An Open Letter to My Facebook Friends

FacebookEvery week, I spend a ridiculous amount of time editing my Facebook wall. Why? Because I’m not 100% out on Facebook. And so, when someone who knows I’m gay posts something revealing to my wall that others who don’t know I’m gay might see, then I have to either edit the audience for that post, or delete it entirely. See how cumbersome that can become? (I’m sure there are plenty of you who know what that’s like.) There are lots of my Facebook friends who know; I’ve come out to several people. I’m sure there are more than I would like to realize who have “heard it through the grapevine”. But then, there are many who simply don’t know. And it is because of them that I edit my online life. I even have a custom-made “gay-safe” list that comes in handy quite often. But this way of separating my life into little virtual compartments is becoming too complex and certainly too time-consuming. Why do I care so much? Why does it matter what these people—most of whom I never even see on a daily basis—think of me? And so, today I present an open letter to my Facebook friends. If I had the guts, the courage, the boldness to really do it, this is what I would say:

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

To All of my Facebook Friends:

I love you. Please don’t stop reading this now. There’s something I need to say. This is perhaps the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I’m writing to tell you that I am a lesbian. Over the past several years, I’ve edited my life for those of you who may not accept me. But then, I realized… by keeping up this charade, I’m not giving you the chance to make your own decision about me. That’s unfair. Many of you already know this news. Many of you don’t. Many of you have heard from a friend of a friend of a friend… and many of you have sensed it for years. To those of you who already knew: thank you for being my emotional support—for being my backbone when I didn’t have one of my own. Thank you for showing me unconditional love and acceptance throughout the duration of my journey. To those of you who didn’t know this before now: I’m sorry that I couldn’t bring myself to tell you. We had such good times and amazing memories. I was scared that this news would negate all of that. I was afraid that “gay” was the only thing you would see when you looked at me… and I want you to see that I am so much more than that. Being gay is a part of me, but it is not my identity. I am the person you’ve always known.

I realize that many of you probably have lots of questions for me. I will attempt to answer some for you:

•Yes, I’ve always known something was different. No, I didn’t always know exactly what to call it. Once I put the pieces together, my entire life made perfect sense… no joke.

•Yes, I believe I was born this way.

•No, I was never sexually abused.

•Yes, I had amazing relationships with both of my parents when I was a child. Yes, Dad knows. And yes… he has been amazingly supportive. No, I never got the chance to tell my mom before she passed away… but part of me thinks she knew.

•Yes, I went to counseling. Yes, I tried to “pray away the gay”. I also tried to fast it away, bargain it away, and plead it away… all of this for nearly a decade, and all to no avail.

•Yes, I know what the Bible says (I know those six passages well)… and no, I do not believe that those texts are as black and white as I was taught. Yes, I believe with my entire being that God loves me… and I even believe that He created me this way. Yes, I am still hopelessly in love with God—even more so now than before.

•Yes, I share my life with someone (going on 6 years now). Yes, I am happier than I could have ever imagined. No, society doesn’t always make it easy for us… but I believe in the hope of a better day.

•Yes, I believe that the Church (as a whole) should address this topic more readily. Yes, I know plenty of gays and lesbians who have turned away from God because of religion. That’s not God’s fault… it’s the product of fear and ill-education.

•Yes, there is such a thing as a gay-affirming church. Yes, I have been to a few. No, lighting does not strike when all the gays start singing. Turns out God likes to hear their voices, too.

•No, my journey has not been one of justifying my feelings. It has been one of deep refining, of profound pain, and finally, of unconditional love and acceptance.

•Yes, I do feel an unmistakable call to advocate for justice, acceptance, and love for the LGBT community. And no, I will not stop doing everything I can to promote that love, understanding and compassion for all of God’s children.

•No, I do not expect all of you to agree with me or even like me after this. But I want you to know that we can still be in relationship, even if we don’t see eye to eye.

•Yes, I would love to talk to each and every one of you about this. I would be happy to answer any other questions you may have; My preference would be to do so over a cup of coffee and a stroll—although email will suffice if distance works against us.

•Yes, I am scared. And yes, I’m sure there will be days when I wonder if this was the right thing to do at all. But honesty is always right; the truth sets us free. God has given me so much on this journey. Yes, there was a time when I would have given anything to be straight. But now? Heck no… I wouldn’t change a thing.

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

Have any of you come out on Facebook? How did you do it?

