“Okay, the second I see Todd I’m going to pull him aside and tell him everything,” I kept telling myself as I walked into the educational building for our Saturday night Bible study.
Late into the previous night I had been up looking at gay pornography and wouldn’t, or couldn’t, stop. I got mad enough at myself and even kept thinking: I have to go to work tomorrow. And also to Bible Study tomorrow night.
I found Todd, and he told me to meet him after small group. Later we sat alone in the auditorium, and I shared everything with him. He was supportive, and we prayed together. At least I had someone with me in this very odd battle.
The “honeymoon phase” of coming out to Todd was certainly short-lived. Over the weeks meeting with him at Bible Study, I shared a few more details about my ongoing struggle.
One night while I shared, he rather bluntly said, “Well, you can’t be gay and be a Christian.”
Excuse me? After Todd expressed this sentiment (he said similar things a few more times), I stopped saying anything to him about what it means to be a “Side B” Christian (a gay person with a traditional sexual ethic). He simply wasn’t safe.
Some time later I came out to another Christian friend and group leader at this same Bible study called Rick. Rick was a bit on the charismatic side, but honestly, I am too at times, and we’d generally bonded well to this point. I specifically shared with him my struggle with gay pornography.
“Just run from it,” Rick said in an assured voice.
“Run from it?” I asked, my own voice sowing some doubt. “It’s a big struggle to stay away from porn. Honestly, I’ve tried various Internet blockers, accountability software, and the like.”
“Well, Sam,” Rick continued, “you just need more faith so the Lord will heal you of these attractions.”
How many of us have heard that before? Rick and I had a few more discussions on the subject, but soon he went from being a close friend to merely an acquaintance.
While these examples show how coming out was less than stellar, I also have two other coming out experiences where the results were healing. Truer bondings with fellow Christian brothers.
The first was an accident and total surprise. He was an Army guy temporarily working in a nearby city. He looked intimidating.
Well, Army Guy found out I was gay when a friend in our small group asked me what I thought of the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. I talked about it a bit before we got into our regular meeting. After the meeting, Army Guy approached me in a gruff tone saying he really needed to speak to me.
Is he that uncomfortable with a gay, effeminate guy? I wondered. Soon, however, he thanked me for being so open and started sharing more of his story. He was far away from home, had a lovely wife and children, yet he was gambling it all on porn and had been tempted to bring women to his motel room.
I was completely shocked he was sharing this with me, of all people.
“Anyone who is willing to set aside his sexuality for Jesus has the seriousness to help me save my family,” he said in his usual gruff voice. For the remainder of his stay in our area, and for a while afterward, we kept in close contact.
Finally, there was the time I came out to my current small group leader. Ever since then, I have found a close friend — dare I say, a brother.
This time, however, I decided to wait a while to tell my story; at least the sexuality part of it. After all, I had been stung a few times in the past.
I was somewhat forced into coming out during the worst days of the pandemic. Like everyone, I was stressed and my struggle with same-sex attraction and porn had reached fever-pitch levels. I opened up about everything on a Zoom call with my small group leader and one other person I’ve known his whole life.
After we got back to face-to-face meetings, my small group leader met with me and gave me the biggest hug I’d had in a long time. He told me he understood why I had not previously shared the story of my sexuality with him, but that he understood.
What’s most impressive is that he had been researching “Side B” theology. He even said that if someone in our small group took issue with me, they may need to be “counseled into another small group.”
Thankfully, that has never happened.
This small group leader has been and continues to demonstrate what I believe is the biblical way to respond when a Side B Christian comes out.
Have you come out to someone with a good, bad, or completely surprising result? Do you want to come out to someone right now but fear doing so?
Most people I have come out to have given me not negative reactions. The few that I have come out to are people outside my immediate family except my immediate older brother. Just like the author, I was fed up with and frustrated with my same-sex desires and the ways I satisfied it with porn.
I spilled my gut to my immediate elder brother only because I had his secret– I caught him watching porn.
I came straight to the U.S. right after highschool from Nigeria and wasn’t ready for the isolation and culture shock that played a part in my porn escapades.
Luckiliy I have been able to find people who I can share my journey with. In fact I meet regularly with an older same sex attracted guy from my church who is soon to get married to his fiancee. He helps me process.
I want to come out to the rest of my immediate family. I doubt that is going to happen though, given the negative sentiment they have towards “rainbow people.”
I love the response the Army guy gave you.
Thankfully I haven’t had any negative reactions, although I’ve definitely had different levels of support. Some just seem not to know what to do with it (which is fair). Others ask questions. Some are more comfortable with jokes than others.
But I’ve changed a lot too. At first I had hoped that coming out to a friend would somehow fix me. That was a lot of pressure to put on them.
Now a lot of it is just disclosing so I can share and be open and not feel like I have to hide myself.
I also hope to be able to support others with the struggle.
You hit the nail on the head about our motivations for coming out: is it purely to be fixed or healed by this other party, or is there something perhaps both more realistic and greater to attain? It’s taken years of moving away from the “fixing” mindset to live more in an authentic space.
Thanks for sharing, Steven! I hope you are indeed a support for others, too.
I love your title for this post, because it accurately says it all! I can recount my own good, bad, and surprises. Most of the “bad,” though, comes with my own reaction versus the other party’s. Nobody has ever outright rejected me or said I needed to change, or anything like that. But I’ve often subconsciously (or quite consciously) ascribed to them the power to heal some deep dark wounded part of me…when they cannot do that. Whenever conversations about sexuality or struggle come up, I must check myself to see what I am trying to get out of it. After all, the other person has his own struggles too. Rather than expect him to heal me, why not struggle together?
Yeah I really like the struggle together mentality. Because that puts us on the same team as equal players.