Monday, February 17, 2014

Coming Out

Michael Sam came out.

Ellen Page came out.

Now it's my turn. I think it's time I told the world the truth about my sexuality.

I am a heterosexual male.

And the world throws a huge collective yawn. Nobody cares that I am a straight guy.

There may be a few people who care that I am not a homosexual male. But that's not the same thing. Not at all.

Coming out as a straight male costs me nothing. It takes no particular courage. I'm not likely to be ostracized, vilified, disowned, or demonized for it. There will be no real consequences. No one will try to make me change. Not that I could anyway.

Westboro Baptist "Church" probably won't announce a demonstration because I've come out. They did mount a protest against Michael Sam. At least they tried to. University of Missouri students rallied in support of their defensive lineman. They made a human "wall of love" that effectively cut off the hate group's attempted demonstration.

God bless 'em.

There has been discussion about whether Michael Sam will be welcome in NFL locker rooms. It shouldn't be an issue. I'm not saying it won't be an issue. Just that it shouldn't. The fact is every man who has showered in a locker room has probably showered with a gay guy. The only difference is Michael Sam is open about it.

Now that he's out, Michael Sam is still the same talented athlete that we knew.

Now that she's out, Ellen Page is still the same winsome actor we knew before.

The only thing that may have changed is our perceptions of Sam and Page.

I know and love people who are various shades of queer and various degrees of out. In three decades of ministry I have had a few parishioners come out to me. I know people who have struggled for years to accept their own sexuality. I have seen the courage that it took for them to be open in a world that has judged them as defective, perverse, and wrong because of their innate sexual identity. And I have seen that once they come out, they are still the same people they were before.

I like to think that it is getting easier. I like to think that it is getting better. I like to think that because of people like Michael Sam and Ellen Page more young people will find the courage to be open about who they are.

I like to think that a day will come when an LGBTQ person's coming out will be met with huge collective yawn.

1 comment:

  1. Hi. I'm one of Brant's friends and I am queer, mostly closeted.

    So, here's my biggest struggle lately as someone who's somewhere in the process of coming out but who's a lot closer to the closet than the light of day. I'm nowhere near ready to come out to anybody whose positive reaction I cannot reasonably predict, which means I'll be avoiding the assholes for the foreseeable future.

    Which also means I'll be hanging out with non-assholes for the foreseeable future. Here some classification is in order. There are straight people whose positive reaction I can reasonably predict. That'd be a very small group of close friends with whom I am most comfortable conversing about my evolving understanding of my identity and how I will ultimately choose to express that identity. Then there are the people who identify as some variety of LGBTQIAAetc. So far the number of people in this classification to whom I have revealed my identity struggles is one. She is both an awesome person and a great friend.

    Still, I am close to petrified to be in her presence. I just feel like I'm not worthy. She has learned from the school of hard knocks. She came out to her fundamentalist parents after years of worrying about their reaction, just to cite one example. I know how worried I was for her, I can't even imagine how she must've felt, and I'm even less able to imagine that being but one of many trying times.

    I guess I don't feel worthy of equating my struggles with those of people like her who have taken those punches and learned to roll with them. They've taken them because they had to, because there are assholes in the world who insist on throwing them. They roll with them because the only other option is to hunker down and hide, which is no way to live, which is still exactly where I'm at.

    My problem, as I am able to understand it, is that exclusion and assholery have created the perception in my mind of a club of LGBT insiders who have taken the hits and kept their heads up. I don't feel like I belong in that club. I guess I don't have enough queer cred, at least in my own mind. At this point in my life this is what's most holding me back from figuring myself out and letting others know what I've discovered. I just can't get past the automatic assumption that I'll never fit in with the rest of the club. That, and I'm not very fond of punches, not even the metaphorical ones.

    Hence my hope for the yawning. My hope is that when the world yawns the need for the exclusivity, whether real or, more likely, imagined, of the group of folks who've taken the punches will have disappeared because no more, or at least very few, punches will be thrown. I hope that people who find themselves "figuring things out" won't feel awkward around those who would be most helpful to them because they perceive themselves as inadequate or lacking queer cred. What I hope for most is that soon the only cred that will matter will be human cred, i.e. if you're human you fit in with the rest of the humans. All of them. The queer ones and the straight ones.