October 13, 2010. It's hard to believe that that was 5 years ago today...1/2 of a decade...but it was, and lot has happened in that length of time.
Today I am happily and legally married to a wonderful man with whom I've been in relationship for 3 1/2 years. Not only that, but as of today, Marriage Equality is legal in all 50 states, which is something that I wouldn't have believed would have been possible 5 years ago.
We are in our 2nd year of ministry at METRON in Midtown Atlanta, and it is a wonderful and blessed thing in my life. It is not a "gay" church, and I do not have a gay ministry. There are several excellent gay churches in the Metro area, and many more gay-affirming churches here, but METRON is something different. In a word, it is simply the ultimate manifestation of "Real People Experiencing the Real God in the Real World", and I am honestly the happiest and most spiritually fulfilled that I have been in 43 years of ministry.
After I came out publicly, we definitely lost a lot of people from Church In The Now, (the church I started in 1985), which ultimately resulted in our losing the 25 million dollar property and complex that we built there in Conyers, but CITN did not close because of what happened on 10/13/10.
The church continued to function successfully in another location in that same area with a congregation of around 500 for the four years subsequent to my coming out, and Debye, my ex-wife, continued to be my Associate Pastor for the duration of that time. I am happy that CITN continued there for those four years, because during that time we definitely all did something that had never been done before, and proved the naysayers wrong about the end of our ministry. In fact, I could have easily remained there in the Conyers/Covington area and could have bought the building that we leased there, and could easily be pastoring there even today if I had so chosen. But I felt that we had made a sufficient statement, and that our season there was over at the end of that time.
Debye still lives in Covington, has a very successful business, and is over 4 years into a relationship of her own. My kids and grandchildren are all well and each live 5-10 minutes from where Ken and I live. I see them all the time, and my sons often provide the music for METRON. Ken's sons are also doing well, and we see them often, too. He has also become a grandfather since we were married (see the previous post for a video about all our kids).
There are a couple of places on the right-hand column of this blog where you can click to see my coming out video. A few hours after it was originally posted, it went viral, and became the most-watched video on YouTube for a couple of days. It instantly connected me with 2,500 new Facebook friends in about 48 hours. To this day, five years later, I still hear weekly from someone somewhere in some part of the world who has just now discovered it online, and wants to tell me how much it meant to them. Many people have even told me that it saved their life.
I don't really get hate mail or death threats any more. Most of that stuff died off quite a while ago. My most vocal detractors have all been scattered in the last five years, and several of them have died, so I pretty much live in total peace now.
Aside from the 15 minutes of fame that I experienced when I first came out, I have been approached by 10 different reality shows in the last five years, and 2 of them are still in the works. I don't know what will happen with either of them, and I am good with whatever does or doesn't materialize with that. One thing is for sure, the Universe is obviously trying to tell my story, so we'll see.
I have no regrets about coming out. I am proud of what we accomplished in Conyers, but do not miss the stress of maintaining a Megachurch at all, so I do not consider losing the property there a failure. As I said, I am happy that we didn't lose the church, which is not a building or real estate. In fact, the majority of people who attend METRON are people who were a part of Church In The Now. The fact that we did what we did there for as long as we did it is miraculous, and still brings a lot of confidence into my life.
I am angry at no one, and have no bitterness whatsoever about the relationships that were severed by my coming out. Many of those relationships have been restored over these five years, but even without that, my life is very full, and I am surrounded by love and support. I love all and forgive all.
I am happy.
I am blessed.
I love the truth.
I love my husband.
I love my kids.
I love my life.
I love my God.
I am excited to see what the next five years bring!
It is all very, very good!