Will It Be Safe to Come Out of the Closet?

My name is David. I’m sitting here in my closet. There’s just enough room to scrunch my knees up under my chin. I have my Bible with me––and a loaded handgun. I’m terrified to come out.

How did I get in here anyway? Yes, I did shut myself in. I didn’t want to hide, but I heard you use words like homo, fag, and queer to describe kids like me. You made jokes about gay people and mocked with hilarious impressions. I’m hiding because I feel alienated, unloved and unwelcome.

I have also heard my pastor declare from the pulpit that homosexuality is “sinful.” The not so subtle hint behind his message is that hell awaits me if I don’t change.

When did I realize I was gay? When I was eleven, I began to notice I was different. I liked another boy in my class and sent a Valentine to him. Did that ever cause an avalanche of teasing and bullying! It has been relentless ever since.

I feel I can love a member of my own sex much more deeply than a member of the opposite sex. I don’t know where these feelings come from. They’re just here, inside of me. I can’t make myself be attracted to the opposite sex. Believe me, I’ve tried! I’ve begged God to change me, to heal me, to get rid of these feelings, but he hasn’t. Perhaps I could pretend that I’m straight for the rest of my life or numb my feelings with alcohol and drugs. Would that help?

Maybe suicide is the answer. I read the other day that one-third of teenage suicides involve gay and lesbian teens. I can understand the desperation that leads to taking one’s own life. I’ve been weighing the alternatives. What do I have to look forward to in the future . . .

If my parents go ballistic when I tell them?

If I get kicked out of the house and have nowhere to go?

If I can’t come home for the holidays to be with my parents, brother and sister?

If the kids at school carry out their threats?

It’s so hopeless! I feel like a leper. Is it any wonder why teens like me kill themselves?

Did I choose to be gay? Are you kidding? If people had a choice, I seriously doubt anyone would ever choose to be gay! Why would I choose to be something that horrifies my parents and my religion condemns? In some places, it could cost me my life if I dared to walk down the street holding hands with my boyfriend.

Did someone cause me to be gay? No, I didn’t have a traumatic childhood. I wasn’t abused or neglected. You’ve seen how much my parents love each other. My family and friends love me. No one has talked me into this.

Am I mentally ill? I heard my pastor make fun of the fact that homosexuality was taken off the list of mental illnesses, as if he thought it should still be on it. No, I’m not mentally ill. I’m just different.

Can I change my orientation? Organizations have tried to do that, but after years of therapy, they have found the “changed” person is still fantasizing being with a partner of the same-sex. There’s no scientific data that gay people can be reoriented sexually with any degree of permanent success.

What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Biblical writers seem to have believed that everyone was heterosexual. The word “homosexuality” didn’t even appear in any translation of the Bible until the Revised Standard Version in the 1940’s. Many people believe the Scriptures are a trustworthy guide for showing us how to live the way God wants us to, but is our interpretation of them always without error?

I’ve been studying the verses in the Bible that Christians use to condemn us. Only a few out of over 31,000 verses refer to same-sex behavior in any way. None of them refer to homosexual orientation as it is understood today. Scientists have learned only in the past couple of centuries that homosexuality is most likely determined by a combination of genetic, hormonal, psychological, cognitive, biological and environmental factors, that it’s not a choice and that it’s not changeable. The men who wrote the Bible didn’t know that.

Did you know I agree that some same-sex acts are perverted? So are incest, pedophilia, prostitution, rape, adultery, bestiality and other gross sex acts committed by heterosexuals. In fact, heterosexual males known to the family––fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers or friends––commit 90% of all child sexual abuse.

Jesus showed his deep love for the sinners and outcasts of his society. Then he commanded his followers to do the same. “Love one another as I have loved you.” The only people with whom he became enraged were the religious leaders––for their hypocrisy, for doing unloving, hurtful things to other people in direct disobedience to this command. Sin pains other people. Bashing gays, like me, hurts!

It seems strange to me how a religion that teaches people to love their neighbors could be the basis for any kind of hatred, prejudice, or bigotry, but Scripture is misused to support unloving behaviour against us gays and lesbians. Is God’s love unconditional only for heterosexual people? Does God see sinners on a spectrum? Does he have a “sin-ometer” where homosexuality is next to murder? Are we not all in need of his grace and forgiveness?

So, why do I want to come out of this closet? It’s cramped. It’s stuffy. I’m exhausted trying to keep my secret. I want to talk about it, but I don’t know whom to trust. I want to stop pretending. I want to have warm friendships. I want to love and be loved without fear, ridicule or discrimination.

You have loved, accepted and encouraged me for the past eighteen years. Why will everything change when you find out I’m gay? I’ll still be the David you have always known and loved. What are you afraid of?

Yes, I do want to come out of this closet. I don’t want to blow my brains out with this gun. I really don’t. But will it be safe for me to come out, if you are on the other side of the door?

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