Minister of Social Justice Saint Mark United Methodist Church www.stmarkumc.org
When and how did you come out?
I came out during my first year of seminary at Emory after a long discernment process with my faith, and reframing the word “gay” for myself, because it had been used as a derogatory term toward me growing up.
Once I met other people of faith who were openly gay and living lives of integrity and love, and embraced the term “gay” as a connection with an amazing community of people like me instead of a term that was meant to make me feel bad about myself, the rest was easy. I busted out of the prison that was in my own mind.
How did religion play a role in you coming out?
I was fortunate to have had a great experience in church growing up. I had lots of mentors in church who cared about the needs of the poor and oppressed and taught me that loving God involves finding out who is oppressed in any given situation and making sure I’m standing on the same side that they are.
In seminary, I had the opportunity to study the original language that the scriptures were written in, as well as study the evolution of Christian thought ... and realized that the central message of loving God, self and neighbor was a constant, whereas cultural norms were constantly changing but seemed to be evolving toward inclusion of all people as children of God.
Once I finally came out of the closet, I felt a huge weight lifted and knew that embracing all of myself was indeed an act of loving God, self and neighbor.