If you had told me nine years ago yesterday that I would be walking out of a cultish kind of movement and into a life of a married gay man, I wouldn’t have walked out of the Exodus office for the last time. I would have run straight (no pun intended) to my comfort food and argued with God all afternoon.
Which I still did, but at a slower pace over 16 months.
August 23rd, 2013, was the last time I left the Exodus office. So many conflicting emotions but all of them were based on fear.
At that moment, I was terrified of coming out again and wouldn’t entertain the thought until 2014. Yeah, Jesus helped me over that, out of the closet and into further spiritual growth in Him.
At that moment, I was constantly on the verge of a panic attack. I had helped close down my only source of income and had no idea how to replace it. I thought Exodus was my lifelong “calling,” all of my heart, mind, and soul had been invested in serving and building our networks and the people they reached. I had no idea how to start over or who I was. Exodus was my life.
The only thing that kept the panic at bay was knowing that shutting down Exodus was more important than me getting paid or knowing exactly what to do next. Once the blinders were off, that was a no-brainer. But still, it is very upsetting walking into a void that encompasses your whole life.
At that moment, I was extremely angry toward all the friends and people I used to have up on pedestals saying all sorts of slanderous, mean-spirited things about me. It was a constant stream of curses and unrelenting backbiting.
At that moment, I was inexplicably (now I understand) relieved. My soul knew that the Exodus office was a constant trigger of “learned helplessness” (a somewhat common PTSD symptom for abuse survivors). I didn’t know how that all worked in the Exodus office dynamic back then. Now, nine years later, I have a much better understanding but still unpacking. Diving into the memoir this year has reawakened incredibly strong memories and emotions. As a friend on Facebook said, “the road to healing is never straight.”
Today, in this moment, I just kissed and told my husband I loved him as he left the house for the day. I look around at the beautiful life and home we have built together, and all the fear and uncertainty are gone. I also see a mockingbird on the fence in the backyard, reminding me that I also found the courage to sing my song and not mimic someone else’s. Like a mockingbird, I am not afraid to protect and will fiercely defend my family and the truth. The truth that I am, you are a treasure that God created. The LGBTQ+ part of who we are is a gift and brings relational beauty into the world. Also, the Divine is universal to all faiths and expressed in folks who aren’t believers.
Like Exodus, any form of spirituality that builds its “success” by the stigmatization of others through mechanisms of self-loathing, highly consequential behavioral expectations, and cultural manipulation deserves condemnation as one of the worst forms of abuse. Conversion at all costs is a clear and deadly pattern throughout history, regardless of how it manifests. It doesn’t matter if it is finger-wagging condemnation or pretty smiles over coffee, abuse is abuse, and it must end.
Back then, I was living out a self-loathing version of Randy Thomas. Today I am living my truth as Randy Scobey, the tech support guy, husband, bonus dad, and fur kid wrangler.
Speaking of which, the fur kids need to go outside. I love you all, but my pups need to run off some energy and take care of backyard business.
Let’s have the courage to be ourselves, together,