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    Posted December 7, 2012 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Faith-shaking moments

    Down in South Cack


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Truckstop84 says when she came out in 2003 she felt like she came out with the nation. 'Our nation was really starting to gain some rooted acceptance of gays and lesbians being, for example, in movies and T.V. shows,' she said. Growing up in a conservative Christian household, she says gay culture was far from acceptable when she was younger. But now she lives as an openly gay individual and is excited to see more states are recognizing same-sex marriage. 'It was so encouraging to see three states vote in favor of someone like me being able to marry my partner,' she said. ' I do think it moves things forward in terms of greater social acceptance, and I believe that because of those votes, people in other states will begin to shift their stance on the issue of gay marriage.'
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    I realized I liked women when I was 18 years old. It really came as a smack across the face... I had no idea. There was only a short period of time where I was confused and embarrassed, however, and to that I owe the climate of a college campus. What a godsend.

    I came out to my parents when I was 19, almost by accident, as my dad and I were having a discussion about marriage. At the time I was arguing that marriage didn't matter, that it had far more to do with a legally binding contract than a declaration of committed love to one's counterpart. In short, I was trying to make the case for relationship equality. I thought my dad was about to ask if I would ever get married, but instead he asked me if I would ever marry a woman. I sputtered just a moment, and then blurted out that if he was asking me if I was gay, the answer was yes.

    My parents weren't very understanding at first, and I don't blame them. I knew what I was going up against. I grew up with a conservative Christian upbringing. I remembered both what I was and wasn't taught about 'gays.' My dad told me at our next meeting that they still loved me but that they couldn't support me anymore. I thought I was ready for that. But even so, I ended up being very bitter towards them for a long time, not over money, but over the inequality of it all.

    Today things are very different. On a personal level, my parents consider my partner of almost 5 years to be a part of their family. We go to all family functions, and I think it's been really great to see the responses from my extended family. Where there once was hushed tones, now there seems to be genuine laughter, like people have forgotten they were supposed to care about sexual orientation. It really does feel like we've all grown and come a long way.

    On a sociopolitical level, I am increasingly amazed at how far our country has come since I've come out. I feel very fortunate, and I cannot understate that. In just the last few years there has been such an increase in acceptance, from more LGBTQ characters on TV shows, hip hop artists and former pro athletes coming out or coming out in support of LGBTQ issues, to Ellen DeGeneres pretty much becoming the 'new' Oprah.

    This year, when the LGBTQ community won so many landmark victories in the November elections, I broke down into tears. I had become so accustomed to the idea that I could never marry my life partner that the idea of it had died in my heart. I'd already accepted it. But now, after less years than so many have had to wait on the fringes, I feel like our country could do something truly wonderful in creating marriage equality for everyone. Mostly, I am dangerously hopeful that we will be able to do this on a national level. If it's left up to the states, the whole world knows mine will be one of the last in the move towards marriage equality. I want to marry my lover, please.
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