I'd written a fifty page thesis on homosexuality and the church at 21 years old. I accepted that I was seriously attracted to women at 20 - when I met LGBT Christians for the first time, during college. But I was afraid; ashamed; convinced there wasn't a place for me in the church (and with the people) I so deeply loved.
The wait and weight was not holy, and the drowning nature of self-deprecation and self-hatred is a scary one. Carrying these lies for more than a few deceptive moments (and instead for years) was not a holy burden. It was crippling.
[For this reason: I came out too late.]
But even in my coming out, I didn't "do my homework" - at least not fully. Didn't read all the books, didn't take all the classes, didn't learn all the ways to refute every non-affirming argument. I just knew I wanted to share the truth of my journey, with my community, thus far.
I thought my experiential knowledge of shame could magically convince others of the ethical, moral, and biblical case for LGBT inclusion in the Church. But experiential knowledge should not satisfy one's search for truth. So I wasn't (am not yet) educated, or knowledgeable enough.
[For this reason: I came out too soon.]
When is the right time to speak up? Stand up? When is the proper time to move where your heart/soul/faith is leading? (No matter how spiritually/otherwise unpopular that direction may be.)
Answer: There is no right time.
Nadia Bolz-Weber said; "I believe in a form of leadership that says 'Screw it, I'll go first.'" And I'm certainly not "first" in this conversation; but within my context and my community, I am among a group of "firsts".
I am not a scholar on what LGBT inclusion in the Church could/should look like. All I know is that I am an LGBT Christian in the Church, and I want to be included. I am studying. I am learning and relearning. I am getting educated on my own "argument" (which I'd rather call my "piece of the conversation")—and I am learning the arguments ("piece of the conversation") of others.
Gender complementarity; patriarchal writings and readings; hermeneutics of suspicion; gender roles; the spiritual purpose of marriage; sexual ethics; discourse. It's a lot.
Friends: I came out too early, and too late. Because there is never a right time for these things. But you/me are always worth the time. You are worth the step, the mess, the stumble, the tears, the times you feel misunderstood/misheard/misrepresented. You are worth every piece of the struggle, and you are so much more than the struggle (whatever it may be).
You are never too early, or too late. You're here, giving what you can. You were made for such a time as this. Your voice, your message, your hope, your quirks - the Gospel that is your life, and your kindness, and your ability to live out the truth pulsating through your veins like fire.
You're not early, and you're not late; you're writing this story - so just keep going.
For right now, you get to decide what "on time" looks like.