The day Rev. Dr Dorothy McRae McMahon, Pastor, former National Director, Uniting Church Commission on Mission, acknowledged the reality of her sexuality was the day she felt whole and integrated for the first time in her life. For the previous 51 years Dorothy had lived with a sense of confusion about who she was.
"I am a person who was never physically attracted to boys or men but I am of a generation where there was no name for that. I spent 32 years in marriage with a man and had four children. I do not regret that," she said. "I deeply respect the man I married and I am very glad I had four children because I probably wouldn't have done that if I had known who I was.
"At the point of my ordination at 48 years old, if I had been asked about my sexual orientation, which I was not, I would have said I was a heterosexual, in spite of the problems I had experienced throughout my life." Dorothy said: "I was 51 when I finally recognised who I was at last. I had had some idea before but when I was suddenly physically and spiritually attracted to a particular woman it became clear at that point. I was able to look back and see that this had been my orientation all along, except I had never been at the right place in my life to acknowledge it."
It was not in any sense a shock to realise her homosexuality. "It was a very natural feeling, the most natural feeling I have ever had - it was like finding my own tribe, finding my own people."
Telling her husband about her discovery was for Dorothy "the hardest thing I have ever done in my life". It was like stepping off the edge of a cliff. He initially wanted to stay married to Dorothy - he still loved her. However he eventually realised separating was the right thing.
Dorothy never considered her sexuality sinful. Her father was a Methodist minister and her faith background was one of scholarly testing of all Scripture against her understanding of Jesus. "I was taught to take the Bible seriously, to look across the great witness of the Bible, but not to take it literally."
At the time of acknowledging her sexual orientation Dorothy was working pastorally with gay and lesbian people and their parents. Their testimonies affirmed her own experience - the struggle throughout life to fit into a mould in which she knew she did not belong.