Coming Out Publicly
By Josh Beaudoin
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Find part 1 here
Find part 2 here
Find part 3 here
Find part 4 here
The process that led to me coming out publicly was long, arduous, and painful, but in the end, it was absolutely worth it, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Watching myself change over the couple of years between coming out for the first time and coming out publicly was in many ways a rebirth, where part of me had to die so I could piece myself back together with God’s help and discover who I truly am.
To commemorate Oct. 10, the day I came out, I bought a phoenix pin to symbolize how I had died and emerged from the ashes a stronger person.
I am very blessed. I haven’t lost a single friend through this whole process, despite many of them being deeply conservative. Even though my parents still don’t like to talk about my sexuality, we get along quite well. Here at Walla Walla University, I never feared that I might lose my job as editor-in-chief after coming out. Everyone has been nothing but kind and welcoming, and I have never faced discrimination.
I’m grateful to be surrounded by so many good people. There are a lot of bad people in the world, and I’ve been lucky enough to find a community of supporting and loving friends. After coming out publicly, I was sent many kind messages of support, both from friends and family, but also by elderly conservative church members from back home in Alberta, which was very unexpected.
I spent months preparing to come out. After my parents found out, I knew it was a matter of when, not if, I would come out publicly.
Part of what made this decision easier was joining Haven,* an LGBTQ+ support group on campus, where, for the first time in my life, I was able to talk with other LGBTQ+ people and become more comfortable with who I was.
Another thing that prompted this decision was when I came out to my sister on May 2, about two months after my parents found out. It was a bit tough for her at first, especially having the same theological background as me, but from the outset she was supportive, and I’m so grateful to have her as a sister.
About three weeks after that I came out to my roommate, and he was also supportive.
On June 1, I posted a cartoon picture of Spiderman holding a pride flag on my Instagram story with the caption “Happy Pride!” It was my first show of public support for the LGBTQ+ community.
This was about the time I set the Oct. 10 date (the day before national Coming Out Day), which was about four months away at the time. This gave me plenty of time to mentally prepare for the event.
In retrospect, setting a date and reasonable timeframe was one of the best decisions I made throughout the process. It forced me to think pragmatically.
For example, I thought my very conservative uncle would take the news poorly, and I didn’t want to deal with that during the school year, so I got it over with during the summer in case he went on an anti-gay tirade and proceeded to bombard me with articles about why he thought being gay was a sin. Luckly, he took it much better, and aside from an initial “Is that an official announcement Josh? Or a joke?” comment, he didn’t say a thing.
During the summer I also came out to some of my cousins and friends.
Near the beginning of the summer, I bought a pride flag off Amazon and gave myself a challenge: when I went hiking, I was going to bring the flag and ask a random stranger to take a picture of me with it on the summit of the mountains I climbed. I figured that if I couldn’t come out to a stranger I would never see again in my life, I probably wasn’t ready to tell people I would see every day in class.
The first time I did this it went well. I asked a person, he said yes, and that was that.
The second time provided a little sign from God that he had my back. I was hiking the Burrough peaks on Mount Rainier and brought my pride flag. At the summit I asked a random guy (nothing conspicuous about him) to take a picture of me with the flag. He kindly obliged, and as we were about to part ways said, “It’s nice to see a fellow queer out on the trails.” This acted as a nice bit of reassurance and made my day. (See cover photo)
That happened on July 17, 2021, and it was just under a month later that I had my testimony experience (see part 4).
The Day I Came Out Publicly
By the time October 10 rolled around, I was ready. I counted down the days in my journal, going through my mental checklist to make sure everything was in order.
On the morning of, I drove over to Whitman Mission. Once there, I walked up to the obelisk, and had a devotion and prayer time.
Whitman Mission happens to be a gravesite, a fitting place to emerge from the ashes of my dead self and show people how I had been reborn.
After my devotion, I did a mental check to make sure everything felt good, and it did.
I pulled out my phone and spent the next 30 minutes writing and rewriting what I would say. Appropriately, for the picture, I used the one taken by the guy on the Burroughs.
Once I had read over the caption a dozen times, I prayed, then clicked “post,” and it was then visible on my Instagram and Facebook accounts.
Then the nerves really hit. I started to shake and couldn’t stop refreshing my Instagram every 30 seconds to see who had liked or commented on the post. Then I made my way back to my car and proudly stuck a rainbow flag sticker to my bumper.
The next couple weeks were interesting. I was very self-conscious the first little while, and my appetite was a little off from the stress, but it was manageable. Emotionally, I felt good, and rationally I knew I had done the right thing.
Since coming out, there have been a few times when I’ll be casually talking with a friend who I’ve never previously discussed my sexuality with, and they’ll nonchalantly bring up the subject. For example, one friend asked me what it’s like being gay and conservative, and after talking about that for a couple of minutes, we moved on like it was any other subject you might bring up during a casual conversation. There was nothing awkward about it.
Times like that make me smile, as they’re a reminder of how far I’ve come. It’s rather amazing how I’ve gone from being too scared to come out to a single person, to wearing rainbow shorts and a rainbow mask around campus and publishing my coming out story.
None of that would have happened without God giving me the strength to have those tough conversations. God taught me the only way through life is by trusting in him, and because of him, I can proclaim that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)
*Haven is a support group on campus for LGBTQ+ people. If you’re LGBTQ+ and interested in learning more, email Haven@wallawalla.edu. They’re amazing people!
Hello everyone, I’m Josh Beaudoin, the editor-in-chief of The Collegian. I’m from central Alberta, Canada, and first started at The Collegian in 2019 as the writer of the food column. I love to spend time outdoors and regularly hike in places like Mount Rainier National Park and Banff National Park. I also do quite a bit of reading about social and political topics.