I have a friend going through huge disappointment and sharing about it online. I will not mention their name or links because I think that type of attention worsens the pattern. I see the pattern, too, and airing it all out on social media seems to be the start of their pattern. I have communicated with this friend, and while this post was instigated by them, it isn’t about them.
Let me explain.
This person is a former exgay, a survivor who bravely made it out of that world. He grew up in the church, is a natural leader and extrovert, and is a former exgay leader. He came out a few years ago and, over time, has developed what he has said is an unhealthy pattern in diving into relationships, with significant consequences that do not last long.
Over time he has zeroed in on becoming more sexualized in his posts and confrontational with people who reach out to him to question or outright condemn his behavior. That seems to escalate the situation, fuel some choices, and the pattern repeats.
I have no doubt some of the old crew in the exgay world are using his relational pain and disappointment as an I told you so kind of manipulation to try to get him to “repent” and come back into that cultish fold. I don’t know that to be true. I just know that world. I would be very surprised if they weren’t.
This sparked some meditation and discussion with a couple of friends over how some folks (not talking about my friend here specifically, just generally) come out and start living the version of gay life they subconsciously expect it to look like but aren’t being true to themselves. They unknowingly move from one projection to another.
They may think they are experiencing authenticity because they are finally making their own decisions. That’s the beginning of authenticity, but the decision-making should reveal the authentic self, not confirm a subconscious bias. Also, is the base from which they are making those decisions limited to an unhealthy context even though they are “out”?
They (again, not talking about my friend specifically here) appeared to have missed developing a healthy sense of what it means for them to live a healthy gay life.
I am all for sensuality and dressing whatever way you want. Are you into poly life? Kink life? Married? Monogamous? Whatever life? I don’t care. While ever-curious, it’s not my business. Not everything I do is everyone’s business. Are you a gay nerd who could care less about fashion or being categorized as some sort of forest creature, twink, or Daddy? I get that, and again, no judgment. My only hope is that we are authentically ourselves while living out whatever we think we need to live out. My concern is that we do that in a mature, healthy, and responsible way and allow course corrections in our journey to our true self.
In my journey, I came out in the 80s as an incredibly unhealthy person who didn’t have a solid core to work from or any real resources to turn to. I know from a personal place of pain that you can come out and still not know who you are. I tried to find it in being rebellious, doing a LOT of partying, and all the activity that goes with that. It led to many forms of heartache. It also made me more vulnerable to being pulled into the exgay world and the toxic theology and stigmatized worldview.
Although I spent over twenty years in the church’s stained glass closet, I developed a strong core over time through my faith in the Divine and eventually in myself. That eventually helped me grow out of the false realities of the ’80s and what the church closet represented. I came out of the closet again on January 12, 2015. Again, not knowing who I was but had a better core to make decisions.
Seven years ago, I became unencumbered to find and embrace both the good and the bad parts of myself. I came out as gay, but I knew from the get-go that ’80s Randy was not who I was (even then) or could be. I worry other exgay survivors, especially those raised in the church, realize that the brilliance of who they are may take a while to find, cherish, and celebrate. Coming out as LGBTQ+ is the beginning of the journey to our true selves, not the finish line.
If you are in a situation where you see unhealthy relational or coping patterns that can’t seem to be broken, check out my resources page. Any of those groups could help or get you to the right place for help. I am not a professional counselor, but I hope to be a friend, and you can also contact me on social media or on this contact page.
Let’s have the courage to be ourselves, together,