Living Out Loud

When it comes to sharing on social media, the trend is that we choose to share with the world what is positive and exciting in our lives, while often glossing over the challenges we face. Well, for two years now, I’ve been glossing over a really positive part of my life, letting it seem like a challenge, when in reality, it’s been nothing but freedom. I was raised to be an honest person and to always be true to my authentic self. This has been my compass in matters of faith, education, business and more recently, sexuality. It was on this week just two years ago that I began questioning my sexuality, and coming to terms with feelings that I had for years—feelings that I had pressed down, afraid to let out. But, like the lightbulb moment we have with a great idea, or even a “come to Jesus” moment at Church, I asked myself, “Am I gay?” and I let myself answer. And very soon, I heard “yes.”

For that breakthrough, I celebrate.

Soon, I started talking to friends and family openly about being gay. It was often not an easy conversation to have, but it raised in me a deeper sense of faith in my fellow human beings. It’s no secret that Church teaching and LGBT rights are often at odds, and so our conversations led to broader questions about our own individual doubts and questions in the Church. What I found was that while I was questioning my sexuality, others around me were questioning their faith, and finally we were sharing this with each other. It was through this process that while some friendships faded, others grew much closer.

For those relationships, I celebrate.

Michael and I at Nashville Pride last June.

Shortly after coming out, I met my boyfriend, Michael. Early on, we bonded over our shared struggles and, more importantly, our lofty dreams to make the world a better place—mine through the arts and his through architecture. After sorting through all of our shared “likes,” I found someone who truly complements who I am, always reminding me how to slow down when I get stressed and how to love when I forget what’s important.

For the surprise of love, I celebrate.

And now, as a student of theology at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, TN, the conversation on faith and sexuality continues on a daily basis. I’m not here to fight the system or to change church teaching, but to continue the conversation, to help each of us own our own individual stories, ask questions and listen deeply to understand others. In that vein, I’ve begun recording interviews about spirituality with the LGBT community here in Nashville—a podcast I'm calling "Out Loud."

I realize that for some of you reading this, friends and even some family, my words may come as a surprise to you. Know that in almost all of my day-to-day relationships over the past two years, I chose not to hide. When you and I cross paths next, I would love to talk. In the meantime, I’d like to repeat the refrain of others in the LGBT community when we come out: I’m the same person I’ve always been. Every weird quirk you know about me is right where it’s always been... from my love of film to my love of fried chicken.

And to the friends and family who have listened and supported over the last couple years, all I can say is thank you. Thank you for giving me a safe place to land, because that is often not the case for still so many who come out in this world today. Your love will be passed on.