An Open Letter to my Gay Friends

Heteros please read, too. 🙂

This has been a long time coming, but I’m finally ready.

As much as you know I resist labels, I have noticed something about you, my gay, lesbian and transgendered friends. With no exceptions I can think of right now, you have a unique boldness that I love and need in my life. When I witness it, I want to be more honest with myself, take risks that matter, and not waste a moment of my love and life.

Maybe boldness isn’t the right word. Because in some cases, society has not given you a choice. But whether you’ve felt strong or not, you’ve decided to survive and thrive and to me that looks like courage.

Here’s the thing: I love people who know their uniqueness, who have come to trust it and live that uniqueness fully. I consistently experience this with you.

You have taught me about an artist’s freedom. Just write it down, sing it your own way, paint it passionate. Art is supposed to stretch us, and true humans are intended to feel it all. You know yourselves the way only those who have come to an edge can.

Many straight people have never been confronted with the question of how our true, free selves look. Lots of us haven’t done the work you have.

You have stories of brave risk. One friend told me in his pre-out life he held intense feelings of protection for his family– how could he trouble his family with who he really was? How could he cause pain to his friends by coming out? And he held this for years.

By pure chance, in many regards I am a person of privilege in my particular society– caucasian, male, straight, able-bodied, middle-class, middle-aged; I may never feel the weight of risk that you have. I may never have to place my physical safety, my job, my sense of livelihood and reputation on the line for merely being who I am.

You have. I know you have.

And though we all have unique and powerful things in our identity that ask to be noticed– top of the list for me has been the stigma of divorce, mental illness, and an artist’s lifestyle– sexual orientation is, at the moment, the hottest button I can think of.

As a result of coming out, it seems to me you are attuned to integrity. Similar to my friends in recovery, you have a strong B.S. Meter for both yourself and others. Many straight people are at a disadvantage here; some of us have not yet grown to be honest with ourselves. We rarely consider what is at stake in living honestly and fully because we just haven’t had occasion.

As you know, I am all about “world-making” when I teach about music and liturgy– that what we enact as a community is what we create for the whole world. I am so happy that Sam was baptized in a church where families of all combinations were present, that his earliest years were surrounded by both gay and straight couples, differently-abled bodies, folks from all ages and social status sharing pews with their arms around each other. This is the world we wanted our fresh, new baby to know is real and good.

Trish and I figured this out last year: at ten years old, Sam has been to more same-gender weddings than straight ones.

That’s just to say the world Trish and I offer the next generation is one where you are among the most brilliant loves.  Not in spite of your sexuality, because of. We believe one of our greatest purposes as parents is to seed the world with someone who honors the beauty of you and all who live out their uniqueness. This ten-year-old does not see you as a them. And he will tell his friends.

Whatever a person’s story, those who live out their uniqueness are Christ emerging in the world.

So where can straight people sign up to be gay for a day?

Or have a mental illness? Or be in recovery from addiction? To, in whatever way required, come to the edge of themselves? Because whenever and however you do that, you come alive, and as Howard Thurman said, above all the world needs people that are alive. The alternative is unspeakably tragic for all.

What if all people had the occasion to cultivate a deep, centered clarity about who we are? To not waste time hiding, padding what’s true, or waiting for others to get comfortable with the truth before it’s revealed?

We’d understand something stupidly simple– that we all have brave stories, breakthrough seasons, and have hearts that function best open wide.

Do you know what a gift that is to the world? Especially right now?

God. Thank you.

It’s ridiculous that so many do not recognize you as the Christ among us, the Buddha awakening. [Deep breath.] At the risk of opening a can here at the closing, I’m sorry the world is so damn slow. I’m ashamed that the church has fought against you. I’m exasperated at the fear some still feel when they see you.

Weary heros of humanity, thank you for choosing to survive and thrive.

Thank you.
Thank you.

I am thinking especially of you today, and celebrating you:

H & J
M & M
B & S
D & R
H & J
M & S
M &
C & S
C & M
E & partner
K & K
A with D 

About Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Life is full and comes in seasons. View all posts by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

12 responses to “An Open Letter to my Gay Friends

  • Jim Vigorito

    Beautifully expressed!
    I stand in full agreement with all that you have shared.

  • Linda Zupon

    Richard: I really like this. I’m sure you have read a zillion more books about theology than I have, but the idea here reminds me of a book that completely changed my whole theology: Matthew Fox’s ‘Original Blessing’. Anyway, I shared this link on my wall. It’s an important and beautifully written insight, expressing why people who are LGBT should be truly CELEBRATED and not merely ‘tolerated’ by the church or by anybody. Thank you. 🙂

  • Lori Troupe

    I want to say something, but can’t really find the right words. You did though. Thank you..

  • Jill Pawlowski

    Richard, your writing leaves me breathless. Thanks for sharing your heart. Your words are those I have not been able to find but have felt deeply.
    PS We are again using “Hidden With Christ” this Lenten season. It has been such a blessing to me and to my congregations.

  • Cathy

    The most beautiful, articulate, heartfilled, true love letter ever written, I think.

  • Kimberly Love

    Love, Love, Love… and love some more!!!! Thank you!

  • Heather Olson

    Yes. LOVE. I believe we all have sacred strands to “come out” about in our lives. Authenticity. Integrity. Honesty… Living life with these qualities intact only makes our existence deeper, richer, fuller… When there are so many messages otherwise, I thank you for this kindness and compassion, Richard. Love will prevail. -Heather Michele. (the “H” of H & J) 🙂

  • Larry Stacy

    It’s all about the warm, welcoming, and loving God who created us, isn’t it? As a Child of God, I am moved to respond with warmth, welcomeness, and love for all all Children of God. Each of us is a special and unique individual, to love and be loved, as a Child of God, no more loved, no less loved than any other of God’s people. I am loved, proclaimed, saved, and held secure in the welcoming arms of God-our-God . . . as is absolutely EVERYONE who reads this reply, or lacking the ability to read hears it read aloud by a friend. Thanks, Richard. You bring renewed enthusiasm to one who has “carried the torch” to include our GLBT brothers and sisters as very important loving souls within God’s family. We are a far richer and more blessed family when we reconize just how big God’s Love and inclusivity really is! Beyond just the designation of working for God within a Reconciling In Christ Congregation, I must continue to proclaim the message – – “Loving God, Loving each other . . .”. I must discover new ways to share the message.
    Larry Stacy

  • Amalia Vagts

    Richard, I was glad for your prompt on Facebook to read this! Thank you for the concern you expressed in the note. I didn’t experience that. I think this is a very beautiful and thoughtful piece. I do have an edit though! There should be an “A” on that list! (or maybe you still think of me as “Molly”). The hardest thing for me about my choice to partner with David is that it often makes my bisexual identity invisible (or some even think illegitimate!) to the world. I may be married to a man, but I’m queer to my core. 🙂 Thanks for your piece.

    • Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

      Thanks for the comment, Amalia. I heard from another bisexual friend who said the same kind of thing. She may be “out,” but still feels invisible. Does having a partner may make it difficult to present a bisexual orientation that others will understand?

      Your “A” proudly added! 🙂

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