I can honestly say everything has completely changed for the good since coming out almost seven years ago. I am living a dream I once thought forbidden and unattainable. Joy, not religious stigma, is the context of my life today in several ways. Here are a few examples of how…
Being a Husband
Dan and I got married this past October 16th, but we celebrated him asking me out, and I said yes, on November 12th, 2016. So altogether, we have been a couple for five years now.
A few friends said that not much would change by getting married since we had been together so long. And, well, that’s not true. At least for me, it is not.
All the love, responsibility, commitment, care, concern, everything relational, has taken on a new depth that is hard to explain and joyfully embraced.
He’s my person. I am his.
Little things aren’t so little. When I added Dan to my work health insurance (Autumn already has insurance), I wept. It seems so silly, but my HUSBAND is on my insurance plan, and I LOVE that. That’s just one example of many similar moments where it hits home. I am married!
When he took me to the emergency room last Monday (E. Coli food poisoning with excruciating side-effects), he sacrificed his whole day to be with me. To make sure I was alright. Most people would be like, “yeah, and?” That’s what a husband is supposed to do. Well, I never thought I would ever be married, so watching that in action, being able to say he is my husband, and they let him come back to the ER room with me allowed him to ask questions and whatnot, that was a big deal to me. I have never had that supposedly normal yet extraordinary feeling before.
Being a Bonus Dad
The same is true with our daughter. Until we married, I had been “parenting” her with the nickname of being her “Fairy Godmother.” Now that I am legally committed to her father as his husband, my commitment to her seems to have a new depth of meaning as well. That challenge scares the snot out of me AND brings me incredible joy. I knew all of this before getting married and saying, “I do.” My love for her and commitment to her and her father are for the rest of our lives. I love being a Bonus Dad and accept it with unconditional love.
And with a 14 year old, whew, that’s saying something :).
Publicly Refusing the “Former Ex-gay Leader” Brand
I have been out now for almost seven years and always hated the assumption that because I am a former exgay leader that I would make that the center of my everything as well. Even when I was operating the non-profit, Thrive, I never thought, or wanted, that would be the pivot point of my life.
Some of what I see other former exgay leaders do may work for them, but I am not interested in building a name for myself by being a “former exgay leader” being a life filter to run everything through.
I will always be a former exgay leader. That will always be true. I will always be vocal about ending conversion therapy and stopping its false gospel disguised as pastoral counseling known as exgay ministry. I will always help those who come to me wanting help to process leaving that world.
When others exaggerate or even lie about their past to build a platform for themselves today as an “expert,” it is confusing. For some, it is the same dysfunctional pattern they operated in during their exgay cult days. I will do interviews and help promote resources that seek to end all that madness, but I am not chasing any of it down. I don’t need a high public profile to define me. I don’t need accolades, infamy, or notoriety. I don’t understand those who do, especially around this particular topic.
I don’t regret my advocacy against conversion therapy and helping other survivors in any way. I will continue to help in every way I can. It is a way to make amends, invest in life, and defeat religious stigma. It’s simply not a source of meeting a personal need for attention and affirmation. The opportunities for advocacy also don’t supersede or displace my family and a new career as higher priorities.
One Thing Has Not Changed, God is Still Good
While I have rejected organized religion and fundamentalism, I still love God and Their Universe. Jesus is still Lord who saves me from being defined by my flaws and character weaknesses. He is my Guide to self-actualization. I love that He allows me to follow Him without being a self-righteous culture vulture. His Spirit and teachings guide my decisions, and I am forever grateful. Even when He teaches me through other religions or spiritual practices, it’s always a life-giving moment. Christ has never, and will never, abandon my family or me.
Just as I am unapologetic about being gay, I am unapologetic about being a Universalist Christian.
That is just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on… and on. Life can be challenging (like last Monday), but it is good, and I am grateful for your friendship and support. This post might raise some questions for some folks, so please leave a comment, or send me a private message.
I look forward to the future.