Bil Browning

From the Inbox: How Would You Reply?

Filed By Bil Browning | November 13, 2011 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: coming out of the closet, Drew Cordes, reader inbox, student newspaper

From the Bilerico inbox:question_mark.jpg

Hey, I'm a junior currently going to a small christian college in Kansas and I am seriously considering writing a column about my struggles and acceptance of my sexuality for our newspaper. I am a reporter for the newspaper anyway and we are doing a faith issue next month and I'm really wanting to talk with the editor about this contribution I could do. If I don't get up the courage this issue I'm going to put it out to do next issue or another issue.

What I'm really seriously considering is whether I want to write it anonymously or not. There are pros and cons to both and even now, by putting words to ideas, I'm flipping to the side of putting my name on the column.

A lot of the people I've talked with, mostly guys, have been supportive of me at the least so that's been really encouraging. My only fear is that there will be a target. Anonymity can be a gift sometimes but I feel like that cuts the credibility. I just don't want other people to feel like the only ones on campus like I do sometimes.

Anyways, this is really long, but if you could possibly send this to some of your staff members or just think about this every now and again. so that they can at least me have me in their thoughts and prayers even if they don't hold on to faith that'd be great.

I guess the reason I'm sending this is because I've just recently found Bilerico and already it's given me loads to think about and I love it. You guys are kinda the role models I'm looking up to to some degree. Drew Cordes's article on redefining social activism from Sept. 13 is kinda the article that has made me want to contact you guys since I don't really have much of a support system here other than the occasional straight friends who may or may not agree with me on everything.

Thanks again for reading this long rant and vent session.


Leave your thoughts in the comments. My reply to Scott is after the break.


You are a very courageous young man and you should be applauded for considering coming out in such a public and difficult forum.

Coming out can be a difficult process. Have you come out to your family already? If not, is this how you'd like to do it? If the school reacts badly - whether the administration or other students - there's a chance that they can find out.

You didn't say what denomination your college affiliates with, but that can really change matters. If your school is more conservative, there could be issues with the administration or faculty you may not have considered. Be prepared for that possibility and formulate at least a sketch of a back-up plan.

If you think that there will be serious repercussions, I'd suggest doing the column anonymously unless you're not concerned about whether or not you transfer elsewhere.

While your friends have been supportive, not everyone will. As the old saying goes, "You can't make all of the people happy all of the time." There will be homophobes and bigots at your school, just like there are everywhere else. It's the one thing that LGBT people and bigots share in common: we occupy all spheres and aspects of life. Yin and yang, I suppose.

Be prepared as well, for at least one LGBT person to castigate you for doing anything public. There's always a naysayer. Usually there's a grain of truth to what they're saying, so listen closely and see if you can find the common ground you both can agree on. Explain yourself or just acknowledge their concerns; the choice is up to you. You don't have to justify your actions to anyone. You're speaking your truth and not theirs.

If you think you can handle all possibilities and your conscience compels you to sign your article, by all means do so. By putting a face and a name with the issue, you personalize it for students and faculty. The most important part of coming out is to show others that someone they know is gay. A faceless entity is much easier to discriminate against than the guy who sits next to you in Calculus or your little brother.

Drew Cordes is a wonderful person with a heart of gold and a mind of steel. You could do much worse in the realm of mentors. She's an inspiration to me as well.

So are you. I think you'll also be a hero to some of your fellow LGBT students on campus as well as quite a few straight allies - and that's as it should be. What you're about to do takes courage, dedication, and honesty.

Those three qualities will get you through life admirably, Scott. Stay true to those ideals and you can make it through anything life may toss at you - including an article in the student newspaper.

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I will assume that you are going to a conservative Christian college. I am a graduate of a conservative Christain university, (Lubbock Christian University). While I was a student there, a student acknowledged his sexualtiy and was immediately shoved into counseling. Ultimately the students re-orientation failed and he committed suicide.

