Coming out matters, especially if you’re straight.

A lot of the focus of National Coming Out Day is on encouraging women and men who are closeted to break out of that closet once and for all. Back in the day (as if it were so long ago), it was dangerous for people to do so and only the very bravest and most radical were able to do it; most were in urban areas where at least there were others around them.

Harvey Milk was one of the first to go on record with this call:

Gay brothers and sisters,… You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives… come out to your friends… if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors… to your fellow workers… to the people who work where you eat and shop… come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene.

And now, I want to go on record with my own plea:

Straight sisters and brothers … Christ-followers, agnostics, aethiests … Come out in your show of support for your gay family members, friends, co-workers, the girl at the grocery story, the students in your classroom. I know that it is hard and that you may lose friends or possibly have to move churches. But think of how religion and politics and bigotry are hurting gays, lesbians, and transgendered people. Come out in your church, come out by refusing to support a political party and politicians who are dead-set on denying equality to all Americans. Come out on Facebook, to everyone you know, so that everyone will see you no longer believe the myths or support the lies and hate. For our sake and for yours—particularly our precious youth—from Granbury to Richmond.

I’ve said before that the fight for equality could not have been started without the hard work and sacrifice of a generation who refused to accept being treated as second class citizens. But the war against bigotry and hate and repression will be WON when our heterosexual allies stand up and fight with us.

In our very lifetimes, we are witnessing the dramatic shift of the attitudes of heterosexuals—many of them identifying as Christian—COMING OUT and saying

  • You are equal to me.
  • My God loves you exactly as you are!
  • You are welcome in my home and in my life.
  • I have your back.
  • I love you.
  • I will never stop loving you.

These words bring not only solace to our broken hearts, it sets a powerful example to others to do the same.

Yes, it is vital that those who identify as homosexual let the world know they are “here and queer” (and we prayerfully lift up those who will do this at great peril–risking even their own lives–to do so). But it is just as—no, more—vital that heterosexual women and men come out just as bravely and defiantly to support LGBT people: to encourage them and help them find acceptance in their communities and their churches.

If you are already out as a straight ally, I thank you.

If you are not out, if you are scared of what others will say when you do come out, then I encourage you to bravely break out of the closet of fear that restricts your innate ability to show compassion and love. Educate yourself on other movements where the courage of ordinary people turned the tide in those pursuits of equality, and…

Come. Out.

My story:

It hurt a lot of people.
Offended even more.
I allowed others and myself to question the beauty of God’s own creation in me, my faith, my worthiness.

Like a newborn fawn trying to get used to his legs, coming out was awkward and difficult. But it was a necessity; I could no longer pretend or deny or click my heels and wish it away.

Upon coming out, I still had the same life, the same family, the same job, but just about everything else was different. And it was hard.

Slowly, I stretched my legs and began to stand, awkwardly at first. Looking back, I realize this would have been impossible without the nurturing of a small group of men and women who surrounded me (and surround me still) tightly, with their protection and encouragement. my heroesThese beautiful people—along with my little brother, my mothers, my aunts, my sisters, and others in my community—all helped me get used to my new legs to the extent that I began to experience life with a zest and a joy I had never known. These people validated my new-found authenticity and nurtured my very soul.

Please realize the impact you could have on another human being. On the world.

Previous post: Hope Does Not Disappoint

7 thoughts on “Coming out matters, especially if you’re straight.

  1. love is love, no matter what. The majority of my gay friends became my friends before I knew they were gay – but I adopted them into my life for WHO they were – they were passionate, intelligent, creative, dedicated, loving, goofy, frustrating, and any other number of adjectives you can apply to having a person in your life. My knowledge of whether they were gay or straight had NOTHING to do with whether they were “who they were”…. I loved “who they were”.

    How could I turn that admiration of a person into a hypocritical situation with a caveat “oh, but you are gay, so never mind, I don’t like you”…..

    I want to share a story with you….. we were on vacation with a group of family-by-choice at our cottage…. a couple gay folks, a couple straight folks…. and a young gay couple who were just beginning to stretch their legs, coming from broken hearts, recently divorced from spouses, one with children, tenous & hurting….

