Now that I’ve Come Out of the Closet

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I recently came out as a straight, married, Christ-following mother-of-five, in support of the LGBTQ community. Since then, I’ve received quite a few emails and comments — many incredibly encouraging and some less-than-loving. I understand that views on this issue are deeply rooted, and people don’t want to make the wrong move. I took this on because I know in my heart that families are facing this issue every day, and theirs are the hearts I want to connect with.

My vision is 1. to be a voice of encouragement to LGBTQ in their struggles and 2. to be a safe place for family and friends of LGBTQ to express their questions and challenges. While I welcome open dialogue, I’m not particularly interested in answering naysayers to the nth degree, especially those who don’t have a horse in this race. Those issues have been answered at length (check my Resources), and while I have unique things to say, answering those issues to your satisfaction is not my direct purpose. I cannot answer every question, but I will soon post an FAQs section.

Christians love to say homosexuality is a sin like any other sin. I have challenged us on whether it is a sin. But even if Christians truly viewed this as any other sin, the overarching perception of us would be a lot closer to the love of Christ than the current perception. You see, we don’t really treat this issue the same as other issues. People are more disgusted by this particular issue than many other issues. I’ve watched it happen. For example, my friend joined me at my daughter’s volleyball game. As we took our seats on the bleachers, I sat in front of her so she could massage my stiff neck. This friend was wearing baggy sweats and a baseball cap. A nearby couple turned and looked at us in disgust, and then scooted away. That was their response to what they thought they were seeing. I thought, boy, that would be hard to take after a while. I don’t blame gays and lesbians for getting angry/frustrated/depressed when they have been on the receiving end of this time and again.

On the other hand, a conservative Christian friend who speaks in favor of traditional marriage told me he has been on the receiving end of the same judgment his whole adult life; he’s received death threats starting when he was 21; he’s had to leave events under police protection; and he’s feared for multiple threats against his family. “Hate speech” cuts both ways.

I wish we had the freedom just to be with each other. As I took a long flight recently, a woman took the middle seat, between me on the aisle and a man at the window. I assumed by her appearance that she was gay. She glanced at me, and the CS Lewis book in my lap, and then turned and talked to the man on the other side. She had no interest in the person she’d sized me up to be. Of course, I was sizing her up too — I could be way wrong. I tried to engage with her. Mildly. But after a couple of sentences about the Words with Friends app vs. the Scrabble app, I found myself wondering what to say. “You can talk to me — I am gay-friendly! I talk about LGBTQ on my blog — I’d love to know what your issues have been. And by the way, do you know Jesus??” Yes, that’s what I’d really like to talk about, if we could get the other issues out of the way.

What might the world look like if we were Safe Havens for each other, as Brent Bailey guest blogged on The Marin Foundation website? Whatever else may or may not be true, Jesus offers us a safe haven in Him, as He wants us to offer that for each other. It’s part of loving Him and loving others.

20 thoughts on “Now that I’ve Come Out of the Closet

  1. I have lived my whole life for the acceptance of my friends and family. I knew at a very young age that I was different. So instead of being brave enough to live the life of who I really am I lived a life of who i was expected to live. After the death of my dear uncle and divorce from a 23 year marriage, I have decided to live my life as who I truely am. I am a gay female christian. I have not come out completely. Only a very few people know. I am living with the love of my life. We met in college over 30 years ok. We were secretly together for 2 years. Being confused we went on our seperate ways and seperate lives. She came out to her family over 10 years ago. Now after all these we are back together. I have never felt so at ease with myself. I am finally me. Now I just do not know how to come out completely. When I do, we will have to leave our church. Not sure how her family or mine will react. Her family knows she is gay. They do not like it but accept her. They will blame her and say she turned me gay if we come out to them together. I do not want her to loose her family or go through that. It doesn’t matter about my family I am not close to them. We want to get married, but we have to come out completely to do so. I just want to be the person I truely am and love the person I love. How do I do this? When should I do this? I am gay and I am tired of hiding it. Can you help me? I also believe I have a story to tell and want to be a public speaker. How do I do that? When I get in front of people it just feels so natural. I was born this way. I am one of God’s blessed children. I am the person he created. I just want to be that person. More than anything I want to share God’s message.
    Please help

