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The Final Step

Discussion in 'Coming Out Stories' started by padre411, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. padre411

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    My coming out began almost exactly one year ago. Many of you have been a part of it and I thank you. The past four months have been particularly intense and you've not heard much from me.

    It turns out a former staff member began outing me in the parish within a week of me joining EC last February. My laptop is used for presentations so the password is well-known in the office. I'm a pretty trusting guy and it is a church. Jenn apparently got into my email folders and found emails sent to 4 close friends. I had just come out to my wife so it didn't take much to figure out what was happening. Jenn began sharing the news pretty quickly.

    The "Fr Mike is gay" rumor stayed under the radar until August. In August I asked my organist at the time to make good on his retirement. I had the opportunity to bring in an amazingly talented young man who could put our new pipe organ on the map. There was a group that was very angry that I forced Larry to retire and this group was also in the loop on the gay rumor. These morphed into the accusation that I hired the new organist to be my new staff boy toy. This percolated until October when everything exploded.

    The only solution was to tell the truth. My plan had been to come out in April 2012 but it was a longshot that I would make it that far. I was in no way prepared for this group of people who had been my parishioners for 7 years to believe and help spread such ugly fabrications. On Saturday, October 9, I sent out 143 coming out letters to the families in my parish. That monday I was outed to all of my colleagues in the diocese without my knowledge or permission by one of my deacons. At the end of October I sent letters and emails to all of my family and friends coming out. After this the magnitude of what I had done hit me and I shut down.

    Then the battles began. November and December was an ongoing coup attempt by a few people to get me removed as the rector of my parish. Three things saved me. First, the rabid support of most of the people in my parish. Second, I have done nothing wrong. I've never broken an ordination or marriage vow. And third, and to my shock, it turns out the church grew 5.8 percent in 2010. This is the first year the church has grown in 10 years. For me it was God's big "I told you so." Coming out was not my destruction. It was actually the beginning of my salvation. And the congregation's.

    If you know me you also know I've been pretty absent from EC. This has also been true of Facebook and email and snail mail. But I'm out of my shell. Finally. I may never catch up, but I'm back out in the open.

    On Sunday night I was at a banquet with 600 people. They were clergy and parishioners from the various episcopal churches in town. The occasion was a visit by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. I realized everyone in the room knew I was gay. And in that same moment I realized I was proud of that. I looked around at my colleagues who are gay and I felt privileged to be part of that group. Special. Set apart for some great purpose. And I had a blast.

    Yes, my wife and I have things to figure out. I'm moving slowly and cautiously. I'm not going to wreak financial disaster on my family by going crazy. At the same time I have friendships with two different men that have great potential for becoming more when I am free to pursue them fully.

    I am lucky. I am blessed. I am proud. And I would never have dreamed this transition could happen in 12 months. I think I now know what it means to be "out."

    Thanks be to God.
    (&&&)
     
  2. Chip

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    Mike, what a truly amazing and inspiring story! You must have gone through some absolutely miserable times... and I never cease to be amazed at what lengths supposedly "good Christian" men and women will stoop to (gossiping, rumormongering, scheming) when they believe they are more righteous than thou.

    But how wonderful that you've come out on top of all the mudslinging. I hope that as things calm down a little more you'll have more time to visit and contribute here at EC, but in any case, my hat's off to you :slight_smile:
     
  3. adam88

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    I was wondering where you'd been! Congratulations. :slight_smile: I'm immensely glad that everything is working out and you have the support of your parishoners.
     
  4. KneeDragger

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    Congrats Mike! What a difference a year makes. I'm sure you look back to the beginning and remember thinking about how difficult if not impossible this journey would be. But now you're here and hopefully the worst is over. Glad to hear from you again!

    Chris
     
  5. EM68

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    Your post gave me chills! I am glad things are working out. Congrats!
     
  6. Eleanor Rigby

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    That's an amazing coming out story and I am glad that you're feeling proud because after all you've been going through, you're definitly entitled to !
    Many (*hug*) C├ęcile
     
  7. TheEdend

    TheEdend Guest

    Its amazing how far you have come! Its truly inspiring and I admire your courage. I can't even start imagining what it must feel to come out to your church.

    I'm also glad you are feeling proud. Its an amazing thing what you are doing and the role model that you can be for young gay kids trying to figure themselves out.

    Best of luck in everything :slight_smile:
     
  8. V128

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    It's inspiring to hear this story. I will soon be an ordained minister, but I'm trying not to hide my gayness. It's good to hear that you've been blessed with happiness and success as an 'out' religious leader! :slight_smile:
     
  9. s5m1

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    Mike, congratulations. It is great to hear from you and to know how well you are doing. You did it!
     
  10. TriBi

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    A story of hurdles, drama, heartaches - and a happy ending. :icon_bigg

    I like happy endings!

    Congrats Mike - I hope everything continues to be as positive moving forward. (*hug*)
     
  11. kwyjibo

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    Wow! Congrats!
     
  12. straal1972

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    You have a truly amazing story and group of friends around you Mike. Congrats and great luck to you.