This Tough Question is submitted by Stephen Ira.

When I first came out as gay, my mom spent a few weeks referring to it as “[my] revelation.” It was something I did, announced, put upon everyone.

My parents asked me if I had considered what this would do to my sister, who was entering high school in a few months. They were upset that I had been out in public around town with my boyfriend. At the time, my mom worked for a male-dominated Christian non-profit, already skeptical of women (especially mothers) in leadership and at work. Would this be fuel for their anti-woman fire?

I was asked, and asked myself, “Would it be better if I weren’t this way?”

I had this feeling that this was something I was doing to other people. The easiest solution seemed to be, fix myself. Become straight. Or don’t ever tell anyone. Don’t be in a relationship, or find love, or a build a life.

I’ve come to realize that I cannot control everything. I will never be able to manage every single person’s possible actions and reactions. But I can live openly, honestly, authentically, and with integrity.


A few years ago, I used iGoogle and received a Quote of the Day on my homepage. One day, George Barnard Shaw was the chosen saying.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

My parents aren’t served if they interact with a fictionalized version of myself that I think is easier for them to handle. My friends aren’t served if they don’t know what’s really going on with me. I am not served if I try to create a new, “acceptable” version of myself to present to the world.

What I thought was a burden has turned out to be a blessing. My queeness has served as an invitation to question assumptions.

Would it be better if I weren’t this way? Absolutely not. My sexual orientation has changed the way I interact with the world: from questioning the dogma of the church I was raised in, to having a more intimate understanding of street harassment and the threat of violence; from digging in deep to a religious faith, to understanding the necessity for some of walking away from Church (and even god).

Would it be better for anyone else? Absolutely not. As I live openly and authentically, those around me are invited to question and stretch themselves. I’ve seen friends and family struggle and grow, in fits and in strides. The richness of humanity is made even more beautiful by queers of all stripes (and folks of every orientation, ethnic background, gender, language, physical ability, and so many other facets of our diversity).

Would it be better if I, or anyone else, weren’t this way? No, it would be worse. Celebrate life. 


This is part of December’s series on Tough Questions on the path to affirmation. You can subscribe to receive the daily prompts. You’re invited to respond to each prompt (publicly, on your blog or social network; or privately in a journal,, or in an email to me [or someone else]).

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