While I a applaud your want to be an activist and move things forward, you have to be willing to put up with the backlash. You could loose your position at this university/college. You will loose many freinds and family. If you have recieved money from this institution, they may have the right to reclaim that money, saying you were living a lie and living in a way that was contrary to the standards of the University (i.e. a morals clause). If you are going to a Christian institution, I will assume that your family is Christian. They might kick you to the curb and not give you any future money to continue your education. There will be bullies on campus who will take it upon themselves to "educate" you on Christian principles. They might be fellow students who will do anything from pushing you out of communities, to physically harming you. They might be professors who suddenly "realize" that your work is below acceptable levels and your grades begin to fall. If you belong to a local congregation, where fellow college students attend, you will have to face the good prosect of being excommunicated. You may be forced into reparative therapy by family and church. The social pressure will be very extreme. If and ONLY IF you are wiling to live with the consequences of coming out in that atmosphere, would I do it.

Having said that, I applaud your bravery. I look forward to the day when coming out will be no different that saying I have blue eyes. At this time, I would think twice about endangering your life at this point. My best advice would be to wait until you are a bit more financially independent. Then you can come out and be free.



Marlin, thank you so much for your concern. I have few teachers that I've talked about this issue with and they are very supportive of the posting of the article. I'm aware that some administration horror story might happen but to be honest I really am willing to risk it, I was encouraged to go to a couple counseling sessions which was mostly because I had a really bad break up. The sessions weren't so much focused on homosexuality per se but just my past and the relationship in general. My parents have been as good as I can ask them too. Again thank you so so much for your concern, I do think I can live with the consequences.


As I said above, I applaud your courage. I hope you get what you want --- i.e. achieve the goals you wish.

Luck to you.


My first suggestion, on the assumption that you would rather not be a martyr, is to consider doing the column in a completely anonymous manner - which is going to mean not using any computer that is traceable to you, and delivering the article in a hard copy form only by mail, making sure there are no fingerprints on the paper or envelope.

My second suggestion is to use the opportunity to try to create or inspire a dialogue on the theology -when it is abused to support an anti LGBT position, bible-based Christianity is extremely vulnerable to a head-on challenge to assumptions:

The story of the Men of Sodom is not about homosexuality, it is about violent inhospitality, based in a hatred of women. The MEn of Sodom intended to humiliate the visitors by raping them, "treating them as less than women." This requires considering women to be lesser than men in the first place.

The prohibition in Leviticus relates to this kind of inhospitality - "lying with a man as with a woman" isn't a depiction of gay sex, but of this kind of non-consensual attempt at humiliation.

1 Samuel 18:3 - David and Jonathan get married. Use Darby's translation for later in the chapter, since everyone since Jerome seems to have tried to obfuscate the "now you become my son-in-law a second time" for David's second marriage to Sauls daughter Michal. LAter in 1 Samuel, there is the racy passage where Davif and Jonathan kiss in the field. Here, the LAtin is "amplio" which really means that David "got hard" and not "cried harder." One would expect things to get lieke that when he is kissung his husband.

Romans 1 is all about the "sex as sacrament" practices of some of the competing mystery religions of the time. Acting against one'e nature is different than acting against "nature." These people need to be read the riot act about nature and natural law. In doing your research, read "Evolution's Rainbow" by Dr. Joan Roughgarden - while this actually deals with science, if these people make a natural law argument they should be confronted on the science as well. Aristotle is not science.

Go to Genesis 1:27 - God creates humans in God's image as "male and female." Go to the initial creation of Adam as a creature in God's image - "male and female" and only later is Eve created out of Adam;s body.

Then visit the Tetragrammaton YHWH 0 read it backward in Hebrew and you get the Hebrew words for "he" and "she" - implying God's name is also "He/She" as well (uch as reading Moses' name backwards becomes Ha'Shem, or LORD - Moses actually means "son of" and Ha'Shem is a name for God - so reading Moses name forwards and backwards comes out "Son of God, just as "I am who I Am, He/She" is the result of reading the Tetragrammaton forward and backward.

(and if you think that is wild-eyed speculation, there is an article by a respected Rabbi, Mark Sameth, about this item.)

If you want to move farther to discuss transgender people as being loved by God, you have Isaiah 56, Matthew 19:12 and the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, all of which are connected (the other two actually relate back to Isaiah 56!).

There are other moral theological issues where many "bible-based" Christians don;t avtually rely on the Bible - on ensulment, they have one verse that they misuse - the "I knew you before you were formed in the womb" which only means that our souls exist before we are even conceived. But there are dozens of references that connect life literally with the breath of God - and God breathes life into us when we are born and take our first breath, and our soul leaves us when we breathe our last.

