My Last Plea

As the election draws nearer, an issue very close to home for me is once again being brought into the spotlight. With the confirmation hearings of Amy Coney Barrett bringing the count to 6 Republican Justices and 3 Democratic Justices making up the 9 Justice Supreme Court, headlines are flying about the fate of the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision ensuring marriage equality in the United States. With the Court so heavily stacked to the Right, the future of this decision is more in the air than it has been since it was passed in 2015.

Let me say this: this is not going to be some politically or ethically heavy study in which I lay out the intricacies of judicial process. Frankly, I’m not smart enough nor do I have enough mental energy to attempt something like that. Rather, I intend to humanize a topic that otherwise might be written off due to the lack of one’s pure and honest look at their own inherited worldview. One thing I can say with certainty, I’m very tired of my life and my relationship being a point of political argument.

As most of you know, I’m in a relationship with someone of the same sex as myself. We met a little less than a year ago and have actually recently moved in together. Suffice it to say, I’m supremely happy. If you had told 18 year old me, or even 20 year old me that I would someday be living everyday life with the love of my life (a man), I would have thought you had hit your head really hard at some point that morning. But to wake up every morning and look into the eyes of someone that you love so deeply and so honestly is the most fulfilling thing I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. This part of my life was not the direct result of the 2015 decision to allow for same-sex marriage. But it certainly allowed for the circumstances to exist.

Growing up, I didn’t really have an understanding of what a healthy same-sex relationship would look like. I didn’t know they existed. The few same-sex couples that I did know didn’t express that they were together in any sort of way that it would click in my naïve brain. Growing up in that environment, I was staunchly against same-sex marriage and thought that it was a direct attack on “Good Christian Values” and it was my responsibility as a good Christian boy poised to become a pastor to fight against the institution. It wasn’t until 2015, when the highest Court of our land ruled to legalize same-sex marriage, that I began to realize that maybe people just wanted to marry the person they fell in love with. For the first time, I could envision a future in which I was able to build a life with someone that I not only cared deeply for, but that I was actually, truly in love with. It took me another couple years to realize how much this ruling actually affected me personally as a gay man, but I knew that it was an important one that I shouldn’t immediately dismiss.

Let me take a moment here to say that it is not in either my partner or I’s plans to get married any time soon. We’re still pretty new in our relationship as far as living together and navigating the various aspects of it, but we do hope to someday be able to take that next step. The message that was always given to me growing up (at least subconsciously) was that gay marriage was a direct attack on Christian values for the sake of dismantling everything that Christianity has stood for these past 2000 or so years. It was always some malicious thing that needed to be prevented, otherwise our society would fall into some godless anarchy. Take it from someone who is in a serious same-sex relationship, that’s a load of malarky (I’m putting it nicely for the more conservative readers who don’t appreciate strong language).

My partner and I aren’t seeking some diabolical plan to dismantle the Church. You know what we do want? I want a new coffee table so that I can display some books in an artsy way. He wants to get a good grade in his grad school class. I want to make soup for dinner tomorrow, but I’m afraid the chicken won’t thaw in time and it’ll be harder than I’m anticipating. We aren’t working on some big “gay agenda” that will turn the frogs gay (though I have come into contact with a bear that lives outside our apartment and I wouldn’t be upset if he decided to become a vegetarian). We’re living our boring, mundane domestic lifestyle and loving each other through the difficult parts. We’re supporting each other, encouraging each other, crying with each other, and cheering for each other. And some day, we hope to be able to stand up in front of our loved ones and feel their support as well.

So this is my final plea. As the election draws nearer, consider the effects of your votes on those you love. This is more than just a theoretical issue. Sure, we could continue to live our lives together without getting married (and intend to no matter what decisions the Court make). But this is more than just whether or not we can get a legally binding piece of paper that says we are a family. This decision, and decisions surrounding the rights of LGBTQ+ people in our nation, represent the validity of not only our relationships, but our lives. If you have never had to wonder whether or not you’ll be looked down upon, spoken down to, or downright attacked for holding your loved one’s hand while walking down the street, then you won’t understand. Decisions like the 2015 one let people like me know that our country has our backs. We have legal protections from being let go from a job because of our relationships (yes, I have personally faced this one a few times). It lets us know that our lives and our love is valid and has a place in our society.

I have one more thing to say and then I’ll call it a night. Before I gained the courage to begin to accept who I am and confide in my loved ones, I was not in a good place. I was depressed, I was extremely anxious that someone would somehow find out and ruin my life, I was scared for how my friends and family would react if I ever did come out. But mostly, I was lonely. I thought that I would never have true love. I was cursed to be alone and unhappy for the rest of my life, and the thought of having to bear that was too much. I almost took my life multiple times. I can’t express to you how important it is to have a narrative of the mundane, everyday, non-diabolical life of a same-sex couple. We do dishes together and we try to cut down on takeout so we can save for a future. We aren’t out to dismantle your religion. We just ask that you don’t use your religion to invalidate our mundane, yet love-filled lives.

So once again, please consider what your vote on November 3rd (or sooner if you can) means for the people you love. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for because there are a plethora of other issues to take into consideration as well, but I will ask you to please just take a minute, and ponder the effects of your vote.

