of my life.  I am a Queer Mormon Woman*.

I have been officially “out” for a little over a year.  On National Coming Out Day, October 11, in 2013, having come out to a few people in my life, I decided to finally write a post on Facebook about how I identify as a queer woman.  It was a spur of the moment decision, and really just served to make official what most people already knew about me.  I was in the process of my divorce, and I was dating women exclusively.

I will be 35 this year.  I don’t know why, but that detail is prominent to me.  I keep finding that I beat myself up for not “figuring out the gay thing” earlier in life.  After all, I was an LGBTQIA+ advocate for several years.  I even identified as bisexual for a few years before I finally realized that I am queer.  And my partner Corinne has known she was gay, in spite of also growing up in a Mormon family, since she was about 15.  Why has it taken me so long?  Why wasn’t it obvious to me?

My sister has expressed that she has known this about me for a number of years.  My late grandmother said the same when I came out to her about a year ago.

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New Series: Queer Mormon Women*

Queer Mormon Women*

This new series from The Exponent features Queer Mormon Women*.  Join us as we hear the experiences, voices, stories, and musings of Mormon people who identify in some way with being a woman, being Mormon, and being queer!  The series is written by several queer Mormon women*, which we all hope will provide greater visibility and reach for queer perspectives.

Click HERE to find all the published posts in the series, to date.

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First things first: what do all these terms even mean!?

Why do we use an asterisk after women?  Why do we use the term “queer”?  Why aren’t all LGBT women just called lesbians?  Why do we need all the letters in LGBTQIA+?  What does the plus sign stand for?  Let’s give you a brief overview, that covers these terms, but doesn’t necessarily represent all queer experiences.

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Lullabye Time: My Heavenly Mother Loves Me

Ever since my children started to be born over 8 years ago, I have gone through fits and starts of singing to them each night before they go to bed.  Lately, I haven’t been singing as much, and I made a conscious effort to start up again.

I remember when I first had my feminist awakening, and my now-8-year-old was only 3-years-old.  I chose some songs from the Children’s Songbook that I still agreed with and liked, and at the top of the list was always the song I remembered as being called “Whenever I Hear the Song of a Bird”.  

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Living with a Pedophile: My Story of Trauma and Abuse

(Trigger warning for violence, sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse.)

I am an abuse survivor.  When I was a child, I was exposed to a pedophile.  Then the pedophile used my body repeatedly, rendering me psychologically injured and scared.  He managed to engage me, groom me, and then use me.  When he stopped assaulting me the fourth time, he terrified me so much that I never told a soul until I was in college seeing my first counselor.  I was 20.

I used to count 4 instances of abuse on one hand, but have since been able to see that abuse is more than just the assault itself.  I was assaulted four times, but I was abused far more often as I lived with the constant stressor of social and sexual deviance in my home life.  It still makes my mind into a bit of a pretzel when I think of it in this new way, but I’m practicing and it gets easier each time.

So now, instead of saying “I was sexually abused 4 times”, I simply say that I lived with a pedophile who used my body.  He used me sexually when he groped me, but he also used me in a myriad of other ways.  He manipulated me, he intimidated me, he lied to me, and many other unhealthy, hurtful things.

Abuse is so far-reaching, permeating the air in the room, the times between assaults, all the way to the perimeter of that relationship one has with the deviant.  I’m finally getting clarity on what that means.

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