If you watch this you might be triggered to think of how BADLY your coming out experience was – I know, not Queer Eye’s fault – but it happened.
That’s how trauma works.
You’re just living your best life, living for episodes of Queer Eye, a show fighting for inclusion and representation on a larger scale, and BAM – she hits you.
Enter Scene That Wrecked Me: “You are a young, beautiful, gay black man.
Our QE makeover guest begins to read his letter to his deceased father in front of his stepmom. He gets to the “I’m Gay,” moment and his entire body shakes with what is an all familiar reaction.
Fear. Relief. More Fear. Paralyzing Time.
Questions of “Will you still love me & support me?”
Then he hears his stepmom say the words I have desired to hear for a long time:
“I’ll always support you. We have each other’s backs. I love you.”
I lost it.
- Where was this moment for me?
- Why had it been taken from me?
- Why did it not exist?
Like a picture reel, memory after memory began to run in my head over a matter of seconds.
And, this is how trauma works over time. She stores up the unthinkable moments in places you cannot reach. Even if you desire to purge it from your being – the body keeps score.
The note triggered a note I had forgotten about – and rightfully so.
It’s a 4×6 postcard with handwriting and a cut out from The Daily Bread, a conservative devotional my parents both read to get their daily faith intake. I love Jesus too, we just go about it a lot differently.
It’s a note my mom sent me a few weeks after I tried coming out. And by try, I mean I was until I saw how devastated and angry my family became – “but what do you mean?” “This isn’t allowed.” “You need help.” “It’s disgusting.”
The rest of the verbal things said to me during coming out, I have blocked out. I just know I don’t want to go there to find the words used against me.
So, in fear and obedience- I took it back.
I said, “I’m questioning it. I need help.” I leaned into my fear that had been placed over me my entire life to believe that being Gay, that questioning the Bible, that disobeying your parents was destruction of your love for God. That God simply didn’t stand for that – he/she/spirit cut you out.
I went back on my truth and it cost me years of my life.
The note said:
We are so proud of you for this decision you’ve made. And, we know that you’re headed in the right direction.
We love you, Mom & Dad.
Sitting in my kitchen, breathing deeply, I began to think maybe this was the last time they fully meant it.
What is trauma telling me?
Watching Queer Eye, listening to a man tell his truth and read the words “I think you’d be proud of me” wrecked me.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with wanting my family to be proud of me – all of me. That it doesn’t feel actually real when they do say it.
“I’m proud of your career” to me sounds like “we’re proud of your stable life that keeps you away from destructive things – i.e. being gay.”
“I’m proud of you” bounces off the inner walls of my heart as I can’t grapple with if they even know me.
Guilt is a strange being. Because it reverses itself upon me. I feel guilty because I no longer say “this is what I did this weekend, this is what I’m doing, and here’s what I’m reading or how much I love the woman I’m with and how she has changed my world for better… you’d love her, well you would, if you loved me.”
But those words never come out.
Years of abuse – subconscious or not – have shaped my body into knowing being honest isn’t safe. Being honest gets you sitting at a table, once more, explaining that this is who you are, how you love and it’s ok. That after being honest comes regret, sadness, and shame – even now – shame.
That shame is a lie. That I don’t fight hard enough for them. When in all reality, I do and need to fight harder for me.
If there is anything I’ve learned in inclusion work thus far and my journey to love myself, it is this:
We cannot change anyone. We can only create and stir movement in people’s hearts. I’m passionate about this and adamant about the power of Jesus’s love to shine through me and so many others.
So here is where I am – I have to accept I cannot change my parents. And that has to be ok. That me living into my being is enough. It’s deeper, more personal in a way – because these two humans were tasked to carry you.
We’re messy with that message, too.
I’m on a road of deconstruction. And, my next stop seems to be within family. Yes, parents are meant to carry you – but ultimately it is Christ who carries us. And we cannot rely on any human of flesh to pour pride into us for us or about us.
Our cups do not get filled this way.
This is a hard truth to swallow. And, at the same rate, a beautiful truth. We were given a cup of life worthy for all and in knowledge we will get tired and we will need rest.
I am tired of grieving. I want to fill my cup with joy over this. And, my fount is Jesus.
I was talking with someone yesterday evening about coming out. And, the grief that comes with it. That if you do not walk through that grief, you’ll repeat it.
Coming out is a joyous occasion. And, it is scary as hell. You’re shedding everything you knew to become everything you are and will be in the future. And you lose people, things and items you thought were truth to you.
It’s a matter of growing up in general.
The constancy among the confusion is your core identity. You were loved by Christ before this and you will be after – you were made to endure hardships, but not alone. In that conversation, as I encouraged connection to community and self-discovery I was reminded to do the same continually for myself. And, to admit when I am tired and hurting.
Because I can’t take the cup, if I don’t say I need it. And, I’m pretty sure Jesus has been waving it around my mouth as it watered for sometime now.
That doesn’t make this journey any easier, but at least, I know the way to comfort will always be guided by the shepherd who loves me most.
The Lord is my shepherd…He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul… You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows
-Pslam 23: 1-6
Interested in supporting my work of inclusion in the church?
Currently, I’m participating in The Reformation Project’s Leadership Development Cohort with 34 other members from across the world. We’re learning the work of inclusion, how to hold conversations within affirming and non-affirming spaces and furthering our skills for a more inclusive global church.
We are fundraising the costs of our cohort summit, travel and lodging. Consider donating here – CLICK HERE