I’ve been sharing coming out stories on Instagram recently. I’ve uploaded four videos sharing different experiences around coming out: to my sister, to a jewelry store clerk, to my middle-school students, and to the Church. They have been beautifully received. Here are some of the highlights:
- A friend who works in youth ministry is becoming a louder voice for LGBTQ+ representation in her circle.
- A friend who hasn’t come out to her family reached out asking for help.
- A friend who I’ve never met in real life but Instagram makes me feel like I have, wrote me and said something like, “Keep sharing these. We need them.”
Super encouraging and validating. Coming out stories are not new and are not going anywhere. So to think that I’m sharing these experiences through a lens that resonates with others in my small corner of the internet – that feels important. But I didn’t realize how much sharing these would feel like coming out all over again.
My wife and I recently hit our four year wedding anniversary. We went to San Antonio for a quick one-night away retreat. Fancy hotel on the Riverwalk, decadent meals on patios, and HGTV on cable we don’t pay for (it’s what happens when we leave the house and I. don’t. know. why). It was special and lovely. The way it should be.
I shared the above picture on my Instagram with the caption, “Celebrating 4 years of married smooches with this one.” It’s my most liked photo to date. And before I get too deep in this, just know I am taking all this social media-ness with LARGE grains of salt.
Even though it got more likes than anything else I’ve posted, it is what caused the largest exodus of followers – many of which are Christians who I’ve connected with through a large writing community. It shouldn’t, but it stings. Especially after sharing a video about coming out in the Church, and desperately needing church members and leaders to be more vocal about loving and accepting us, to have so many leave after sharing a cute picture from vacation… it’s a low-blow.
But, here is what I know to be true:
1) I cannot change everyone’s mind to see me as a loving, normal human made in the image of God.
2) I cannot control other people’s reactions.
3) Instagram is not a mirror of how life actually is, but shows us a rather distorted view.
4) People choosing to walk away from me is a reflection on them, not me.
Four facts, four years of marriage. But how many times will people choose to overlook the queer experience for their own comfort? It’s happened so many times in my life already. I know others will read this and think I am putting too much weight into followers and likes, but it’s hard not to when you’ve seen it happen in your real and personal life too.But I have to remember: Instagram is not a mirror.
I’m being more intentional and regimented in my writing routine, and am choosing to think that those that left are making space. They went through the doors that are very much open and unlocked, and those doors are awaiting those who can connect in deeper ways. Such a better way of looking and celebrating.