I have tried to write the blog entry for many months now. You see, I have lived most of my life in fear. Fear of being found out. And I lived much of my life ashamed, ashamed of who I was. That fear and shame has colored my life in so many ways I cannot even begin to count them. I have been thinking a lot over the past year about this. Who is to blame for my fear and shame? Well I think it basically boils down to three things: myself, the church and the society.
I just finished watching a re-run of one of my favorite shows "Joan of Arcada". In this episode Joan almost outs a popular high school jock for being gay. I know the fear he must have felt.
The church is to blame because for most of my life I never heard a life affirming thing come from the church about me. I heard plenty of other people affirmed, but for me the church was either silent or condemning. It is a painful place to be. To love the church when the church seems to hate you so much. I was talking to a straight friend recently about the difficulty of finding a gay boy friend who thinks positively about the church. Oh there are gay men out there that do, I'm one of them in spite of all of my experiences. But sadly for many good reasons, many gay people feel and believe that the church has nothing for them. This saddens me greatly and I'm sure it saddens God as well.
Society is to blame for much the same reason as the church. The same attitudes were present in most of my life. And of course, choosing to spend 24 years in the military only made it worst and surely must be evidence of me being either crazy or extremely self loathing, but that will come later. Society did, and for the most part continues, to devalue and disrespect me merely for being a gay man. Except in rare places, which seem to be growing thank God, society seems to either outright condemn me or is at best apathetic to me.
Last, and perhaps most destructive, has been my own shame and fear. Fear of being found out. Shame for being wrong, or evil or whatever my mind might have chosen to call it. It is a terrible burden to bear to hate yourself. I know I'm not alone in that arena and I know that being gay is not the only reason people hate themselves. But self hatred and shame is so destructive to one's soul.
It is sadly so easy for me to understand why so many gay people chose suicide. It is a hard thing to bear hating yourself and believing that society and the church and, even sadder for some, your family all hate you. I'm so grateful to God and my family that I never had to experience that last betrayal.
It took me a long time to come out. Far too long. The last place I finally came out was the church. I finally reached the breaking point when I kept hearing people talk about gay people as "those people" like they were not among us. I could stand it no longer.
Well it feels good to get some of this off my chest. I know that I have not fully forgiven society, the church or myself yet for the years of shame and fear. In fact, I don't know if I ever will be able to.