Just one brief comment on the Christian musician Vicky Beeching’s coming out.
I’ve met Vicky once, when she attended my confirmation in the Church of England at St. John’s College, Durham, where I was based at the time. I was touched that she wanted to attend, and I was grateful for her warm friendliness.
Sean Doherty tweeted yesterday morning after the story was published, “Respect to @vickybeeching today – should not be but *is* still hard to come out and praying for you that you are overwhelmed with support.” I think that’s just exactly right, regardless of where your convictions about sexual ethics fall.
It’s easy for me now, as someone who writes and speaks publicly and frequently about these matters, to forget how difficult it was at first to talk with anyone about my sexuality. Despite the fact that I had a loving, close-knit family, an especially committed group of friends in high school, and an unusually sensitive, thoughtful youth pastor, it still took me until college to tell someone about my feelings. And even then, I was deathly afraid of what my peers would think.
I’ve spent the week here in Grand Rapids at a forum to discuss sexuality questions, and one of the other participants, Tim Otto, spoke yesterday about how so much of his life, prior to coming out, was an effort to become a really good liar. I knew exactly what he meant: When you’re in the closet and you want to remain there, as I did, you carefully police every word and gesture in hopes of convincing the world that you’re actually attracted to the opposite sex.
The first person I came out to listened to me for as long as I wanted to talk. I could barely form a coherent sentence. My face was red with embarrassment. It felt like I had sawdust caking the inside of my mouth. He waited for me to finish before he spoke. Perhaps because he was a professor, I felt that I needed to end my story with a question for him. But he quickly waved that away and simply assured me that God loved me and that he wanted to meet again. And there was something healing in that—to know that, whatever questions remained, the God I had met in Jesus Christ would somehow provide the grace I needed to move forward.
I hope Vicky Beeching experiences that same love.