Do You Regret Coming Out?

From the archives, originally posted in 2016.

In light of the recent headlines with Colton Haynes officially coming out, I’ve had many people ask me if I regret it at all in my own journey.

What I can say is that I entirely echo Colton’s words that “acting 24 hours a day is exhausting”. What I regret is the time I spent living in fear of being discovered, disowned and discarded. What I’ve found is that most people in my life are embracing me and even celebrating my courage.

I’ve yet to meet a member of the LGBTQ community that regrets coming out. Regret is far often more attached to HOW it happened than being out in the open. Not everyone is as lucky as me. They don’t get to choose when and how they come out. Countless youth are outed by peers or parents far before they’re ready for different reasons. Many are outed within the faith community when coming out to someone in trust and “did you hear about?” becomes a “prayer request.”

Being out to friends and family and being out to the public are also different things–which Colton touches on in his article linked above.

For me, it’s deep and personal. I needed to come to terms with myself and grieve the ways I had acted and hurt myself and others while hiding from the truth. I needed to face the friends that I had shoved out of my life and force myself to ask hard questions.

I needed to choose what was more important to me–what I know about myself or what others expected of a Christian. Talking with my mom, we both laughed at the idea that I ever tried to NOT be bisexual. The first person I was ever in love with was my next door neighbour Melissa.

We were about 8-ish and spent every waking moment of the summer together. It was the kind of puppy love that parents encourage between a boy and a girl as “cute” and “normal”–but it wasn’t until I was a grown up looking back that I saw it for what it was.

Praise the Lord my mother never shamed me for that relationship or a few I had in my teens. In our family, who you love had more to do with how they treat you and others than their gender, race or religion.

What did coming out mean for you?

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Self-inflicted Battle Scars

Every week I try to write about a different Christian buzzword and today’s buzzword is same sex attracted/love the sinner, hate the sin. I have been struggling to come up with something to write all week as the reasons to ascribing to this philosophy are as varied as the people that Christians are bred to oppress.

People love to hate LGBT people because they assume that we’re all non-monogamous. It is true that a lot of LGBT people will hook up and have more than one partner in their lifetimes. A lot of them will have illegitimate children, as well. A lot of LGBT people, though, know the sting of being rejected by a parent, and because of that they will work to love the children gifted to them, either themselves or by giving them to a set of parents ready for the responsibility of child-rearing and ready to unconditionally love that child.

People love to hate LGBT people because they’ve been told that LGBT people are at war with Christianity. They’re right, there is a war being waged. The Christians attacked first when Homosexual acts were outlawed because of what the bible says. It became, after that, that LGBT people began fighting not to make the bible obsolete, but to understand how it should be applied in a world where people of many faiths and backgrounds coexisted. LGBT people were not trying to remove Christian rights at all, but rather even the playing table. I have heard hateful things spewed by both sides – two wounded animals fighting to protect themselves. I am not saying that one side is right and one side is wrong – both view the same world but only see what they have been conditioned to see.

People love to hate LGBT people because they’re different. People love to hate Christians because they’re peculiar. Both have a very rich history, though, full of events that shaped how we view the world today and full of people who changed the realm of human thought. For a long time I thought that if I were a Queer person I could not be Christian, but they’re fighting for the same thing, though. Both sides are fighting to express the love that they have been taught to show. Both the LGBT person and the Christian belong to these vibrant communities full of God’s creatures of all shapes, sizes and colours. Both will fight for those that they love, but more than that, they will fight for those in their communities.

It’s time to stop trying to find our differences and instead look at where we are the same. Instead of trying to vilify each other, why don’t we try to build each other up? We were all created unique, but we were all also created in the image of God, with an incredible capacity for love. It’s even been scientifically proven that when we try to love each other, even those people that we disagree with, we become happier. We were wired to love. It hurts to see this war that is being waged – because in the end, I know that we’re doing more damage to ourselves rather than each other.

In this war, can I be Queer and Christian? It’s hard to be Switzerland sometimes. It’s the disappointment when my LGBT friends won’t come to church with me even when I’ve shown up at their apartments because they’ve said they’re coming. It’s the awkward silences at church when I mention disasters like Pulse, and things like Trans* day of remembrance. It’s bible studies with the Pastor because apparently I’m deconstructing my faith.

It is so much more than that, though. It’s quiet moments where I pray with my LGBT friends and watch the Holy Spirit touch them. It’s in the questions that come from Christians who genuinely want to understand how they can love me and my communities. It’s in joking with drag queens when they catch on that you’re kinda straight-laced and being the only Uncle in church who hand makes birthday presents.

