Be Silent.

The administration left me sitting in my office. I felt so many emotions I didn’t know how to express. Being the southern guy who loves to host, I did what I knew best. I shoved those emotions away, prepared for the leadership team to arrive, and started setting up for the event. It was a night of music, laughs, and desserts.

It was the week before finals, and our team felt that the student body may need a break in the midst of studying. It turned out to be quite the event. The room was decorated with wooden pallets and strings of lights. We had multiple lamps all over the room. And Yes, some of those seminary students had a hipster vibe going. After the event concluded, our team cleaned everything up, escorted our friends to their cars or houses across the street, and locked the seminary doors as they left.

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Once I made it home, one of my roommates greeted me and asked how the event went. They could tell I was upset. I quickly explained to them that the event went exceptionally well, but that I needed some time alone. I walked into my bedroom, locked the door, cuddled up on my bed with my dog whom I call, “baby Moe” and sobbed for two hours, non-stop. I couldn’t control it. As my weeping came to an end, I began practicing my breathing exercises that I had been taught in counseling. Inhale. Hold. Exhale. Repeat.

The next handful of months were some of the most dark, even now, that I have ever experienced. I became alienated from different church communities because talk began to spread across various districts in the denomination. It was an isolation against my own choosing. I received messages and letters from pastors and leaders in the church claiming to express their concern, and while I believe they were wanting to connect with me in a way that they believed to be faithful to the gospel, what I received instead were messages full of false assumptionsand harmful claims decorated with “but I love you” as a bookend.

I became depressed. I often described it to my friends and therapist as living as a person who has already died. My purpose and meaning felt as if they were stripped from me.Several times, I found myself aimlessly driving my car, entertaining the thought of crashing into something to end the pain, the loneliness and the desolation that ambushed and consumed my existence. Other times I sat in my car in front of the local emergency room, clutching my steering wheel. Screaming out for help in my motionless silence, I sat their hoping and waiting on someone to notice me and check on me, because I couldn’t will myself to go inside and check myself in even though I knew I needed it.

These suicidal thoughts didn’t come from being gay. They came because I was not human enough to the faith community that originally claimed me. They came because money was more important than my voice. These suicidal thoughts came because I was told I had to be silent in order to be loved. But I was already being silent. I’d been silent all my life.

I have taken off almost two years from school. During this year of seeking health and compassion towards myself, the silence that was held over my head as an ultimatum had turned into a silence of contemplation. It was in this season that I decided I was going to own my narrative so no one else could. It was in this season that I began stepping into more of who I am.

It is in this season that I have decided I am not going to be silent any longer.