I’ve had some people ask why I’m doing this. Why take the time to write about my life and experiences as a gay Christian man? I suppose it might seem self-centered or narcissistic, and who knows? Maybe it is. I am all too aware of my sinfulness, my seemingly endless ability to make wrong choices and hurt myself and others. I know my motives are often mixed, and I willingly confess that I love attention. I know, hard to believe.
But the truth is that for all the possible wrong reasons to write, there are some genuinely good reasons too. Since coming out in such a public way last summer, and especially since the TEDx Talk, I can’t tell you how many people have reached out looking for support. Closeted gay men, many of them in ministry; wives of gay men who don’t know what to do and need support; a gay young man from an African country where it is punishable by up to 14 years in jail just to be who he is! I can’t help everyone, obviously, but often I am able to connect them with resources or other people. And sometimes it’s enough for them just to know they are not alone and that they are seen and heard.
Since starting these reflections on June 1, I’ve heard from many different people:
*An old friend from my Christian high school days who grew up in a very restrictive home and church has been re-thinking what she was taught about sexuality. She knows some married gay men and says “All I see is love and often more commitment than some straight couples.”
*An acquaintance from a former church whose dad was gay and died of AIDS. She grieves the fact that she was kept away from him and never got to know him as a person.
*A precious woman and mentor from my distant past who suspects her long-time husband is gay. She’s never told anyone about this before.
*A mostly-closeted gay man who is a conservative and a Republican and feels like a despised outcast in the LGBTQ community.
*A (straight) Covenant pastor who has been reading every post and says I am helping him unlock parts of his own heart.
*And of course the gay men in mixed-orientation marriages who are so conflicted and feel so alone.
People like this, stories like these… This is why I am vocal, why I write and why I will continue to write. I know it’s a lot, especially this month. Please feel free to unfollow me if it’s too much Matt Nightingale ::insert jazz hands:: right now.
And for those of you who stick around, thank you. Thank you for reading, thank you for commenting and sharing, thank you for the messages. I’m so grateful for your support and encouragement, and I have a lot more to say throughout the month.