Well, here it is, another Coming Out Day. Advocate.com reported that 83% of all of the people they surveyed who are self-identified as “gay” are out. How lovely it would be if that represented all of the GLBT population.
In the South, being out as GLBT is still very difficult for many people. This is especially true in heavy military populations like we have here in Clarksville. Even civilians who work on post feel as if they have to stay “in” in order to be able to work hassle-free.
As for my own experience, I didn’t come out even to myself until I was 30. Yes, I’m a late bloomer. It took a couple of years after that to blow off the closet doors. Now, I’m just a rebel with a cause. I’ve never been more free, more content, and more at peace with myself than I am at this moment.
My method of “coming out” was a little more public than some might employ as it was by a commentary in the local newspaper that I wrote in July of 2004. I had already com out to most of my friends and family by that point, but this time it was to the whole city. I had seen how so many people were talking about gay marriage and no one from the GLBT population spoke out about it. I decided it was time to break that silence.
Does being out mean that you have to be a gay activist? Absolutely not. It does mean that you can live your life with integrity and hold your head up high knowing that you’re no longer living a double life. When I was confronted by now-mayoral candidate Mark Hiehle and another local pastor about the letter I wrote, they asked why I wrote that letter. I told him that living with integrity means that I live my entire life as a Christian who happens to be gay. It means that I’ll not hide elements of my life just to make people happy. It means that I’ll celebrate my partnership of almost five years.
I told them that my mission was to put a different face on a gay man that was different than the ones that are shouted down from pulpits across the country. “There are two realities in my life,” I said. “I’m Christian and I’m gay.” I had to reconcile those differences. Thank God that I did.
We parted that meeting amicably, but we knew we’d disagree. And that’s okay. Sure, I’m imperfect. And yes, I’ve made some mistakes over the last few years. But through it all, my hope, my heart, and my passion is to work for the local GLBT community and continue to build those bridges that we can all cross together. It’s a rainbow bridge, and it’s great to be out.