Navigating the Queer Christian world is less about what you ascribe to, and more about what you stand for. It’s less about what other people think about you, and more about what you think about yourself. Being a Queer Christian is about knowing yourself, and loving yourself, and letting the love of God shine through you on to anyone that wanders across your path, regardless of age, gender, race, beliefs or sexuality. In some ways, I think Queer Christians are the ones that get it right. They are the rebels – but wasn’t Jesus a rebel? They are the outcasts, belonging to two worlds but never resting in either – and wasn’t Jesus both man and God, the bridge between man and God, fully God and fully man?

In the end, Christians and LGBT people are fighting for an ideology that they can hold on to. Jesus said I came not to abolish the law, but fulfil it. Jesus contains everything needed to make us whole again, and I think we forget that in our scramble to be right. Following Jesus is not about being the most literally right – you’re not going to get to heaven based on how many scriptures you know and how many rules you follow. You’re going to be asked, “Did you love the least of these?”

Did you?

When Thursday is a Monday

We’ve all been there before. Doing something that makes us sigh at our humanity. It keeps us humble and reminds us that sometimes we just don’t have it all together.

The holidays are a hard time for me. It’s dark out almost the whole say, thanks Canada. I am far away from my family that I haven’t seen in going on three years, even more than that for my brother–whom I’d like to say was my childhood best friend and I do not take that for granted. I don’t have the ability to be as generous as I would like to. My brain is exhausted from school and all the work I put in to be my best.

Needless to say when I pour the unground beans into the coffee filter making coffee this morning, I let out a sigh and almost cried. My exasperation was heard by my roommate on the other side of our modest apartment–and I poured the beans from the filter to the grinder and mumbled “I obviously need coffee more than I thought”.

I’ve lost the ambition to clean my house, because I don’t have the finances to host anyone. Showering and putting on pants today was my victory.

During this time of year, it’s easy to forget in all the fun and events those among us who have aching hearts. I miss my son whom was taken from me before his life got to start. I miss the mountains of my childhood, the children that call me auntie, and the familiarness of a place called home.

To cheer myself up, I started to think of all the things I am thankful for. I urge you to give it a try. Here’s my list:

  1. A Warm House– This might seem trivial. Lately, it’s been colder than normal on Canada’s West Coast. I have a warm house, with a warm bed, and a cupboard full of tea. There are many in Nanaimo who are trying to get by this winter on the street. They are literally freezing. I am thankful for enough support to remain housed and I’m thankful.
  2. My Roommate– Our friendship is deeper than that of most roommates. Part of it is that we are both followers of Jesus, but there’s more. We take care of one another. We allow space for brokenness as we both struggle through life with mental illness and trying to function in a world that isn’t kind to those who cannot work full-time and go to school. She blesses me more than anyone I’ve ever lived with, and in less than a year we’ve become family and I’m thankful.
  3. The LGBTQ+ Community– They accept my contradictory nature. I love Jesus; many of my rainbow friends have been deeply hurt in the name of Christ and I am no exception. Yet, they do not fault me for my faith. There is a deep respect in this family of misfits and I do not take it for granted. The group here in Nanaimo holds some of my greatest champions. They help me to get out of bed some days and give me an outlet for my creative side and I’m thankful.
  4. Young Adult’s Group– I attend a very open, accepting and loving Young Adult’s Group that is groundbreaking in their inclusion of myself as a LGBTQ+ person of faith. I’ve never been judged or limited in my ministry by them. The leaders of the group have endeavoured to create a safe place for me, including a no-tolerance of abuse mandate. I will never take for granted the bravery to stand with me when many church leaders do not and I’m thankful.
  5. Outreach– There are pastors and friends in the community whom build me up emotionally, spiritually and even financially. They’ve helped me through a very dark period of my faith journey. It would’ve been easy for me to give up on the church after some of the abusive actions toward me. These folks have reminded me that we are all human, we all fail at loving one another, but grace allows for a better way and I’m thankful.
  6. My Family– Though we are a total mess, though there are not many of us that are even speaking to one another, my mom and brother have helped me in this past year. It speaks to the healing that comes with maturing over time. We are there for one another as best as we can be and I’m thankful.

By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it sure takes the blow out of the silly humbling things I do each day. It reminds me to look forward and not dwell on the little tedious circumstances that threaten to steal my joy. What about you? What are you thankful for?

~Cheryl

The Terrible, Awful, No Good Bad Day

This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

 

Something terrible happened last night. Something that we feared for months, but never thought would happen.

Last night, Donald Trump was voted into office as the President of the United States.

This morning, I woke up to an explosion on Facebook of friends who were seriously afraid for their lives. Already, some of them are reporting that people of color in their towns have come under attack.

We now live in a new world. A world where immigrants, women, and LGBTQ+ people are not safe from the very people who are tasked with making our country a safe place – those who make and uphold the laws.

