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A life of authenticity

For some, living an authentic life can be challenging because of societal, familial or religious pressures. WSU student Savannah Deichmann wanted to live her truth because she felt it was the only way she would be able to live peacefully.

(Jackson Reed / The Signpost)

Deichmann described her coming out experience as an “adventure.” She became curious about her identity during her sophomore year in high school when a softball teammate explained bisexuality.

Deichmann wanted to be certain of her truth before opening up to her parents.

Deichmann’s parents had been involved with the community and understood that people are LGBT, but Deichmann wasn’t sure how they would feel if they knew their daughter was bisexual.

Deichmann reached her limit when she broke down before moving to Colorado. She wrote a letter, expressing her feelings to her parents.

“I feel like I’m this identity. I know you probably don’t understand it, but this is where I’m at,” Deichmann wrote. “This is how I want to tell you because I’m too afraid to talk about it out loud.”

While her parents didn’t fully understand, they accepted her. Upon her Colorado arrival, Deichmann openly identified as a bisexual woman.

Deichmann said she felt accepted more by her father than her mother. Her mother had difficulty accepting Deichmann’s identity. Her mom told her she was lying and doing it to make friends, sentiments that later became a theme within the mother-daughter relationship.

While Deichmann wished her mother’s mindset was different, it wasn’t.

“She immediately expected the worst. She expected this promiscuous person,” Deichmann said. “Which was weird, because I never gave her a reason.”

Deichmann said it is pertinent that individuals find comfort within themselves. She is currently engaged and a health promotions major, hoping to teach sex education.

“It took about a year for my mother to understand my relationship,” Deichmann said.

Moving to Colorado helped Deichmann navigate her identity, ultimately realizing she wanted to become an advocate.

“If I had never discovered this identity, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Deichmann said.

Keegan Parkinson, a member of the WSU Diversity and Unity team who was raised within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, struggled with their identity. Parkinson said being raised within the church caused fear in their heart to open up to their parents.

“The culture of the LDS is kind of judgy. If anything is not normal — like fitting gender roles — they segregate you from the rest of the congregation, leaving that part of you aside,” Parkinson said.

Parkinson changed wards when they were 16 and simultaneously came out as gay. After Parkinson’s sister came out as bisexual, they felt more comfortable coming out to their parents. Parkinson feared that their parents wouldn’t allow them in the house.

“The unknowing was terrifying. Then I just said it: I’m gay,” Parkinson said.

When Parkinson came out, their father told them, “I will love you no matter what.” Parkinson’s father just asked for time to understand where they’re coming from.

Parkinson’s said their parents have a better understanding of the LGBT community. A member of the church confided in Parkinson’s mother and disclosed that her son is gay. The member didn’t know whether she would continue to let her son live in her house.

“My mom’s reply was, ‘Why?’ The woman then replied, ‘Because that is a sin, and I can’t have sin in my house,'” Parkinson recounted.

Parkinson’s mother reminded the woman that her son is still her child. Parkinson feels their mom has become an LGBT advocate.

Parkinson has learned how diverse the LGBT community is and how accepting they are of others.

“I have this love for everyone no matter what, even if they hate who I am, just because they are human and that’s totally fine,” Parkinson said.

Parkinson and Deichmann feel grateful for the openness within the LGBT community. They feel the community has created a safe environment that allows people to live authentically and truthfully.

“This is who I am, and I don’t care what you have to say,” Deichmann said.

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