20 December 2012
My dear Mom and Dad,
I’m writing to you to confess. I have not loved you enough, nor trusted you enough, to tell you the truth and share myself with you completely.
I have kept a large part of my life a secret, and that has resulted in my separating myself from you little by little over the years until the point we’re at today. We aren’t close as family should be, we don’t discuss important issues as we should, and I would like to repair this aspect of our relationship.
I should trust you and love you enough to be completely honest about every facet of my life. So I am writing to ask forgiveness as I share this part of my life that I have kept from you.
I am gay.
This should come as no surprise to anyone, but it may still be a shock to see the fact plainly stated. I know this is going to be difficult for you to hear and accept.
This is my story.
I have known about myself from very early on, and definitely by the time I was age 10 or 11. I’ve never been attracted to girls or desired a woman in the way heterosexual males do. I have had a couple of immature crushes on girls which were the result of my attempt to deny the truth about myself to myself.
As a teenager and young adult, I could have dated girls, conformed to social and family expectations, gotten married, raised a family, and lived a lie in misery. Or I could have internalized the homophobia and hate so prevalent in our culture to become another unexplained teen suicide statistic. Instead, I remained single while I slowly worked out the apparent conflict between my religion and my sexual orientation.
I spent a lot of time alone — decades of time alone. And I’ve spent many hours in anguished prayer, in tears, begging God to just let me find the right girl, to make me straight, to take away this thorn in my flesh, and so forth. At certain dark times, I’ve felt despair and feared that God had forsaken me.
Over this same period of time, I’ve also been reading the Bible. And I’ve been reading commentaries and books by a wide variety of authors on the subjects of faith, religion and homosexuality. Slowly, slowly, I have come to realize that God answered those agonized prayers. Not by making me straight, but in helping me realize, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that there is no reason to fix something that isn’t broken.
These are some of the conclusions I have reached so far in my journey of faith:
1. Being gay is not a choice. If I had had the choice, I would have been straight, plain and simple. I cannot imagine anyone signing up to suffer the intolerance and discrimination gay men and women are subjected to as a matter of course in our society.
2. I believe sexual orientation is a fundamental part of every person and cannot be changed, that it is a complex behavior and arises from some combination of “nature” and “nurture”.
3. I believe that homosexuality is within the range of normal variation in nature: it is not a pathology, illness, or perversion. Same sex orientation in animals is widespread and well documented. And in humans, homosexuality of one form or another has existed in all times and in every culture worldwide.
4. I believe that the Bible does not address issues directly relevant to homosexuality and that the “clobber passages” used to teach that being gay is against God’s will are either quoted out of context or are overly simplistic, surface readings that don’t apply to Christians today.
5. Being gay is nobody’s fault. Rain falls on the just and the unjust — some things just are.
I realize that this is fairly late in life to “come out of the closet”. I actually started coming out to close friends around the age of 30. The coming out process is different for everyone, and gay men and women come out at different points in their lives and in different ways. I frankly expected to receive a great deal of negative criticism and condemnation, so I looked forward to coming out to my family with a bleak sense of despair. I find it sad that the place I should feel the safest — with my family — is the one place I feel the greatest dread of disapproval. It is no surprise to me that many gay men, women, and teenagers choose suicide in the face of rejection received from their family and community.
You will want to know that I am currently in a relationship, which so far has lasted 10 years. Brooks and I met through a mutual friend, and like all relationships we have had our ups and downs. Should we decide to legally marry or otherwise hold a public commitment ceremony of some kind, you will of course be invited.
Both sides of Brooks’ family have met me and we get along very well. His father’s side of the family is Catholic, his mother’s side is evangelical/charismatic. In all cases, they completely accept us as a couple, they accept me as a member of their family, and are happy to see that we are happy together.
Brooks has been out since he was a teenager, so his family has had some time to adjust to the idea. And the fact that I haven’t come out to my family has been a source of conflict in our relationship. Brooks has understood that my coming out to my family would probably mean that I would lose my family due to your history of reading of the Bible literally. So I haven’t pushed the issue, and have remained in the closet for a long time — I haven’t been willing to face losing my family.
So as I express to you this truth about myself, I know that the reactions to the news will be as individual as the persons hearing it. Ultimately, I am hoping I can have a more open, honest relationship with you going forward. You are my family and you are important to me. I love you. I accept you as you are. And I hope you can find it in your heart to accept me as I am as well.