How one deals with their sexual orientation is a very personal and private matter. GLAD provides vital assistance to the coming out process for many. Coming out is a multi-phase process. Many considerations must be made before making a determination that one is gay. Accepting your own sexual orientation as a gay person is the first step. Coming out to close friends would be the next test to seek acceptance. Then, followed by family and some acquaintances. The last phase is to come out to your community and co-workers. At each of these steps, serious considerations must be made based on the prejudice of others.
GLAD was an integral partner in my coming out process. Adding the connection between my family and the Church community made the process much easier. This is a depressing and scary experience for most but I found unconditional acceptance. My GLAD experience at Midway Hills Christian Church included my parents as active participants. They attended meetings on a regular basis, providing support in a non-threatening environment with other parents of gay children. This was a learning experience for myself, my parents, and my Congregation. We all grew to understand and tolerate folks with a different sexual orientation. We provided support for each other. This was a reflection of a true religious community.
I would like to suggest two challenges for GLAD. First, the Open& Affirming motto used by supportive churches is too vague. Churches not wishing to be challenged can easily misinterpret its meaning. We should come out of the closet with this motto to state up front that we do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Second, the Disciples of Christ has been discerning gay and lesbian issues far too long, with no resolution in sight. GLAD should take a proactive position to educate all churches in our denomination about the benefits of supporting Open & Affirming membership to all. GLAD is a vital mission in the Disciples of Christ Church so it should be adequately recognized and respected.