A Minister’s Coming Out Story
A Minister’s Coming Out Story
My idea of LGBTQ justice would be a world where “coming-out” no longer existed. A person need not feel ashamed or burdened about their sexuality and in particular their homo-sexuality. The heterosexual world doesn’t have their “coming-out” and neither should the LGBTQ community. All are accepted and celebrated.
As a child and teen I was teased unmercifully. I knew I was different and understood I had same-sex attractions but at that time it was considered a mental-illness (and not that there is anything wrong with having a mental illness… I do have a mental illness but it is NOT being gay. I struggled to suppress my homosexual feelings and did what was expected of me. I was married to an opposite gender individual for 27 years before I finally came to terms that if I was to find true happiness I needed to stop suppressing my homosexual feelings and come out. Doing so, of course, cost me my marriage and it cost me my three kids (who are all now in their 30′s and after 10 years still harbor resentment and hatred towards me for “betraying” them.) My partner and I have been together nine years. He has an adult son age 26 who treats me as if I were another dad.
I am active in my church (First Baptist Church of Fort Myers FL, a CBF Fellowship) and twice was asked to teach a Sunday School class because of my knowledge of the Bible and my gifts as a teacher and twice I was asked to step down because someone in the congregation found out I was gay and objected to having an openly homosexual in a leadership position. I considered leaving the church but my pastor encouraged me not to saying that my presence has done more to open the minds of the congregation as to what it means to be gay and that I don’t fit the usual stereotypical gay person. I’ve had people say they didn’t realize I was gay because I didn’t act like it. How does a gay person act??? I accept that I am a “bear” with a few tweaks… I have acrylic nails (all my life I had crappy nails so a friend encouraged me to try acrylics) and for the first time in my life I am not afraid to have someone see my nails nor do I have to try and hid them. I’ve been having them done twice a month now for about five years.
I participate with LIFE Lee Interfaith for Empowerment Justice Ministry in my community. This is the second year of the justice ministry. Last year we tackled bullying in the schools which included LGBTQ teens. This year we are dealing with Mental Health/Mental Illness focusing on the homeless and children with mental illnesses. As I stated I live in recovery with mental illness and fortunately for me my medications control my symptoms and help me live in the “real” world. (My diagnosis is schizoaffective-bipolar, ptsd, ocd, katsaridaphobia.) I was fortunate to have a therapist who was not only willing to deal with my mental illness issues but was a great influence and supporter in helping me come to terms with my homosexuality and coming out. I don’t believe it is a sin to be homosexual or to participate in homosexual activities. As the organization grows and stabilizes, I plan to begin introducing the concept of social justice for LGBTQ individuals.
The past couple of years I have been coming to terms with the word “homosexual.” For my generation that word carries so much negative connotations. The word “gay” takes the edge off but I am more and more using the word homosexual as opposed to “gay” as a way of influencing others that there is nothing wrong with being homosexual and that it is just as “OK” as being heterosexual.