I grew up in an ultra-fundamentalist Southern Baptist home. I attended a Baptist school until the 9th grade, and to this day I can name all the books of the Bible and quote from memory a handful of verses. I was a true believer, “on fire” for god until college. I had my doubts earlier… the stories of Jonah and Noah left some big questions, but I sincerely believed that these doubts came from Satan who sought to turn me from my faith. I had arguments with my science teachers in public school, and often disrupted class denying the fact of evolution and often claiming that man and dinosaurs roamed the earth together. After my high school graduation, my best friend told me he was gay, and I proceeded to inform him that he was going to hell and stopped all communication with him for years.
In college I decided to take a class on the history of the New Testament, taught by a presbyterian minister. I was stunned by the information presented in class, and I slowly began to reevaluate my beliefs. Within a few months I had managed to whiddle down my christian foundation to a vague belief in Jesus (just to be safe) and a few universal truths that could be found outside the Bible.
Shortly after graduating from college, I came to the realization that I was gay. I had always assumed that I just didn’t want to have a relationship or sex… homosexuality was simply not an option to be considered. I knew that I was saved, I worked hard to avoid sinning, and no one had ever told me that people could be born gay. This newest revelation turned all of by beliefs on their head. I know that I am a good person, but the Bible says that I am an unrepentant sinner worthy of hell. Deciding to live my life as honestly as possible, I came out to my parents as both a homosexual and an atheist.
My parents are divorced, so the coming out process took some time. My mother confronted me, and I was treated to an hour-long conversation with her and my step-dad. I had to reveal some specifics about my relationship, and counter their Biblical defenses. I explained that I was still the same person, I still loved my family, and I had no desire to hurt them. Slowly my mom began reading about homosexuality, and while she is still a strong christian, she has come to love me and accept me as Jesus himself would have. My dad and I didn’t broach the subject until we were forced to face it. I called him after my ex-wife left me, and as I sobbed into the phone explaining the situation, my father finally acknowledged my homosexuality and did everything he could to make me feel better about the situation.
Now nearly 8 years later I have a stronger relationship with my family than I ever had before coming out. They have come to terms with the idea of unconditional love found in their Bible, and while I have to sit through the extremely long and drawn-out prayers at dinner that come action packed with the plan of salvation, and though I have given the more vindictive members of my family some fuel for hating me, I couldn’t be happier. I no longer have to hide my concern for their dubious medical practices (special “miracle” juice and chiropractors mainly), and I can speak my mind when something bothers me without having to hide my true feelings around my family.
I have even become involved in various Atheist organizations, most notibly I will be going to Uganda to teach at a humanist school this year. But, by far the best thing about coming out is the knowlegde that I can ask questions and expect real, satisifying answers. Even if that answer is “We just don’t know yet,” it is so much more satisifying than “god did it.” I am my own person, with my own beliefs, and I proudly share them with anyone who will listen.