National Coming Out Day Reflection: Doug Collins

No Apologizing

Doug CollinsOne of my friends and ministers speaks a lot about feminism and her experience in seminary during a time in which women just didn’t do that sort of thing. She speaks with clarity about the many experiences she has had throughout her life in which coming out as a feminist to the Christians and coming out to the Christians as a feminist was met with rage, confusion and misunderstanding.

“Feminists are angry men-haters. Christians are bigoted, patriarchal, and blind.”

In many of our discussions, we shared similar life experiences of living with two conflicting identities that others just didn’t perceive as possible. In the midst of that frustration, she made a comment that will always stick with me. She said:

“Being a feminist Christian feels like being the child of divorced parents. There are so many Christians who have raised me to be the woman I am. They have loved me and taught me about living a life full of meaning. I’m also a woman. There have been so many women in my life who been such amazing, supportive people to me as I have grown into the person I am today. I happen to believe that women are equal to men – that women deserve all the same rights and are the same in God’s eyes as all humans are on this earth.”

I too, feel like the child of parents who went through a nasty divorce. Both of them love me so much and I could never choose one over the other. I find myself in a grand scheme of misunderstanding: accusations upon accusations both rooted in the same claim – that one side is more righteous than the other. One parent has got it right, and the other is a self-centered idiot. We live in a world in which coming out as who you really are, in any respect, is just hard. It’s possibly the hardest thing we humans do while we’re alive. Not just gay, or Christian, or woman, or feminist, but coming out of any closet. It’s the age old question: who am I and what am I supposed to do on this earth? It makes me wonder how many people trudge through life just trying to survive, hiding a piece about themselves for fear of being attacked or persecuted by the people they love the most. Where is God in that anyway?

Dear lover, wherever you are, If you’re there, if you’re reading this, I’ve got some news for you. I’m a Christian and I’m gay. I am a person who finds men to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually attractive. I don’t know why. I just am. No, I won’t sleep with you tonight. I’m not interested in FWB or telling you if I’m DDF or HWP or into poppers or 420 or whether or not I’m circumcised. If that’s all you want to know, I want to know more about your story. As a Christian, it saddens me to hear that you want to know whether I’m a top or a bottom instead of getting to know that I’m a jazz pianist, or that I have a passion for graphic design and making people laugh. I believe God made me to be who I am. I hope you do too.

Dear Christians, I’m gay. If you care to know, I may disagree with you theologically. We may have different images of the Christ and we may just not have the same conclusions about what God wants us to do. You may think I’m going to hell and that I’m just a perverse sinner who refuses to look past my sexual desires in order to better glorify God. Yeah, it hurts people when you say things like that. It’s the reason children grow up in churches and kill themselves every year. It’s also the reason that it is still somehow a huge “scandal” every time a famous athlete or politician comes out because s/he is sick and tired of giving in to society’s norms, and more often than not, the church’s status quo. Where is God in that? Where is the church?

My dear brothers and sisters, among the spectrum of sexuality and race and creed and nationality and physical appearance, there is nothing I want more than to work as hard as possible to accept you for who you are. Why? Because I am sick and tired of living a life of apologies for who I am. I am sick of staying silent during a sermon of ridiculous condemnation, or whenever I’m at a wedding and the pastor finds some reason to slip in their sermon that God only consecrates one man and one woman. I’m sick of trying to explain to everyone who I think God is and why I do and believe the things I do. I’m tired of trying to both have a conviction for my faith which calls me to do justice and to walk humbly, while on the other hand, affirm and share with others that I also have doubts and that that doesn’t mean I’m a total moron or that I think I should just give up on religion altogether because it’s only for those who can’t seem to find a moral compass elsewhere. I believe that God is more complicated than that. I am longing for the day when I don’t have to find some crafty way of slipping something into my online dating profile about how I’m “spiritual” or “open to religious ideas” so long as it doesn’t “define who I am.”     Let me tell you something – the faith I put into the way I live in relationship with God, the one in whom I am free to explore my whole being and wrestle with the big ideas is who I am.

Dear Mom and Dad, or Dad and Dad, or Mom and Mom, or human and human, please, get over yourself. Stop fighting. It hurts my soul. It makes me feel like I’m the reason you split up. Your angry accusations and shouting matches about who cheated on whom and who gets the kids and how awful and wrong each other is tells me that you care more about convicting and slandering each other than learning how to forgive and reconcile your differences for the family. You know those times when it’s just you and me out on the boat or cooking together and you make some snide remark about how “your father” or “your mother” is just full of crap? That makes me furious. It makes me want to leave you forever because you think I can just cut out one of the people who loved me and raised me and taught me to care for myself and others just like you did.

Parents have the capacity to abuse their children. They can say the most rotten, horrible things ever. They also have the ability to find a new way and to live in harmony, at least for the sake of the kids.