You can even challenge things like the treatment of women, and the idea that masturbation is a sin (Onan's sin is denying eternal life to his brother by refusing to impregnate his widowed sister-in-law, because of greed - the son his sister-in-law would have borne would have inherited from Onan's father - not Onan, or Onan's own children, and Onan would not have wanted that.)

I could go on - and you could have a series of articles you could develop into a book if you do your research.

Yes - include your personal journey and even lead off with it as your first article - but be prepared to take the high ground on the theology issue - and if you can create a dialogue that does not get squelched, it might cause a shakeup.

There are Evangelicals out there who are ready or nearly ready to hear the Good News as it should really be proclaimed. They are tired of the way their religion has been hijacked by the forces of bigotry.

There are already many resources out there - do the research, whether you actually write the articles now or not.

Good luck - you may start in the official newspaper, but be prepared, as your series moves forward, to be writing from the catacombs.

Joann, wow, thanks. I definitely have not done all the research that you have and I probably should have. On your first suggestion, I know it sounds bad, but I'm really ok being a martyr if needed to show that a bigger issue is going on here. I've decided to do the article with my name on it, but just in case I'll wipe my prints off of everything I submit :). Backlash may happen, but at least that will bring to light that there is something wrong with how people treat the issue a lot of the time in a conservative christian context.
My main focus of the article is to bring debate and talk about how we treat this issue in everyday life, not exactly the theology. The article itself was based on going to church one Sunday and the pastor talking about Sodom. Connecting homosexuality to the fall and judgement of a nation as well as connecting the desires as being similar to those of a pedophiles and murderers really made me aware of how much this issue is misrepresented and demonized. Some theology debate about reinterpreting the scriptures in another way could turn a lot people off on campus so I need to be careful. Doing more research is something I definitely need to invest in.

Hi Scott,

I dropped a lot of stuff on you, and I did figure that it was likely to be way more than you intended to have on your plate. I think my point is that once you start the dialogue, and if there *is* a dialogue, I wanted to point out directions in which the discussion could develop, not all of them LGBT-related.

If you are concentrating on the story of Sodom, the theology derived from the story is central.

There is a parallel story in Judges 19.

Most Hebrew commentators consider the sin of Sodom to be that of inhospitality.

As an aid to research, try this Google search:
>> Sodom parallel Judges > or

That ought to get you to many of the commentaries, some positive and some negative, on the story.

Good luck. If you are doing this in your own name, be prepared for a form of martyrdom that really should not be necessary to start the dialogue. I do hope you think it through before doing this openly.

On the other hand, the impact of coming forward and not being afraid could be significant.

Good luck!

What an awesome piece, Bil! And what great advice you gave!

Oh, and yeah, Drew is one of my heroes too. I wish she posted more often. She is amazing! :)

I know I know. I need to write more. I suck. Thanks for the kind words :)

(laughs and rolls eyes)

Yeah, that is always what I think when I think of you, "Man, that Drew chick sure sucks!", lol. ;)

Um… I went to a public university in the deep south for a year. There the only thing they cared about was whether or not your tuition was paid. I had friends who attended conservative Christian colleges and universities.
Be forewarned, that in some ‘Christian’ schools, coming out as Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender or even Intersex CAN lead to immediate expulsion. More so if the institution is a private one. So read your schools charter to ensure that you coming out will not affect your education or impact upon you financially. We had a young lady going to a private Catholic high school who was asked by school staff if she was Lesbian and at 12 (and no parent in attendance) she said “yes”. She was expelled immediately. So, check that out.

Gina, I definitely checked over that part of the lifestyle contract we sign to go to the college. Quite a few people have problems with the contract in the first place, but it's still in effect for now. The contract says that explicit sexual activity between two guys is grounds for suspension but not expulsion, the same as with a straight couple who has sex on campus. I've talked with the RD and they said that it has to do with sex. I'm not really wanting to have an open relationship on campus anyway so that's fine.
Thanks again

Hey guys! Ok, here are some information that's happened so far.

