As a Christian sexual minority, I have found that the most powerful way to move forward in life is to share myself with others. Sharing all of my past, especially the painful parts. When the road I was traveling was nothing more than a treadmill. When I didn’t feel safe until I heard the close of the bedroom door and felt the covering of blankets. When the journey took me to the heart of the junkyard.
Making these moments transparent is how we truly find liberation. Liberation from shame and self-neglect and liberation from the lies that pursue us on a daily basis. In the weeks following my coming out, my Aunt and Uncle asked me out for appetizers and beer. They wanted to hear my story. They wanted to be let in. The testimony I gave them was the authentic product of my acrimony. Simply put: fate cheated me of life. My white picket fence future was disappearing in the distance. The God that made (or allowed) me to be gay was asking much more than he should. And when the shit inevitably hit the fan, my world would descend into a catwalk through gossiping circles. My friends would be long gone and I would be forgotten.
They didn’t take the bait to break apart my hypothetical future with happy verses nor did they offer their condolences or call me courageous. They just sat with me and appreciated my vulnerability. Refusing to interject their own personal feelings was their way of honoring my story. And I felt honored.
On the ride back, my Aunt, for the first time ever, let me in on her own adventure as an outcast. I remember her, continually clearing her throat and reining in tears. Here’s a paraphrase of what she told me:
“You know, I don’t in any way try to compare my story with yours. They are vastly different and come with their own set of complications. But I have felt the burn of the scarlet letter on my chest and heard voices hush when I entered a room. I’ve been there, maybe not where you are, but I’ve been there.”
When we roll up our sleeves and trade tales of our bruises, we deny the lie that we’re alone. My Aunt’s life has not been a cake walk, but she has found the clearing in the woods. Thing is, she chose to not emphasize that part, and I think it is because she understood that I didn’t need to see the photo finish. She saw it is better to pass peace through the touching of scars than flashing the before and after shots.
Sometimes, its just enough to know that our fellow runaways have already trampled before us. It’s enough to know that the thorns in their soles cleared the way for thin-skinned soldiers like me.
Walking till the gravel turns to grass,