Let’s talk about why this is important to me.
Homosexuality is considered a bad thing—an undesirable characteristic. But when I think of myself, I don’t think of myself as bad. I don’t identify with the majority of those stigmas either.
I had to ask myself the tough question: if I tell people I’m gay, what will go through their heads? I knew it wasn’t going to look pretty. So I wondered, is there a way for me to help them understand—quickly—that which took me eight years to accept about myself?
So I thought about specific people. If I tell my friend Melissa, she’s going to think that it’s a sin, or at least that God doesn’t want that for me, that I can change, and that I’m less of a spiritual leader because I struggle with a sin so big. It’s likely that she’ll think a lot of other things, too: it was caused by something horrible in my past or that it’s something I chose, that I’m questioning whether or not God exists, or maybe that I haven’t been a Christian at all.
All of these misconceptions need to be cleared up, so that my friend Melissa… stays my friend. She has all these beliefs about me, and they will not match with her beliefs about homosexuality. So, will she walk away? Or, will she say, “you’re still you,” and does that mean she thinks I’m the exception among the gays, or that she is going to re-write everything she thinks about homosexuality over the next few years when we talk about it? Will she try to read and study and think about these things on her own? If she does, will she come around quickly? Or will it take her years to reconcile all of these problems? If she’s unwilling to read on her own, will she eventually give up on our friendship? Will she feel tension all the time until she has to leave? How will all of this hurt our friendship?
It’s not true, what they say. You don’t find your true friends when you come out. These friends just really needed help making sense of it, and every part of your coming out is absolutely vital to making sure they don’t give up.
I think the responsible thing to do is to educate those we come out to, and not educate them later, but in the moment. Yes, we will continue to answer questions for a long time, but we need to hear now everything they think about homosexuality, and we need to address it, point by every point, until they have heard what took us a long time to understand about ourselves.
Because when Melissa understands that I want God to use this for his glory, and when Zach understands that I’m attracted to him, but I know our boundaries, and when Chris realizes it can’t be prayed away, our friendships will be stronger, and they will have the knowledge, and empathy, and passion to be my advocate.
One person at a time, and one point at a time, they will all learn. Because behind me, I want an army of allies who are quick to say, “I want to be your friend” to the outcast, and the broken, and the desperate. They are His, and He wants them like mad.