Friday, November 30, 2012
I cannot come out of the closet. I am afraid...
Not a week goes by without me having an opportunity to meet at least one married man who is struggling with the process of coming out. All too often these men are overwhelmed with fear, fear of the impact a public acknowledgment of their homosexuality would have on their reputations, their families, their careers, their community standing, their businesses, and nearly every aspect of their lives.
As time passes this fear often becomes a palpable, tangible thing that seems to permeate and taint even the most mundane aspects of their lives. Sometimes it becomes so debilitating that life itself loses meaning and suicide emerges as an enticing and viable alternative to the fear and self-loathing that overwhelms them.
My heart goes out to these men. I remember the fear that gripped me when I knew that living a life of deception was no longer an option. I remember clearly the terror I felt when I considered the potential impact my decision would have on my family, my friends, reputation, position,and business.
But now, three years later, I have a different perspective. I see that most of my fears were unfounded, and that whatever price I had to pay (and there was a price) was offset many times over by the joy I have found in the result.
It is easy for us as closeted gay men to succumb to our fears and live lives of misery and shame. Too many of us remain in the closet for just that reason. Actually, the costs of a closeted life to ourselves and our families are incalculable. As John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, "“For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, 'It might have been'.”
Rather than remain immersed in fear and despair, I believe we must face forward with courage and take control of our destinies, of what we are and who we will ultimately be. I've found that in nearly every situation in my life in which I have let fear govern my behavior, I have regretted it, particularly the fear of coming out. On the other hand, when I have left fear behind and stepped off the precipice with faith that somehow I would learn to fly, I have found my wings.
I believe that as gay men, "God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7). My own experience is that "I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears" (Psalm 34:4).
Bottom line, brethren, we can choose to live our lives paralyzed by fear and deception or we can live our lives in truth and liberty. As Christ said to all of us, "...the truth shall make you free."
For those of you who fear, I would encourage you at your own speed to step into the light and leave the darkness of doubt behind you. Despite the cost, I promise you will find joy as a result.