37 responses to “An Open Letter to My Facebook Friends

  1. Bravo, Mandy! May your brave and honest words help guide those who have been hurt by mis-understood biblical passages and find their way back to a pure religion; one that finds love and acceptance that was intended for all.

  2. I pray that one day it will feel safe for you to publish this on Facebook. So beautifully said!

  3. Reblogged this on CrazyQueerClassicist and commented:
    I hate having to edit my life. I couldn’t FB-like a gay-friendly article, because there was really no way I could find to make my likes private. It got so bad that I had to build an alternate online identity; every time I went home for break, I was subjected to severe bullying by my parents for supporting unchristian lifestyles. This is why I know I cannot come out until I’m at least an assistant professor somewhere. However, if I could, this is pretty much what I would say.

    • First off, I love your blog! Thank you so much for finding me and sharing a little bit of yourself. I am so grateful to find others along this path. It’s scary to think how alone I felt when I first admitted that I was gay. But there is a whole world out there for us! I feel thankful to have crossed paths with you. I look forward to hearing more about your experiences as your journey unfolds. Best of luck to you!

  4. I considered making a pronouncement on facebook once I was out to my family, close friends and the news hit my community, but I elected not to. I was concerned that for some it would be like drawing a line in the sand and that they would feel compelled to shun/unfriend me to confirm their commitment to doctrinal purity or that they did not condone my “sin”. Because I do not recognize my orientation as sin (which is not to say my actions in accordance with my orientation have always been perfect, but who’s have, regardless of orientation?), I decided instead to let them figure it out more naturally. I don’t edit my posts and anyone paying attention could figure it out.

    I think we sometimes create problems for ourselves by making coming out a huge deal. Not that I am saying this is what you would be doing Mandy – everyone’s circumstance is different and we all have the right to choose the way that makes sense for us. In a backwards way, however, making it a big deal sort of confirms that we have something to be embarassed or ashamed about or defend. I am not embarassed or ashamed to acknowledge I am a lesbian. I know God loves me just as I am. So I try to live in accordance with that truth. If my facebook friends are uncomfortable with that, they can quietly unfriend me. So far, no one has that I am aware of. But if they did, my immediate thought would be that I don’t really need that person as a friend as I walk forward into this new life.

    Mandy, I pray you have wisdom to choose the path that is right for you.

    • Erin, something you said really resonated with me. You said, “…making it a big deal sort of confirms that we have something to be embarrassed or ashamed about or defend.” I had never thought of it this way… but you know—I think you are right! I admire the way that you chose to handle your personal life via Facebook. I find myself deleting things because I haven’t come out on FB. But maybe if I would just allow myself to EXIST, as is… if I would just live my life with no apologies… people would eventually figure it out. And they would find that it really isn’t that big of a deal. I love that. Thank you for that revelation! ;)

      • I am so glad! I want to reiterate here, however, that my approach is not likely the right one for everyone. I long for the day when it’s commonly understood that variances in sexual orientation are a natural part of the created order, not to be feared, but to be embraced and enjoyed. I will keep working next to you toward that end.

  5. I came out on National Coming out Day on Facebook! It was one of the most breathtaking moments of my life other than when I came out to my mother when I was 21 the first time. I sat back and waited for the comments and snide remarks to start flowing in. I was really geared up waiting for the moment that I was going to have to go through a mental battle with myself about the importance of my privacy versus the importance of me being true to myself. Turns out it was a lot better than I had originally thought it was going to be. I didn’t have the ridicule I was prepared for. I did have doubts and curiosity questions, but nothing like I thought. Our world today is lot more accepting than when I was 21. I almost lost my family and my job… needless to say… I stepped back into the closet for a few years.. I commend you for your internal strength and all I can say is remember to be true to yourself.. because the truth will “set you free”.

    • Wow! Thanks so much for sharing that. It’s true… times are changing. I hope and pray that our society grows more accepting and loving of one another. We need more than just tolerance. No one wants to just be tolerated. Good for you for coming out on Coming Out Day! I get nervous just thinking about it. I’m so glad it went better than you had imagined. :)

  6. If I could like this post a billion times I would! I’m sitting in my living room quietly considering my life and here I find your blog and this post which says everything I want to say. Oh, my how good is our God that He would let me read this today. Back before “lists” were possible on Facebook I had to create two separate accounts, one for those who knew and one for those who didn’t. I still have both accounts and it feels silly and dishonest and downright weird. My hope is that in four months when my niece graduates from high school in our backward and bigoted little town, I can finally tell the truth and be completely and totally who I am without fear for HER safety or mine. You are so brave and so honest. Thank you for being sensitive to this in your own life and for putting it out there for those like me (and I believe there are many) who, for one reason or another, still have to edit our lives!! God bless you…I am a new fan!

