I receive e-mails from readers that range from women of all ages to gay men living in situations where it’s not possible for them to come out. And they have very strong, solid reasons for this. This is why when “National Coming Out Day” comes around each year I get frustrated beyond words. I think things like that put unnecessary pressure on gay people they don’t need or want. The coming out process is different for everyone and those who choose not to come out…especially on “National Coming Out Day”…have their reasons. And no one, NO ONE, has a right to question those reasons.
The following guest post was written by someone I’ve become friendly with over the past summer who wants to share his story about what it’s like to be gay Amish. The post is verbatim, I have his permission to print it in full, and I’m protecting his identity for obvious reasons. For me, this is just another aspect of how diverse the gay community really is, and one that is often forgotten. I’d also like to thank him for writing this post and sharing his story with people like me, and others who might be able to identify with him.
I am Amish. I am gay. Those are the two main things that define me. I cannot change one any more than the other, for both are who and what I am. I live and work in a large Amish community, one that gets several million tourists a year. I work in the public in a situation I deal with tourists every day. In many ways it has been a good education for me. Learning to use the computer has opened a whole new world for me. Most of our visitors ask the same questions about the Amish way of life, but sometimes one comes up that puts me on the spot. Every now and then someone will ask how the Amish feel about gays. I never know what to say… To be honest and be overheard by others in my community would be a risk indeed. Not only would I lose my job, but my wife and children, my family, my friends, my home, my identity. Forgive me when I try to avoid the answer. I wish to say, “We are here.” I wish to say, “I am gay.” But I don’t. The stakes are too high. Sometimes if I am in a position to do so I might say, “We are human, so of course we have gays.” I assume we must, I mean I’m here, right?
Something happened recently that left me feeling heartsick. A gay couple was in our business talking with a Mennonite coworker. The question came up about how the Plain People feel about gays. “We are Christians and feel such perversions are wicked.” They weren’t expecting that answer… The conversation turned heated as my coworker added “If one of our people fell into gay perversion and repented and gave it up, it could be forgiven,” etc. This couple looked as though they were unable to comprehend what they were hearing. I ached to be able to interrupt with “We don’t ALL feel that way,” but at what cost? Forgive me for turning away… Forgive my people for believing the lies they have been taught… The couple left, looking very upset and shaken. I wanted to go after them, but I was afraid to. Forgive me. Understand. If you were that couple I sincerely hope you can put her words from your mind. Change comes slowly in our communities. I hope and pray this attitude will change with time, if not in my lifetime, for the sake of those to come.
I just wanted my story to be told.
I’ve invited him to post more in the future if he feels comfortable doing it.