The Art of Coming Out

I’ve talked about coming out as a long process before, and I’m continually reminded of how true that is. It’s been a year and a month since I came out to my dad; a conversation that was ideal in every way. I explained to him that my sexual orientation was the primary reason that I’d been going through therapy for the past couple of months. The first sentence out of his mouth? “You know I still love you.” Those were the only words I needed to hear in order for the several-ton-weight to be lifted off of my shoulders. I began to sob. For the next two hours, we sat and talked about everything from how long I’d known to God’s hand in all of it. I remember him saying that he was curious to know why I had stopped dating back in college. It turns out—as many LGBT’s discover—that my dad had his suspicions all along.

My dad has remained loving and accepting of me, although he is still on his journey. He believes that people are born with their respective sexual orientation, but he’s just not exactly how my lesbianism fits into my spirituality. I remember the phone conversation when I told him that I was going to have a magazine article published about reconciling faith and sexuality. His response resembled nothing of my excitement. The line went silent. “Oh”, he said. I asked him why he was upset about it. “I’m not upset, I just don’t want this to turn into a bad thing for you.” I explained that this path is exactly where God was leading me. I assured him that no one was surprised as I was that discussing my sexuality more publicly was something I had to do. It was becoming a fire inside of me.

A few weeks later, I noticed that my dad had shared an article on Facebook that he had apparently read on my wall. It was about Christians who don’t walk the walk when it comes to loving homosexuals; it was a wonderful, provocative piece. I was absolutely thrilled to see that my dad had re-posted it. I texted him right away to thank him for it.

To my dismay, it turns out he had posted it by mistake.

“Mandy, can you help me delete that from my wall? I don’t want it on there.”

My heart dropped into my stomach. “But I thought you meant to post that, dad. It really meant a lot to me”, I said.

“No. I did that by mistake. Please help me remove it.”

Reluctantly, I called my dad, and walked him through the steps of removing the article from his Facebook wall. I fought back the tears as we hung up.

A few minutes later, I texted him one last time: “I just want you to be proud of me, dad”.

No response.

My heart broke.

I still think the world of my dad. My journey looks different than his. After all, I’ve known I was gay for 18 years; he’s only known for 13 months. I’ve had reasons to broaden my Scriptural horizons on the topic of homosexuality; he’s never had a reason to.

I cry as I write this. I hurt for those who are never quite understood by the ones who mean the most. Yet I want to offer a word of encouragement. Living out your sexuality—no matter how to choose to do so—is a sacred journey. It is also a journey for those we love. We must be patient with them. We must acknowledge that there are people who will not be in the same place we are. We are all constantly growing, constantly changing, constantly evolving in thought and philosophy. We must also realize that none of us have it exactly right. It’s a humbling thought. We have to become preoccupied with loving each other, instead of becoming preoccupied with being right.

Seek God. Seek truth. Seek love.

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

If you are waiting on a sticker, please know that I haven’t forgotten about you! I’m mailing them out in small stacks, so it may take a few weeks before they arrive. Thanks again for all of the stories, testimonies, and responses! xo

4 responses to “The Art of Coming Out

  1. I just have to say thank you for this. I’m on the same journey with my folks grasping an understanding. They’ve only known for a couple of months, and honestly?? It’s been rough. So much so I was just ready to run away, and regretted ever telling them. It’s not be easy to say the least, but they assure me they love me no matter what. I just wish they (and others) who don’t “get” this would stop trying to “get it”. Just because I’m this way doesn’t mean I want you to tell me you “understand” when I know you don’t, I want you to just love me for me. Love me just as you always have. I’m not a different person because I’ve shared this with you. You know what I mean? I’m not trying to push my sexuality on others or say, “You need to accept this.” It’s not even about that, or what we think is wrong or right. Who cares, just love me, and stop trying to change and “fix” me. This journey is different for everyone, and how I feel about it may be completely different than how others feel on their personal journey. Just thank you for sharing your heart about your dad. I believe my parents are on the same journey as he. We have to remember what generation they’ve come from where this is totally foreign to them. I know your dad loves you so much, just as my folks love me. Hang in there, sister! You have a beautiful heart. Thank you for sharing it with so many who are on a similar journey! :)

