The thing most people are surprised to learn about me is that I’ve been out for only two years… and it’s been the most fulfilling, most interesting, most heartbreakingly beautiful years of my life.I've been out of the closet for 2 years. This is what I've learned. Click To Tweet
Here’s the text if you’d like to share that with your friends:
I remember the moment I hit publish. “It’s done.” I closed my laptop and turned to my roommate, who was also sleeping on a mattress, flat on the floor, in the room shared because we were both pretty much destitute.
I thought it was going to be the beginning of the greatest chapter of my life. And I was right, it truly was the most eventful, most impactful, most transforming season of my life, but it was also the hardest and longest. That I didn’t count on.
I think what I expected was to just be out and gay and by being true to myself, I’d finally be able to step into the fullness of who I was always created to be. Like I was on some rocket ship about to blast off into the queer universe, and all my stars would line up. I’d find a job that would make me happy. I’d find a partner who would love me endlessly and make me feel so special. My church would have room for me and I could continue in the ministry I felt called to while also contributing to my community.
The first 24 years of my life were so cumbersome, weighed down with a kind of self-obsession with the part of me that I couldn’t fix: my sexuality. My attraction towards men was what occupied my mind pretty much from sun up to sun down. I would police my behaviors, make sure what I was wearing wasn’t “too gay.” And with hipster fashion that was, let’s be honest, appropriated from queer women anyways, I was in a nice middle road to walk.
And being in charismatic, petecostal-ish Christian circles, my feelings were allowed. The theology and practices in that circles, which oddly enough employed some of Brené Brown’s ideas in “Daring Greatly,” along with “Emotionally Healthy Spiritually,” lead me to ask tough questions about myself, about who I really was, and what God was asking me.
There was a practice of listening prayer, which drew on ideas of mindfulness, centering prayer, and the manifest gifts of the Holy Spirit. And I as I dove head first into these ideas and practices, the conclusion I came to was that God wasn’t mad at me. That God was actually pleased with how I was created. Which included this part of me that I hated. A part of me that felt so natural, something that blossomed within me that was dying to reach for the sun, but I continually cut off any buds. But the more I cut them off, the feelings came back more intense, begging to just be recognized, just to taste the free air, to feel the warmth of the sun, to stretch their petals and leaves out and just exist.
And I was told my entire life that if I gave into sin, I’d be consumed by it. That I’d be given over to the devil, and a bunch of other horrible imagery that ended with my body eternally burning in a lake of fire. But what I found was actually quite different.
The summer before I published my blog, telling the world that I was gay, I had to come out to myself. I had to say the words out loud. “I’m gay, and I think that it’s okay.”
Those two words, dancing around my tongue, felt like medicine for my whole body. It was like every fiber of my physical form was aching to hear these words, these vibrations resonate throughout my being, to be affirmed in the truth. It was like Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
That was the feeling: Freedom.
Freedom feels like your mind being able to idle for once. Before I was occupied with whether or not people would see through the very thin veil I held up. After coming out, I was worried about normal stuff, or what I considered normal, like if I would have time to go to the grocery store or not.
Freedom feels like your body becoming lighter, like the thousands of pounds of mental armor you kept on to guard yourself from yourself was been shed. I used to never ever engage with any sort of physical affection with men because I didn’t want to even taste what platonic intimacy could be like. I never let a single man get close to me because I might fall in love with them, their kindness, and they could possibly love me in return, but imperfectly, not like I needed them to. And I’m a physical touch person. I love hugs, I love hands and good Christian kisses. I love seeing my best guy friends and hugging them for longer than is comfortable for them because for 24 years of my life, I never let myself touch or be touched by a man.
Freedom feels like your spirit finally being able to mingle with the Divine. No doctrines or theology to explain it or quantify it. No barriers saying you can’t or you shouldn’t. No shame. No laying yourself before the cross every week, weeping, asking to be forgiven for something that didn’t need forgiving, or asking God to change a part of you that was intended to be there.
And it is for freedom that we’re set free.
Now mind you, being free, doesn’t mean it’s easy. I think that when it is easy to be comfortable in shackles when shackles are all you have known, and that goes for everyone, not just queer folks. There comes a point in our spiritual development where we finally see. The truth is staring us in the face the whole time, but we have to have an event happen to us, our road to Damascus moment, that we are shaken, and then we have to have someone pray for us to have the scales fall from our eyes.
But the thing is that if you see, if you really see, you can never unsee. You can never unknown or unexperience something.
When you say yes to God, there isn’t going back.
When I came out, I sincerely thought that things would get easier. And some things did, but many things didn’t.
Like my anger for example. I finally leaned into it. I finally stared into the darkness inside my own soul, the part of me that I hate to admit exists and partly wish I could tamp down.
I got so angry at the Church, like the big C church, for what it had handed me and put me through. The bad theology that nearly took my life, that kept me from living for so long. I got mad at everyone who wasn’t going to affirm my life and who I was made to be. I got mad at people who looked at my life and refused to see the good that God was doing in it. I hated pastors who said, “I love you but…” I hated my friends from my former life who had been my closest community for so long but couldn’t go with me, further into God’s mystery.
