As I begin to write this, so much is on my mind. It has been a year, since I came out, publically over social media. I remember a year ago, at this time, I was laying on my bed, in Alexandria, VA, watching two very good friends of mine Bryan and Derek Youtube coming out videos.
Shortly after watching Bryans YouTube Coming Out, I became very teary eyed and emotional. I knew something was weighing me down, and lets face it, it was late, and at the time, I had work the next morning. So I wrote the following on Facebook “Something about life that I like, is that I can be myself, and I can express myself in my CJ kinda way. Everyone knows, that CJ is weird, and CJ will always be weird. I love my life, I love my friends, I am so blessed with my talents (one of being a talented musician, and conductor, since the very young age), one who loves working with animals, and educating every customer on proper pet care and nutrition, I am one that enjoys to cook, and bake (and I have loved this since I ever looked to cook and bake). I love the outdoors, and mother nature, and being able to smell the clean fresh rain on a nice rainy day. I am grateful for the many friends that I continue to make, and that I have made. I CJ Sidener, am Mormon, and I am gay.” I originally limited the posting, that night to just my friends. I did however post it in several groups, including Mormons Building Bridges (which is public), and then the next morning, when I got ready for work, I decided that it was only necessary to adjust it to include family.
Now lets fast forward a bit, to today, a year later, how do I feel? I honestly feel so good about myself. I know that I can be 100% true and authentic to myself, and those around me. I have some family and a ton of friends great team at work, and even some new friends that have been super supportive of me along this journey. I have to tell you know, it hasn’t been all that easy.
Shortly after coming out, I received a wealth of love from everyone over Facebook, and the messages I received from friends via text, or even phone call was incredible. Sure some family members were not on board with me at the beginning but I only knew that it would take some well educating them, and then they’d support me. That took a lot of time. Needless to say, I have a wonderful family that is super supportive.
After coming out, within two weeks or so, I was scheduled to meet with my Bishop, all because someone took “snapshots” of my coming out. First off, the person who did that, should be very much ashamed of themselves, for I wasn’t happy when I heard “snapshots” were sent to the Bishop.
My activity in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, became less and less. I soon found out, the members of my congregation were well accepting of me. I just didn’t feel comfortable coming to a place of worship, with my Bishop. Hense, I knew I also wasn’t going to be able to magnify my callings. So, I went inactive. I went back to church twice between my time of coming out, and my time of leaving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.
I officially put in my letter of Resignation to remove my records on Easter Sunday, of this year, just two months ago. I have found a loving, accepting congregation, located in Thomas Circle in Washington, DC. I now attend Luther Place Memorial Chruch. I am a full member.
How has dating life been for me? Well, that is another story. I have learned a lot about dating, and who to trust, and well, dating in general. In one of my relationships, I was used, and have since shut this person out of my life. In one of my relationships, I was ignored for a week, with no communications. Needless to say, I have learned.
Since I have come out I have attended three Prides. My first Pride, was Charlottesville Pride, in Charlottesville, VA. My second pride was NOVA Pride, in Centerville, VA. My third pride, I attended was Capital Pride, in Washington, DC. I loved them all. Capital Pride was so much fun.
After I came out, I began to stand along the sides of my LGBTQ Brothers and Sisters and allies, and fight for marriage equality. It sure was a long, and hard fight. Virginia finally got the ability to have same sex marriages beginning on October 6, 2014. Just recently, as of June 26, 2015, the full country now has legal rights to marry for same-sex couples. Now, no matter where I go (when I end up getting married), my marriage will be recognized in all 50 states. I am so happy about that.
This has been quite the year. It feels so extremely good that, I can actually be myself. I love it. I love the people I associate with, my LGBTQ community. I love my family, without them, this journey would be very hard. I am grateful for each and everyone of my friends, they have stuck beside me, and loved me no matter.
So what’s next? I’m going to continue to be myself. I have discovered that I love Gay Bars. My favorite is Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington, VA because it is rather close to my home in Lorton, VA and happy hour prices are great. Also, another added feature is Karaoke every night. Yes, I love to sing, and singing after having a few beers is wonderful.
I am so grateful for my year of learning, growing, and stepping up to be me. Here’s to many more!