Christopher, Claims Examiner, Nashville, Tennessee

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Christopher, in his own words: “I cannot remember a single moment when I wasn’t gay.

But being gay … that’s another story, one that I’m still figuring out.

Like a bitter batch of sun tea, I was steeped in fundamentalist Christianity since birth. I entered my adolescent years with a foul taste in my mouth and enough guilt to last until I was over the hill. I bottled that up and tried to be devout.

Until my 29th year I truly believed that no person actually was gay. I thought my same-sex attractions were some kind of spiritual oppression. And I imagined two polarized forces fighting for the fate of my soul.

Imagine that.

It all seems so dramatic now.

Regardless of how it feels now, for too many years I believed it to be true and I knew my only option was to follow the doctrine in which I had been stewing. I did what every good Christian boy does: I married a woman and started a family.

Six years later I woke from the fever dream.

Coming out was utterly terrifying. All I could think about was my children, and the effect it would have on our relationship.

I had always been a very connected father. My kids were born at home with a midwife and I was there to catch each of them. I cut their umbilical cords and rinsed out their cloth diapers. I know that granola phase is long gone, but I loved every second of it.

It’s much easier to deny who you are when you are giving every moment to three precious little ones. But eventually there came a point of clarity in which the veil was pulled back (or torn in two — you take your pick). Suddenly I realized I had been fighting to maintain a certain standing in a religious paradigm to which I had always struggled to relate.

This epiphany resulted in my dual coming out—as a gay man and as a humanist. The ripple effects were beautiful and devastating.

When my ex-wife quickly moved them from northern Illinois to Nashville to join an oppressive religious community, I left everything I had ever known behind to follow my children. I didn’t know what to expect moving to the Bible Belt just months after coming out. What I found in Nashville was a wonderful queer community that embraced me.

After spending almost three decades feeling mostly alone, now I am surrounded by people that love me for who I am and support me as I navigate my way through the trials of divorce and a new and unexpected version of fatherhood.

It’s been a painful process, and I know challenges will persist. This is obvious when your father is a gay, secular humanist and your mother an outspoken Christian fundamentalist. I know my children will come out on the other side of this as strong, freethinking individuals. They will see that their father never stopped loving them.

As for me, I’m in a city that feels like home and sharing life with a man with whom I’m completely in love. What more could I ask for?

If I could go back in time, I’d tell my younger self a lot of things. I would grab me by the shoulders and shake me violently while proclaiming “feel the fuck out of your feelings!”

I’d remind myself of the beauty in simply being alive.

Being gay is small in the scope of the human experience. Stop making such a big deal about it. Accept it and move on so that you can look your life square in the eye and be in awe of its sheer magnitude.”

2 comments

  1. jem

    Thanks for sharing your story – so powerfully and evocatively written – Christopher. I did much what you did but in a different place where coming out is all but impossible, though I finally have done so to some degree – even living with a man – but so much later in life, after children have grown up and married and had their own children. I’m so glad you have found community and peace and love.

  2. mmarkroy53

    A wonderful story. What touched me the most was the comment on how the diametrically opposed belief of you and your former wife will leave your children stronger. I too believe int that. It may not come now, but with time, they will realize how truly wonderful you are as a father and how much love you have for them. Keep it up, and enjoy this new phase of your life.

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