Across Rainbows started with an unrelenting curiosity and desire to give members of our LGBTQ+ community a greater reason to believe in themselves.
While the rest of the website focuses on how we do what we do, I want to take a few minutes to tell why we do what we do.
My son Nick and I started Across Rainbows a few years back, but it was many years in the making. It was born from wanting to fix and improve what affected us personally: wasting too much of our energy and potential by trying to please other people’s expectations.
Within the LGBTQ+ community, our identity is very often forced upon us by others. As a gay woman, I had a deep-rooted desire to constantly seek external validation because I had been brainwashed into believing that my survival depended on it.
Cultural expectations dictated how I would live my life. Mine was a predictable traditional journey, with very specific, clearly defined gender roles. My gender determined my academic path, ambitions, my personal interactions and society’s expectation of me. It was a no-brainer.
It was expected that I would get married (to a man of course) and have children. Questioning was not an option. It was not even on the radar. I just had a vague feeling that something was not quite right. My dreams were not of getting married and having babies. At 17, I did not know that same-sex relationships even existed, or that women could love women.
I got married at barely 18. As the years went by, that ‘something’ started to morph from a teeny tiny discomfort to questioning what ‘that something’ that was missing was. But it always seemed to be just out of reach; that ‘something’ was vague, yet loaded with the promise of untold possibilities. Of course, in time, I figured out what that ‘something’ was. I discovered that there were women like me: women who loved women. I was unbearably sad and lost.
I was strong but lonely from the isolation that comes with knowing that the person you really are could be the reason your world falls apart. I was scared because I felt that there was no one in the world who would understand, accept and support me. I fought daily against the guilt and the anger that was slowly killing me.
It got bad, then it got worse and I hit rock bottom. There was a real fear that the essence of who I really was may never be discovered. That fear overrode everything else. For many of us, thinking about being true to who we are is an uncomfortable concept, as it means wanting and needing to be more than people say we are.
We feel guilty for having these thoughts, as they conflict with accepted reality and the expectations others have. Therefore, we work hard on repressing them. But the need does not really go away; it festers and percolates in the depths of our sub-consciousness, sometimes for years.
Then something happens in our life that triggers our need to stop living according to other people’s expectations. In that moment, you take control of your life and realise that you can shift from where you are, to where you want to be.
I took a very conscious and deliberate small first step into a world where I could, perhaps, find peace, self-acceptance and love. I took back control of my life. I joined a lesbian book club. That small first step began the process of stepping into my true self. It took a while but I learned to let go of the confusing ideas and stories I’d absorbed in childhood and well into my adulthood.
I learned that I didn’t have to agree with everything someone else said just because they were my parents, family or friends. It was okay – and even healthy – for me to have my own opinions, ideas, and needs. I created a new path for myself: one based on my own truth about myself. I chose me. I quit living my life to please other people’s expectations of what my life should be.
After I realised I could change things for myself, I wanted others to know they could do this too. I wanted them to know they weren’t responsible for their upbringing and they didn’t have to live out the story their parents, grandparents, family, friends, or society in general plotted for them.
I’m not going to say it’s easy. It’s not. It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.
You will come face to face with the ugly bits of yourself and face dragons and demons head-on. Every single thing you were told, you believed, is broken down and exposed for what they were — scrutinised and analysed. It will cause many ‘WTF’ moments.
But you will own your story. You will be your authentic beautiful self. The good news is that we have done the heavy lifting. We asked the hard questions, we challenged the status quo. This process is ongoing, but it works.
I promise you that you will not be alone on your journey. We are here to support you, embrace you, hear you, and see you.
With love always,