Beloved and I had dinner the other night and I told her that I have been thinking long and hard about coming out.
Before she and I had dinner, I had lunch with a local colleague and friend, and floated the idea to her. She is someone who is very supportive and sympathetic to the cause of full inclusion for LGBTQ folks, and we have known one another for a long time. But, suffice it to say, she was hesitant. "Why?" she asked. "It's really pretty 'Don't ask, don't tell,' isn't it?"
I explained my feeling that really, in a community as small as ours, it feels inevitable that I will be out sooner or later, of my own choosing or not. There is a certain strength to the thought that, perhaps it would be better to do it of my own choosing, and at my own pace. There is some control in determining for myself when and how it happens. Of course, there are significant risks. My friend seemed to feel that my loss of my credentials in my denomination would be a given. I am not as sure as she is, but I respect her opinion. And I do believe that I could become credentialed in another denomination. In fact, it might not be a bad idea to begin that process sooner rather than later, perhaps to try to gain dual status.
She and I brainstormed what other colleagues in my local governing body might be supportive. I have decided (thanks to input from thoughtful blogging friends) that I need to form a circle of support now, in advance of coming out. In fact, as another friend suggested, this could be a kind of clearness committee for me, assisting me to think through all the ramifications, timing, manner, etc.
I told Beloved all this over dinner the other night. She was stunned. She didn't expect this from me. She was... thrilled. And proud.
All of which causes me to say, I don't know when and how this will happen. But I do know that, the greater the honesty in my life as a whole, the greater wholeness, the greater clarity, the more open to God's spirit I believe I will become. Don't misunderstand, I am terrified. I don't want to hurt the congregation I serve, for one thing. I have grown to love them, and I know they love me. But they love what they know of me... it would be so good to have them know me more fully, and still to love me. Like God.
So, I'm making plans. And praying for clarity.