Shortly after my sister died, my marriage came to an end. Through a long and complicated process of self-discovery, I came to accept that I was a gay man. Owning this truth was a process— it took time.
While sorting out my life, I moved into a small apartment. I wanted to protect my family, so for the next three months, I isolated. I cut myself off from most of my relationships and leaned into a therapist, a handful of trusted friends, and God.
Each day, I wandered the streets of Indianapolis. Praying. Asking God to show me the truth about myself. This is the message I received:
Show you what, exactly? What else am I supposed to show you? You already know. You’ve always known.
I got quiet in those moments. I listened to what had been echoing inside my chest for decades, the clear message that had been chasing me down since junior high; that I would never be straight. I cried my eyes out for nearly three months.
Some days I would sit in the shower of my little apartment and pray. Only this time, I wasn’t praying to be straight. I had already prayed that prayer…for years. Instead, I asked God to show me more.
That shower was a sanctuary for me—a different kind of sanctuary than I’d known as a child. It was forgiving. It was safe. It welcomed me. I wept in my little shower-sanctuary.
I looked at my gay hands there, and let my eyes pore over my gay body. It was a gay man’s body, after all. These arms.
These legs. I allowed my hands to glide over them as if to console them…or absolve them. As if to tell them they’d done nothing wrong. That they were exactly as they should be.
I thought I was making peace with God in that shower. But in time, I would realize that I was making peace with myself. I was being baptized.
On lonely nights, I lay in my bed, ate pizza, and prayed for my wife and kids. And then I’d fall asleep to Queer as Folk, which was like auditing a class in gay studies. When I woke in the morning, I got on my knees next to my bed and prayed the same prayer every day.
God, help me today—to be honest. And to be of service to others. Amen.
I never considered myself a dishonest person. But all these years I spent avoiding the truth kept me living incongruently with myself.
My fear was that if I acknowledged that I was gay, everything would have to change. So I amended the truth. I softened it. I put Groucho glasses on it, forcing it to be something it could never actually be.
During the process of my coming out, my AA sponsor dug into this glaring inconsistency in my life.
“Consequences do not impact the truth, Matt. Does that make sense? What happens as a result of the truth—what your church thinks, what others think, even what you think—none of that changes the truth. What’s real doesn’t change based on an outcome. The truth is neutral. It’s just the truth. That’s it. The truth simply is.”
I had always heard that the truth could set you free. What I had forgotten was that it could also be painful.
Since coming out, I’ve lost friends and family members I love.
I have disappointed many people. But this one thing remains; I didn’t disappoint myself. What was happening inside me—the lie I was living—needed to come to an end. Or it is likely I wouldn’t be here.
I chose me. I don’t regret it.