My name is Alec Warn, I'm a teacher from The South, and this is my be free story:
I have never been the type of person to feel it necessary to share personal details on a mass scale. I always felt that if people knew me, they would know about my life in person, and that was enough. I have also been so tied and connected to so many different organizations, with varying views politically, theologically, and socially, that I never wanted to represent one side or another as a “spokesperson” for any particular issue. I felt that my anonymity was a strength, to help individuals on a case by case basis, as it was needed. Slowly, that has started to change. I have known I was gay since middle school, yet did not come to full terms with it until around three years ago. I have had seasons full of fear, fighting, and questioning, followed by seasons of coming out, acceptance, love, and personal reflection. Please understand, this is not a letter with the intentionality of “coming out” for myself, that experience happened years ago with my closest family and friends.
As I was sitting in church last weekend, we were going over the book of James and the idea of Christ calling us not to show “favoritism.” It was discussed that today it can look like judgement based on race, economic status, gender, political views… and yet sexuality was conveniently left off the list. While this did hurt, I can honestly understand why they wouldn’t include this type of judgement. It’s a hot topic issue in the church today, so much so that entire church congregations have split over it. Even still, I thought of all the people who may be sitting in the congregation thinking what I used to think every day, “What if I’m gay? Do I still have a place at God’s table?”
I feel so blessed to have had a life of many different experiences and exposures. I went to a public school grades K-12, followed by a private Christian college. I attended church on my own accord in middle school, and have experienced worship through churches that are Evangelical, Non-Denominational, Church of Christ, Episcopal, and other various denominations. I grew up in the heart of the Bible Belt, in a very red state when it comes to politics, yet started my teaching career in one of the most politically blue areas of the country. I even got to teach over in Switzerland, where students from all different nations and worldviews come to learn and make music for a summer. I have made connections with organizations, people, and hearts far beyond my wildest dreams, and with all different walks of life.
So hear me when I say this, this post is not a political, theological, or social argument/statement. In all honesty, my personal life is my business, and I have no wish to debate or discuss who I love or how with anyone for the sake of a theological selling point. I am, however, beginning to recognize that visibility is vital if there will ever be reconciliation and understanding regarding this topic. Whether it’s in the Church or not, it is so important for others to know that they are surrounded by gay people everyday. Gay people are not stereotypes. They are not feminine or masculine, Christian or Atheist, Republican or Democrat, they are simply people. They are your friends, your siblings, your coworkers, your neighbors, and they are people you love. Sure, coming out is a terrifying thing, and in all honesty this letter comes with a small sense of that fear. But for anyone who may be struggling with their own acceptance, or for anyone that I know and love who doesn’t have empathy or understanding for this topic, now you have a face tied to it. Now you have a person. Beyond Fox News or CNN. Beyond legislative debates and congregational arguments. Now you have a friend, a son, a sibling, a teacher, a neighbor.
For the record, I know this is old news to most of you. For those who didn’t know for sure, you’re probably thinking “well that makes sense.” But regardless, it seemed necessary and timely. My true hope is to encourage others who may be struggling with their faith and sexuality, self-acceptance, or fear of losing community. If you’re asking yourself, “Do I still have a place at God’s table?” the answer is YES. You are loved, you are valued, and you are accepted as you are. Most importantly, you are not alone. Please know that I am here, and so many more are too. Just check out @befreestories to see how many incredible people are choosing love and acceptance.
Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be chasing my insane boston terrier around and watching the newest episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
Go love others. Life’s too short not to.