National Coming Out Day: Advice from the EI Community
This Sunday, October 11th, is National Coming Out Day. Maybe you’re considering having an honest conversation with a loved one this weekend, in a month, or sometime over the holidays. Several members of the Eden Invitation community reflected on sharing their own stories of their LGBT+/SSA experience. We hope you can draw from their wisdom and encouragement, remembering that the One who formed you in your mother’s womb already knows (and cherishes) every part of you.
Sean | 26
My advice to fellow young adult Catholics desiring to "come out"/"invite others in" is to do so from a place of prayer. When you invite someone into this intimate part of your heart, your story, you invite them to look on you with love and understanding in a new way, and every invitation comes with the caveat that it can be refused. So take it first to the Lord; know His own, perfectly loving and understanding gaze first. Let that be the source of your courage in extending the invitation to someone else to know you and love you better.
Know, too, that you are not alone. Sometimes you may not be received well, or the way you wanted to be received. But, thank God, sometimes you will! You will find those who love you and want to receive you, all of you, who will happily enter into this part of your journey with you. Take comfort in that.
And on a purely practical note, if you're still new to sharing this, treat yourself! Have your favorite hot beverage or comfort food ready to go for when you have that conversation—heck, tell them over a mug of tea or some really good mac and cheese. Have a trusted friend on standby, ready to chat afterwards to process or vent or rejoice (or all three!). Vulnerability is as hard as it is beautiful and necessary, so find what soothes you and make that part of this process.
Dave | 23
Be patient with others especially family. This was one of the hardest but greatest blessings I had when I opened up to my family about my SSA and desire to live chastely. I can remember in prayer asking God why my family couldn't understand my experience and couldn't accept my decision to live in accord with the Church. I remember feeling God in prayer ask me, "How long did it take you to accept this part of yourself and embrace the Church's teachings? Why do you expect them to do so immediately when it took you almost a decade?" Though challenging, this brought me a great deal of peace and understanding. Just as I struggled for a while to accept that I may never get married or be a biological father or live a "normal" life, so too does my family have to come to this realization in their time. So, be patient and entrust all your frustrations to God. Pray for your family and friends that they too may come to see the beauty of the life the Church offers you and He will work in their hearts in His time!
Scott | 36
It can be so easy to only see your sexuality or gender identity as a problem to be overcome, or as a burden that is irredeemable. But God wants you to invite Him into that space of longing and aching. Inviting others into that space can help in so many ways. In explaining your story, you are sharing the unique way that God has created you. In speaking the words out loud, you can gain a fresh perspective and understand yourself better. Vulnerability is contagious. Don't be surprised if, after receiving your story, your listener then feels free to share the painful scars they have been carrying alone as well. Being embraced in your personhood can be a huge confidence boost, and brings you closer to seeing all the beautiful ways that God delights in you.
Some practical advice:
If you have never shared your story before, be prepared to have a good chunk of time to unpack it.
Be in a comfortable quiet space where you can be open without worrying if others are listening in. (Not that it matters if they are—your story is neither scandalous nor embarrassing!)
Be prepared for lots of questions. You don't have to answer all of them, you can invite your listener in as far as you like, but there is no obligation to invite deeper than your comfort levels.
Be prepared for a great feeling of relief, but also for a great tide of emotions.
Be prepared to potentially be awkward around your listener the next time you see them, as you and they adjust to your new vulnerability in this relationship. It's possible you have been wearing masks around them before, and if so they may be surprised to see a new side of you. But if you also want to remind them of the ways you are still who you have always been, that can help reassure everyone that not everything is changing—there is just more of you!
Pray before the conversation, pray with your friend, pray after the conversation. Thank God for all the wonderful ways He is acting in your life, and the beautiful ways He has created you!
Gregory | 26
Take this to prayer. Not because you should not share this part of your life—far from it! Because this part of your heart is sacred and beautiful and deserves to be received in love…It means asking God to show you WHEN and HOW to share, because you and those that you love deserve it.
It's ok to laugh. If you can laugh, it makes something less scary… It's ok to find the humor in the midst of all of this.
It's not an all at once thing. I told one friend. Then a couple more. Then my parents. Then my brother. Then roommates, etc. I'm still not fully "out", and that's a continual process, even if you make a big social media post. And that's ok! This is your life and your heart and it deserves to be respected. Any good story is worth being told again and again.
It won't magically solve all your problems. More people just get to walk with you.
It's important to ask WHY am I sharing this, not as a way to stop you from sharing entirely, but to search your own intentions. If it is only for other people to approve of me, then I am just going to be hurt.
YOU ARE GOOD. No matter what the reaction of those you choose to invite into this part of your life, you need to know you are good. You are not defective or wrong or any more broken than anyone else. YOU ARE BELOVED. And this is you giving someone else the chance to see into greater depths of the gift God made you to be for the world.
Sam | 23
You owe it to no one. If you’re not sure you want to invite another in, then don’t. We have our whole lives. There’s been times I told people and immediately wished I hadn’t. “Powering through” the anxiety did not help. Wait until you’re sure!
Stina | 18
Do not feel pressured to [have] everything figured out immediately. Instead, remember that figuring out oneself is a lifelong process. It's a part of your personal and spiritual journey, for sure. So when inviting others in, don't be afraid that the vision of this part of your identity is incomplete. This is your story, and it will always be under development, thanks be to God.
Rachel | 27
It will be hard but worth it. So worth it.
Casey | 22
You are beautifully and wonderfully made, and you are not alone.
From all of us at Eden Invitation: we are with you in the longing!
If you want to chat more about your own LGBTQ+ experience, we're here for you-- sign up for a Story Call on our Community page here.