I love you all. Thanks for reading.

Coming Out: The Aftermath

Well, it’s been just short of three weeks since I came out to the world on this blog. I’m sure some of you are wondering what these last three weeks have been like for me. It’s difficult to try and formulate everything into these posts, but I will do my best.

Before I go any further, however, let me put some uneasy minds to rest: my post three weeks ago was not how I came out to most of the people in my life. My family and close friends have all known for a while, but I needed to take that final step of declaring publicly that I am, in fact, gay. In order to help those who are like me and are suffering in silence, I needed to make a public statement. So the post was not intended to tell those closest to me that I was gay, but rather to help them understand a bit of what I’ve been through, as well as to send a message to those who are suffering that they are NOT alone.

So, anyways, back to the purpose of this post.

These three weeks have been a roller coaster. As I said before, most of the people that I encounter on a day to day basis already knew. So what was the big change? What made a difference?

Well, to start off, that post meant that, for better or worse, I was out to the world. There was no taking it back. Years and years of painful repression finally came to an end as I was finally able to open up to those around me and let them know who I am. Who I really am.

You see, up to this point, I have been acting. I’m not an actor in the sense that I would be any good in a play or movie, but I have gotten really good at acting like I am the person that everyone expects me to be. Like I’m the perfect ministry major who is going to graduate in May and go into full time ministry in the Nazarene church and marry the perfect woman and have 2 kids and a dog. This is what I felt I had to be. To do anything else would have been to disappoint those who saw what a beautiful future this could have been. So I became really talented in this particular aspect of acting.

Since coming out, I have been able to hang up my mask and costume and just be myself. Words cannot express the relief that comes from being able to just be yourself.

Let me, once, again, explain before some questions and concerns arise in the back of your minds. I am still me. I still love puns and make way too many Dad jokes. I still watch sitcoms endlessly and, most importantly, I still love Jesus. Ultimately, I am called to ministry. This is something that I can’t deny or avoid and, trust me, I’ve tried. God knew that I would be coming out when He called me to ministry all those years ago, and yet He still called me. Far be it for me or anyone else to presume God was wrong. I have not changed. I am still me. I’m just free to be more myself than I have been in many, many years.

So coming out has given me freedom. It has allowed me to breathe. It has allowed me to put the buttons that you see in the picture above on my backpack as I go to class and work, showing that I am unashamed of who I am and those who are like me. So it’s made me more comfortable with myself. Given me self respect, something that I haven’t had in a long time.

But even more than that, it revealed to me the pure beauty of the people around me. Coming out in this way was risky to say the least. I could have easily been barraged with micro aggressions or even downright hateful language, but instead I was showered with love, support, and acceptance. At the time of writing this post, my coming out post has gotten 488 views. Sure, some of these are repeats from the same people, but that is still 4 times higher than my next highest view count for any post. Nearly 500 people read this post, and yet I received less than 5 negative responses. Instead, I was showered with comments from friends, loved ones, people I haven’t spoked to in years, and even strangers. Comments such as:

“Thank you so much for sharing this. ❤️ You are a shining light!!!”

‘’You’re going to change the world, Thomas ❤️”

“So proud of you, Thomas! Thank you for being vulnerable and open with us, never stop being you. ♥️”

“You are strong, bold, and inspirational! Thank you for willing to be vulnerable! Love you and praying for you and your future ministry!”

Let this stand as a message of hope to those who might still be suffering in silence: it gets better. There will be those who do not accept you. There will be those who spew uninformed and closed-minded comments your way. But, with any hope at all, there will be those who come beside you and show you love for YOU. Those who not only allow you to express yourself and be comfortable and proud of yourself, but who are proud of you as well and will support you throughout the process. Sometimes, the most unexpected people will provide you with the most support.

One last time, however, I must address some responses to what I have just said. This is MY experience. Even more, this is representing the good parts of my experience. There are aspects of coming out that have been EXTREMELY difficult for me, and have required a lot of healing. This process did not start just three weeks ago for me. Some of these things happened months ago, or even years ago, and I have been able to work through some of them. I still have things to work through.

Don’t expect that everyone is going to have this same experience. I do believe that it will get better for them. I do believe that everyone has someone in their lives who will love and accept them. But PLEASE don’t expect someone who just came out to be as comfortable as I am. This is an extremely difficult time and the stories and experiences are as varied as the people who tell them. So be there for people. Show them love. Let them know they’re not alone.

One final message to those who have suffered or who continue to suffer in similar ways that I have:

You’re not alone. You are loved. The mountains that you face might seem insurmountable, but there are people who will climb it with you. Don’t feel obligated to tell anyone anything, because this is your story. This is your life. You alone get to choose when and how you open up. And whenever that journey begins for you, please do not hesitate to reach out ( I am here for you, and there are so many others who are as well. You can do this. You can breathe. We’re here with you.

Love, Thomas.

(Yes, that was a direct reference to Love, Simon. If you haven’t seen it, then you need to. It’s a life changer for LGBTQ+ and those who love them. That’s all. Have a great day!)