I am not out. Clearly, as I am bearing the pseudonym of a set of beloved TV brothers. However, this does not mean I’m afraid to share my struggles in public.

Honestly, there are quite a few people who know about my struggle with same-sex attraction. Most of my immediate family knows, along with countless friends and random people who I just happened to tell. I’m the most out / not-out person there is, it seems.

Yet it still isn’t easy to tell someone about my sexual struggles each time.

I recently included another individual into the growing number of people who know more than usual about my sex life — one of my new coworkers. He and I were having lunch and it actually came up naturally. We were talking about families, struggles within our families, and struggles in the world.

Homosexuality came up, and I felt God prompting me to share.

His reaction was great — most times, it is, in my experience. He was reaffirming and kind. He thanked me for sharing with him, and overall we had a great conversation! A few hours later, though, he texted me and told me I should probably consider talking to my pastor about it.

Now, I am no stranger to telling a pastor all about my sex life. Been there, done that, and got the great memories of awkward conversations to keep.

But each time, it’s always a little difficult. I know the general reaction will be good — I pray so, anyway. More than likely, the pastor would thank me, reaffirm me, pray for me, and then discuss the issue further with me in the near or not-so-near future. The procedure is generally the same everywhere.

I’m still afraid, though.

Even though I am generally well-received, I have also experienced some not-so-great reactions. I have had people reject me. A Christian school once rejected me as a job candidate when I included my struggle in my testimony. I have had people not understand and not accept my struggle as real or whatnot.

There is always that chance that this could happen again. My current pastor could throw me out, spewing curses and judgments. That would be out of line with his character, but it is possible.

I expressed this fear to my coworker and he, doing the right thing as usual, reaffirmed me and encouraged me to go through with it. He said it would be beneficial overall, that it would be a great opportunity to grow my relationship with my pastor. I know he’s right. But it still isn’t easy.

It made me wonder: will I ever not be afraid? Will I ever reach a point where I am no longer fearful of someone’s reaction to this part of my life? Or will I always enter every conversation about my SSA with the fear of being rejected for this part of my life that I have had almost since I can remember?

Maybe it’s a good thing, though — a constant reminder that I have to have Jesus in every conversation, especially that conversation. If I wasn’t afraid, I wouldn’t think about asking for His help.

That little twinge of fear — it’s enough to make me go to Him and beg for strength and courage to proclaim His work in my life. Whether I’m “out” or “in,” I pray I never forget that Jesus is the one who guides me through this struggle.

Have you shared your sexual struggles with others? Have you shared with your pastor or spiritual leader? Is it hard or easy for you to open up?

* Photo courtesy Eira Monstad, Creative Commons.

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    21 Comments
    • Reply Jeremy

      4 February 2016, 4:46 am

      Thank you for sharing this. It is so encouraging just to know that others out there are struggling. I have to say I share your fear. When I first came out semi-publicly (to others other than my wife) I resigned from all church activities (I had been in leadership, preaching, teaching) and I notified the parents of my home-schoolers and the folk who were supplying the curriculum. Mostly I did not go into details of the whys, except with my home-school parents and the curriculum suppliers. The curriculum suppliers immediately put a ban on me taking in any students other than my own family (even though I had taught all three of their own children for some years), though my parents (three families) were 2 to 1 supportive and I ended up anyway with only my nieces. My brother and his wife were amazing in their support and affirmation in spite of belonging to a charismatic church. Somebody later outed me to the leadership in the church I was attending and one of the pastors followed up by meeting me over coffee a couple of times. I knew where he stood though he wasn’t being a jerk about it. However, when it became pretty obvious I wasn’t about to change, he backed off and I haven’t had dialogue with him for a long time. I attended another church where the pastor was gay accepting but was told by one of his elders that I would not be able to “join” the church and serve there. That didn’t bother me until one day I wanted to help and suddenly remembered this injunction. I haven’t been back since as I realized then I can’t just be a pew-sitter. Recently another pastor made himself available over coffee, but he started throwing Scripture stones at me (in what he claims was a loving manner) until I could stand it no longer. I told him that he scared me. It resolved me not to try church here again – perhaps if I move country I can find a good church. (I’m currently in an online prayer group with another gay affirming church in another country). My nieces finish schooling sometime later this year and then I am without any income. At that point I may have to leave in order to try and find some means of continuing to support myself. That’s scarey!

      • Reply Dean Samuels

        4 February 2016, 5:29 pm

        Jeremy, I am so sorry for what’s happened in light of your sharing your story to others. I know that rejection isn’t easy. Thank you for sharing your story here with us!

      • Reply Alan Gingery

        7 February 2016, 5:47 pm

        This makes me sad. My pastor let me lead an evangelistic Bible based English Club. This was after he jnew my SSA STORY.
        And I Have had no strange reactions that I should stay away from kids. So
        I feel bad for your “leprosy” treatment.

    • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

      4 February 2016, 5:00 pm

      You’d think that after writing a book and several blog posts as well as helping launch THIS blog that “coming out” would be an easy, stress-free process for me these days. But I still get the heart palpitations and fidgety feet. It’s always risky letting someone into such a vulnerable part of your soul, and I think it’s okay to be afraid so long as you don’t let fear dominate your being and relationships. That doesn’t mean we all tell everyone our deepest darkest secrets — we need wisdom and discretion, of course. But as you can well attest, there’s nothing like having someone (or a couple close someones) in your court.
      Thanks for being in mine!

      • Reply Dean Samuels

        4 February 2016, 5:31 pm

        Your courage has grown so much these past many years- and there’s no stopping it. It’s an honor to be a part your court, Tom. Thank you for being in mine as well!