    • Sweet Donna, bless you! What a struggle. A woman spoke the other night at PFLAG who came out at age 60. 60! And she is freer than she’s never been. I said, “If all the families of gays would come out, it would change the church.” She said, “If all the gays would come out, it would change the church!” No one can tell you what to do, my friend. But I hear you wanting to be free, to tell your story, to be the person He created. It takes a lot of courage to be you. (Why should it take so much courage to be oneself? Maybe because the world works from beginning to end to conform us to something else? An image??) It takes courage to be you, but then, you’ve got only one life. As poet Mary Oliver writes, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” And here’s another great thought: you are always only acting from fear or love. The choice (and its consequences) are YOURS! God bless you and your wild and precious life!

  2. Thank you for the post and for your willingness to be a courageous and loving voice.

    A big blessing for me this past year has been seeing how my own journey has intertwined with those of friends. A friend of mine, after coming back to school from a break, told me about the opposition he experienced from an old friend when he told the man that one of his friends came out. Prior to that I hadn’t realized that “coming out” as a friend or supporter of an LGBTQ person may require substantial courage and perhaps the possibility of altered relationships, depending on one’s cultural and theological context. This friend, and many others, have shown me that I am not alone on my journey of finding the fullness of life in Christ. As I said earlier, coming to understand the full depth of love my friends have for me has been the biggest of blessings.

    Again, thank you for your postings. I pray that they embolden others to love as Christ loves.

    • Oh, thank you so much. Yes, it’s a strange twist to be condemned for loving, when it is actually our great and all-encompassing command. It’s because of fear though, because we see God as too small to handle EVERYone’s issues, obedient and disobedient. I take comfort in my Savior, and the truth that love never fails. God bless your journey, new friend! Love your blog.

  3. Hi Susan,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog, I’m a baby christian, just accepted christ this year and I’m so glad God has given me a chance to read your blog and that God has used you in such a wonderful way to spread love to everyone.
    May God bless you in everything that you do.
    Hoping to read the next blog post.

    Blessings

    • Well, congratulations! So exciting! I’m glad you found this blog too, and let me tell you, most Christians are going to start trying to improve your behavior (whatever that is) because that’s what is so commonly taught as the goal of Christianity — but it’s not. The whole point is to love God and love others! Nestle inside Jesus and He will direct your path. Any behavior that needs to fall away, for any of us, He will take away in the fullness of time. You are EXACTLY where you should be! By the way, wordpress makes it very easy — you just follow and you can get the next post sent to you via email. God bless you on your journey, and keep me updated.

  4. This is a wonderful post! I found myself laughing about your airplane experience. I used to travel often for work, When I’d encounter a fellow believer, It would be fun to talk about things we had in common–like speakers on the church circuit, neat books we were reading, etc. Then they would ask, “are you married?” (I was not legally married at the time, so I’d say, “I live with my life partner Nikki.” The conversation often became very tense after that. I could see the wheels spinning in there brain….but I just committed to keep smiling and talking. I figured they might think, “I just met a gay Christian who shares similar tastes in music, and books, and who believe in prayer and in the incredible saving power of Jesus Christ.”

    My hope is that one day, please will know what to do with that.

    Thank you for answering God’s call during that sermon, and for getting involved. You are truly appreciated.

    • Haha! Yes, I can see that all playing out. We don’t know how to love people right where they are, and one reason is that Christians believe that Jesus is about behavior modification, and that we must carry that out. Jesus is about LIFE — a far cry from behavior modification — and we are called to be about life as well. “Love God, love others.” How much simpler could it be?? Thanks for sharing. Bless you and Nikki!

  5. “Hate speech cuts both ways.”