There was no compromise for me. It was all or nothing at all. My battlecry was, “Give me liberty or give me death.” I was not about to back down or get any less that the full inheritance I was due as a child of God.
I wrote a lot of strongly worded blogs and pissed a lot of people off. I severed a lot of relationships and cussed a few folks out. I picked fights online and trolled the fuck out of so many uneducated folks.
My anger was real. And I’m not mad at myself for it, but at the end of it all, after the fire burned hot and fast, I was left with ashes. I was still standing in the same spot that I claimed my freedom in, and still hadn’t healed at all from the wounds of my past. And there as only one thing that would move me forward.
The Big F Word: forgiveness.
I heard in a podcast by Rob Bell that one can’t be mad at institutions or systems, that instead we’re really just mad at individuals or groups of people. We’re mad that we were hurt by churches or bosses or parents, but that you can’t be mad at concepts. And if we want to move through to more spiritual wholeness, into a life abundant, we had to work through forgiveness with those who had wounded us.
And while I don’t fully embrace that idea, there’s a whisper of truth in there.
I can see the faces of pastors and leaders who let me down and betrayed me. I can hear the exact words they said to me, still.
Painful. It’s so painful, still.
But slowly, I learned what it is to hold the anger that fuels me and pushes me forward while releasing the anger that only drags me down, the anger that turns me into the teen that is still angry about having to police my speech and mannerisms, the young adult who forced himself into relationships with women despite knowing I’d probably break their hearts, the child who wanted the girl toy instead of the boy toy.
Two years out of the closet… It feels like I’ve lived a lifetime in these two rotations around the sun, and in many ways feels like the day I was actually born. The first one was spent in so much upheaval and strife. The second feels like I’m finally getting used to what freedom is, and how to be responsible with all of it. And I’m obviously still learning what that looks like, and will probably always be figuring that out, but there are a few things that I’ve started doing and a few things I’ve stopped.
…I started seeing a therapist this past year. I haven’t been going regularly but I’m looking for a new one right now, one that specializes in gender, sexuality, trauma stuff.
I started seeing a guy this past year, and he’s taught me more about what it is to be honest with myself, and what it’s like to not run away from the pain we feel just because it is easier.
I started exercising, again not regularly, but I’m getting back into it. And I feel good when I do it. But time goes so slow in there. And maybe i should lean into that. But I know that my 30’s are just around the corner and my metabolism will slow. So I’m trying to drink less and eat more green shit.
I started going to church regularly again, and it still pisses me off but I feel like it’s the thing to do if I want to change the world in the way I think I’m supposed to.
I started a house church with some friends even though folks said that I couldn’t. And it’s imperfect and beautiful because it’s ours. there’s always bread and wine, there’s always prayer, there’s always laughter. It’s something I think Jesus would be proud of.
I started to forgive people, and it’s annoying, but it’s so much easier than simply talking about how mad I am all the time. Although, again, I sometimes latch onto it because it is certainly fun to just be pissed.
I started painting my nails because it makes me feel good about myself, and I dyed my hair purple because it makes what I feel like on the inside more prevalent. I’ve given myself over the truth that I’m kind of gender fluid. I’m still cool with he/him pronouns, but really I’m fine with all the pronouns. I don’t know what that will look like in the future, but me and my next therapist are gonna dive into that.
I’ve stopped wasting my energy on trolls, or at least tried to. Every now and again I get sucked into it. but for the most part, I just block or ignore.
I’ve stopped trying to be the next some body and I’m trying really hard to be the first me. It’s easy to look at all these different bloggers and writers and podcasters and you tubers and think that there’s a right or wrong way to do this advocacy thing, but there isn’t. Or we think that there’s a way to be a good creative. Or we think that it should just work and that our art should fund our lives. I’m constantly reminding myself that I am, in fact, pretty young. And that all the people I look up to have been doing what they are doing much longer than I have. I’m two years out of the closet! TWO YEARS! And I’ve already done more in my two years out than a lot of people. And that’s not to brag, that’s just me making an observation and… sort of giving myself a high five for once because I usually give myself a hard time and think that I’m shitty.
I’ve stopped asking permission to do the things I want to do. The blog was step one, then this podcast, then youtube. I’ve felt like I wanted to do something and then did it. The end. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be genuine or to make an impact. It doesn’t have to be amazing and no one has to look at it. If you wanna make something or do something, just fucking do it. And you know what, I’m reaching who I’m gonna reach and that is awesome. AND ON TOP OF THAT, I had this realization with Matthias recently, that… I’m probably never going to reach the level of influencer that I fantasize about because my market, the people I need to reach is a NICHE MARKET. I mean queer Christians? Y’all, we’re a minority within the minority. So I guess I stopped acting like I’m gonna be this super star on the level of so many youtubers or bloggers. And I’m okay with that.
I’ve stopped wondering when I’m gonna have it all together, because it won’t look like how I want to look, ever, so I’ve let that ship sail a bit.
