Mariah Brown struggled with her sexuality for years, but when she finally told her parents she was gay, the Sister Wives stars gave her their full support.
“I remember thinking right before I told them, ‘If I don’t spit it out now, I’m not going to be able to,’ ” Mariah says in the latest issue of PEOPLE. “Like when you go cliff jumping: ‘If I don’t jump now, I’m not going to jump at all.’ It was one of those things, and I just blurted it out.”
While homosexuality isn’t accepted in Browns’ Mormon fundamentalist faith, the moment she told her family the news, Mariah was embraced by all five of her parents; father, Kody, biological mother, Meri, and her mothers through polygamy, Janelle, Christine and Robyn.
“We’re just happy she’s figured out who she is,” says Janelle. “It’s tremendous when you see a kid do that.”
For Kody, he knew as a father of 18 children (who all star on the family’s TLC series Sister Wives) there was a good possibility one or more of his kids would be gay.
“You come from an Old Testament religion, you are not excited that your child comes out,” Kody explains of his faith’s stance on homosexuality. “I thought about this years ago, and I made a decision,” Kody says. “My job as a dad is to love and respect and not to judge.”
- For more on Mariah Brown’s exclusive interview, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
The rest of her family couldn’t agree more.
“Everyone jumped up and hugged her and congratulated her,” Christine recalls of when Mariah came out. “She is so radiant just so beautiful that when she tells people I feel like most of them will be ok because she is so confident and so secure with being gay. It’s wonderful.”
When Mariah made the decision to tell her family she was gay, she also decided to let TLC cameras capture the moment in the hopes of helping others.
“I don’t want people to feel how I felt,” she says. “Not everyone will accept you, but you deserve to be happy, and I want them to know it’s okay.”
Sister Wives airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on TLC.