In my entire experience as a trans man, I have never been as afraid and sad as I am today. As today dawned, tasked with a new disability and a new POTUS, I have come to the realization that I am no longer welcome in the country that has not been my home for 15 years, yet still holds my heart. I hold fear in my heart for my brothers and sisters across the border. Right now I wonder if they will see tomorrow.

Leading up to this election I made the comment that “I don’t believe in littering” when asked if I would welcome Americans onto Canadian soil. I want to amend that statement. No life is trash, not even that cheese doodle we’re about to call President Trump. But I don’t believe you should leave your situation unless your life is in danger. Trump may be President, but God is king. If all God’s subjects up and leave, who will be left to affect change?

It’s up to you. While that is the opinion that I hold on the subject, I will not judge you for your actions. This American living in Canada would just like to let you know that I love each and every one of you.

Micah

Micah is one of our contributers. If you would like to learn more about contributing to Grey Matters, visit our contact page.

THE NIGHT WE PAINTED THE LAND RED


Benjamin Granger. An American.

I sat and stared at the television screen. I was sitting there, on the old familiar couch in my living room, but my mind was somewhere else. All I felt was a strange, disillusionment… and all I saw was red…

Red was the color that ushered in the much-to-soon inevitable end to my freedom. Red was the color that came to tell me I could no longer safely publically be me. Red was the color that told me I could no longer post anything on my Facebook about my sexuality, or anything remotely indicative of my being gay or supporting my own rights without being documented. Red was the color that stole the joy from my heart and replaced it with… I don’t know what. It’s a strange feeling to go from feeling privileged and progressive in one moment, to a slave, a second class citizen, a target of hate, and completely unwanted by a nation, all in one hour.

Thoughts starting racing. My career was over. Why finish school. How could I have a job anymore? Who would hire me? An openly gay male? I’d already come out on Facebook. It was surely already no secret to the government what my sexual predispositions were. In one evening, my plans at being a psychologist, a counselor, and a therapist vanished. My years of study in college were meaningless. My degree was meaningless. In one swift heart-wrenching moment, my thoughts for my future went from writing, research, producing literature, and continuing pursuing my passion and dream of musical compositions, art, and teaching, to one sickening thought; “I have to survive, and I have to escape.”

So this is what it’s like to be a refugee. This is what it feels like to live in hiding. This is what it feels like to be a minority. A true minority. Without recognition. Without privilege. Without rights. Without honor. Without dignity. Without worth to my name. Walking outside to smoke a cigarette was different that day. That man in the truck driving by looking at me… did he know? Was that hatred in his eyes? Was that fear in mine? Was that a gun in his front seat? How could I live like this? In … AMERICA…

America… the land nothing bad ever happens. No one ever gets hurt. No violence. Only freedom. Only liberties. Only privilege. Only wealth and opportunity, education and progressivism. I ceased to exist. Worse, in that stunning moment when the red tide overcame the blue like an unrelenting insatiable sea of anger, I ceased to matter. Never mind that I had a degree. Never mind that I was a musician that could command tears to dance on your face from your eyelids. Never mind that I was a healthy, strong, handsome young man in his prime, able to work and worth his wages in labor. Never mind my potential, my progress, my pedigree, my knowledge, my intelligence, my productivity, my anything. I might as well have had any of it. Never had done any of it. Never been any of it. Never had been anything.

The poorest straight white man with no education, no passion or pursuits, no talents or drive to do anything was worth more than me in this new land that I called, ‘home’, even with all that I am and can be. Because I’m gay. And trump hates gays. My shock turned to anger as my family cheered him on. As people said hurtful things on the internet, and told me I was overreacting and to get over it and stop seeking attention. ‘That’s why people don’t like us to begin with’ they said. ‘Overdramatic attention-seeking homos’. My church spurred it on. Praising Jesus in my midst for the man who told me I was worth nothing. That my marriage was worth nothing. Let my kids figure out where to go when their daddy dies, because dad doesn’t have their same last name. So many things in my head.

“The elections over, just get over it and move on!” “Why do you have to beat a dead horse? Let it be and stop criminalizing and attacking us” they said. I was supposed to just roll over and let them take what was sacred to me, that they took for granted, and then “get over it”… and this is what America thought of me. Where was I going to live? Where was I going to hide until then? What if no country will let me in? What if I’m stuck here… What if…

Are they really going to put us into concentration camps? Surely not! That would never happen in America! Donald trump would never win the election! Donald trump could never get that many votes! Donald trump wasn’t really running for presidential candidate… I’m starting to wonder if my worst fears are yet to be realized. Should I prepare? Or hope?
Shared by permission in the hopes to reach as many as possible–that we might understand, support and rally together. 


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