I’ve started practicing gratitude. And it’s a practice, don’t ever think it’s not. Choosing to be grateful, choosing, despite the shit going down and the shit that has happened to you and is happening to you, despite injustice, despite having a job that helps you pay the bills and that’s it, despite your family not loving you the way you need them to, despite your church not being the church, I have found that practicing gratitude yields joy in the face of strife. That whole “choose joy”bullshit I used to subscribe to isn’t as effective when life actually gets hard. But I can choose to be grateful for what I do have, and I’m not always happy. I’m not always joy filled, but it makes it easier, it really does.
I started meditating. Mindfulness meditation and centering prayer. It’s been really really dope for me. Because from those moments of meditation, of communing with God in the quiet of my soul, I find that I’m able to let the creative Spirit flow from me, and I can do the things I actually care about.
I’ve stopped doing everything all the time. There’s this temptation to just keep going all the freaking time, especially for the creative life. But I’ve learned it’s okay to do a podcast every other week. It’s okay if I don’t blog regularly. It’s okay if I recycle something from the past blog and just put it up. It’s okay to take breaks.
I’ve stopped oversharing. I’ve learned that I want to keep some of my life private, that some parts of my growth need to be between me and my community, and sometimes just between me and God. Like my relationship with my boyfriend: aside from what I put on Instagram, I don’t share a lot about us because it’s the one thing I have for myself. It’s the thing I want to protect. I’ve seen what happens when relationships go internet public. Too many people under the chuppa, if you ask me. And other things too. Like I don’t cuss out everyone online anymore. I keep some of my angry thoughts and blogs to myself. Which isn’t great for my content sometimes, because happy doesn’t always sell, but happy is who I want to be. The world is already pissed off, so, I want my impact to be joyful. Or as Beyonce says, “If we’re going to heal, let it be glorious.”
I’ve stopped caring as much about what people say about my grammar because I realized I’m a much better speaker than I am a writer, and I just don’t care. Period. The end.
I’ve started listening and watching and connecting with POC creatives. honestly, their stuff is so much better than that majority of the shit out there. It is thoughtful, it’s cool, it’s innovative, and it’s enjoyable. We do not need more videos people guessing “whats in their mouth,” we do not need more white gay boys talking about white gay boy things. And it’s been a big influence in my own creative work, and I’m thankful that the internet exists for us to find them. So go follow more POC creatives, please.
I’ve stopped accepting wannabe allyship, the kind that is cool with gay folks but denies that black lives matter. there’s not time for that. I’ve stopped hanging out with people who think that way because I do not have time to educate every damn white cishet christian about this stuff. That’s why I do things like the podcast and the blog and the youtube….
I’ve started confessing when I’ve fucked up and asking for advice from people wiser than me, especially the women and people of color in my life.
But the biggest thing that I’ve done in the past two years since coming out:
I’ve started to love my life. All of it. I love the hard stuff because it reminds me the lighter stuff feels like. I love my full range of emotions, even the parts that I wish I didn’t feel all the time, because I used to feel nothing at all. I love my body, even though it’s not the shape I wish it were. It’s mine, and it works pretty well for the most part, even though I don’t treat it as well as I could. I love being in a healthy romantic relationship with someone who gets me, even when I get scared because he gets me so well and I act like a total child, and even when he’s at his worst and there’s nothing I can do but let his mood run its course. I love it because it’s fun and it holds up a mirror to my own imperfections and makes me address those dark things about me. I love being queer. I love being queer so much because walking this path it has equipped me with emotional intelligence and a wisdom beyond my years. I love being queer because of the circles of people I find myself in, and the amazing people I end up connecting with. like last weekend, I officiated the wedding of two queer ladies I met thru twitter and then connected with all their amazing friends. I love having dinner parties and holidays with a chosen family. I love dancing at clubs and sitting outside around fires with glasses of whiskey and funny stories. I love being able to express my loud effeminate self without having to worry if anyone sees me. If I could be more queer, I would.
I’m two years out of the closet, and it’s been the most wonderful, most devastating, most transformative, most joyful, most exciting, most normal two years of my life. I finally feel like myself, and I cannot wait to find out more of who I am. If two years can do all that… what’s the next twenty years holding for me?
I remember, about a year before I came out, I tried to kill myself. I was aching to die because it was just so much… And now I am so desperate to live. I am so desperate to explore because for 24 years of my life, I was unable to explore the depths of who I was, or the heights of who God is.
I love to tell the story of what God has done for me, how God preserved my life to bring me to that moment where I could taste the freedom I knew was always possible, to bring me to this moment, where I could sit in a cafe and write these words about what I’m learning and how I’m growing and changing, and then sit in a room to record this podcast for you, and hope that no matter where you are, what you’re going thru, how you are feeling, you would know that God loves you, that your life has purpose, and that there is an impact you have on the world around you.
I know this because I’m doing it.
But I’m not doing it alone.
I’ve been out for 2 years, and I’ve had so many people who have helped and encouraged and pushed me and admonished me and called me out and called me up. And you, the person listening to this, you’re one of the people who have been with me on this journey. And I couldn’t be more thankful. So bless you, dear one.
So… yeah. if this was just the first 2 years out of the closet, I’m stoked for what’s next. Scared shitless and so ready.
I love you.
Thank you for listening.