Thursday, April 17, 2008

Coming Out IS a Big Deal! Reflecting on Azariah Southworth Coming Out Story

On and, there was much ado about Azariah Southworth, an attractive young Christian t.v. host in the Nashville area, coming out of his closet. What made this story a hot news item is because Azariah is part of an "evangelical" (aren't all Christians really called to be evangelists?) Christian culture that looks down on those of us who are LGTB, suggesting we need reparative therapy, and have no place in the body of Christ. In this context and cultural framework, Azariah's "coming out" is explosive.

How would I know? Because I've been there. Having grown up on Young Life, InterVarsity, home churches, a dalliance with Campus Crusades, and Navigator roommates, I know that culture well. My contacts with people in some of these former associations cut-off all contact with me once I was outed as a gay man by former colleagues at the University where I used to teach. Azariah will likely also face some of this "loosing" of the "ties" that once bound him to a certain cultural context in the supposedly "evangelical" community of faith. Many in this community of faith talk about "loosing" or "loosening" the "ties that bind us together," in which those who consider themselves "our" elders can choose who is in and who is out of the community of faith.

Because of this ostracism by communities of faith, the denial of ordination, the exclusion at a table or altar where Communion or Eucharist is being distributed, baptism is denied, and jobs in the church are not available, based solely upon who we are as LGBT people, many people choose to remain in the closet, where the sign above the door sill says DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL, DON'T KNOCK, KEEP OUT.

Coming out as gay, lesbian, transgendered, or bisexual is still a move that is to be celebrated and cheered on, after all these years, and all these lives of people coming out. I, like so many others, agree that it is in coming out that we who are LGBTQ will be included in this diverse community of human lives.

Come out, come out, wherever we are!

Feel free to share stories.



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