    • Your comment absolutely made my day. It’s moments like this—when people like us can connect and share our experiences—that make it all worthwhile. It gets so tiresome living a double life… yet it’s something that a lot of us have to get used to. The stress of that situation can get out of hand quite quickly!

      I love your blog. I can relate to it on so many levels! I look forward to reading more of what you have to say. It makes all the difference in the world when we finally realize that we are not alone in our struggles.

      I will pray for you and your family to finally be able to embrace truth. May we live on in love for the hope of better days ahead! God bless you!

      • Well, I’m glad I could do that for you because your blog did a big favor for me the other day! It is nice to have people who understand without explanation.

  7. You are brave. I am just sitting in awe of this post, as one who writes about the same stories and is still anonymous, you inspire me. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much for your encouragement. Your words have given me a warmth and a kindness that I so desperately needed today. We are in this together, and I’m honored to share the path with you! ;)

  8. So courageous, Mandy! I applaud you. :) I did a similar thing when coming out to everyone but my closest family members and friends except I wrote it in blog format and then posted the link to my facebook. (http://abetterstory.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/on-being-gay/) It was nerve wracking (especially because I got fairly immediate responses of judgment from family members both on the blog and through email), but I tried to stick to my guns and be boundary oriented but loving at the same time. It was difficult! I truly appreciate the challenge it is to come out but also to come out as a gay Christian. Amazing job. :)

    • Oh man, oh man. I just read your blog post. So wonderfully and beautifully stated. I connected with it on virtually every level. I also read the comment section of that post. It was hard for me to read… as I fear some of my family members would have similar reactions. My heart hurt as I read their words, because I know how hard it must have been for you to listen to their responses. But I also LOVE the fact that the comment section became a space for conversation. Thank God for Kathy Baldok (http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/)… [for those of you who may not have visited her site]! She is such an incredible ally and educator for the Church on this topic.

      I pray that you continue to be blessed in your journey. Thanks for taking the time to share your story! :)

      • Yes, it was difficult for sure, and I was so thankful for Kathy’s help in discussion. She was fantastic in standing up for me when I really needed it. What a privilege it is to share story and gain courage and comfort and joy from others! Thanks for that!

  9. I totally support you in posting this letter on facebook….whenever the time is right.
    Currently on my journey, I’m finding that it is more of a prayer for wisdom in timing for when and where to share. I’m noticing that I don’t really have as much fear in people knowing. Especially after reading all the comments above. It is always a blessing to meet others who share the same experiences. Lately, I actually have more of a craving to share about my sexuality and the journey of reconciliation with a new found strength to accept any outcome/consequence of people knowing. I’m having to work hard on patience in seeking timing that will be beneficial/productive/positive. Everyone who has shared here, whether gay or straight has goodness to present from their authentic experiences in coming to terms with homosexuality. I think that is what I like most about your letter. It portrays the authentic journey you have been traveling…and authenticity goes a long way.

    • Another thought: I find myself wondering at times who is waiting on who? Am I waiting on God for the right timing or is God waiting on me? So I continue to pray for wisdom in discerning that question, trusting that God is at work while there is evidence of the hand of God written all over this page.

      With all these wonderful people commenting on this well written letter, I feel a sense of “the peace of God that transcends all understanding….” It is with this peace that I will continue to trust in God and wait on “right timing.”

      • I connect with that, Josha! There are certain days I feel unbreakable… that I could shout it from the rooftops and face any adversity head-on! Then there are other days when I feel like moving to a place where no one knows me. I trust that God will continue to show me opportunities to share with others. And He will do the same for you. He is already using you in so many ways!

  10. I’m laying in my bed wide awake since 3am thinking about my life and my goals for this new year. One of them is to come out to my extremely religious family. Reading this has encoraged me and inspired me to do the same. I totally fell you on the editing your Facebook thing. I’ve been doing it too although lately I have up on editing it so I’m sure people are starting to notice. I just wanted to let you know that your words have touched me and inspired me. I hope to also one day be ready to publish something like this for everyone to read. I’m just not quite at that point yet , but thanks for sharing this , it really helped me gather my thoughts and gave me ideas as to what to say to my family. Hope one day can also do the same :)

    • Thank you so much for your words, John! I’m glad that this blog could be a place of comfort for you. There are some pretty amazing people who stop by here on a fairly regular basis. Just know that you are not alone. There are TONS of us out here who have been through the same thing… and you can always stop by if you ever need a word of encouragement! God bless you!

