National Coming Out Day 2016

Happy National Coming Out Day.

Since I came out as gay in 2013, my life has gotten more complicated in some ways and less complicated in other ways.

It’s more complicated because I have to take being gay seriously as a part of myself. I don’t have the freedom anymore to say that it isn’t that important, that it’s always something manageable, that it doesn’t touch other parts of my life. I don’t have the freedom to be opinionless about the plight of LGBT people in our society. I don’t have to the freedom to act like I’m not part of the LGBT community just because I’m a Christian and just because I’m [imperfectly, attemptedly, work-in-progress-ly] celibate. I don’t have the freedom to call Christians us and LGBT people them. I don’t have the freedom to be apolitical, even though I don’t have the answers.

It’s less complicated because I don’t have to make excuses for not being married yet. I don’t have to monitor my behavior, my gestures, my voice, my interests, my relationships, to make sure nobody will suspect I’m gay. I don’t have to be evasive when people ask about my romantic interests. I don’t have to hide my emotional life when my friends tell me about theirs. I don’t have to keep my friends at arm’s length. I’m allowed to be transparent about exactly what I’m struggling with, with anybody I choose. I get to make jokes about sexual attraction, like normal people do. I get to fail in my attempts at chastity without feeling like a monster. I don’t have to have secrets. I don’t have to stay up at night wondering what people would do if they found out about the real me. I already know.

Not everybody wants to come out or believes it’s okay to do, and that’s up to them. Not everybody has the freedom to come out without fearing for their safety, and that’s a terrible injustice.

I’m so grateful that my friends and family have made it so easy for me — but even in the best of circumstances, coming out and living out is a hard thing, and I’m proud of myself. I have not regretted coming out even once in three years.

I’m here if you want to talk.

19 Comments on “National Coming Out Day 2016”

  1. Steven Michael says:

    You mention that you know longer have to keep your friends at arm’s length. Have you noticed anyone being more uncomfortable around you or especially thinking you were attracted to them (aside of course from when you’ve told people straight out)?

    I hate feeling like I have to monitor all my actions so people won’t suspect that I’m gay, but I’m afraid that being out would just make them even more uncomfortable.

    1. This was a big fear of mine, too. I can honestly say that I can’t think of a time anybody has seemed to withdraw from me in this way — no, scratch that, I do remember one time, but it ended up that he was only distancing himself from me because he was worried that he might be gay. We talked about this at length later, and it ended up being a really good conversation.

      I remember being particularly worried about my best friend, “Sal” — he was always very physically affectionate with me, and I was afraid he’d no longer feel comfortable being that way. That fear turned out to be totally groundless.

      Your mileage may vary, but the general rule seems to be that the people most prone to withdraw are people who have fears or unresolved issues surrounding their own sexuality.

  2. Albert says:

    I love you, Joey 🙂

  3. Thanks for your words, Joey! I prize this blog because I identify with so many things that you write. Be strong for me! So many of us look up to you in the gay Mormon community.

  4. Dominic Huber says:

    Hi Joey, I like your blog because I know that a person can be gay and still be a Christian. However, I feel like I can’t trust a lot of LGBT people because of how they have been treating Christians recently. Ever since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, some gay couples have been bullying Christians into using their talents into doing things they don’t support. I have nothing against people being gay, but I also can’t support their recent bullying of Christians. As much as I would like to be friends with gay people, I’m worried that I might be bullied too.

    1. Bullying is always a risk. I find that one-on-one discussions tend to be better for a mutual and respectful sharing of opinions, even when they differ. When the forum is bigger, mob mentality tends to take over.

  5. Maura says:

    Hi Joey,

    Thanks for saying this, and for coming back to the blog! Would you ever consider writing a post or doing a podcast on how straight and single Christians/Catholics can best accompany our gay brothers and sisters? I love my parish, but I cringe when the homily is yet another rant about gay marriage, that always mysteriously fails to address the possibility that there are people in the pews who might be gay. I can’t count how many “culture wars” sermons I have heard, but I can tell you how many I’ve heard addressing the need to walk with each other and learn how to live in love as unmarried single people regardless of orientation–none. Thanks for your witness!

    1. That’s a good idea, Maura. I’m not sure whether this post means I’ll be writing regularly — might have been a one-off — but I do appreciate the suggestion, and I share your cringes.

