Do you believe God loves every part of you?
Or have you been hiding in the pews and shadows, too? For the first thirty years of my life, I lived in fear of God or anyone else knowing my deepest truth.
In our small, closed-minded corner of American Christianity, everyone believed the ultimate definition of a true Christian was: straight, white, cis-gendered, Republican, spirit-filled man or woman of God. So, I constantly tried to deny my true self and be someone completely different, in order to please a God of fear and shame and be accepted by my family or my church.
Do you have any idea how exhausting it is to perform your whole life for people who will only fully accept you if you deny anything about yourself that doesn’t meet their approval? For the past three decades, I’ve lived a lie, hoping to appease a group of people who only support you if you follow their rules and live up to their unfair and unrealistic expectations.
I knew I wasn’t completely straight when I was twelve. Sure, I’ve been in hetero (or straight-passing) relationships all my life, but that’s not exactly who I am. Well, the hiding ends today.
Truth is, I’m Queer.
If you want to get specific, I check the boxes for bicurious, pansexual, questioning, and demisexual. So, I’m pretty sure that makes me the Q in LGBTQIA+.
Here’s what Healthline says about identifying as Queer:
An umbrella term that describes individuals who aren’t exclusively heterosexual. The term queer acknowledges that sexuality is a spectrum as opposed to a collection of independent and mutually exclusive categories. Use of the word queer opens up options beyond lesbian, gay, and bisexual to individuals who don’t fit neatly into these categories or prefer a category that isn’t dependent on sex and gender.
Did you know there are at least 46 terms that describe sexual attraction, behavior, and orientation? (And all this time, I thought I only had two choices: gay or straight.)
I’ve been attracted to both males and females for as long as I remember. But coming out as Queer is much more about identity than acting on sexual desire or curiosity. For me, coming out is about me saying that my attraction is less about the physical act of sex, and much more about the soul (premium members will receive more on that in a follow-up post next week).
Because vulnerability is my favorite characteristic in any human. I have two new books releasing in the next six months. Each one focuses a great deal on vulnerability. So, this is one more way I am mustering all of my courage and grace to come out of the shadows and allow God’s light to shine even more brightly on my whole self - my true self. And honestly, I never want the size of my audience to determine my level of authenticity. So why not START this new season of my life by no longer hiding in the pews?
(Side note: I’m deeply grateful to be working with publishers who stand in solidarity with me regarding this announcement.)
What does this mean for our marriage?
To be clear: Lindsey and I are not separating or starting new/separate lives. This about uncovering my truest self, while learning to celebrate the intricate ways in which God designed us all. Thankfully, my wife is celebrating my truth with me.
Lindsey and I deeply care about each other and are great partners and co-parents with a wonderful, healthy, happy marriage. When I first shared my truth with Lindsey back in 2018, she didn’t shrink back in fear. She didn’t pull away in disgust. She didn’t file for divorce. She took my most significant concern, wrapped it in unconditional love and acceptance, and handed it back to me.
In my most vulnerable moment, my wife held me while planting the softest kisses on my neck. After holding this secret from everyone for so many years, I felt wholly emptied, in the best way possible.
I am sharing this today with Lindsey’s full support. The reason it took so long to share is because Lindsey is a patient, intentional processor, who never rushes through huge decisions or drastic life changes. But after marriage counseling, three years of private discussion with our inner circle, lots of research, and soul searching, we are ready to share this with you.
Isn’t this risky? Perhaps.
But when you know who you are, very little can shake you from the core truth of your being: God’s beloved.
What about the children?
As parents, Lindsey and I talk about vulnerability and the importance of always telling the truth with our children often. Our kids are deeply emotional, sensitive, curious, open-minded, open-hearted beings. We want Ben and Cara to see our example of not only talking the talk, but putting our vulnerability into action. This is my truth, and I want my kids to know they are always safe to share their truth, too.
What kept me from coming out for so long?
Fear and shame.
Fear of those who handed me the script I’d been following since childhood.
Shame over not living up to their unrealistic expectations.
Fear of being disowned by my family.
Divorced by my wife.
Disappointing my children.
Embarrassing my church.
Losing lifelong friends.
Being shunned by publishing houses.
Or cutting my audience in half.
But if you can’t accept me fully, as I am, you don’t deserve even a slice of me. Because I’m a whole person. Three-dimensional and extremely complex. So I will no longer tell just one little piece of my story, hoping to be completely accepted. I refuse to keep hiding in the pews. I’ve been shining God’s light on the intersection of faith + mental health for a decade, but it’s time to help people find God (and inner-peace) at the intersection of faith + sexuality, too.
No more hiding
This is about clarifying who I am living my truth with courage and vulnerability. I know we’re all uncovering our true selves and I hope that eventually, we’ll all be able to stop hiding in the pews and live into our true identities.
I love you all so much,
P.S. After sharing this, I’m going to step away from email and social media for a while. If you don’t support my coming out, please take your opinion elsewhere. This has been a long, slow miracle for me. So, if you can’t say something nice, just don’t say anything.
Bonus Content for Premium Members:
Read my original journal entry from 2018, when I first came out to Lindsey.
Affirmation: I Live as My Authentic Self
“I spent most of my life trying to destroy the real me. A suicide of the soul, identity, and meaning. When you finally embrace the gift of your sexual orientation it is the end; the end of shame, fear and oppression.” ― Anthony Venn-Brown, A Life of Unlearning
“Amazing how eye and skin color come in many shades yet many think sexuality is just gay or straight.” ― DaShanne Stokes
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.” — Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage (I’m sure Rev. Keller would LOVE to know I used his words in this context. Bless his heart.)
This article by Matthew Vines
This book by Rev. Liz Edman
This post by Matthew Paul Turner
Asexual Visibility and Education Network wiki site, where you can search the definitions of different words relating to sexuality and orientation.
#PrideMonth #LGBTQ #lovewins #slowmiracles #graceismessy #hidinginthepews