Held and Free: Coming Out of Your Story

Meagan M. O'Nan

Publisher: New Degree Press Pages: 212 Price: (paperback) $19.99 ISBN: 9798889266228 Reviewed: September, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

Meagan’s M. O’Nan’s memoir provides a candid account of her search for self-acceptance as a gay woman in Mississippi. With her spirituality at stake and no models or mentors, she embarks on a vulnerable quest for truth and healing.

Raised by a loving Catholic family, Meagan seeks protection in her faith, yet feels less-than-worthy of God’s love. Despite accomplishments as a lauded all-state collegiate athlete in Mississippi and leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, she painfully navigates her hypocritical “saved” status like a “master chameleon.” Missions in the name of preaching salvation bring unbearable inner turmoil, and after being outed by an ex-boyfriend, she transfers to a Miami college.

Eventually, Meagan reveals her homosexuality to her parents. Initially, her mother requests she consider conversion therapy, but her father is more accepting. In time, their deep love and honesty with Meagan conquer any lack of understanding.

In Florida, Meagan has a serious romantic relationship with her college professor, Desiree. Happy for the first time, she realizes her dreams of becoming a published writer. They move to Colorado and find a church where they’re comfortable, but their union is short-lived. Lonely, O’Nan writes a new book about spiritual growth.

When Clare enters her life, Meagan finds her person and trusts in God again. Married, they return to her Mississippi hometown, raising fears of old prejudices, but with Clare’s support, Meagan renews her strength. She now promotes her books, is a keynote speaker, and makes local television appearances around LGBQT+ legislative issues.

The book can be repetitive describing O’Nan’s constant emotional rollercoaster. Most anecdotes are fraught with her copious tears brought on by hurt, shame, rejection— and sometimes relief. While it contains some self-promotion for her publications and speaking program, O’Nan is neither preachy nor overtly political; she’s at best a reluctant activist.

Ultimately, the book’s purpose is to help the author heal, and readers will empathize with O’Nan as she learns to embrace her authentic self.

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