Nick Freeman is preparing to tell his mother he’s gay and an atheist. And he’s doing it by allowing himself to be featured in an article for the North Carolina State University student newspaper:
Freeman, a freshman in aerospace engineering, is a member of [Secular Student Alliance] still trying to figure out how to convey his beliefs. He told his father about his non-theism during high school because his father is also non-theist. But Freeman fears telling his mother or people at his church at home for several reasons.
“I was brought up in a Southern Baptist church, so for us [being atheist] meant that you were an awful, horrible, very bad person,” Freeman said. “I was born into the church, and I’ve identified as atheist since I was 15…I’m [still] not out of the atheist closet.”
“There’s a very strong sense of community at our church; I love all of the people there and I’m very afraid of losing them,” Freeman said. “[The reason I haven’t come out as homosexual] is the exact same reason haven’t come out as non-theist: I’m afraid of losing their respect.”
Freeman said it’s difficult keeping things that are such big parts of his identity from people he loves, but he wants to be able to be independent, before risking the loss of friends and possibly family.
“If you look at surveys…the only minority group hated more than gay people are atheists,” Freeman said. “But surprisingly enough, I was extremely happy as a gay Christian…and there are tons and tons of congregations that are very open and accepting of that now.”
But Freeman emphasized that his homosexuality and non-theism are two separate parts of his identity as a human being. “Sometimes people say ‘You’re gay because you’re atheist’ or ‘You’re atheist because you’re gay,’ but that’s simply not true.”
As for Freeman, he said he is aware that consenting to being quoted in this article may force him to tell his parents the two biggest truths of his life — a stepping stone he is ready, but anxious, to take.
Good luck, Nick! I hope your mother realizes you’re still a pretty decent guy no matter how you identify. But coming from a strong Christian background, there’s a good chance the conversation won’t go down quite so smoothly. But stay calm, be patient, and remember that it might take a while for her to get used to the information.
And get your dad on your side.