when i knew #13.
by Michael King
“I think it can be hard for LGBT people to identify our ‘moment of knowing’ because, as a result of the society we’ve inhabited, most of us wrestled with denial and with ourselves for a long time before allowing ourselves to know. I’ve compared it to the feeling of trying to hold an inflated ball beneath the water; at some point, we lose control and it bursts through the surface. Those moments, those bursts, are often our ‘moments of knowing.’
“I saw firsthand in my family that being gay was not welcomed or affirmed but instead met with heartbreak. I worked very hard, as a result, to drown my feelings before they could develop. I forced myself into relationships with girls in middle and high school, always wondering why I did not fully invest in them, and I prayed each night for peace from this. I could not bring myself to ‘take up space’ this way; I believed it was my responsibility to set these feelings aside.
“But there were ‘bursts through the surface.’ One day, while waiting for my brother to exit baseball practice so I could drive him home, the boy on whom I’d had a long-time crush knocked on my car window. He was in gym shorts and cleats, and he was a little sweaty from practice. My heart raced, my face flushed. I managed to sputter a few friendly words back and forth. When he left, I caught my face in the rearview mirror. ‘Oh,’ I said aloud, ‘I’m gay.’ But I pushed it beneath the water again immediately.
“My true moment of knowing, my ‘no-turning-back’ event, was when my best friend came out to me in college. Behind a wall of tears, he bared his soul and unveiled his story. As he spoke, I felt my blood racing; he seemed to be speaking my exact experience. In that moment, as I considered him and his immutable light, I realized how nonsensical it was to believe God could feel anything but love and pride for him and his courage. And, I realized, if God could so certainly love him, then maybe – just maybe – God would love me, too.”