Tag Archives: family

Kids Come Out, Prayers Go Up

I think I’m gay.

I have to stop and count the number of times teenagers have said or typed these words for the first time when talking to me. Usually, their next statements involve some sort of plea not to tell anyone else and an explanation that they aren’t coming out to their families anytime soon but just needed to tell someone. It’s an urgent feeling, an immediate need. I understand it well.

They see my big queer life unfold on Facebook and seek me out, knowing I’m safe to talk to. Often, I’m the only queer person they’ve ever known.

When I was 16, I reached out to someone I loved and told her I thought I was gay in an email. Soon after, I walked into the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center and came out in public for the first time. Coming out to family wasn’t a big deal to me because I didn’t really have much in the way of family. I told one cousin, and pretty soon, all the family members I was still in contact with back then knew. It came as no surprise when that went badly. But I was still glad they knew, even when some of them stopped talking to me because of it. It gave me a sense of freedom, and I knew that those people didn’t belong in my life if they didn’t want to be present and offer up real, unconditional love, regardless of the gender of my current and future partners.

But my life wasn’t typical. I raised myself. I was 16 and already driving, working and paying bills. And I really didn’t care what the people I share DNA with thought. Those last two are big deals in our community because so many youth get kicked out of their homes at young ages (too young to drive or work) because of their sexuality, or they are ostracized and hated by people they still expect to love them. I don’t have much experience with choosing the right time (safety-wise) to come out.

So earlier this week, I was a little lost when, for the first time, I think I’m gay was followed by Should I come out? What do you think? And I didn’t know what to say. I went with my first instinct. Because I know this kid’s uber conservative family and because he’s very young (too young to drive or work), I told him it would always be up to him, but I suggested he wait.

My concerns are for his physical and mental safety. I doubt they would kick him out, but I’m not entirely sure they wouldn’t send him to a conversion camp. Truthfully, I don’t know how they’d react, and I want him to have the ability to take care of himself if his coming out leads to one of these scenarios.

I told him that sometimes people just don’t get it. Sometimes they come around, and sometimes they never get it. I told him that, no matter what, he is beautiful and perfect the way God made him, and that I love him.

But I told him to wait. And I don’t know what he took away from that, but it occurred to me later that, to him, it could’ve felt like I was telling him he didn’t deserve that freedom I once felt because he’s too young. And that’s not true.

I want him to live his truth. I want him to live the most authentic life possible. I want him to love Jesus and feel how much Jesus loves him – straight or gay, because it doesn’t matter to the One who knit him together in a woman’s womb.

I want this beautiful boy to come out.

But I still worry. I fear for his precious heart, that he won’t be accepted, that he will begin to know the pain of rejection when there is nothing about him that should be rejected.

I’ve added his name to the long list of teenagers who share those words with me: I think I’m gay.

Every night I pray for them, for their hearts, for their spirits, for their families. I pray for our world, and I pray that one day a teenager will say those words to me and my emotional reaction will be excitement over this newly discovered piece of his or her personal journey, rather than fear for what’s to come. I pray that none of them become statistics. I pray that they all know how much God loves them, that they never listen to anyone who tells them any different, that they always remember they have a safe place to share their truth with me when the world feels unsafe.

I pray.

And I hope.

But I still worry and wonder.

Why must living an honest, authentic life be such a risk?

Why can our world not yet band together in love and choose that over hate?

If I ask, will my friends begin to pray for these kids too?

Will they let the youth around them know that they are safe harbors?

Consider this me asking.

Please pray for all of these beautiful children who identify as LGBTQ. Let the young people in your life know that you are a safe place for them in an often unsafe world. And just love them. Be the person who offers them so much love that it overflows and spills everywhere. They need us.

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Finding my father: I’m closer than ever

Those of you who know me on a more personal level know that I have never met my biological father. I don’t even know his name. In fact, I’ve never known anything about him, except that, judging by my complexion, he is a white guy. I’ve spent my entire life wondering about him. At times, I have painfully agonized over not knowing any of the details about where or who I came from. It has been a struggle, because nearly everyone I’ve known has taken those basic privileges for granted. It would mean everything to me to know my dad’s name or even just general traits like his height or hair and eye color. 

Several months ago, I took a DNA test from AncestryDNA. It enabled me to see a layout of my entire ethnic background, which was an unbelievable gift. I secretly hoped it would lead to the discovery of my father, but I knew I probably had a better chance of winning the lottery. My DNA matches began rolling in, starting with about 250 4th-6th cousins who each shared 96% of my DNA.

Because I haven’t purchased a full-fledged membership, I don’t have the ability to initiate contact with other members. However, I can reply. When my most recent match, a third cousin who shares 98% of my DNA, popped up today, I received a message from her. This was the first contact I have ever had from a paternal relative, and I already love my “new” cousin, Cora.

Cora has been doing research about her genealogy since two years before I was born, and she messaged me to talk about our shared lineage. We ended up emailing back and forth a couple of times, and once I shared my lack-of-information story with her, she decided to call the phone number listed in my email signature (my cell).

Today I actually had a verbal conversation with someone related to my dad, and it was so amazing that it was hard for me not to cry right there in the middle of it. I pushed through, but I can’t stop the waterworks now.

My cousin, Cora, (I just love saying that!) shared a lot of her work with me, and while I’m still a very long way away from finding my father, I have a beginning. And more importantly, I know about where I came from!

Our great-great-great grandfather’s name was John Pierce. His wife, Nancy, gave birth to six children, including our great-great grandfather, William. His wife, Mary Ann, came from a long line of very wealthy plantation owners in Kentucky and Virginia. This wasn’t something I was particularly thrilled to hear, but it wasn’t all that surprising. And to be honest, I loved hearing all of it, even this ugly portion. Farther back, Cora has traced us to the family that brought the Quaker religion to America from England. And by traced, I mean that she knows who was on the boat when it landed in colonial America, and she has the documentation to back it up. How amazing is that?! My family brought the Religious Society of Friends to America!

The paternal side of my family has always been very prolific. Maybe that’s why I’ve always loved kids. :)

Unfortunately, this means finding my father will prove to be even more difficult because of the large pool I’ll be narrowing down. But honestly, if I never find him, I can live contentedly knowing that I’m a Pierce, a McQueen, a Bedford and a Willis. This information has made so much of a difference, and I can’t even begin to process that all of this happened today.

I might still be in shock, but it’s a very thankful state of shock.

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Memorable Quotes

My siblings say the funniest things. Just to name a few:

As Mom and I are loading the twins into my car without booster seats (for about the thousandth time… oops!), Delis: “If you get pulled over, just lie and say they’re six.”

Daire: “My arm hurts ’cause I washed my hands.”

Dutch: “Daire, if you can’t hear the radio, you musta been born with peanut butter in your ears.”

Darcie: “I don’t wanna go camping! It’s too snakesy out there.”

Daire: “One time when I was a little boy and I was 18, I played basketball for the Grizzlies, and I was so good.”

 

Gotta love them.

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