Blog Post by
Daniel Mortimer, Ruling Elder
Faith DesPeres Presbyterian Church
Presbytery Leader Nominating Committee
Monday, October 11, 2021, was National Coming Out Day. National Coming Out Day is an annual celebration with the goal of shining light on individuals within the LGBTQ+ community and their decisions to share their gender identities and sexual orientation with the public. Though coming out is not specifically mentioned in the bible, I would encourage you to look at the following Matthew passage with this different interpretation.
“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.” Matthew 17:5-8
In this well-known passage, Jesus does something familiar to queer and transgender people, He pulled aside his closest friends, and revealed something about him that he has never shared before. I guess you could call this Jesus’s coming out moment. The Transfiguration marked a new phase in the life of Jesus and his ministry.
As we reflected on National Coming Out Day, We are reminded that coming out is not only a one-time event. Every time we meet someone new, start a new job, or move to a new place, the process begins again. This process can be exhausting even for the most out and proud. There is always a concern of rejection or hate. I personally get so tired of explaining my identity to other people. But every time we come out it gives us an opportunity for a deeper connection with the people around us. It is a moment we get to reveal a part of ourselves and allows us to become more intimate with them. When we come out, we create opportunities for people to say, “This is my friend with whom I am well pleased.”
A common exercise within the LGBTQ+ community on National Coming Out Day is writing a letter to their former closeted self. Below you will see that personal letter coaching my former self to be confident in who I am and who I will become.
Life may seem quite simple and loving at this time. You have a talented group of friends, family, and a true passion for music. Relish in the pure innocence of childhood and lean into your true self. That voice you hear in the back of your head saying you are a little different from all the other kids will make sense later in life. In the meantime, dive into your passions. If you hear “Boys don’t do that!” stay calm, do not get upset. You are not defined by their societal stereotypes of gender expression and identify. You are beautiful and made perfect just the way you are.
When you go to college, your eyes will be opened to your authentic self. You will continue to learn what it means to be part of the larger LGBTQ+ community. During your first year, you will have the opportunity to listen to a convocation series. Even though you may feel uncomfortable. GO! You will listen to Jack Rogers, a former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church. He will discuss his book “Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church.” This will be a forever life-changing event for you and through this conversation, it will open the door for you to discover who you are. This self-discovery will challenge your faith, do not be surprised to find that you naturally start putting walls up between yourself and the Church.
As you become more aware of yourself, you will recount the subliminal messages that were preached from the pulpit, and this will make you question religion completely. During these times, do not ever forget your faith. Be kind to yourself. Take the time in college to develop who you are. Learn about what a beautiful, intelligent, intriguing soul you are. Trust in your instincts and allow your true colors to show. These years in college will allow you to flourish and prepare you for the world. You will learn how to combat hate with intellect and learn how to fully accept yourself as a cisgender gay male.
Once you come home from college, this will be a big transition for you since you have lived your life so freely the last few years. I know coming out to your family is one of the scariest things. You will find your friends will love and accept you right away.… some even wondering, “what took you so long?” You will learn the true meaning of friendship. These friends will quickly develop into a Chosen Family. They will help guide and support you throughout your journey.
One day in the fall, you will abruptly come out to your parents when your father decides to get a Facebook account. Do not freak out, take that opportunity, and speak your truth. It will be a very emotional night for everyone, but you will be surprised by the outcome. You will learn that your parents will become your biggest supporters. They will even amaze you by purchasing books to learn more about parenting a gay child. They will explain, as parents they had plans, goals, and a path for all their children. And even though this was not the path either of them planned, that did not mean it was the wrong path. They will acknowledge your new path and they will be there to help you succeed in any way they can.
Even with the love and acceptance of your family and friends, there will still be something missing. You will still be struggling with religion. You will get a call from a former organist asking you to become a Section Leader at Faith Des Peres. Go with your gut and accept the position. You will hear for the first time love and acceptance preached from the Pulpit. The Pastor will become a dear friend and mentor to you, allowing you to ask questions and you will grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You will finally be in a safe place with a congregation that loves you and accepts you. You will flourish and find the love of God again.
Finally, love will come into your life but not as you imagined. Remember there are multiple layers to love. You will find someone who you may think is the perfect person, but as you grow together you will realize that this relationship is not right. Do not feel pressured to move forward if you are not ready. Your Family, Friends, and Church will help support you during this challenging time. You will learn when you search for love to keep your religion and faith in the conversation. Do not hide your beliefs even if it’s uncommon within the LGBTQ+ community. You will find the love of your life, a man of faith, which will show you what unconditional love is. You will then be able to live your life to the fullest as your most authentic self.
Daniel, make sure to give yourself grace and time to process all that comes your way. There will be things you can not control but trust in yourself and lean on the support of your friends, family, and church. You are a beautiful soul! Take a deep breath and enjoy this journey of discovery. You will be so happy in the end.
Trust and believe in yourself,
Daniel Mortimer (he/him/his)
I was blessed to have an accepting family, friends, and church during my coming out process. I am well aware that the majority of the LGBTQ+ community is not that lucky. For many, they are disowned by their family, defriended and teased by friends, and left behind by their church due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. As a faith community, may we strive to be the compassionate neighbor to the LGBTQ+ community that was rejected, discriminated, and/or persecuted. May the LGBTQ+ community be given the time and space for their wounds to heal and may the presence of justice comfort their hearts. May we all acknowledge the gifts of the LGBTQ+ community and be transformed by those gifts. That we may create a society rooted in love, grounded by justice, and strengthened by difference.
Take some time today to honor National Coming Out Day and remember the hardships that the LGBTQ+ community face especially at church. I know not everyone has the ability to comfort a member of the LGBTQ+ community today, but I challenge you to find someone safe in your life and have a deep conversation with them revealing something new about yourself.
Daniel Mortimer, Ruling Elder
Faith DesPeres Presbyterian Church Member
Presbytery Leader Nominating Committee Member