To clarify on some things, yes I have come out to my parents and sister but I don't really know if my extended family know. They don't support me getting into a relationship with another guy but they are firm in letting me know that they love me no matter what. Considering my dad is a former pastor I wasn't really expecting much more than just love and not exactly support in anything I do. I'm actually establishing some better contact with my parents because of my decision to write this article and talking about the possibility of needing more support from home if something bad happens here on campus

My college is a liberal arts Mennonite Brethren (oxymorons are awesome right?) college in the middle of Kansas so they are conservative but they also encourage talking and discussion about hard topics. I've actually come out to a couple faculty through this article because I wanted to get feedback and get more advice about the article. I've almost wondered about just making the rounds and going to each staff member personally to see how they'll react :) especially the president and campus pastor. The editor of the newspaper is especially supportive of doing the article and she's been really great. Since she's the resident director of the girl's quad I feel like I at least have some support.

Thanks for the advice about the possible detractors. I've definitely got that little bit of anxiety in the back of my mind but I feel that this is something that this issue is severely misrepresented and ignored on campus. Not many people on campus, I feel, even know anybody personally who is out either privately or publicly. Your comment about the anonymous entity is the exact reason why I have decided to put my name on it. If there are serious repercussions, either in administration or in the student body, at least some people will see that there is something wrong about how a lot of people go about the issue.

Some updates about the article: it has expanded! The editor and I were finding some resistance in that we didn't know how to connect the column with the rest of the issue (we have a thing that the column has to do with an issue dealt with in another story, it has nothing to do with the subject matter) so we have decided to actually post it on an open forum the school has called The Wittenburg Door. It's an actual door in the Student Center that people can post whatever they want to bring to light and encourage discussion about, inspired by Martin Luther's posting of his 95 Theses on the actual Wittenburg Door in 1517. The door is right across from the cafeteria so I'm sure a lot of people, maybe more than those that read the paper, would be able to see it. This has allowed me to add a lot more to the article, instead of just having it be 500 words and the editor said that the article has improved 100% so that's awesome. I just have to get the president of the student body to sign it so that I can post it and that shouldn't be much trouble. Almost no one has ever posted on the door and a lot on campus don't even know what it's about so I'm hoping that'll add some more curiosity.

The editor has also encouraged me to think about doing some sort of event, most likely a forum or something like that to bring some more light to the issue. That's a little intimidating but I'm willing to do it, I just think it would be wise to see the reaction of the article first before doing much more.

Thanks for the comments, I'm hoping to respond to a few of them

HEAR! HEAR! Thumbs up! You were thinking what I was writing! :)

What a wonderful story! You have guts and intellect.

Stay respectful of those who disagree and you will find true allies amongst your students, teachers, and administrators.

Everything you write here, Scott, makes a great deal of sense.

I am particularly encouraged by the fact that your school is apparently making the handbook clear that discipline is based on activity, not orientation. That makes it more likely that you can survive without martyrdom, though you know you'll pretty much need to be celibate, at least on campus, the rest of your time in school there.

The fact that your immediate family is already aware (even though your extended family might not be aware) is also a plus - there is nothing like having family rejection on top of an expulsion, but that seems to be a lessened likelihod as well.

I particularly like and am very impressed by the "Wittenburg Door" as both a concept and in practice at your school. I am also heartened by the fact that Mennonites are not Baptists. Both of these factors seem to give a ray of hope that there can be a real dialogue at your school.

So with the added information you provide here, I fear less about the potential negatve outcomes of your plan!

First check the policies of your school and if it says you cannot be gay and go to that school, either go anonymous and stay that way (Those who need to know already know.) or wait until you graduate. The rules should be written down, probably in the student handbook. There is no sense wasting your education and money. just to be kicked out right before you graduate. Then graduate and write as an alumnus. With Christian colleges being private, they don't have to abide by the civil rights laws and students have been kicked out weeks before graduation, not given their degrees, been banned from campus, had demons "cast out" and other demeaning things at these schools. I remember one man who was specifically told that he would be arrested for trespassing if he ever came on campus again. The risk is huge and may not be worth the consequences. You have your whole life to come out. Some "christian" schools are more bigotted than others and a lot depends on what denomination runs the school and how closely it is required to adhere to that church's beliefs.

