This is an open letter to my friends.
It’s a letter that’s been coming for a long time now. Well, actually – it’s overdue. It’s been written and rewritten in my mind over and over; but strangely now I find as I put fingers to the keyboard, it’s as if it is my first attempt to write this. But it’s OK. I’m not nervous or apprehensive about what I have to say or any potential consequences – my personal journey over the past 33 years; particularly the last 20; especially the last 5, have ensured this.
My family & those closest to me will already know what I am about to say. Indeed to some, despite the fact we’ve never actually discussed it, this confession certainly won’t come as any surprise – only confirmation (in fact despite my denial, some have had the guts to ask). And even if you’ve never suspected, by now you’ve probably guessed what I’m about to say – I mean, who opens a letter in this way? …unless you’re about to say:
I’m acutely aware that to some of you, this doesn’t elicit a noteworthy response or further discussion. To others, this is a significant admission.
Actually, to be perfectly honest my defiance at writing this sooner has had nothing to do with my journey; nor my acceptance of who I am or how I’m wired; nor who I love or who I feel attraction to – rather this defiance is centred around a discomfort with the concept of ‘coming out’. I don’t recall my brother sitting my parents down and telling them “Look, I thought I should let you know – I’m straight”. But, I’ve come to realise that it is indeed an important step - not just for me, but also those who are important to me.
For me; because I need to be honest with you all. Without honesty, a friendship can never fully develop or mature. And by failing to share or be open about this aspect of my life, I am indeed withholding a core part of who I am from you. This doesn’t make for an authentic friendship.
For you; because even if I have been stealthy in my covering of this information (And, let’s be honest, I haven’t been) you have probably sensed that I have not been fully transparent with who I am in our friendship – again, to the authenticity. Also, we are all on different journeys and different places in that journey – I think it’s important that light is thrown on to the matter and if needed, have opportunity to discuss and understand.
There are many reasons that I have withheld this aspect of who I am from many of you. For some, it’s because we work together and in the context of workplace, it’s irrelevant. But for the vast majority, the context by which we came to know each other (ie though church) inherently makes the subject matter difficult to table. Some of you will have strong reservations or objections. But given our mutual background, it does mean that for the most part I understand your position. Actually, I have spent the best part of 20 years unpacking, analysing and reconstructing those objections.
So I encourage you – please let me know if there is any aspect you need or want to discuss. I am happy to share my journey with you. I am happy to discuss any aspect of my journey with you. I am happy to discuss any sticking-point you wish to discuss, as it relates to my journey.
Having spent the past 20 years thinking, praying, pondering, journaling, studying, discussing & negotiating my way through the subject matter, I am firm in where I stand; so please also understand that the above is not an invitation to debate rights and wrongs. If you are genuinely seeking to better understand a perspective that challenges your currently held position, then I am genuinely happy to talk. If you are as firm in your position as I am, that’s totally ok, but please refrain. Let’s both save our energy for other worthy debate.
So, to end - an apology from myself; I am truly sorry for the years of withholding an important aspect of who I am, especially where this has impacted upon the authenticity of our friendship. But I do not apologise for who I am and I guarantee that this information does not change who I have been in the past, who I am now and who I will be in to the future. I hope that understanding the wider spectrum of who I am will serve to enrich our friendship into the future.