By: Julianna Romano
Emily Beidel was born into a very strict Christian family.
Her father led the family as a pastor of the Christian Missionary Alliance Denomination. For the most part, Emily and her family are protestants.
Having a father as a pastor who always preached about faith, there were many restraints to remain a good, Protestant family.
Beidel happens to be a huge Harry Potter fan, but in the past, she and her three siblings were forbidden to watch the magical wizarding world due to its take on of witchcraft.
Being clever, she told her father that Harry Potter is simply an allegory of God and that it was tastefully appropriate to enjoy.
As she grew older, she noticed differences about herself growing stronger too. She wanted to tell her parents, but the family’s Protestant faith kept her in the dark.
“I was closeted for a very long time,” Beidel said, “I already got rid of my overtly homophobic friends.”
Beidel eventually felt more secure about her identity and mustered up some confidence to reveal her secret to her parents. They both refused to accept her, and came up with many ways to “straighten” their daughter out.
Her parents sent her to the Timothy Christian School, believing that this would solve everything. Her parents would make sure that her hair was perfect and her nails were always painted to look straight for school.
She recalled one day in school, where she and her peers were required to attend a seminar.
She then told of the message from the headmaster.
“Queers are the evils of the world. If you are a queer, you must keep it as a hush-hush scenario.”
Knowing her true identity, Beidel walked out of the seminar, only to be confronted by the school’s staff and her parents. She was immediately kicked out of the school, and was promptly homeschooled.
Beidel spent many days and nights alone in her own thoughts. Luckily her older sister Julianne, now 26, supported her for who she was no matter the circumstance.
Her parents were still not pleased with their daughter’s revelation, and sent Beidel to the Ywam Zion camp in New Zealand.
Ywam Zion is a program run by Christian enthusiasts to turn young people into good Christians. Beidel recalls many peculiar experiences during her trip to New Zealand for forced self-discovery.
She distinctly remembers young girls screams all day and night.
She spoke of a little boy who was always sick from the pressures of the camp, a child who, all of a sudden, became paralyzed, and three little girls that always sat in a circle, laughing devilishly.
Beidel’s most prominent memory of the camp was of a young man who was homophobic and transphobic, who became outcasted, yet refused to read anything but the bible.
The kicker of the story was that this young gentleman was doing too many drugs and while impaired, wanted to convert to Christianity.
Growing very weary of the camp, Beidel snuck out and hitchhiked to her cousin’s house in New Zealand.
She then stayed with her cousin for the remainder of the trip and never looked back.
Now that Beidel is back home, she is still proud of who she is, and hopes that one day her parents will see that she is very happy with herself.
“If a young person was scared and asked about coming out. I would ask them to please make sure they are safe first and foremost. Mostly, I would tell them that they are beautiful, whole and deserving of love.”