I am very happy with your -not long at all! - vent session! :) And also very pleased with Bill's reply. I don't agree with Marlin's. No need to argue on possible risks, set-back's and likely some negative replies on your collum. I feel sorry for Marlin but it's a waist of energy to put up a list with possible - even likely - negative things whom might happen. I am very much aware of them, I don't denie it but I'm fighting against all excuses to stay anonimous, in the closet, and living with lies. That makes people very unhappy and even suicidal. When I came out, age 16 in 1970, even in Holland and Belgium, it wasn't considered a wise thing to do. But from day one it was a relief not to have to lie, to come up with excuses or worse, getting trapped in the lies. On the question of using anonimousity I am also "straight" forward: DONT! That is asking for anonimous replies and those are the worst you can get. When I get anonymous replies I dismiss them with a "LOL! Wanna kill me? ROFL! Show us your name and face." Usually end of harrasment. Real people might try to argue but will lose it during the discussion. More often you will get at least respect. And that feels good!!! Even in flame-like discutions, other people will tend to defend you even when they are "actually against homosexuality". And, don't forget people: discussions make most people think and often think things over. That is alreaddy worth a million stepps. Last but not least, don't get trapped with people who try to discourage, to insult you, to hurt you or try to make you angry. It happened to me too sometimes in the heat of a flame. After some 42 years IRL and more than 25 years on BBs and the web, I can assure you that using LOL! or ROFL! without further comment (even when exploding from furious anger) or just quoting with a laughter, stops the flame. (and prevents hart problems!) :) I'm looking forward to read your collumn! (I'm not a native Englisch speaker and aware that the syntax isn't always right, but I hope that you get my message right.)

Firstly, find out what your school does to such students in terms of housing, tuition, scholarships, transcripts, and religion. If the reaction would be mild, decide whether you could just live with it or ignore it; if it would be strong, decide if you would want to fight it, and how you would do that, and how you would manage things if you lost that fight.
Secondly, realize that while you and some fellow students may be fairly comfortable and supportive about this, but the people running your college are three times your age. Sixty years ago, many people had never heard the word “gay,” most metro newspapers wouldn’t print it, being gay was viewed as an illness, gays were outlaws in 49 of the 50 states, were sometimes lobotomized, were repeatedly electrocuted, and often incarcerated in asylums or prison, for life. The older someone is, the more likely they are to retain similar views.
Thirdly, choose a pseudonym (never use “Anonymous”). Realize that what you’re proposing to write can’t be done in a single column, especially for your readers. So write a series of articles. Include a bio at the bottom of each article, something like this: “This is part x in a x-part series by Pseudonym Smith, a current Kansas University student who hopes to help students in similar circumstances. Whether he identifies himself at the conclusion of this series depends upon how well the series generates an informed public discussion.”
Even if you think you know the answer, in an early article, ask school administrators to publish what they will do to you / for you after they know who you are. (Hint: if they answer publicly, you probably can trust them; if they refuse, you can’t trust them, so prepare for the worst.)
Fourth, enlist a small, close team of friends, relatives, faculty and/or clergy that you know you can depend upon to keep your secret, and to give private support and/or public support, especially during the rough periods.
Fifth, identify your sub-topics, organize them well, write the whole series first, and then propose that the editor run it over a semester or a year. That will give both you and your readers some breathing room. Insist that your series appear in both the print and the on-line editions, with opportunity for printed letters-to-the-editor, and electronic reader comments. Clue the local metro media and nearby colleges about your project; the added support and coverage will force your school to treat you decently once they know the whole world is watching.
The mix of good and bad reactions is certain to create a stir. Expect great support from surprising places, and very disappointing rejection from others. People you know will tell you, “I do understand your issues, and don’t hold anything against you, but also I refuse to be your roommate, friend, classmate, teammate, etc. because my religion tells me I’m supposed to oppress you and everyone like you.”
Topics (in case you run out of ideas):
1. Who you are - Don’t give biographical data reveals who you are, but do write honestly so that readers feel you’re real.
2. Why you’re writing this series (to help all LGBT students?)
3. How you learned you’re gay
4. How you’re sure you’re gay
5. Common myths that aren’t true
6. Other LGBT friends who your readers would find interesting (gives readers a break from listening to you all the time)
7. Write just as much about your readers as about yourself, because if the series is only about you, and they can’t relate, then they have no reason to read at all.
8. Avoid all theological debates, because they have no end. You’ll never get the space or time to finish, and your readers will never stop arguing. The only faith-related point you should make is that religious freedom works both ways: if others want their freedom, they must give you yours, and no one can impose their faith upon you unless they’re willing to let you impose yours upon them.
Test each column with someone who you know isn’t afraid to tell you when you’re writing poorly.
If you hit a low spot, check out the 22-part video series by AN1 Randy Phillips, USAF (
Post your newspaper’s link here so we can follow.
Best wishes!

