Yesterday (October 11th) was National Coming Out Day. I’ve been open about my sexuality for over seven years now, ever since publishing my first book.
It was kind of a big deal, to understate it.
I’d had at least a dozen conversations with a dozen different people while writing that book – particularly the small matter of coming out in the book. I was reminded, again and again, how I could never take it back once I hit that big red “publish” button.
T’was the biggest gasp of my life when I did push it. Like Luke Skywalker firing away those torpedoes into the Death Star. A simultaneous rush of relief with subsequent wave upon wave of:
Oh. OH. Did I really just do that??
If you were to ask me if I regret coming out in 2013, I’d answer a thousand times no.
But for every thousand times no, I might also answer with one or two yesses.
I don’t miss the perpetual shadows of the closet. The secrecy. The shame. The constant playing along – lying about girls I find “hot” or why I’m not dating one.
But I do kinda miss the privacy. Like, whose business is it who I am or am not attracted to?
I miss the privacy, and I also miss the safety from sunburns in this vast outside, this dangerous new world beyond the closet. Burns of misunderstanding, even judgment – from fellow believers primarily.
Surprisingly, I’ve received hardly any flak from LGBT+ folks who don’t profess any sort of faith in Jesus. On the contrary, I’ve received some of my strongest encouragement from these men and women.
It’s the other Christians who sometimes have stern words for me. Even this whole notion of “coming out” is anti-Christian to many.
Forget that I’m even following a traditional sexual ethic amidst my sexuality, an “unpopular” decision in this culture, to put it mildly; some just can’t get over this particular language, and I imagine many will remain in conflict with me over it until they die.
Which is really unfortunate, because I’m an awesome person worth knowing.
I’m mostly used to the misunderstandings or judgments after all these years; it’s still disheartening when it happens, but it’s no longer surprising.
Ultimately, I’ve become cool with any label — gay, SSA, Side B, queer — so long as Christ is made known. I could care less if a fellow Christian thinks I’m using the wrong words as I strive to be “all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
To put it bluntly, my story isn’t for those people who wish to burn me. It’s for the lonely, the ashamed, the Jesus-seekers.
Every once in a while, yeah, I do get exhausted, looking back to those dark days of the closet with a strange sort of twinkle in my soul.
Do I need to explain myself again? Is it even worth the energy? Is it better to ignore or even block somebody online because they
I feel the tension of being some sort of “public figure” with some sort of responsibility to represent this community well, to explain myself – us – well. But also to have my own space, my own life.
My own little closet in this big ole universe.
Even though I’m as “out” as one can be, I realized years ago that I do need to keep some things in the closet. Things for myself, for God, and perhaps for select individuals, too.
Just because I’ve openly admitted my attraction to other men doesn’t mean I need to lay out every little detail. Even as an author, a blogger, a podcaster, and a guy on Twitter.
As an introvert I do miss the peace and privacy some times. But I also recognize that authenticity breeds authenticity.
I can’t tell you the number of people – men and women – who have reached out after reading Struggle Central to tell me, “Me too.”
Or the blog posts I’ve written to tell me, “Me too.”
Or the podcasts: “Me too.”
By coming out and telling my story, it’s given other people freedom to tell theirs, too. Sometimes I’m the first person someone else has ever told; how sacred and precious a role to play in another’s story.
I couldn’t ever take back my coming out for the steps others have taken in the aftermath.
Telling one other person your story is such a pivotal starting point.
It’s how my story started with my parents, after all; it’s how every guy now blogging on our site started theirs, too.
For any regrets or longings for simpler, albeit darker times, I wouldn’t ever take back that decision. I truly wouldn’t, even on the one or two days out of a thousand that I really kinda want to.
Authenticity breeds authenticity with other people, and it breeds deeper authenticity within yourself, too.
Since coming out, I’ve come face-to-face with my darkness in ways far beyond my lust toward other men. I’ve seen my selfishness. My envy. My addictive patterns. My assumed worthlessness.
I’ve seen my sin stretch for chasms, gaining both a greater awareness of my depravity and the depths to which Christ saves me. What a perspective I’ve gained from all these steps beyond that closet.
So, disagree all you want about whether or not I’m actually “gay” or “out of the closet” or whatever vocabulary have you.
I’m a healthier, more whole person since I made that decision to come out and tell my story nearly a decade ago.
To anyone still in the closet, I hope you do take that step of courage to tell just one person when you’re ready. Even me – my email is always open. I’d be so honored.
The wide-scale coming out that I’ve pursued isn’t necessarily for everybody. There are certainly many degrees of coming out.
Coming out to any degree is a game-changer. It’s been the single greatest source of freedom in my life, and I want that same freedom for everyone.
Man or woman. Young or old. Single or married.
Inside the Church and out.
Have you come out yet, either publicly or selectively? What inspired you to come out, or what holds you back?