I’m coming out to my parents this weekend.
Earlier this week, I told my pastor that this is probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done. My father is a conservative, Pentecostal minister who has engaged in reparative therapy. I have heard both of them attribute homosexuality to demonic influence or sinful rebellion, so I’m not exactly expecting them to be accepting. In fact, I’m kind of assuming that I’m about to throw my entire immediate family into absolute chaos. There will be hand wringing and crying and yelling and quite possibly wearing of sack cloth and ashes. (Okay, maybe not that last one.) My parents are going to have to rethink their entire world view or commit to a permanently contentious relationship with one of their children.
Sounds like a nice weekend, right?
I keep asking myself (and being asked by others) why I’m doing this. In part, it’s for my relationship with my parents. We’ve had a number of serious disagreements over the years, and there is already quite a bit of distance in our relationship. I know that being less than honest with them about such a huge part of my life will only add to that distance. I know that until I’ve told them, I will question every word they say about how much they love me or how proud they are of me. I know that as long as I’m holding this back, I’m protecting myself instead of being open in the way you must be to make a relationship work.
But there’s more at stake here than my relationship with my parents. Also at stake are my relationship with myself and my relationship with God.
Again and again as I’ve prepared for this weekend, I’ve thought about the idea that God created humans in his own image. Some part of me looks like some part of God, and I can’t help but think that it must be a fairly vital piece, one that suffuses or is connected to all the rest of me. I mean, if I just had God’s nose or his eyelashes or his penchant for spicy food, I wouldn’t be the image of God. We would just share a characteristic or two. Being created in his image implies a deeper, more complete likeness.
So if I’m created in the image of God, if his likeness is echoed through every part of me, my sexuality must be included in that. God made me this way, and I refuse to believe that it was a mistake or a punishment or a cruel joke. God made me this way because it affects who I am and how I experience the world. It changes my thought process and my point of view. God made me this way for a reason.
I don’t know what that reason is. I don’t need to know. All I need to know is that God loves me and that he wants me to live fully and authentically as he created me to be. And I can’t do that while I continue to hide part of myself. I can’t do that while I pretend to be “normal.” I can’t do that from inside the closet.
So, tomorrow, I’m coming out to my parents.