I started this blog because I realized I was gay, and I felt like I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it.
(Saying that I realized I was gay is probably putting it too strongly. It was more like I finally admitted to myself that I had been attracted to women for a long time and that might possibly mean something. My first attempt at coming out was telling my best friend, “I think I might be not-exactly straight.”)
I made a lot of noise about New Year’s resolutions and discipline and sorting out my head and speaking my mind, but really . . . it was the gay thing. I didn’t actually start writing about my sexuality until I was well into the process of coming out in real life, but in a way, this blog was a promise. It was a promise to myself that someday I would be able to tell people. Someday I would be able to admit to who I am. Someday I wouldn’t be ashamed of myself.
I didn’t really expect that day to come so soon.
The past year (and a few days – this is a bit late) has been a big one for me. I’ve discovered a whole queer Christian community where people like me are exploring what it means to live out faith in Christ as a sexual minority. I’ve finally, really committed to being in therapy and sticking with it. I’ve become part of a church where I really feel connected and at home for the first time in years. I’ve found so many people (both old friends and new) that love and support me no matter what. I’ve survived the first three semesters of my graduate degree program, built a great resume, and started applying for post-graduation opportunities.
I’ve also stopped talking to my parents.
Unfortunately, my Christmas break was a little more dramatic than I expected it to be. After a long talk about my sexuality and several days of pointed commentary, I decided that while my parents are entitled to their opinions, it was neither necessary nor healthy for me to continue subject myself to their expressions of those opinions. So I called my best friend and asked her to drive out and pick me up. When I announced my intention to leave, my parents insisted that they had not created a hostile environment. Instead, they maintained that I was experiencing the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and that by leaving instead of submitting to that conviction (and their spiritual authority) I was “abandoning [my] soul to eternal damnation.”
We haven’t spoken since, and I’m not sure when we’ll speak again.
For years now, my relationship with my parents has been a stitched-together monster made of half-kept secrets and grudging compromises. I’ve wondered for a long time if the only way to heal it would be to burn it to the ground and start over. I’ve also wondered more recently if anything will grow in the ashes of all this string and madness. There’s a lot of dysfunction there, and a part of me thinks it might be wiser to salt the earth and move on. My parents cling to their right-ness with the terrified fervor of martyrs, and I don’t know if our relationship will prove worth the courage necessary for them to step away from that security and venture into the unknown. I don’t know if they will ever accept my queerness. I don’t know if I will ever be truly welcomed there.
Ironically, on the way to the airport to fly back to my home state I decided that my word for 2014 would be Belonging. This year I hope to live in three different cities on two continents. That’s a lot of leaving. But in all of that hoped-for wandering, I also want to explore what it means to belong. Last year a lot of my learning and growing was about who I am. This year, I want to spend more time thinking about who we are. What does it mean to be part of a church? A family (chosen or blood)? A group of friends? A community of similarly identifying folks? What is it like to belong as a student? An intern? An expat?
I have never been good at belonging. As a fiercely independent introvert, I tend to be a bit of a Lone Ranger. As a child from a dysfunctional family, I tend to have trust issues. But I want to get better at it. I want to be able to welcome people into my life and to be welcomed fully into theirs. I want to get better at the give and take of relationships. I want to be able to play well with others.
Twenty-thirteen was a year of growth and change. It was painful, but it was worth it. I believe that 2014 can be similarly fruitful.
What are you hoping for this year?