10 Years Later: Coming Out in the Church
Today I visited Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) – the place I did my undergraduate degree.
It’s hard to imagine that ten years ago I walked these halls as a new student. A lot has happened in ten years.
Today, I sat across one of my professors. We chatted about the good ol’ days and laughed as we shared stories. She asked me all the usual questions – but she asked one very pointed question that I’m not often asked in church settings – “do you have a significant other?” (The answer is no FYI :P)
Ten years ago, I started working on what would become a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Biblical and Theological Studies, with a minor in music, and a minor in Communications & Media.
I had a dream of becoming a pastor – living a life dedicated to the ministry of the church. I wanted to marry people. But deep down, I also used that dream to hide my sexual orientation.
Over the course of those years in university, I came out as gay and I totally flourished.
As I walked around the castle-like building, nestled on the edge of the Assiniboine Forest in Winnipeg, Manitoba, I touched the stone walls and reflected on all the wonderful memories I had in the various spaces on campus.
I had vivid memories of cramming for music history exams or writing up biology papers.
But more importantly, I remembered the loving conversations I shared with peers, staff, and faculty about my sexual orientation.
CMU was special to me.
I met people like me.
I was part of a community that made space for me.
I remember our very first meeting of CMQ (Canadian Mennonite Queers). I was sitting in a room with a couple of people, and then suddenly more and more gay men started walking through the door. Until there was ten of us. Incredible.
In this space, I was able to explore aspects of who I am as a sexual being, and how that reconciled with what I believed, in a safe learning environment.
As I reflect on the past ten years, I recognize that I faced many challenges coming out in the church. I’ve experienced great loss – jobs, relationships, hits to my reputation. But there were great moments of joy too.
Being told that I am loved by my family after coming out.
Being openly embraced by my congregation as a leader in the church.
Feeling empowered to speak on behalf of LGBTQ* persons in the Mennonite Church at national assemblies.
Leading the music at Mennonite Church Canada’s first same-sex wedding. The songs that filled the air were sung with gusto and beauty – I’ll never forget it.
Being surrounded in a laying of hands ceremony by my congregation after I was harassed at an area church meeting.
Having the opportunity to officiate the wedding of two of my friends.
My stories of unconditional love and acceptance community around me far outweighs the darker side of my story.
I remember often struggling because I was unsure whether I belonged in the church because I was gay, and whether I belonged in the gay community because I was Christian. But reflecting on ten years, and working through that struggle, I see the truth now. I see Jesus standing at the communion table, beckoning everyone to come as we are, and to break bread together. Isn’t that beautiful?
Ben Borne is a resident of Saskatoon and a proud member of Wildwood Mennonite Church.
Join us for the I AM: Panel Discussion & Faith Service. A panel discussion and faith service for queer Christians, open Evangelicals, allies, and curious friends making space for conversation about faith, Church and coming out. Happening on Sun. April 14 @ 2:30pm at St. Andrew’s United Church.
This narrative is a part of our “Out of the Tomb” blog series focused on Christian experiences with gender & sexual diversity.
In the Christian narrative of the resurrection, Jesus enters into the tomb dead and carrying all of humanity’s darkness, fear, hatred, and shame. When he rises from death to life and comes out of the tomb, he leaves all of the darkness behind and steps freely into life. The tomb is the place where everything that is not life is left behind.
For LGBTQ+ Christians and Christian allies, this narrative is an invitation to step OUT OF THE TOMB and find fulfillment, acceptance, and life in the ways in which we have been created in God’s image–including our spirituality, sexuality and gender identity.
Interested in reading more? Check out these other great blogs that are part of the “Out of the Tomb” Series: