A little while ago I watched a video that I found in my facebook newsfeed. If you have a few minutes you should give it a watch, it's amazing.
So I watched this, and I realized that I had a closet. Now, my closet is probably not like your closet. My closet is made of religion and ignorance. I was raised in a very religious family, we went to church a few times a week, prayed at every meal and believed that every word of the Bible was a law to be followed. I was raised to believe that alcohol was wrong, premarital sex was a sin, and homosexuality was not only bad, but something to be feared.
I held to these beliefs for years. I dabbled in being labeled a "liberal" by family members, thought about not caring if being gay was a sin or not, tried to be supportive of people I knew that were questioning their sexuality. But I kept running back to the blanket of guilt I was under, feeling like I was not allowed to believe anything other than what I had been taught. So, I wrote a religious blog, and ranted about the gay agenda. I preached fervently against homosexuality, quoted Bible verses, and taught my son the same.
And then something happened to me. One of my very dear and close friends came out to me.
Oh my. What was I going to do now? This was the first real personal experience as an adult that I had had with someone I knew being gay. This friend was, and is, very important to me. He helped get me through a divorce, he helped me move several times, he knew my son, had hung out with my family, and was there for me sometimes when no one else was. So what did I do? I very calmly informed him that it was his choice but I couldn't support him 100% because he knew of my religious beliefs, and he knew where I stood.
And over the next few months, I questioned my friendship. Would I still allow him near my son? Did I want his "gayness" to be accepted by my family and seen as normal? But....could I really give up my friend? Could I turn my back on him and tell him he was wrong? As someone who grew up rejected for many things, sometimes by family, someone who was an outcast, who was overweight and told she couldn't be loved if she was fat....how could I tell my friend he was wrong? That I was rejecting him, and that his love for another was a bad sinful thing? I thought...
How can love be wrong? What if my son came out to me? What would I do then?
And I made the decision that I would support him a hundred and fifty.....no, a thousand percent. I would go to his wedding, have his boyfriend over for Thanksgiving, wish them a Happy Anniversary.
So I emailed my friend and told him I supported him, that I wished he was truly happy, and that I hoped he felt free and that I was sorry for not saying these things immediately. And of course he graciously told me thank you and he was glad i felt that way. No judgment from him at all.
But...I was still stuck in my closet. I was afraid to tell my very religious husband how I felt. I was afraid my mother and my family would be angry with me for thinking something different than what I had been taught. I was still stuck in my closet.
About a year or so after all this, I almost had a heart attack, I had had an enlarged heart from stress. I also had severe anxiety problems, and my doctor put me on Prozac for it. And when the medication kicked in, I figured out that I was anxious because of what I assumed others thought of me...and that I needed to just speak up and be me...say what I was really thinking.
So I came out of my closet. I informed my family that I believed in marriage equality. I believed in equal rights for everyone....gay or straight. I believed that love was good, and if a man loved another man..then who was I to judge?
It wasn't all that well received, I'm having marital problems because of my "new" views, I'm being told that my medication has made me crazy, that I've been lying to everyone all these years about who I was. I'm getting accused of a lot, I'm being judged and condemned, hated and feared for being as honest and loving as I know how.
But I'm happier than I've ever been. I don't live under that guilt I used to have.