What is your secret? Come on, you have one. We all do. A secret we are afraid to share. So did Michael Sam, the Missouri football player who recently came out as gay, and who will soon be the first openly gay NFL player. But there is a big difference in Michael’s secret and most of ours. Ours are usually about our behavior – a choice, a mistake we made that we are afraid to share. But Michael, like most LGBTQ people who have not yet come out, was afraid to share who he truly was.
Imagine that… being afraid to simply share who you are.
The fear that goes with that can put you in a prison in which you feel lost, terrified, alone and without hope. What impact does that have on a life? And what kind of impact would it have if those chains were broken?
It had a profound impact on Michael Sam.
It was August 2013 when Michael, in an introductory player meeting at the University of Missouri, got up, more scared than at any other time in his life and simply said, “My name is Michael Sam, I am from Hitchcock, Texas. I am gay. And that’s it.”
He did it. He lifted the veil. He turned the light on and revealed his true self that he was sure everyone would reject. So what happened?
His teammates and friends rallied around him in unconditional love and support. The prison doors burst open and Michael was free – free to know he is not alone, free to be himself, free to love and be loved, free to have hope.
And what followed was the evidence of what can happen when a person is freed from that kind of bondage.
Michael Sam had the best season of his life. Record setting numbers, defensive player of the year. He was a changed man… well, not really a changed man. He was just being the man he truly was and his life was transformed.
I understand that this is not everyone’s experience. After coming out people experience rejection, condemnation, hurt – from friends, from the church, even from family. Sometimes the people on this planet we are certain will love us no matter what are the ones who hurt us the most.
But Michael Sam shows us that it’s possible. It does get better. It is getting better.
There are people out there who will love, accept and affirm you. There are people out there who are not only allies, but brothers and sisters in Christ, and who advocate for your right to simply be who you were created to be and love who you love. I know, I am one of those people and I will always stand with you.
And there are indeed churches out there who accept and affirm you, who follow what Jesus told us to do – love God and love others. Above all else, love.
Things will change when you come out. Sometimes a struggle at first – but hang in there. It does get better. But more than anything else, you will change. Be smart, don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation. But know that as with Michael Sam, there is an unspeakable joy and peace when you simply free your heart and soul to live and love as you were created.
Go for it!