Before I began blogging, I carefully crafted a message to send to members of my extended family who count among my Facebook friends. I thought it would be appropriate to tell them myself that I am gay, as opposed to learning this through my posts. Plus, I am helping to create a nonprofit, LOVEboldly, that seeks to create safe spaces to discuss faith and sexual orientation. (For more info., check out http://www.loveboldly.net). Posts and status updates about LOVEboldly’s events cover my Facebook wall. Unless they were not paying any attention, there was no way that they would have not found out about me. I love my family, and I wanted to show respect by telling them myself.
Honestly, this whole ‘coming out’ scared me. Most of my family members attend church and commit themselves to the Christian faith. Plus, they know that I just graduated seminary, and I knew that they would probably be shocked that a Christian can have a gay orientation. Where I grew up, the words ‘Christian’ and ‘gay’ do not belong together. As I assumed, some seemed concerned about my salvation. I don’t necessarily consider this response as unloving. Although I would have preferred not to get these messages, I know that they came from a place of love. Still, others chose not to respond. Surprisingly, many more embraced me and told me that their love will never change for me, no matter what. I cannot begin to express just how much that meant and still means to me.
My close family members (grandmother and sisters) have known for some time, and they have been an amazing support system. But there has been one person who I have avoided telling, my mother. Now, I don’t want to give you the wrong idea about her. She is an amazing person! I have known all along that I would never have to worry about being disowned or kicked out of my home if she ever found out. (Others are not so fortunate.) Not wanting to share this with her stems from my own issues. I don’t really know why I avoided this conversation, but I have an idea. At age 20, I did tell her that I struggled with same-sex attractions but that I was going to fight the urges and pray that God would make me straight. She simply said, “ok.” Nothing else has been said since that time.
Eleven years have passed, and I still have the same sexual orientation as I did then. I think that maybe she would see me as a failure if she knew this. I had told her that I was going to undergo all the therapy I could to become normal, and I think subconsciously that I failed her. I don’t know why I thought she would see me as a failure. She isn’t religious, and she has always supported me in my endeavors. Again, I knew she would see and love me the same.
Yesterday (Oct. 11), the LGBT community celebrated National Coming Out Day. If you are not familiar with it, National Coming Out Day is observed annually to celebrate coming out and to raise awareness of the LGBT community and civil rights movement. Some use this specific day to finally come out to loved ones. I thought that the time to tell my mom was now or never. I know she reads my blog posts and sees the LOVEboldly updates. She isn’t stupid; it’s safe to assume that she already knows.
So, I emailed her a long message telling her the truth. I ended with saying that I am sorry if she is embarrassed about having a lesbian daughter (people from my hometown now know about me). Knots formed in my stomach right after I pushed the send button. I tried to avoid checking Facebook because I was afraid to see a reply. Sure enough, I saw that I had a message awaiting and hesitatingly clicked it. After my long message, she wrote six simple words….
“I am not embarrassed by you.”
That simple sentence lifted a huge burden off my shoulders.
Thanks, Mom! I love you, too!