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Re: Any suggestions or advice regarding pastoral care for Gay and Lesbians?

> From: ********  *******
> Subject: Any suggestions or advice regarding pastoral care for Gay and
> Lesbians?

> I am in a Pastoral Care class at seminary.  I signed up with several guys to
> do a presentation on Gay and Lesbian pastoral issues.
> I felt drawn to talk about coming out issues.  Does anyone have any
> suggestion or material on counseling folks who are dealing with coming out
> issues?
Two suggestions from Scripture:  The Lazarus story (come out!  with all your
stinky clothes) is powerful, as is Queen Esther (you are family, sugar, and
you can continue to enjoy the privileges of this closet only if you
collaborate, only if you become a closet militant).

Dr. King said, "Unmerited suffering is always redemptive."   I would phrase
that differently, "Unmerited suffering is always meant to be redemptive;
therefore work to make it so."

Not every coming out is an unqualified boon.  Even in some of the better
dynamics, one pays a price, sometimes a big price.  If at all possible,
time your coming out to maximize the redemption purchased with your holy

Trust no formulas.  There are some who need to let a hateful parent finish
paying the college bills before saying, 'Yoo-hoo, hi there!  Guess what!'
There are some who need to pay their own college bills with a wry smile.
There are some who will enable parental love they had not yet seen....

Don't demonize your family and friends:  it is understandable that immediate
family members are concerned about what the extended family, even what the
neighbors will think, not just about the lbgt child, but about their
parenting.  Some have been taught to think that we are their 'mistake.'
They loved us too much!  or they  were cold and distant!  Some dealing with
all sorts of stereotypes of themselves, not just of us.

But is their concern about the family and the neighbors more important than
our breathing?  than our spiritual health?!  I have seen many students' eyes
light up when I have asked that question, as if a millstone had just been
removed from around their necks.

The biggest fear I had when in the closet, ages and ages ago--but until I
was 28--was that somehow I would be embracing all my stereotypes of who lgbt
are.  What a big surprise to discover just the opposite, that in my newly
claimed wholeness I had the birthright (or the 're-birth right') to know
that whatever else others think lbgts are, they're wrong if they don't
include me, just as I am. Coming out did not make me have to be someone
else; coming out gave me the freedom to be myself, to be whole, as I had
never been before.

Another big surprise in coming out was to discover that I am really not the
center of the universe.  Protecting my closet, not wanting to be who I was,
trying to account for it....... voraciously consumed vital energy.  Secret
sexual identity was so absorbing that it threatened to define me.  `How will
family and friends react if ever they discover that I am not who they think
I am, but queer?...'   I knew they could not possibly love or respect me,
for I had grave problems in loving and respecting myself.

In the closet it took enormous discipline even to think about anything else
or anyone else for extended periods of time.  Sexuality loomed extremely
large, disproportionately so.  No wonder that I gave evidence to the
stereotypes that we are neurotic.  I was fast becoming so.  But when I came
out, sexuality became just sexuality, integral to who I am, all the more
delightful because not furtive or anonymous, but by no means definitive.

I got a life, a new life.  I was born again with a new spirit, one that
turned not inward on itself, but outward towards others in God's marvelous

People who counsel lesbians and gays in the closet need to be very careful
not to get their own sense of worth by having such a lovely bird in a cage.
> From the first day of such counsel, they need to envision the joy of flight
when the cage door opens.

It is far easier to help people adjust to the closet than it is to prepare
them for survival outside it.

I found that some who knew my secret and were trusted confidants while I was
a caterpillar in the cocoon where they kept sacred vigil were not altogether
happy with the lovely mariposa when I emerged.   Some found it easier to be
my protector than to be my peer.  Maybe that's inevitable?

God, holy and immortal one, as Jesus you stayed in a closet much of your
ministry, later to emerge as the Christ, the son of the Living God.  Help
all of us in transition to be whole, in this life, and in transition to the
life to come.  AMEN


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