  6. Robbie says:

    Hey Steve,

    So I have a friend who is catholic like me, and devout, but also recently came out. I totally respect him and admire him for doing so, but I’m also kind of sad that he actually IS acting on it at the same time. If we’re ever talking and the conversation begins to drag over to LGBT stuff he generally ends the conversatioin by saying, “I already know that the church is against being gay and its doctrines about it, so I don’t really want you to just spit back out the stuff I’ve already heard in theology class.” How can I aproach him in a loving way that he will listen to and will help him, and why going about dating dudes isn’t that great of an idea? He’s still trying to be “a good catholic” but at the same time “a good gay” and to not let the two mix. Should I leave him alone and pray for him? I really want to help, and let him know he can be gay and catholic and there isn’t an conflict with his life, becuase he’s a really amazing friend of mine and I want the best for him. I just don’t know how to convince him of that. Thanks.

    1. Hi Robbie! This is a really difficult and crucial question, and the kind I prefer to answer via email. If you will do me the favor of putting this in an email to me at steve.gershom(at)Gmail(dot)com, I will be happy to talk further.

  7. Thomas says:

    Hey Joseph,
    I recently came out to my best friend. It was super stressful, but what made it even moreasier stressful was the fact that I am Catholic and she is not. In fact, she often goes on rants about how much she thinks the Church is wrong. Well, I was afraid that she would be the one angry at me becasue I want to live in accordance with the Church (which is a bit ironic if you think about it). Well the conversation went well and I am very thankful that it did. Thanks for your awesome blog!

  8. J.hoare says:

    Hi joey
    I think sometimes the word gay is too loaded. I came out as “gay ” to my friends and family over 20 years ago. But when one says one is gay people automatically
    Assume one is promiscuous , swinging from the chandeliers etc . I also partially felt I had to live up to what the gay lobby required of me and to identify with all that the gay lifestyle implies.It is a loaded word with political,life choice implications also with militant overtones.i wish now I could have come out as S.S.A
    Or “same sex attraction” which is a calmer neutral statement of fact without all the connotations the other implies.
    It is also less heightened and probably less frightening to others who don’t understand fully who we are.

    1. I think the word “gay” can be loaded, depending on who you talk to. I’ve also found that the phrase “same-sex attraction” can be loaded, too, since some people associate it with various problematic attitudes towards gay people and towards homosexuality. Some people even associate it with reparative therapy. For these and some other reasons, I prefer to say “gay”.

      1. Joe says:

        Question what are the problematic attitudes towards gay people re ssa ?
        Trouble is that now words are so politicised that they have become very powerful
        For most ssa Catholics /christians ,of which we are members ,the word gay is very potent
        More so now than ever. Ssa is a statement of fact ,we are same sex attracted,
        gay is loaded implying lifestyle choices and political allegiances which can lead people
        Into thinking they have to be fully paid up member of “the gay community” when they do not.

        Not withstanding the fact that if a load of drag queens had not rioted at stonewall
        We might not be having this conversation !

        1. Hi Joe,

          I don’t think words being politicised is anything particularly new. Words have always had connotations, and those connotations have always been tied to whatever is going on the culture at the moment.

          In my experience, when non-religious gay people hear the term “same-sex attracted”, it brings with it associations with reparative therapy. Reparative therapy is deeply controversial even among Christians. In other circles, it is seen as deeply homophobic and deeply dangerous. I wish to avoid that association.

          Another reason I tend to avoid the term “same-sex attracted” is that it seems to compartmentalize one’s homosexuality in a way that I don’t think is realistic. If you (somehow) removed my same-sex attraction from me, I don’t think I’d be the same person at all.

          As far as Stonewall and the LGBT rights movement in general are concerned — even though I don’t agree with everything the movement stands for, I’m deeply grateful for a lot of the work that people in that movement have done.

  9. anonymous says:

    I’ve been trying to determine my opinions on homosexuality and the Catholic Church, and have been doing research to try to figure out what’s real and what’s right. I’m Catholic, and I used to be a huge supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. Now I’m just utterly confused. I just have one question for you: are you honestly happy with the choice you have made?

    1. Hi Anonymous — that’s not an easy question to answer. But I’d be happy to discuss at length with you if you would like to email me at steve[dot]gershom[at]gmail[dot]com.

  10. Deric says:

    Wow … your story, at least the beginning sounds like mine! Although I have yet to tell ANYONE who knows me this … it is very lonely and scary place to be. My family and most of my friends are very religious (Evangelical Protestant) and wont be as open or supportive i dont believe. I would love to have acknowledgement if not support from them but see more turmoil than peace from coming out. I just happened to find this blog via a link from a Catholic page I follow, this was the first blog i read here and has given me encoragement. Thanks for your honesty ….

    1. I know what you mean about “lonely and scary”! Feel free to drop me a line if you’d like.

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