I’ve been “out” as part of the LGBTQ+ community for over a month. Some friends ask me what my life has been like since coming out. I can think of many ways to describe my experience, but one word sums it up well:
I spent much of my life believing that nothing to do with the LGBTQ+ world could ever produce fruit. Imagine my disappointment when I finally accepted my sexual identity. Why would God let this happen to me? Obviously, from a young age, I vowed to not let this information get out. My “dirty little secret” would remain with me indefinitely. Turns out, indefinitely actually does have a definite end (at least, it did for me).
I believe that God holds true to every promise He makes. When I became a Christian, I began to hold Romans 8:38-39 close to my heart.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As a scared, gay college student, this Scripture brought me peace. God will not abandon me. He won’t let anything hurt me. He will keep me safe from rejection. I believed that my secrecy was okay; God allowed these secrets because He was protecting me. I had the wrong interpretation of this Scripture. The secrets I kept about my sexual identity were not ordained by God, and it definitely wasn’t His way of keeping me safe. Through pain and heartbreak, I began to learn that Romans 8 meant something different. God will not let anything get between He and I….especially not my own secrecy and sinfulness.
God began ripping down idols, secrecy, sexual sin, and more, after I graduated college. He brought me down low. And by low, I mean having my post-grad plans taken from me, moving back home with my dad, and working at a small-town seafood restaurant…with my college diploma gathering dust in my childhood bedroom. Reluctantly, I began to listen to the Lord. After all, I had no one else to listen to. It was there, in my childhood bedroom in my childhood home in my Bible-Belt hometown that I began to understand what a raw, real relationship with God looked like. This was the first time that I began to understand that my relationship with God had nothing to do with my sexuality.
Faaaaaaast forward to a month ago, I experienced freedom for the first time in my life. God continues, after all these years, to break down walls and barriers that I have built around myself. Romans 8 holds true: He will not let anything separate me from His love. From the beginning, the biggest barrier between God and myself was me. While I have slowly shared my sexuality with close friends and colleagues, I still felt a need to shield this part of me from the general public. What would my home church think? What would my campus ministry friends think? It became easier to pretend and hide than to be honest and vulnerable. I preferred and adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with most friends, because sexuality is just uncomfortable to talk about. Obviously, this only lead to more secrecy, seclusion, and heartache.
Then, Orlando happened. 49 LGBTQ+ lives were lost, and I was heartbroken. I felt more vulnerable than I had in a long time. I felt exposed, scared, and sad. I felt unloved, when none of my friends reached out to me to ask how I felt about the shooting. I felt unwelcome, when churches wouldn’t acknowledge that gay people were made in the image of Christ, and that gay people were brutally murdered for…being gay.
My own sexual identity was secretly tucked away while these people were killed. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t healthy. I was tired of living a double life. I was tired of censoring my sexuality based on the group of people I was around. Life had become tiring and depressing. So, I came out. I have always heard that once you put something online, you can never fully remove it. I will never be able to retract my statements about my sexuality. I am thankful for you, Internet! I can no longer hide behind my own secrecy. I am transparent.
This is the first time I have ever understood what it means to experience freedom. Scriptures like Romans 8 finally makes sense. Nothing can separate me from God’s love, through Christ. I have done nothing to earn that love, and I can do nothing to have it revoked. My sexuality had zero impact on God’s decision to save my soul. Transparency is God’s desire for humankind. When Adam and Eve were in sinless in the Garden, they were naked. They were transparent. They had no fear of rejection and no secrets to hide. This is God’s perfect plan, and sin has made it incredibly hard to experience! For the first time in my life, I have no secrets; I have nothing to hide. Can you imagine the burden that has been lifted from my soul? It is nearly impossible to explain. I have learned more about God’s specific desire for me. God loves me, Katherine, in a special, intimate way. He designed me, sexuality and all, in His perfect image.
My transparency has opened the door to some incredible, life-giving conversations with some amazing people. I have had friends (old and new) come out to me, share their struggles with me, and thank me for my courage. I have been able to personally share my story with both affirming and non-affirming Christians. I have had the opportunity to offer my perspective to people who are struggling to understand their beliefs about sexuality. I have been able to build bridges in my workplace for the LGBTQ+ Christian community. God has opened doors that I have been trying to keep closed. He has shone His glorious light on every part of my life; I am free. I believe God will use me AND my sexuality for His glory, and I am excited about that. I am in the light.
For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. [Ephesians 5:8]
One thing I have noticed is an increasing pattern of fear among my LGBTQ+ Christian friends. They are afraid to come out to you. They are afraid that you will reject them. They are afraid that you will redirect them to a gay conversion therapy group. They are afraid that you will disregard their story, and try to help by changing them. If I can offer any advice to my non-affirming Christian brothers and sisters, it would be to listen. I am not asking you to change your beliefs, and I am not asking you to perform a gay marriage in your church. I just ask that you open your eyes, your ears, and your hearts. Hear our stories. Coming out is no easy task. Oftentimes it comes with years of fear, depression, and anxiety. Extend grace to your gay peers, because they have had to extend a lot of grace toward you.
To my LGBTQ+ friends, God loves you. He is jealous for you. He wants all of you, even your sexuality. He created your sexuality. You are His treasure.