THE BLOG
12/07/2015 01:07 pm ET Updated Dec 07, 2016

Coming Out as Christian

Andrejs Pidjass via Getty Images

You'd be surprised how many conversations I start by wearing a cross and a Pride bracelet.

Sometimes, it starts, "How dare you?"

Sometimes, "That's awesome! I'm queer and Christian, too!"

In the three years since I came out publicly as a gay man, I've gotten rather used to casually working my sexuality into conversations with people in the first few times I meet them. I've also become good at noticing that subtle tightening of the skin at the corners of the eyes which sometimes betrays a homophobic bias, whether conscious or not. In short, I've become used to "coming out" over and over again, and I've mostly stopped worrying about the reactions, letting them come as they will.

What's harder, though, is coming out as Christian. I'm not at all ashamed of either piece of my identity, but people's perceptions of Christians at my über-secular, Ivy League college are somewhat more fraught than their perceptions of anyone who falls under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella.

Thanks to the proliferation of good information about sexuality and gender identity and the increased visibility of queer issues and people in the U.S. at most every level, fewer and fewer people believe the myth that sexuality and gender identity are things one chooses. Religion, on the other hand, is not an immutable characteristic.

I could have chosen at any point, like many of my contemporaries, friends and acquaintances, to abandon the Christianity I was raised in (more, that is, than swimming the Thames from the Roman Catholic Church to Episcopalianism). I could have converted to another religion, or even fled religion altogether.

I made a conscious choice not to. I could not, however, abandon my sexuality, even if I had tried.

In a country where Christianity is more readily associated, at least in popular opinion, with the Kim Davises and Mike Huckabees than with the Gene Robinsons and Nadia Bolz-Webers, this sort of "coming out" can be confusing for all involved. My Christianity is not a symptom of internalized homophobia. My faith and sexuality can exist in the same mind and body without one rejecting the other. It's something of a cop out to say, "I'm a Christian, but I'm not that kind of Christian." At the same time, it is both inconsiderate and difficult for someone outside of my religious circle to understand what I mean if I call myself a non-theistic Episcopalian Anglo-Catholic.

For now, I'll just keep casually mentioning my sexuality and my faith, allowing those interested parties to inquire further about either or both. I'll try to disseminate good information about what it means to be queer and Christian or a progressive Christian, and keep wearing my cross and Pride gear. All the while, I'll be doing my utmost to maintain the promises my parents made at my Baptism, and which I've made all over again at my Confirmation and when I recite the Baptismal Covenant of the Episcopal Church: "to seek and serve Christ in all persons," and "to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being."