Kayla Mikesell - USOA Miss Salt Lake
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Guest Post by Kayla Mikesell:
I grew up in Las Vegas Nevada with my mixed family in the LDS faith. My Father and stepmother were very active members and all 5 of us children were expected to follow the LDS doctrine. I grew up with all of the regular milestones, baby blessing, baptism, serving in young women’s callings and attended seminary.
I always struggled with relating to those around me though. I never felt good enough and did not meet the expectations that my family and the church had of me. I started distancing myself from my family and started getting attention from boys in middle school. I threw myself into this attention, as I never received this type of validation at home. This resulted in some poor decisions.
I lost my virginity at a young age to a boy who was also LDS. I consider this time in my life a major turning point. I hit my lowest I ever have and was completely alone. I was blamed for the situation and told it was my fault as a woman. None of this felt right to me, and I started to decide to put myself first. I made a goal of traveling out of the country after high school to prove to myself and others that I could do anything I put my mind to and I was more than what they thought of me.
Not only did I reach my goal but I moved out of Las Vegas. I found an amazing job and a beautiful place to live. At this point in my life I had only questioned my sexuality once. I realized the more I became in tune with trusting myself I discovered things about me. I started noticing the way I admired women. After breaking off an engagement I started dating again and set my dating apps to women as well. I didn't tell anyone as I was terrified. Mainly that no one would believe my attraction to women as this was a theme in my life of having to “prove” myself.
After dating women there was no way I could deny my attraction to them. I still couldn't wrap my brain around why it took me so long to figure it out. The conclusion I have come to is that it was internalized homophobia from religion and sexism. I couldn't look at women in a beautiful light because I was beating myself up so much and felt that I could only receive approval from men.
I am still and will forever be on the journey of self discovery and becoming who I am meant to be. I am proud to be bisexual but it’s taken time to figure it out to be proud and unashamed. I couldn't imagine figuring out that I was attracted to women at a young age. I would have felt even more alone and hopeless. This is why when running for Miss Salt Lake City I decided that the LGBTQ+ community would be my platform. I was shocked with my platform that it was acceptable but that alone is a step in the right direction. I am honored to even give the smallest voice to the community
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