“Coming out is hard enough, but doing it in the public eye is definitely something I never anticipated. I’m still the exact same person and I’m still a Republican and, most importantly, I’m still a person of faith trying to live life as a servant of God and the public. The only difference now is that I will also be doing so as honestly as I know how.”
Pennsylvania Representative Mike Fleck has come out as gay, making him the first openly gay lawmaker in that state and one of the few, currently sitting, and openly gay Republican state legislators in the country.
Welcome out, Mike, welcome out.
Fleck had a long way to go before understanding that he was gay and accepting that fact. His religious beliefs reinforced the idea that being gay was a sin, and wrong, and then he also because a Boy Scout, and learned that being gay was a choice. He firmly believed what he’d been taught, that homosexuality was a choice and he spent a great deal of his life suppressing his feelings.
“I wanted to live a ‘normal’ life and raise a family. I also believed that by marrying, I was fulfilling God’s will and I thought my same-sex attraction would simply go away."
In fall 2000, Fleck met his future wife and they were married in 2002. But, while he believed he was doing what God wanted of him--to be married--he was still battling same-sex attraction.
“So I just prayed harder and put it in God’s hands....I sought out treatment from a Christian counselor, but when that didn’t work out, I engaged a secular therapist who told me point blank that I was gay and that I was too caught up in being the perfect Christian rather than actually being authentic and honest.”
For Mike Fleck, the hardest part of the process has been reconciling his faith with his sexuality.
“Through years of counseling, I’ve met a lot of gay Christians who have tried hard to change their God-given sexual orientation, but at the end of the day, I know of none who’ve been successful. They’ve only succeeded at repressing their identity, only to have it reappear time and time again and always wreaking havoc not only on themselves, but especially on their family.”
Fleck said once he was able to be honest with himself, he could finally be honest with others, because no one in his life had any clue about his personal struggle, not even his wife. They separated in 2011.
It was a long road, Mike, and a tough one. It’s a shame that religions don't yet acknowledge that being gay is who we are, and that it is not a choice. That sermon alone might have saved you decades of confusion, and unnecessary therapy. And if the Boy Scouts could join the 21st century, maybe, just maybe, the future Mike Flecks won’t feel like they don't belong, like they don’t fit it. And they won't need decades of doubt and questioning and self-loathing and therapy to simply be the men and women that they were born to be.
So, again, welcome out, Mike, welcome out. And, naturally, Homo HQ will be sending you a personal copy of the Gay Agenda and the Coming Out Toaster Oven.
It doesn't matter when or how you come out, it just matters that you do.