  2. On my way to work this morning the sun was shining, the sky was blue, a perfect Northwest day… and my heart full of joy due to the last few weeks of finally not feeling so incredibly stuck. I have been moving forward more than ever before and the joy within me just keeps growing daily. I keep thinking I will have a set back but then something else amazing happens that validates the path I’m on as being pure and holly in the eyes of God. As I was contemplating on this and looking forward to working with my patients at work I thought about how thankful I was that Mandy wrote that article in the magazine. That is what started this step in my journey. And as I thought about that and as I thought about this story in relationship with her dad, I wished I could tell her dad how grateful I am toward his daughter. I would tell him that because she wrote that article… and because a friend of mine mailed me a copy knowing it would encourage me… and because I read it and related perfectly to it, I checked out her website. Her website inspired me to respond, and it gave me encouragement and hope in that there are more people out there like me wanting reconciliation between our spirituality and our sexuality. Sharing with others on that website has given me more clarity than ever and inspiration and a deeper closeness with God than ever before. I’m so thankful for this joy I have as I believe comes from God and spreads in relationship to my patients and coworkers and my church family and my own family and other people who are in the midst of the same journey that I have been on. I wish I could share that with Mandy’s dad and tell him thank you for what his daughter has done because of her faith and love for God. If he could know how much that one article has impacted my life and in turn the lives of all the people around me, that would make me happy.

    I like what you said Mandy, “We have to become preoccupied with loving each other, rather than becoming preoccupied with being right.” I’m going to continue on this joyful journey with the mindset of loving others first and foremost and will “Seek God. Seek truth. Seek love.”

    • Thank you, Josha. That means so much. So many times, I find myself wishing my dad would just come and live with me for one month, so he could see all of the amazing people in my life. He would fall in love with everyone right away!

  3. Mandy, reading your messages and the following comments fills my heart with deep sorrow because I understand. I understand the pain and heart ache of not being understood by the ones who mean the most to you, I understand the sting from becoming a disappointment to the ones you love. But I also understand the pain and heart ache your dad feels.

    It is a strange place to find yourself in when you have believed for a very long time that you have had this all figured out and right and then come to know how terribly wrong you have been. I am of your dad’s generation. It is a test of faith to walk among our generation and feel right before God. I thought being gay was something men did and something that women who looked like men did. I thought it was a way of thinking that could be changed or persuaded. I thought is was a perverted lifestyle. Many myths of the church had been my sole influence to shape my understanding about sexual orientation. Because of this teaching I felt invisible, broken, and a need to make myself be something I wasn’t.

    When I opened my heart up to understand God’s love for all of us, He opened a door to me that gripped me with fear. I had to understand myself. I could no longer hide from myself. It may sound strange to some. How could you let this happen to yourself at your age? It was a matter of learning to be honest and choosing to no longer live a lie. I had to learn to understand and love the persona I really was.

    Well when you choose to walk with God, He has a hand in how His plans unfold around you. You either accept His plans or you don’t. God shares the lives of many people who were faced with decisions to walk the difficult path with Him or hide in their own little world. There are some from my generation who have become very strong allies for equality and acceptance. Many of them are parents of gay children. The journey for them is also painful and difficult. It is a journey for all of us, a sacred journey. This is humbling. Yes, we must be preoccupied with loving each other. Fear that drives us to be right can tie our hearts up and keep us from understanding and loving others. Each of you share a very important story, a story from your heart. I am proud of you for sharing your heart. Your stories inspire me and give me hope.
    For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love of sound mind.
    2 Timothy 1:7.

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