After writing my post “Marriage and Children” on Tuesday, January 28—I received my first fan letter from a friend that I performed theater with before “coming out” as a gay man. Because her letter touched my heart so deeply, I thought I would share it with you as well, instead of writing my usual post. This is what she had to say…
Dear Open Closet,
I just read your post about your blog and spent the last hour reading your letters—and I wanted to share how I felt when reading them. I’m not even sure how to begin to express my emotions, but I will try.
Ever since the first time I met you, I liked you. I felt you were awesome, talented, super sweet, but greatly disrespected by others, which bothered me. I also knew you were gay. I cannot explain it, but I felt a keen connection to you. Somehow I sensed a very deep human being inside you and wanted to tap into that but didn’t know how. I watched you a lot and was amazed at the strong sense of self-assurance you seemed to have. You knew your way around the theater and I respected your abilities as a director, choreographer, as well as a performer.
But I couldn’t understand how you seemed so contented with your narrow world. I kept expecting to see at least a trace of un-fulfillment. I tried to reach out in friendship and give you an opportunity to share a deeper side, but you remained closed tight. Being old enough to be your mother, my own kids being older than you, and not knowing you really well, I did not feel I had the right to push, though I did try to let you know that I thought a lot of you and did not judge you for who you are.
When you made the decision to come out and move to Chicago I felt extremely relieved for you, because I sensed there was so much to you as a person, and I was so proud to see you finally taking hold of your life. I was also relieved to see that you were the complex person I sensed was always there, with deep emotions, and that you could finally find yourself and see the person God created you to be. But it wasn’t until I saw your blog today and read what you have shared over the past few weeks that I felt brave enough to talk to you at a deeper level.
David, being able to express yourself with the honesty and forthrightness that you have in your blog tells me that you have come a long way in accepting who you are, and shows a maturity that often is not seen until later in life. It feels extremely healthy, and I expect helpful in healing as well.
Obviously you have been greatly hurt; rejection is one of the most difficult pains to feel, especially when it is by ones we’ve solidly felt loved by, such as family. But you are surrounding yourself with people and actions that will bring healing and hopefully, one day, reconciliation. But you are doing what you have to do, what you need to do!
I grew up in a conservative religious community too, one that also does not know how to love and accept homosexuality because of what the Bible is believed to teach. Personally, I cannot relate to being gay, but I know what it is to cry and beg the Lord to change painful situations, and through this I am able to experience empathy.
As much as we are taught that homosexuality is a choice, I am absolutely certain that it is something we cannot change. If people could even understand a sliver of what it is like to be different, to be bullied and name called, to beg and plead and cry out to God day after day, year after year to change who you are, and to have no answer. If people could even begin to realize the pain of being rejected by your church, told you will rot in hell if you don’t choose to live life by their belief system, they would see that a person does not choose this orientation. Why would anyone want to live with all of this torture if they could change it? It’s preposterous. I believe strongly that God knows this struggle so well, that he wants to wrap his arms around you and tell you that you are loved and accepted. I feel with great emotion and anger toward people who choose to focus on these things instead of seeing the wonderful depths of the person, their awesome talents, and that they are a human being who experiences all the same emotions as we do. I too struggle with a church who cannot see past these things and feel they have to bring reproach and hurt upon someone who is “different”.
By reading your blog I feel I am given a glimpse of the complete, awesome person you are and that makes me very proud of you and raises many emotions in me that are so deep it brings tears to my eyes. You are on the right path. And you are going to do big things. I can feel it. I have always felt it about you, and I am thrilled to see you making the choices that lead to it. I also believe that you will have a marriage and a family. I care deeply about you, and am grateful and proud to be able to call you my friend.
If there are any other readers out there that would like to write a letter to me personally, share their “coming out” story—or post anonymously feel free to send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sincerely, The Open Closet