Forest of Love Home  Login to update or edit your carving 
Show your love Login to edit your account View and search initials of love Links from the Forest of Love Link to Us

Forest of Love - Tree #10977

This tree was planted on Tuesday, April 1st 2014

This tree belongs to Lauren Joy Stevens and Maria Sofia Riikonen.

 More Information:
I am 20 years old and I have known that I am interested in the same sex since the age of 11. At first I thought it was just a phase that I was going through, but after all these years I have come to know that this is not the case. I have been in relationships with both men and women, but the relationships with men have never felt whole and always felt more like strong friendships. If I tell someone I am gay, they often make assumptions that are not always true due to the stereotypes that society has created. Therefore, I prefer to simply say that I am not straight, as I do not think that our sexuality should define our entire identity.

I have been brought up by a single mother, as my father had an affair when I was three and my sister was just a baby. We lived on a reasonable income until the divorce, at which point we moved into a smaller house and struggled to make ends meet. Consequently, I have been very independent from a young age and suffered with various issues involving friends and family. When I was around 14 years old I saw posters around my school for a Christian union group and decided to attend because I thought it would make me a better person and help my suffering. Around two years later in October 2010 I publicly demonstrated my commitment to my faith through being baptised. Since making this decision I have often struggled with the conflict between my Christian values and my sexuality.

When I started university 2 years ago it was one of the most exciting times of my life but also one of the most difficult. I moved 200 miles from Reading to Chester where I did not know anybody, leaving behind my family. After starting university I felt myself beginning to change: through studying international issues and making friends from a variety of different backgrounds and countries I feel that I have become a lot more open minded. I started spending a lot of time with a group of exchange students from Finland, particularly a girl called Maria, whom I met through the Christian Union society. Maria and I started spending most nights together because we had a lot in common and we went out clubbing together. One night we had a deep conversation about our pasts and she suggested that we pray together about our struggles, which we continued to do regularly.

I later started to realise that my feelings towards her were becoming quite strong, so I prayed and put the feeling towards the back of my mind for some time. After around six months of torturing myself, I eventually admitted my feelings to her and to my surprise she felt the same way. After some thought and prayer, we decided to be together and gradually inform those closest to us. As I am one of two Christians in my family, I was not particularly worried about my family’s reaction, which was positive and supportive. Maria, however, was very concerned as she is from a strict Christian background and her father is a clergyman.

There are aspects of my life that many people could use to explain my sexuality: a lack of male influence in my life, living independently from a young age, emotional suffering, weak Christian values or insufficient faith in God. However, I do not believe these theories are consistent with society as a whole. There are many people who have experienced these issues but are heterosexual. Similarly, there are many people who have not experienced these issues but are still homosexual. I can understand how many people argue that homosexuality is not natural, but I am tired of how much of a problem same sex relationships have become.

I have been in a committed long distance relationship with Maria for over a year now, which we maintain by travelling between England and Finland. She recently told her parents about our relationship and the reaction was far from positive. Her father claimed that in the past six years three bad things had happened to him: he had had cancer, his mother and died and our relationship. He said that our relationship was the worst. I cannot put into words how hurt I felt when we were told that our relationship is worse than cancer and death. However, I understand many others have experienced much worse reactions after telling their families, for example many people are kicked out of their house, disowned by their family and in some parts of the world even killed for their sexuality. What I cannot even begin to understand is how so many people can react to homosexuality in this way but often remain voiceless in the fight against the slavery, poverty, malnutrition and hunger that still exist in the world, all issues which I am very passionate about.

The recent approval of same sex marriage is just a step towards equality and so much more needs to be done. I urge you to commit to campaigning against homophobia in order to prevent the suffering it causes nationally and internationally and protect the human rights that every citizen of this earth deserves.

Home | Carve a Tree | Login | Take a Hike | Links | Link to Us
Privacy | Copyright | About/Contact | Terms of Service
Newsletter | Sitemap

All content copyright 2006 - 2019 All rights reserved.
"Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination" - Voltaire
Site design by Duskrider Design.