I was 13 when I first came out.
It felt very adult back then, very mature: owning up to my shame and my secrets, stepping to the light. I didn’t call it “coming out”. I called it confessing.
I don’t remember who formed the theology, who made the moral judgement and decided what a Holy Course of Action would look like, but I think it was me. That’s how I remember it.
I set it all out very precisely.
It’s a sin.
There are any number of verses for this. Pick one of six, all brutally clear and plain, all useful for teaching and instruction, maybe a little harshly worded, but the conclusions are obvious. This is a Wicked Thing, a stain, an illness, a sin.
It’s not any worse than any other sin.
If Jesus could say looking at a woman lustfully was the same as adultery, surely looking at a man and looking at a woman were the same (Right?).
God can forgive me. He forgave an adulteress, and if I’m not worse than that (right?) He can forgive me.
It all came together so easily, built on itself in such a tidy stack. It was so consistent, and simple, and straightforward. That had to mean it was true. I figured it out when I was 13.
And for a decade I didn’t question it. I added to it a little, ornamented it when I found Hebrews 4:15 (“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but rather one who suffered every temptation common to man, yet was without sin.”). That must’ve meant he was gay too, right? Every means every, right? (I ignore, with a little knot of terror deep in my stomach “common to man”, because this isn’t “common” this is dark, and deviant, and shameful).
And I come to accept that this isn’t going to change. It was easy to accept. So what if it didn’t? It was just my own little sin, my own little thorn in the flesh. My tormentor, but really, not that big of a deal. I was still going to meet a girl in college, get married (after graduation, obviously, having waited until after marriage to have the sex that I obviously wanted to have, obviously, and would enjoy, obviously), and raise a family. Then that didn't work out. Well then, I'm going to meet a girl, going to have a family with her. All the same steps, just delayed a little. I'll probably meet her in church. I'm just going to have to avoid looking at “male porn” in addition to the straight stuff while I wait. No big deal.
I realize I can’t change. I can't just turn straight. And I even get to the point where I think “maybe I don’t want to”. If this is tied, somehow, in some primal way, to who I am, (to my creativity, to the ease with which I can talk to girls, the tender, protective feeling I have for my closest guy friends), then I don’t want to give it up.
And that idea fits. Smoothly, comfortingly, like a warm jacket. But it also feels wrong. I feel a tremor of fear when I say it out loud, a little wet trickle of shame. I should want this fixed, shouldn’t I? (I do). At any cost.
I never questioned any of it.
Why would I? It made so much sense. It proceeded so logically, from A to B to C, point 1 through 3, all illustrated with clear and simple verses.
And it worked so well. It slipped neatly into everything I was raised to believe, everything that made my whole life puff along so cleanly and simply. I didn’t have to change anything, I didn’t have to change, I just had to avoid this one simple thing. Just lock away this one, unnecessary, shameful little piece of me. It was so livable.
Or it felt that way.