    What a lovely false equivalence. Confronting bigotry is not hate speech. It may well be that threats on either side are unwarranted, but that’s a convenient Christian smokescreen to avoid the meat of the issue and feed a persecution complex. Your fellow Christians do this all the time. “Oh, woe’s me! Someone is challenging out bigoted status quo! How dare they!”

    They did the same thing with Biblical commandments in courthouses, Christmas Jesus displays on government property, and Bible verses in public school football. It’s fantastically hypocritical and tone-deaf. The same folks are out defacing atheist signs. It’s like Henry Ford: “You can have a car in any color, so long as it’s black.”

    • I agree with you, confronting bigotry is not hate speech, but a death threat is. I know people have been badly hurt, and my heart’s desire is to confront those who perpetrate it. That’s why I’ve taken on the church here, which is not easy! But, I know the heart of Christ is for anyone who has been wounded, whose heart is tender. And unfortunately, the heart of Christ is not what we see in the heart of many Christians. Tragic.

      • I won’t defend death threats, though I will say vastly more have occurred from Christians. And they have the tendency to carry them out. I’m thinking in particular of that poor boy tied to a fence and left to die in 1998. He, and dozens of others, are just on the gay side. There was Tiller in 2008, an abortion provider, who was murdered in his own church. Puffery aside, has any Christian ever been killed in the name of gay equality?

        • I know. And this is why Jesus was harshest to the religious zealots. Really, he was harsh only to the religious zealots. My goal is to show the LGBTQ who feel torn or abandoned by the church that the heart of Jesus is not the same as the heart of the “Christians” you described.

          I would be happy to talk about this more via email if you’d like.

  6. That phrase “safe havens” is great, isn’t it? Someone who seems so “lesbian” outwardly could have easily gathered some fear and loathing of those typecast in her head, as a result of past attacks upon her. However, I doubt that a traditional couple such as the one you mentioned from the volleyball game has any history of “death threats” from their objects of hatred as an excuse for showing outward disgust, a behavior you didn’t specify about the shy seatmate. I’ve seen this imbalance of manners out in the open so constantly in my life that I’ve become skeptical of stories of traditionalists getting genuinely threatened, at least when outside of lawful settings. (They ought to be threatened by anti-discrimination suits and public shame, but that’s different.) I realize it must have happened at some time to some people — maybe to your conservative friend who preaches against homosexuality, for example — and I’ve seen photos of LGBTQ protesters doing obnoxious things in theatrical protests that someone could claim to be intimidating. Still, something in me, maybe some prejudice for the underdog, maybe just my own eyes and ears, makes me disbelieve most of those claims that to me only sound like attempts by an oppressive majority to paint an oppressed minority as an equal and opposite force. These are only my impressions of course. Hate speech does cut both ways, as you say, but I feel the reality of it might use a sword in one direction and a butterknife in the other.

    • I understand. I marveled when Natalie’s friend Markus talked about playing basketball with friends in the park at 3 am. Natalie and I looked at each other like he was crazy — there was no way we’d feel safe doing that with women. But that had never crossed his mind! It struck me how part of life it was for us to think in terms of safety and how not part of life it was for Markus. That’s the balance I hear in what you’re saying. I don’t want to take anything away from my friend’s experience in any way. Horrifying. But I totally hear everything you said so well. I too have a real heart for the underdog — perhaps largely from intense bullying in elementary school, but then Jesus always had compassion on the underdog too, an aspect of Him that never fails to move me. Thanks so much for your comment, Bobby.

  7. Susan,
    You have just expressed my heart once again. I really hate being pegged. Your description of the woman on the plane sizes it up. We are put in a cubby-hole by the books we read, the clothes we wear, or perhaps even the expression on our faces, even it is just a snapshot of that moment in time. There have been times when I prefer not to mention the church I attend because the views they hold might be misconstrued and I would rather just be known as someone who loves Christ, and whom Christ loves, for He is the One who loves all. Thanks once again for using your gift to articulate what is so difficult about this issue: Why can’t we just BE together and LOVE one another?

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