Last month I attended my first BMC Gathering. After corresponding by phone and e-mail, it was great to meet and speak face-to-face with members of the BMC LGBT community. Sharing and preserving our stories were important aspects of the event. Several people attending had their stories recorded for historical records and there were several evenings when people told stories from their “coming out” journeys.
Last fall, I studied the theological significance of stories in my Bible, Religion, and Philosophy senior seminar class. Every class we were asked to share stories directly related to the theological theme assigned for that week. The class coincided with me beginning to be more “out” on campus, and I chose to be honest in the assignment and share my “coming out” stories. I found it to be liberating and healing, after so many years of holding those stories within me, to finally be able to tell them to others. It was the first time I had written and spoken about several of my stories in a semi-organized narrative. To family and friends, I had shared most of my stories, but they were told in bits and pieces. That class was a safe space for me and my peers to be vulnerable about those sacred stories that were so close to our hearts.
I’ve learned that sharing stories holds the possibility of building solidarity. I told parts of my coming out journey to attendees of the Gathering during the weekend. When we share our stories we create a window for others to catch a glimpse of our experience. During the Gathering, I found similarities between my story and others. I laughed at the shared awkwardness of “coming out,” and at times was reminded of how serious “coming out” can be. When we share our stories to other LGBT we allow ourselves a chance to see that we are not alone. When we tell our trusted allies, we give a chance for them to show us their support and love.
For me, an important step in my “coming out” journey was acknowledging and learning that God was present to support me. It was a comfort during those early years to know I was not the only one who knew I was struggling to figure out my sexuality. It is a comfort to know I can still turn to God. Whether you find support through faith or friends it is important to know you are not alone.