  11. If This World Were Mine ...

    I have to tell you that I adapted this post to my life JUST NOW and posted it on my facebook. My girlfriend follows your blog and sent this to me a while ago and I just now got the courage to post it. Let me tell you that the support has been OVERWHELMING. I spent an hour crying on my couch because of the pure joy that I was experiencing. I came out to my parents 2 months ago and it has been less than easy. The two of them with my crazy aunt have been the only ones to give me negative feedback. I am ahead in this game, I declare! I know that it won’t be easy for me and my parents, however, with the help of blogs like yours and my wonderful girlfriend, friends, and extended family, I know that I can make it.

    • This just made my day! I am so excited and happy for you. Congratulations for taking that HUGE step. It’s encouraging for me to hear stories like this, because it reminds me that people like us are ANYTHING but alone in this world. (It’s easy to forget that when things are looking down.) One thing’s for sure: LGBT folks know how to love… and we will always take care of our own. ;)

      • Thank you again for this post and your blog in general. I really hope you don’t mind me adapting this for my use. I couldn’t think of a better and more clear way of saying all of this. (I definitely gave you the credit!!) Have a great day!

      • I don’t mind at all, love. It’s not just my story… it’s yours too! :)

  12. Pingback: Telling My Story On My Own Terms | Coming Out Christian

  13. This past week with the intense flux of people changing their profile pictures to support marriage equality, I choose to post a photo that said, “I am a lesbian and support marriage equality.” I too am careful of what I post on my facebook. Although I post many things that support LGBTQ issues and have liked many queer groups, I had not actually stated my sexuality and I delete any posts made by friends that would say that. Most of my friends know and so they send links via a personal message.

    But this past Tuesday after much contemplation, I posted this message along with that photo: “I support marriage equality: Because I just spent time thinking about sharing this photo; Because I just spent time thinking about doing a custom share; Because I just spent time sectioning my friends by who would support this, who knows, and who wouldn’t care; Because I just spent time making sure that some people would not see this post; Because I just spent time deciding if who I am will somehow impact your life; Because I just spent time making sure that my family would not be held responsible, questioned, or blamed for my identity; Because I shouldn’t have to spend my time doing these things; Because I’m not the only one who worries about these things; Because we shouldn’t have to hide our lives; Because marriage is only one of many, many issues for the LGBTQ community; Because coming out is hard but your support makes it better.”

    It received 17 likes and one comment thanking me for sharing. I did still block people from seeing it. Mostly it was just family that I blocked because I felt like they should not find out via facebook. Then I wrote an email to my brother and his wife telling them I identify as lesbian. They are supportive and happy for me. I’m out to my parents and pretty much everyone I see on a regular basis. With that post I am now out to everyone except a few extended family members and mostly that was to save my parents from dealing with them. Because there is this strange rhetoric that says parents (mostly mothers because the domestic is “their sphere” – traditional gender roles – ugh!) are to blame for my identity. My identity that when I look back at my life is the only thing that makes sense of feelings I’ve had since I was little.

    • Your last sentence hits home with me. Completely. Crazy how all the pieces of your life fit together and make perfect sense once you figure out “who and what” you are!

      And bravo for you posting that picture! That took guts, so kudos there! Sometimes I wonder if straight people realize how much thought, prayer, and planning goes into something like that. It is a HUGE deal for those of us who are LGBT…. Lots can happen to us if that information gets into the wrong hands. But sooner or later, we find that we simply can’t sit still and do nothing. Congrats on a big move for you! May you have continued encouragement as we all move forward in this together. :)

  14. Manders-
    I love you.
    Always.
    -Tatewyn

    • This comment means the world to me. Your friendship always has—and always will—be something I hold within my heart. :) Thank you SO much. I love you.

      • Well then you better plan to spend an hour or so in Lexington having coffee with me next time you come through!!! I mean it!!!!

  15. Libbi Singleton

    No Need To Edit Your Facebook Page For Me…I Love You Just The Way You Are!

    • This means so much! Really, words cannot express. I love you! I feel as though a weight is being lifted… like I am beginning to breathe again.

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