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National Coming Out Day: Andy Anderson

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. – Romans 13:8-10

Andy AndersonI never thought that I was straight. I didn’t even know what straight was until middle school, when I first heard the definition and shrugged thinking, “Well, that’s not me.”

It was disappointing to discover soon after that very few people appreciated the other identities I should have been able to try. I refrained from labeling myself and ended up gray and depressed, with no real label but my own name.

I didn’t know who I was at the time. I didn’t like boys like I was supposed to. I didn’t dress like girls should – in fact, I had breakdowns and cried in dressing rooms trying on feminine clothes – I felt like they took off a layer of skin every time I pulled them on and off, leaving my flaws more naked and exposed than before.

My parents hated each other, and me. My house burned down with me inside. I was in two car crashes.

I had a crisis of faith – I went through my church’s confirmation program, but when the time came to write my public statement of faith, I couldn’t make myself say I believed in God like they wanted me too. Instead, I wrote something along the lines of, “I don’t believe in God, but I’d like to. I need to look into it more.”

I got too many conflicting, oversimplified messages about the person I was supposed to be, and thus what my faith was supposed to look like. Women weren’t to be trusted, I was told the bible said. The bible also said that women loved and married men, and then had several children, were quiet and demure their whole lives, and deserved punishment for just about everything they did. Jesus and the whole lot of Disciples and everyone else in the bible were white, like the preacher with the bleached smile and sprawling estate my mother watched on tv every night.

I was always a really skeptical kid, I didn’t believe what I was told.

I first read the bible one summer at a church camp for middle schoolers. I didn’t get what a lot of it was saying, there were a bunch of lists of old dead guys, but I didn’t see anything to back up the version of God everyone was trying to sell me.

I know today that what really kept me from publicly committing to God was the fact that my faith communities did not acknowledge the entire church body, only the white, middle-upper class, cisgender, heterosexual, male, quote-unquote “normal” bits of it. I didn’t fit all of those categories, so I thought that God didn’t want me. I thought that God was all of those things, and only those things, so I didn’t want God either.

In late high school I chose the label pansexual for myself. Pan means all, as in I love all genders, because gender doesn’t factor into whether or not I fall in love with someone.

A weight was lifted off my shoulders then. I recalled how much I had longed to discover faith and slowly but surely gave God another shot, one passage, online article, and introspection at a time.

This time I knew that God wasn’t homophobic, or white, or middle-upper class, or anything else.

As in the passage I read, God made us to love. I fulfill God’s intentions for me when I love myself, my neighbors, and my global community. Coming out to myself as pansexual was an act of faith and of love.

I kicked down the closet door and God was waiting for me on the other side!

This is the passage I hope guardians, best friends, significant others, and entire communities remember on today, National Coming Out Day.

It’s also the passage I hope I remember today and every day.