Do You Remember When You First Came Out?

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Do you remember what it was like when you came out?  As gay, lesbian, bi, transgender?  As a parent of an LGBTQ child?  As an ally?

The fear, joy, confusion, clarity, bondage, freedom, terror, excitement… if you were like me, you were a beautiful mess!  You were more scared yet maybe more alive than you have ever been.

In our fervor to advocate for equality and to express newly discovered truth and freedom, we can forget what it was like at first. Sometimes, we can lose our compassion for those at the beginning of their journey.

This is Rob Cottrell. I was reminded of that recently at a PFLAG support group meeting.

I watched as tears flowed and nervous hands trembled as people held the microphone to share their hearts.

I listened to a wife share about her husband who just came out as transgender. She was broken and lost and confused and terrified of the future.

I listened to the parents of gay children, some accepting, some still struggling with their child’s identity, but who both talked about their ooncerns for their child’s safety and future. They were scared.

I listened to a supportive Mom of a newly out young trans child talk about her child’s victories and struggles and tears, and about her confusion with simple things like pronouns. She was full of love and questions.

I listened to a lesbian woman who had come out later in life talk about her unapologetic boldness as she finally gets to express who she is. She was a little intimidating, but wonderfully alive and excited.

It was a reminder to me… I do not want to lose my compassion for people – wherever they are on their journey.

When people are vulnerable and share their hearts, we need to listen and accept. Even if we disagree. Even if we don’t understand. We need to connect with people. That is where the magic happens, that is where life happens, that is where healing takes place, that is where we all get to move forward. It is in the love and the connecting.

I want to encourage you to do the same.

Hanging on the cross, Jesus looked at those who brutally persecuted him and said “Forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”  Sometimes in our anger, or even in our excitement, we can lose our compassion. We forget that people often are doing the best they can. They are doing all they currently know to do. They are responding how they were trained to respond.

We need to be patient and compassionate with people as they struggle, as they express newly found freedoms… wherever they are on their journey, we need to be full of love and grace.

We need to be a light that helps bring healing to people and a world so desperately in need.

– Rob

11 thoughts on “Do You Remember When You First Came Out?

  1. A shortened version of this message needs to be made into a magnet to put on our fridge so we can be reminded on a regular basis that is it a journey very everyone involved! “Remember patience – we are all on our own journey”

  2. “They are responding how they were trained to respond.” Thank you for that, Rob. My family is in the midst of this as I decided it was time to answer the questions about our lgbt child. The comments were hurtful especially as they were cloaked in a misguided ‘love’. “I’ll pray for her to get back on the Lord’s path…” “I’m so disappointed in you.” “You went to church, didn’t you learn anything?” And my favorite…”Truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth.” What kills me is that the church is so caught up in their own self-righteousness that they can’t even see they don’t know how to show the same love and mercy that Jesus shows them. Well, I realize that your article was not about this side of the issue, but I know you and Susan have been there. I just want to let you know that your article also reminded me that it is not reasonable for me to expect them to react in any other way until the Lord transforms their hearts and minds on this issue. I went to church with them many years and I know what they were taught. “Forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” Yes. I will try.

  3. This is so perfectly spoken. Your heart comes through with each word. I think it is also important that we remember tolerance, acceptance is a two way street. For those who are coming to terms with new found knowledge about a loved one, friend, spouse, child, parent … they need to be given grace … time to adjust … time to absorb … time to re-set thinking. The question with which I struggle is how much time? So rarely does one find out a person they love is GLBT and immediately say I love you regardless … I accept you regardless … It is exciting when it happens that way, but it is not realistic to hope for that on a day in and day out basis. But I do think it is acceptable for those folks to be given a REALISTIC amount of time to absorb and digest the new found information. I also believe they should be loved regardless. Unfortunately sometimes they must be loved from a distance.

    • I understand completely. It can be so difficult at times. I do believe that the time we do allow people to accept the truth of Scripture and God’s heart on this issue has to be completely God-led. There is no “standard” time – as each situation is different. God will lead. : ) Thanks for being so supportive. – Rob

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