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Posts tagged ‘coming out’

When silence takes turns

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Why did I tell you?

We were at a retreat center deep in the Californian forest. I asked you if I could have some of your time to talk about something important, and you made the time. It might have been late at night, while us restless 20-somethings milled about in the paths and in and out of the various buildings. It took us some time to find a warm spot where there was not much foot traffic. It was probably raining outside this particular long weekend, as it often did each year, nearly a decade ago.

Why did I choose to tell you? You were safe. I knew that most likely our friendship would be safe, that you not keep a polite safe distance from me. There were many things I wasn’t sure of, but I was very sure that I would not be harmed by revealing my story to you. We were already good friends.

After getting to know you for three years at that point, I was certain that you would not be disgusted or weirded out. I knew that you were not driven by prejudices. You never put up a front or pretense, you were always real.

You were loving and caring. I knew that you would not leak my story out to others. I saw that you were a man who set your priorities upon an abiding relationship with Jesus, and that any action would only by careful consideration of how Jesus would have done it.

When I told you, my voice retreated, and I saw those words come out of my mouth that were now impossible to take back. But you asked me thoughtful, meaningful questions. Each question respected my dignity, and was with a caring eagerness to know more about me.

I told you because I needed help.

There was no emergency or crisis anymore, but I needed at least one close friend in the city who knew what I was going through and where I wanted to be headed.

I told you because I needed at least one person to watch for me if I happened to choose to make stupid choices, or when I was particularly lonely or hurting. I needed someone to talk to when I needed reassurance, and someone who would not be afraid to tell me the truth if I was starting to talk nonsense.

I told you because I was certain at that point that at least in this area you did not share my struggle, and were in a position to help, to strengthen, to remind me of who I really was and what I was becoming.

You were actually the sixth person I had told up to that point. During college, after first revealing my struggle to a girl, I told my pastor over some Round-Table Pizza, then told one of my dorm-mates, then another guy. In the city I lived in after I moved away from school, there was only one person who knew, and that person moved away.

Oh, yes, there was a risk.

There were those I wanted to open up to, but I chickened out before the grand reveal, and talked in generalities until we moved on. There were “best friends” I had told and was never heard from in the years since, not because of prejudice, but because they did not believe that my same-sex attraction indicated anything that needed healing.

It would be years before I told my own parents and my own brother. By that time I told them not because I wanted help, but to show them the miracle that had happened in my life, right before entering into a new adventure of becoming one with a woman I had fallen in love with.

So thank you. Thank you for making those 5 minutes of courage worth a lifetime, and for being someone I can still turn to after all these years. Thank you for being the one to remember this moment, when I myself had forgotten. That in itself, speaks volumes of the friendship I had with you. I love you, brother.

Photo by jessgrrrr