    Our trip was not “about them”…. we were just there to be together and the young couple could only be there for one day & evening with us. Over the course of that evening, I saw experienced gentlemen counselling, assuring, encouraging, as a father or uncle might…. No big party, no wrapping them in a rainbow flag and dancing in the streets – that was NOT what they needed…. they needed real life COACHING…. how are you gonna deal with your ex-spouse, how are you gonna deal with visitation, etc etc etc…. One of the children is a special needs kiddo, so that added another layer of “how-to-handle”….

    That was a couple of years ago…. I have watched these young men grow, individually and together, take care of the children, establish routines, and remain together….

    So, all we can do is “be there, be WHO you say you are”….. If I ever told you I love you, you would have to do something against me, something that hurt my family, something vile to ever retract that love….. and you being gay doesn’t qualify….

    I, WE, love you Todd…. and so many others…..

    • wonderful story.
      i have been wrapped up similarly–and in particular, remember a frantic phone call back home which you answered and “held my hand” through many days.
      thank you for being “YOU” (Val too) to so many people!

  2. 1st… I am straight.
    You’ve asked us to agree with you & support gays on these levels as straight people:

    – You are equal to me.
    – My God loves you exactly as you are!
    – You are welcome in my home and in my life.
    – I have your back.
    – I love you.
    – I will never stop loving you.

    Not a prob… I do, without hesitation, agree & support you on all these levels that you’ve mentioned.

    I find the most interesting point of support you ask from the straight community is agreeing that “My God loves you exactly as you are!” I think that this where the strongest point of tension is: the difference between the “essence [are]” & the “existence [do]”. Perhaps when I & your friends meet we could begin our discussion here.

    Now… if I should have to endure bullying, shame & hate for “coming out” & saying I’m against the lifestyle practices that you are engaged in & promoting… well… I’m fine with that… but… it doesn’t seem to be fair that I would not receive the same treatment & points of support from which you are asking of me. However, I am certain that would not be the case…yes?

    REAL friends can & do sometimes disagree. Usually friends that really care are the ones willing to risk the friendship to call their friends out & are also the type willing to hear them out.

    Your Friend,
    – Travis

    • just a brief point of clarification:

      i’m not asking all straight people to come out in support of gays. i’m asking for people who ARE supportive TO COME OUT in support OF gays–if they are, in fact, supportive.

      if you (a person, not you, per se) do not think your God loves me the same as you, i have nothing to say to you and certainly have no interest in relationship with you; that’s my personal choice. i can love you for the creation that you are but i cannot nor do i want to enter into relationship with you. this is not a base disagreement; the issue of my “fearfully and wonderfully made” creation cuts to the soul.

      and again, let me say: this blog is not about calling all straights to support the gays or their “lifestyle practices” (LOL really, Travis?). not at all.

      and one more thing: real friends believe their friends to be equal in every possible view of human rights.

      here is my blog calling my friends out:

      • thanks for responding ;-D it hit my email & went in with the rest of the chaos that is my inbox… hah!
        & again thanks for allowing the dialogue, lemme catch up:

        1) on your point of clarification for “asking straight people who are SUPPORTIVE to COME OUT in support”… point well taken & fair enough
        2) to be sure I def believe God loves you & me (& everyone) the same. That being said, I have a couple of questions so I can understand how you draw all said here together in your second point: What did you mean when you referred to God as “your God” (in your reply to me)? I mean, I see you quoted Scripture in the same point, so wondering what was meant What did you mean in saying that “this is not a base disagreement”? How do you feel that your quote from Psalms makes your point?
        3) again same as point 1… but also (to clarify) “lifestyle practices” yes… in the biblical worldview, it is “behavior” that is in question as I stated in my initial response… & that goes both ways… no pun intended X^D… you know that’s funny…
        4) but seriously, again, the biblical worldview teaches that “essence/being” always precedes “existence/behavior”. Everyone’s rights are of equal value in their essence, but this is not so existentially & THAT is where the tension of the disagreement is.

        I hope this helps you understand a non-cariacaturized view of biblical worldview… again… thank you for discussing.

        Your friend,

  3. Pingback: my “coming out” story | uhm...

  4. Pingback: The real need for “coming out” | uhm...

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