I wish you all the best, Scott. Please do post a reply after the publication and let us know how things went.
Good luck!

Hey Scott!

I love you "kids" today. I truly admire your purpose, your activism, and your trying to be true to yourself.

I always encourage people to come out. However, the coming out process is different for everyone and can even change for people as they're going through their own process.

Having said that, my thought is for you to write it anonymously. But, doing so not because you're fearful of the consequences, but as a challenge to your fellow students. I would write that you're out to your family and they support and love you. And then I would write that you are out to some faculty and some students because they have made you comfortable or safe in some way for you to be honest with them. And if they don't know who you are, do they care? After all, you see other students every day, you talk to them, you study together. College is also about making lifetime friends. Do they want to know the real you? If so, they should talk to every student with respect, not make disparaging comments or jokes, be compassionate, and envision every student as if s/he is the one writing the article. Because some day, that person they talk to will actually be you and they will make it comfortable and safe for you to come out.

Best of luck!

you can always come out after the shit hits the fan. make a great follow up column, commenting on the reactions. whatever you decide to do - i'm all for it. best of luck.

Scott, good luck to you. Although you've probably already realized this, "anonymous" in practice means using a pseudonym, and I would recommend this. You definitely want to avoid nasty messages on your voicemail, your e-mail being jammed by hate, etc., not to mention the types of far more vicious assaults that far too many people have suffered.

One useful ongoing resource for you is the Interfaith Alliance (Welton Gaddy):

and its State of Belief radio program:

One recent segment of particular interest is:

"God vs Gay?" book author Jay Michaelson extended interview

With scholarly insight and painful personal experience, author Jay Michaelson goes far beyond debunking the 6 verses of scripture so often used to condemn LGBT persons by conservative religious leaders. In his new book, God vs. Gay: the Religious Case for Equality, Michaelson makes a compelling case that the Old and New Testament, taken in their entirety, are far more supportive of sexual minorities than today's conventional wisdom would suggest.

Michaelson talks to Welton Gaddy about the conclusions of the book, as well as the process of writing it.

Good luck to you!

Ed A

Scott, I'm going to focus on a different aspect of your question than perhaps others have done. You say you're writing for your school paper and you're concerned about whether to publish anonymously. When I first came out and wanted to start making media, this was a question I wrestled with a lot. Here's what I came up with. As always, your mileage may vary.

I've found that in order to be able to do my best work as a writer and mediamaker it's important to hold nothing sacred, not people, not political parties, and especially not myself.

Being open and honest right from the start, even though it certainly did have backlash and cost me a few friends, has helped me to become a better writer and mediamaker. I can write from the heart without the fear and self-censorship that's part and parcel of living a double life. If you're always wondering about how much of yourself you should reveal to others, you'll always be limiting yourself as a writer.

It doesn't matter if it's hard news journalism, commentary, blogging, or anything else. The more of yourself you can and do put into your work the better it'll be. Being open about your identity takes the shackles off and lets you write what you, as a whole person, really think and feel, not just the parts of yourself you think it's ok to let others in on.

I say put your name on it, but be ready. There probably will be a reaction. What happens after the initial buzz dies down, however, is entirely up to you.

Good luck!

Hello Scott. When I read your questions two quotes came immediately to mind.

"I never let schooling get in the way of my education." — Mark Twain

"A man who has had a bull by the tail knows a few things more than one who hasn't" Mark Twain

I'm sure you know Mark Twain was one of several different pen names used by Samuel Langhorne Clemens.

Scott, rock on. Others have said all the kinds of things I was thinking, just wanted to chime in.

Scott, Bil, I hope we're going to hear how this thing unfolds! | November 19, 2011 10:31 AM

Hi Scott. Sorry to be a latecomer to this discussion. My father's family were all Kansas General Conference Mennonites, and I have always found them to be Conservative in their theology, but not rigid fundamentalists. Have you been in touch with the Pink Menno campaign? This is an org of glbt Mennonites where you might find lots of support and good experiences to draw on.

Best of everything to you, whatever you choose to do. I would tend to come down on the side of coming out, as regardless of the consequences, you will have truth on your side, and I would bet a tremendous sense of relief, and the ability to go forward with your life as you want to live it.

Big hugs!