This line from a song by my favorite twin/lesbian indie duo rattles through my head most Sundays. It usually starts off sometime during Sacrament Meeting, the rattling. Then it gets louder while I'm teaching my Sunday School lesson. By the time Relief Society starts, it's so loud that I can barely sing along with the practice hymn. Something, usually a statement from a talk or a line from a prayer, reminds me that these people don't really know me ... and I feel like they wouldn't like me if they met me. I mean the real me. Not the me that curls my eyelashes and puts on an A-line skirt and tasteful clogs for Sunday worship. No. I'm talking about the me that swears. The me that sits for hours on my futon reading feminist criticism and eating candy in my undies. The me that watches Breaking Bad. I feel like that's the me they wouldn't like.
One me is not more real than the other. They are both as authentic as I know how to be. My religion is my heritage, my culture, my history. It's the only way I've ever lived. But in the interest of self-preservation, there's a lot of me that stays, for lack of a better phrase, in the closet. (Spoiler alert: this post is not about being gay. It's about being a liberal, among other things.)
There are times when I chastise myself for keeping so much of me in this closet. If these people love me, I tell myself, then they will love me in spite (or perhaps because) of these other parts of me. And some of them do. (I'm thinking of you, Lisa, who put your hand on my shoulder today and shot me such a welcome dose of love and respect, even if I am a Democrat—winky eye smiley face. Or you, Angela. I'm pretty sure you would love me even if I showed you my communist party membership card, which I swear I do not have.) But a lot of them don't, or wouldn't if they knew. I've read enough of their blogs and Facebook posts to know that their tent is not big enough to include the likes of me: the bleeding hearts, the skeptics (but not necessarily cynics), the respectful questioners. The searchers and ponderers. The pray-ers with (maybe) different answers.
Here's what I want: I want to feel just as comfortable with my church friends as I do with my grad school friends. I want to know that, like my grad school friends, my church friends won't think I'm dangerous or misled after hearing what I have to say. Or if they do think I'm dangerous or misled, they won't hold it against me.
I want to come out to my church friends. I don't want to have to pretend to agree with their solutions or support their same ideas. I want to tell them my honest feelings and share my honest struggles. Maybe they're having the same ones. Maybe we can help each other. Maybe we can make things better.
So I'm not coming out of the closet yet. But I'm opening the door. Maybe I'll burst all the way through when it quiets down out there. Maybe I'll come all the way out when there is more room in the tent.