It Gets Better. With You.
October 14, 2010

Whether you’re gay, straight, Christian, agnostic, atheist, confused, struggling, conservative, liberal, or whatever else, chances are that you at least sometimes feel left out. Or pushed out. Like you just don’t fit. Or like something’s wrong with you. Like you must be crazy or you’re going crazy or you will go crazy, if your head doesn’t explode first from all the voices jammed inside it — or implode from all the voices competing for it from the outside.

Like you just want peace and love but can’t feel anything but confusion, anxiety, hopelessness, and frustration inside you and around you. And even if you felt close enough to tell them, you don’t get any comfort or encouragement from loved ones. Or you get outright rejection.

I have been there. Many if not most of us have either been there, are there, or go there quite often. So you are not alone.  And it gets better. Just ask this guy…

As we recently celebrated Coming Out Day, and although the day has drawn attention to LGBTQ people being bullied, I encourage you to consider that it’s also bigger than that. At risk of diluting the significance of Coming Out Day for all my LGBTQ friends, which I have no intention of doing, I want to take the opportunity to draw attention to all of us who are afraid to ‘come out’ and feel bullied when it comes to religion.

There are many metaphorical directions I could go with this. From drawing parallels between bullies with big trucks and small penises and connecting that with televangelists with big ministries; or poking fun at the religious establishment in general and making assertions of why “they” feel like they must defend “their” way because of their own insecurities. But I don’t want to digress with such generalizations.

Because we all feel left out or pushed out, and some far more than others to be sure — I was a late-bloomer, wasn’t a jock, identified better with girls than guys, and walked around singing Amy Grant or Erasure when everyone else was into Guns N’ Roses and Ratt. And with religion, although I’ve sometimes sat at the cool table, I’ve almost always felt very different, like I couldn’t relate because of my questions and doubts. And now it’s just more obvious with this blog and all. But it’s always been like that for me.

The fact is that the world of religion is no more mature than junior high. There’s an in-crowd as well as a back-corner table for weirdo rejects and ugly people. We say we welcome everyone, but we don’t. And that goes equally for conservatives and liberals. We say we love and just want to help, but as we bless with one hand, we twist arms with the other. We close one eye in prayer as the other glances up and down in pious judgment. We smile with one lip and gossip with the other. We turn our faces and chests toward Heaven in praise while turning our backs on “the other.”

And I propose that we do this because we all feel insecure and blind. I just wish we could all admit it to each other, and maybe then we can really be there for each other, present, sincere, open.

Until then, for those of us who are just struggling to keep up with the storm of competition that is humanity, and that is religion…for those who feel overwhelmed by thoughts of insignificance, overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, and especially for those who feel like you’re all alone with no one to talk to, no one to trust… that is a lie.

You are not alone. So come join us: The Black Sheep. The sacred band of holy weirdos. We can make it better. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.



One more thing…

I know this is dating me, but I had mentioned how I loved listening to and singing Erasure songs. I want to share the lyrics of one song (among many from Erasure) that has especially comforted me in times when I feel like I have to hide my true self. It’s obviously about the coming-out experience of a young man, but I’ve always felt it deeply, not with regards to my sexuality, but with the many secretly held doubts and questions about faith, as well as other things that some internal or external messages said that I should hide because they might expose me as “different,” which might (and sometimes did) lead to rejection. I’ve been very glad for (most of) the times that I ignored those messages.



One day the boy decided to let them know the way he felt inside
He could not stand to hide it, his mother she broke down and cried

Oh my father, Why don’t you talk to me now?
Oh my mother, Do you still cry yourself to sleep?
Are you still proud of your little boy?

Don’t be afraid, You don’t have to hide away

The boy, he was rejected by the people that he cared for
It’s not what they expected but he could not keep it secret anymore

Far from home now, Waiting by the telephone
There’s a new world, You can’t make it on your own

Don’t be afraid, You don’t have to hide away

Don’t be afraid (Love will mend your broken wings)
Time will slip away (Learn to be brave)

Don’t be afraid, You don’t have to hide away.

— by Vince Clark and Andrew Bell, Erasure

[song link here]