This may reach down and touch deep places in the hearts and souls of many of you struggling with the whether or not to come out. At risk of losing parents who might reject you for being gay. Longing to experience the human right of being able to simply live true to yourself. Terrified of what may happen if you come out of the closet — or if you stay in.
All too common. Sad. Very sad. Difficult. Very difficult.
I write Dear Susan posts most every Friday. Sometimes they are poignant, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes tender, sometimes funny… but hopefully always worth the read.
Hi Mrs. Cottrell,
I can’t believe you took the time to write me. You probably think I’m terribly rude for taking so long to respond. It went to my other email, my incognito address I use for privacy.
I’m a member of the Gay Christian Network, though I haven’t been on in a while. It’s difficult, I think, to establish relationships with people when you have to be so vague to avoid being outed.
I’m in my 20’s. I work in the medical field in a small county in a southern state. For me, it’s a real fear of being fired should I come out, though my biggest fear is losing my mother. She is adamant that homosexuality is not natural. We discuss the biblical issues, but I think she’s in denial about me being gay.
So, of course, I’m not honest. I lie when I’m asked. And I know that makes me a weak person, but I desperately don’t want to hurt her. I think I could lose all my friends and family, and though it would hurt, nothing would hurt worse than losing my mother.
Anyway, that’s probably waaaaaaay more than you wanted to know. Apologies for being gushy!
I enjoy your blog so very much. Your love and compassion shines through. It’s something the brand of Christianity in my part of the world often lacks.
Thanks so much for following up. It means a lot that you’d care to email me.
Hey there! So nice to meet you. Not rude at all – I’m just glad to hear from you.
Weak? You are not weak! Lying about being gay in the situation you are in is not weak. Clearly, you have more at risk than those who judge you understand. You’re in a terrible bind, and it breaks my heart.Let me tell you something: I see you as strong. I see you as navigating waters most of us can only imagine. I see you as clinging to a significant, maybe the most significant, relationship you have ever had. I see you as having to weigh out your words and actions daily, to be always on alert about what vibe you’re giving off, to be bound into a double life you never would have chosen, but about which you have little choice.
I am deeply moved by your struggle. Not only is your mother in denial, but detractors in general are in denial. I wish they would open their eyes to the damage they are causing. And it’s not about lack of love for you. You may feel that her love is limited because if she only knew the real you, she would not love you. But she has swallowed buckets of lies and from box-pastors and box-churches. If she had not been subject to those condemning false teachings, she would not believe what she does. Other moms, no more loving than yours, accept their gay children, because they were not taught such lies – or they have been willing to go down a journey and have discovered the truth. It is not about you, or even in a way about her, but about the many, many lies she believed without knowing any better.
There is not a clear answer on this. But I do know that anyone who would judge you for whatever choice you make lacks depth of understanding of what you face on a daily basis. You weigh out options in an impossible situation and make the most palatable choice.
Do you come out and risk losing job, community, family, mom? Anyone who says you should has not sufficiently considered that cost.
Do you deny who you are? That’s easy for someone else to say, isn’t it? If you’re like most LGBTQ people, you’ve been there done that – and the cost to the soul is incalculable.
Do you change your orientation? Hahahahahaha! Can’t do that.
Or do you lie as you’re doing and try to maintain that primal relationship that rips your heart out to even contemplate losing? Sigh. Sounds like that’s where you are, and no one is in a position to judge you harshly for that.
I certainly do not judge you and I invite you not to judge yourself for that either.
You are a strong, honest, caring, loving person. More than you know my friend.
I’m so glad you wrote.