Dear Closeted Queer One:
Yes, Pride is for you. I know you look on from a distance — perhaps through the stained-glass of your church window, or from the table of your un-affirming family, or the office where you could lose friends or your job if others were to know. You look out and see people dressed head-to-toe in all things rainbow, hugging one another, marching in parades and loudly proclaiming their love. You see them and think, “How nice it must be to be you.”
But just because it is not you yet, does not mean it never will be. Those who march, march with you in mind. You are not forgotten or overlooked. We hold you in our hearts, and we carry a torch for you, fighting for things to be different, for policies and hearts and minds to change so that someday, you too can be free and safe to be out.
Just because you are not out yet does not mean we do not see you or celebrate you. Pride is as much for the closeted as it is for the out. We were all closeted once. You must take your time. You must be safe. Yes, dear closeted queer one: Pride is for you.
“Pride is as much for the closeted as it is for the out. We were all closeted once.”
Dear gay or lesbian one: Your love is holy. They may call you names, they may try to fit you into the small box of their small religion with their small god, but don’t ever let anyone tell you your love is less than just because it is different.
You are not an abomination, you are not destined for hell, you are not full of shame or sin — you are an embodiment of breath-taking love that is wild and free and sacred. You radiate beauty and diverse facets of light into the world in a way no one else can. Yes, dear gay and lesbian ones, your love is holy.
Dear bisexual one: I will fight to make sure you are not erased. At times even those within your own community overlook you, or make jokes, or call your love “a phase.” I’m sorry their own insecurity and ignorance causes them to ostracize you in much the same way they too have been ostracized. Your love is valid. It is equal. It is radiant and abundant, and it deserves to be celebrated and seen. Yes, dear bi one, your love too is holy.
Dear transgender or intersex one: Who you are is stunning and a reflection of the divine. Many people don’t see that yet; their fear and lack of education keep them from seeing the unique gift you have to offer the world. But you embody the very image of God — a God that is beyond gender and inhabits all that is good about being both feminine and masculine.
Only a few people get to fully embody something so radiant and sacred, and you are one of them. There are days where it will not feel like a gift. There are days where being who you are will make you feel ostracized, uncomfortable or unsafe. But on those days remember that the same gift that causes you to stand out in the world also gives you the opportunity to challenge power, dismantle systems and break down barriers to make the world richer, more authentic, more loving, more understanding, more accepting, more free. Yes, dear transgender and intersex ones, you reflect the very image of the divine.
And dear questioning one: Oh, sweet questioning one, I see your fear — the fear that everything as you know it will change if you admit the truth to yourself about who you are. You are not alone in feeling this way. Each of us who have gone before you have faced this fear inside ourselves. Know that we stand behind you as you now face that fear within you.
Will it be hard? Yes. Will there be days after coming out when you wish you could crawl back in the closet and disappear? Quite possibly. Is it worth facing your fear anyway in order to be authentic and free? Absolutely yes.
“Being free is worth it, dear one. Being your self is worth it. You are worth fighting for.”
Being free is worth it, dear one. Being your self is worth it. You are worth fighting for. You are worth loving. You are worthy of being loved in the ways you desire. You are worthy of being fully and authentically yourself. You are worthy of not having to hide or filter or suppress. You are worthy of being free. You will not find acceptance in every place you visit, but you will find it. And once you find your tribe, you will wield a strength and confidence you’ve never known before that will continue to propel you forward in your journey.
It’s OK to be scared. It’s OK to take your time. Please don’t come out until you are ready. No one can tell you when that will be — that is yours and yours alone to decide. But know that when you do, there is an abundance of us waiting with open arms to embrace you, to celebrate you, to love you. You are not and will not be alone.
“Know that I would come sit with you in the closet if I could. I would bring a candle.”
Know that I would come sit with you in the closet if I could. I would bring a candle. I would hold your hand. I would tell you are loved exactly as you are. I would tell you it’s going to be OK. And then we would sit and wait together for the day it felt safe enough to walk out.
Yes, dear closeted queer one, your love deserves to be celebrated and seen. But if it’s not yet, that’s OK. Your time will come. Don’t think for a minute that just because you’re still in the closet that you are not brave. Bravery comes in many forms, and staying in the closet until the time is right for you is just as brave as coming out.
Be patient. Be gentle with yourself. Your time will come. And until it does, know that I see you, and that even in the closet, Pride is for you. I am proud of you. We as a community are proud of you.
You are deeply and fully loved exactly where you are and exactly as you are. Keep being brave.
Amber Cantorna grew up in the deeply conservative evangelical culture of Focus on the Family and now advocates for equality everywhere. She is a national speaker, the author of Refocusing My Family and Unashamed: A Coming Out Guide for LGBTQ Christians, and host of the Unashamed Book Club. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and learn more about her work at AmberCantorna.com.
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