      • Reply Karl Jacob

        7 February 2016, 2:02 am

        Well, if fidgety feet was the worst physical thing for me that would just be amazing 🙂 There’s a reason I’ve only come out to one person face to face. And apparently I’m an Enneagram Type 6, so one of my deepest fears is rejection and it’s very difficult for me to open up. And I definitely struggle with letting fear dominating me and my thoughts.

    • Reply bluzhawk

      4 February 2016, 5:16 pm

      Dean, it’s gotta be the most human thing to fear being rejected by people you care about so I’d go easy on yourself. And anything that gets the heart really needing Jesus is good and is grace. Fear cripples when it forces hiding, and while some people may need to know our struggles, most don’t. Find it helpful, if I’m being healthy, to consider if what I’m sharing will add to others or if I’m just saying things cause I’m struggling. Earlier this week, I left a comment on another post, a memory triggered thru reading that I should have filtered and not posted. Afterwards I realized sharing it benefited no one including me and I was just being unthoughtful and it felt selfish and I edited it out. This journey, including the struggles – especially the struggles – should mean more of Christ in our life, that in a genuine way we’re more like Jesus. If our lives/stories can point to Jesus, it helps to remove the fear that sharing will mean loss.

    • Reply Kevin Frye

      4 February 2016, 11:59 pm

      I think you’re on the right track. For me, I am very open about my past and my SSA struggles with most people, but not everyone. Not everyone needs to know that stuff. But if the situation arose where it would be good for them to know, I’m sure I’d be fine with telling them. Anyway, you’re right that you need to rely on God all the time regarding this. In my experience, I’ve had to trust God and desire his approval more than any person’s so that, if I ever am rejected or slandered or attacked, I’ll be secure because the foundation of my security is in Christ and not in a person or my church or my job or anything in this world.

    • Reply Alan Gingery

      7 February 2016, 5:42 pm

      I have shared with people my SSA story and been well received. It is no longer scary to me to do so. I have shared with two pastors, some family members and a number of friends. However I don’t share indescrimately. I need to have a level of trust with the person. I have not had any negative experiences, but I have been pretty selective who I tell my story to.

    • Reply Matt 'Ashįįhí

      13 February 2016, 4:05 pm

      Discernment and observation are the key! As these guy said, some people will be take your story well, and some won’t. But once you know who you can trust, even by a look, it’ll be easier! Well………..that’s how it was for me! Haha. Eventually, IT WILL become easier, then you’ll probably be like “eh!” In due time man!

    • Reply The Daily Ground Hog

      7 May 2016, 1:11 pm

      “Do not be afraid” and “The truth will set you free” – Jesus Christ. “Fear is the mind killer” – Frank Herbert, Dune.
      On November 29th, 2015, I sat with my pastor on the stage of the sanctuary of my church and confessed to my entire church my SSA status. At the ripe old age of 58, I finally came out of the closet to my brothers and sisters in the middle of a sermon about sex from the book of Romans. I was freakin scared outta my mind, but I did it and the result was love and encouragement.
      Mine is a very conservative fellowship and a small church of about 300 members. You may be familiar with the churches of Christ? That’s us. It helped a great deal that I grew up in the church and that I have been an adult Sunday school teacher for 17 years and my life as a single childless man has been so transparent.
      My thought is ‘get it out there’. There’s nothing like having 300 accountability partners, most of whom will still love you. Trust the Lord and rip the door off the closet. Best thing I ever did. Honesty about who we are is what the church needs right now.
      I understand that some of you are family men and that needs to be taken into consideration I suppose if you have children, but if your wife knows and she knows you love her and she thinks it’s a good idea, then why not.
      Also, let me suggest a good book…”Messy Grace” by Caleb Kaltenbach.

    • Reply Bryon

      29 July 2016, 3:36 am

      I had a poor experience with all of my pastors until this current one. I was afraid to tell every person I have told, and like you, it has been every close friend I have had over the years. Now though, I think that past fear helped me learn how to vet people so I am sharing with the right people. I have far fewer poor interactions I believe because I’m better at knowing who to trust. Like Kevin said below, it is on a need-to-know basis and it should be appropriate to the conversation at hand. I have shared with my whole church once though and also attempted to start a second porn addiction group, which outed me as a porn addict. A few days ago I met with my pastor who knows about my SSA and I told him I was no longer looking at porn. I was shocked he asked me if I watched primarily gay or straight porn. I told him primarily gay porn but that straight porn was also a turnon. I felt like this was the last shameful subject I had been avoiding and tried to ignore when I would think about how others would be wondering that same thing. I thought that was a stupid question though and felt like it was asked for selfish curiosity. At any rate though, it helped me to expose some shame and deal with it.

    • Reply Brandon Parrish

      19 June 2017, 7:34 pm

      I have had to really trust someone to be able to tell them about my struggles with it. I was terrified to tell anyone about it. In high school, two of my friends actually found out through one of their friends that I was using that Grindr app and told the youth pastor (which I was upset about, but now am glad because I probably never would have talked about it if they hadn’t told him). Anyways, when they told him, I think it was the same week I had asked him if he could start mentoring me. So the youth pastor started mentoring me and then the first of second time we met he brought it up. Boy, let me tell you… I was sooo uncomfortable and scared. But he did not shame me or kick me out or anything like I had feared, but he spoke truth into my life and showed me unconditional love. God has really blessed me with him as my mentor, we are still meeting, and I am even interning under him at the church.

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