In the case of Leah S, it is not a situation that rests well with her, and it proves to be a constant struggle as she has been married for 10 years, but is attracted to women, and even maintained a relationship with one during her marriage.
When Leah, who’s 35, spoke with All Woman, she shared that from as early as age 13 she felt different, but because of her religious upbringing she learnt to bottle up and ignore her liking for women and centre her attention on what was deemed right in the eyes of God.
Leah said this led to her forcing herself to like men and identify herself as ‘straight’ instead of bisexual, which she now admits to being.
“My teenage years were awful. I would see women and like them in a sexual way, but I somehow kept remembering that it was ungodly, that I would burn in hell, and the most gory parts of it to boot. I spoke to someone about it once and was literally rebuked. From that day I simply threw myself at men as the person said that it was better being called a slut than to be labelled a lesbian or bisexual.”
This new way of dealing with her sexual emotions led her to being branded by fellow church members as promiscuous and disobedient, and Leah explained that it got real bad when her parents told her she was a Jezebel who would end up unemployed with many children.
Determined to prove them wrong, she decided to settle down and go to university, but instead of falling into their ideal plan for her, she encountered a world of opportunities and an environment that embraced the side of her she was forced to suppress.
“Remember, I was never counselled about my homosexual feelings. I was rebuked and scorned and I tried to force myself to like men. When I got to university, because that wound wasn’t closed properly, it just opened a whole new can of worms and I saw that this was somewhere, a place I could fit in,” she said.
However, Leah pointed out that she still hid how she felt as she was surrounded by other church brethren who kept a watchful eye on her every move and at the simplest slip, would inform those back home.
“I had the way paved out for me to ‘bruk out’ as they would say, and just let loose, but eyes were everywhere. People knew me. I was involved in everything my church did, so I was known by my personal church and its extended body,” she said.
Leah silently indulged in homosexual behaviour, but ensured she had a man whom she could get to love her and eventually propose to her. This was her way of shielding her acts.
After she wed, she initially decided to give that side of her life a break and focus on her marriage because she was bent on making it work.
“No one could know, and I wouldn’t allow [any whisperings that my marriage was in trouble because of my sexuality]. Afterwards, [I chose a female partner] who knew how much image meant to me and understood why I was the way I was. She never tried to impose on my personal life or tear my family apart,” she said.
But nothing stays hidden forever and her husband found her secret when he came home early one day.
“He just walked in on us kissing and stood shell-shocked, looking at me as if he was looking at a stranger. But he kept his cool and she left. When I tried to explain he said it was fine, and that he wasn’t going to leave me.”
She later took him through her history and the struggles she had endured, and he listened with a great measure of care.
While Leah is still attracted to women, the married couple attends counselling sessions and works together with the hope that one day Leah will break free from her attraction and be devoted to her husband.
However, though she admits that while she loves her family and would love to be 100 per cent devoted to them, her struggle has been going on for years and will take time to break.
“I’m working at it, but things don’t happen in one moment. My husband I and have come to the realisation that this is a very, very real struggle and we also know that it will take time and patience. One thing I’ve done, though, is not to engage with any other female as I’m working through it. So though the attraction is there, I try not to form any relationships for the sake of my marriage and children,” she said.