October 11th is National Coming Out Day
At 17 years old, I was struggling to figure out who I was and where I fit in the world that felt, perpetually, just out of reach. I was also in love. It was an all-encompassing kind of love that warmed my belly and dizzied my head, like that first sip of wine cooler someone snuck from their mother’s stash and passed around under the football bleachers. My love had kind brown eyes, an easy smile, and was perfect in every way except the one that mattered most. She was a woman. The first time we kissed, two train cars collided. My train, barreling neatly towards a degree, a husband, and that white picket fence, was thrown off its tracks as I came to know myself for the first time.
I was gay.
Church had always been a safe space for me during the struggles of my childhood and for this reason, Rev. Allen, was one of the first people I ever came out to. I was filled with fear and shame when I approached him with my news. It hadn’t gone well with the few who had come before and his opinion, having watched me grow and confirmed me into the Church, meant so much to me.
I knew the church had adopted the Open and Affirming designation, but I was skeptical that grace would extend to me.
Turns out, it did. Rev. Allen met my coming out with warmth, acceptance, and the absolute greatest of hope. The journey hasn’t been easy. I still faced ignorance and ostracism, but because of his ministry, I knew God was on my side.
Ten years later, my love’s kind brown eyes and that easy smile stood across from me at the altar as Rev. Allen pronounced us joined in holy matrimony. He blessed our union, acknowledging that even if the law did not recognize our marriage for what it was (as gay marriage was not legal at the time), surely God did. It was hope that allowed me to follow my heart and build the beautiful family I’m privileged to call mine. My children are now at the age I was when I first met Rev. Allen and I see them already being enriched by his messages of endless possibility and the greatest of hope – as all who know him are.