Coming out took a long time for me. I barely shared my struggle with people, not even the sense that I told people that I was “struggling with same-sex attraction” kind of way. This was before I had arrived at an affirming stance of LGBT or embraced a progressive theology.
Truly, coming out was both the best and worst thing.
On the one hand, I felt free. Finally, after all these years of lurking around in shadows, of living a double life, of telling half-truths and sometimes telling flat-out lies, I could simply be just one person. I wasn’t always thinking about my sexuality, or if I was acting “straight” enough, or weighing the options of sacrificing heaven for the sake of being gay or if I should just stay miserable for the rest of my life.
Granted, I’ve had it pretty mild compared to a lot, and maybe even the majority of LGBT Christians who have had the courage to come out. I had a network of people who have supported me in the process and my family has been nothing but wonderful and understanding, even if not all of them completely agree with me.
And on the other hand, I’ve shot myself in the foot as far getting a job in a church somewhere. For a long time, all I wanted to do is lead worship. I wanted to have a music ministry, train a band up, train up new youth leaders to take over for me when I was an old fart, have a choir, you know. I was dreaming big.
But typically, churches are not looking to hire a gay worship leader, no matter how talented or anointed or passionate he is. It’s heartbreaking for me. It feels like a dream was taken from me.
Despite that, I must confess,
Coming out was the best thing I could have done for my ministry.
I matched with a guy on Tinder while waiting in the Richmond airport a few months ago. I know, typical millennial, right? What I wasn’t expecting was this guy to tell me straight up that he was a Christian AND he was from a charismatic tradition. Can you say #UNICORN?! I was honestly very sad that I didn’t live in Richmond at the moment because I would have at least like to meet this guy.
But I gave him my number and we kept in touch. The other day he texted me:How do you do this whole gay christian thing? Cause xtians reject you and so does the gay community... Click To Tweet
A heavy question, and I responded and followed up the following day with a phone call.
He shared with me how hard it has been since coming out. He stepped down from the worship team at his church out of respect for this leaders and their traditional view. Many of his friends began to unfriend him on Facebook.
Christ, have mercy… There is a tinge of guilt I feel in my chest when people tell me their coming out horror stories. I mean, this is also pretty mild compared to some, but still. Rejection bites.
We talked about finding our safe people, we talked about how there is still progress that’s being made, we talked about Jesus and we talked about hope.
And for (what I believe was) the first time, this man who had been feeling like he was by himself now was hearing someone who had walked through the valley he presently was in. He wasn’t an other or an issue or some kind of congregational pariah.
He was a Christian. He was gay. And it wasn’t that a big deal anymore. Sure, there was work to be done, but I see him. And I hope that in sharing my story with him he felt seen and known.
I was brushing my teeth when my phone buzzed with a Facebook message from a person I knew from college. It was one of those novel length that you know will take a lot of thought to respond to.
She wasn’t totally out yet. She worked for a church and was afraid of losing that relationship with the kids she had helped raise in the ministry. Her parents told her they loved her, but she remaked that they hadn’t said much to her since she had come out. She remarked that it was hard for her to get out of bed.
I know the feeling. Trust me.
“I just need someone who’s been there to tell me it’s going to be okay.”
And so I did.
I spent the next half hour writing a response to tell her that it wasn’t going to be easy, but it would be worth it. I shared that it probably felt like part of her had died, but the part of her that died was the false self, the part she held onto in fear that the rest of the world wouldn’t love her for who she was created to be.
We talked about heart ache, and ministry, and God’s love.
She is a Christian. She is gay. And her world that was shattered is slowly being reconstructed. And I’m hoping that by telling my story, she feels like she can begin to shed more layers of false self.
///As LGBT Christians, we've got to tell our stories and tell them often. Click To Tweet
When I have these brief encounters with random people, whether it is in person or online, I recognize that just by being myself, I show people they are valid and they are not alone.
By being who God created me to be, I effectively minister to the needs of people who are in desperate need of hope.
I honestly pray for my future and ask God for a larger platform because I know my story will be effective in reaching people far from Love, far from community, far from God.
The thing about this is my story isn’t unique. The only difference between me and everyone else is that I’m actually willing to talk about it.
You have the ability to reach people far from God.
You have the propensity to show others they are loved.
You have the mandate to inspire hope.
You have the calling to be a minister to a people group.
You just have to tell the story of what God is doing in your life. Whatever your story is, proclaim it with boldness and those who need to hear it will hear it.Screw the haters. Be brave and God will honor that. Click To Tweet
I would never have been able to be an effective storyteller or minister without coming out of the closet.
So, my sweet friend, what closet are you hiding in? And when when will you come out?
Someone needs you to hear your story to be set free to tell theirs. Someone needs see your life so that they can finally live.
What are you waiting for?
Seriously, what’s holding you back? What part of your story have you been holding back because of fear? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.