Thursday, October 11, 2007

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

I look into the window of my mind
Reflections of the fears I know I've left behind
I step out of the ordinary
I can feel my soul ascending
I'm on my way
Can't stop me now
And you can do the same

What have you done today to make you feel proud?
(It's never too late to try)
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
You can be so many people
If you make that break for freedom
What have you done today to make you feel proud?

(Heather Small, "Proud")

Today is National Coming Out Day - a day when gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals are encouraged to "come out," to share our identity as GLBT persons with the rest of the world.

By acknowledging on this day that I am a gay man, I am not "flaunting" what I am. I am not "recruiting" others to some mythical "gay lifestyle" (whatever that mythical thing is). I'm not saying that I have a boyfriend, or a promiscuous sexual life, or that I am a drug-using club-hopping playboy.

In fact, it means exactly the opposite.

"Coming out" means that I am all the things that I was before - as well as gay. I'm still a follower of Christ; I still am kind of an outsider in organized religion (and there is some good in that!); I am still a storyteller, I am still a recovering alcoholic; I am still a 50-year-old, heavyset, graying man. I am still, hopefully, a man with a great heart, and great dreams, and a desire to be of service to my God and my fellow human beings. None of that has changed.

And I am a gay man.

There is much of me in that regard which has changed, certainly. I am not the desperate-for-approval, please-accept-and-love-me person that first came out two years ago. There is still one area in my life - my youth-group activities - in which I am not out. I made that choice because I wanted to be of service to the organization. But I also told them, when I started, that "don't ask/don't tell" would work, until someone asked - because I wasn't going to lie. No more.

Until I find a friend/boyfriend/partner who's willing to put up with me, there just isn't a lot in my life to deal with. But on this day, if none other, I need to let people know who I am...what I am...and Whose I am. The song lyric at the beginning of the post, used in the very last scene of the 5th seasons of Queer As Folk, reminds me that to "step out of the ordinary" is what I'm called to do. And that I'm called every day to do something "to make me feel proud" - as a brother, friend, man in recovery, and Christian who just happens also to be gay.

If you are interested in coming out, or know someone who is struggling with it, there are vast resources to help. Here are just a few:

The HRC Coming Out Project - including stories of those who have come out, and all kinds of information for GLBT's and their families. - a site started by a mother and father whose son came out to them, and their journey to acceptance.

A Letter To Louise - a former chaplain and Civil Rights Commission worker responds positively to a friend whose son is gay.

Accepting What Cannot Be Changed - an article by Dr. David Meyers of Hope College about sexual orientation.

Why Come Out? - Tom Scharbach's very sensible and common-sense advice to me (and many others) about the benefits of coming out. An excellent bit of experience from a very sharp mind.

The Gay Christian Network - including messages and discussion threads on all aspects of gay Christian life by more than 7,000 online members who are both gay and Christian. A podcast called GCN Radio has some great information, including a great interview with Patti Ellis of Family Acceptance (above).


Poor Mad Peter said...

Happy Coming Out Day, Steve man.

Heidi Renee said...

I remember when you came out here on the blog and I was so happy for you. I had always sensed this somehow from your writing - and it felt so right and real to have you owning who you were here.

Happy Coming Out Day Steve!

Im A Foto Nut said...

Guess what famous person (wizard) came out this week?


It's true I Googled it. I came right out of JKR's very own mouth.

Some kid asked why Big D never had a woman in his life.

Who knew?

Im A Foto Nut said...

In 3 days it will have been a month since your last post are you still in there? OR Does the EE have you strapped into your chair?

Poor Mad Peter said...

Dear Mister Flower,
Our automated monitoring staff have observed and reported to us that you have not posted in the blogosphere in over a month, human time.

If we do not see an update posting from you shortly, it will be necessary for us to notify a number of humans, who will then proceed to pester you with postings requesting your whereabouts and state of being.

Please do not force us to begin this process.


BMB (Blogosphere Monitor Bots)

Anonymous said...

Hey man, really miss hearing from you - hope you're doing okay.