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I am a queer Black man and Catholic convert. Here’s my coming out story.

Views Tevin V. Williams / October 11, 2022 Print this:
(Photo courtesy of Pexels)

It was a dreary day in central Florida—overcast, with the potential for rain. It doesn’t get particularly cold in Florida, but low 60’s is cold enough. I was about to meet with the best supervisor and mentor that I’ve ever had in my professional life: Colleen.

She was out and proud lesbian in higher education and student recreation at my graduate school. After speaking more about work, I decided to say it. “Colleen, I just want to tell you something,” I said. “I’m bisexual.”

“Wow,” she said. “Thank you for telling me this, Tevin. You seem like a weight has been lifted off of you.” After 24 years, I felt a weight finally lifted off of me. I felt free and proud. After first coming out to Colleen, I began to tell many other people. (Most people knew, but it’s always good to be upfront with them.)

I enjoyed it, to be honest. Being confident in who I was came naturally to me. There was just the one thing left to do before I was the full man I needed and wanted to be.

After living in Florida, I consider myself blessed to live as an out, queer Black man in New York City. While in Florida, I converted to Catholicism, a little less than a year before the Covid-19 pandemic began. At that time, many who knew I was queer asked, “Why Catholicism when you can be Episcopalian?” My answer is still the same to this day.

My dad raised me to have a personal relationship with God, and that call was even stronger as I began attending Mass before joining R.C.I.A. Also, knowing what the Holy Bible truly speaks about when it comes to homosexuality, I knew what my life would be like as a Catholic convert.

“From Pope Francis’ comments about supporting same-sex civil marriages to his apologies for the damage done by the church to the LGBTQ community, I am thankful to be a Catholic as I witness progress in our church.”

Although the church does not recognize same-sex marriage, I am hopeful about the future. From Pope Francis’ comments about supporting same-sex civil marriages to his apologies for the damage done by the church to the LGBTQ community, I am thankful to be a Catholic as I witness progress in our church.

Being an openly queer Black man in America is a revolutionary act of rebellion. As a sexual and racial minority, I face the prospect of discrimination and ridicule. Growing up in rural southern Georgia, I remember the unprintable jokes people made if they even thought another man was gay. But the older I became, the more I realized how much toxic masculinity impacted so many men—and how it preyed on their own sexual insecurities.

During my time as an out queer man, I have encountered many different people on their own journeys. I’ve had sexual relationships with men who are fully out to their family and friends, and with deeply closeted men who are still trying to figure things out. The issue with toxic masculinity and homophobia is that it prevents so many men from living their truest versions of themselves.

Society does not conform to the needs of the LGBTQ community. Stereotypes around men who have sex with men have made some people, mainly older men, equate LGBTQ sexuality with weakness. Unfortunately, this continues to keep men in the closet, even with new data that shows more young people identifying as LBGTQ

Today is National Coming Out Day, and as I tell my story of being an openly queer, Black man and practicing Roman Catholic, I hope that this day is not necessary years from now. I hope for a society where we accept people as they are, as human beings worthy of love regardless of their sexuality.

Ever since I meeting my first queer mentor, Colleen, I have been blessed and honored to work with State Senator Brad Hoylman of New York, an openly gay Jewish man leading the charge for LGBTQ rights. As I grow and continue to excel in my own career in public service, my priest recently told me to find “the other Tevin Williams” and pull him along with me.

I am so thankful for the friends, family and supportive people who have welcome me in my coming out journey. There are some who still don’t understand, and that is totally okay. My faith is guided by God’s greatest commandment: the imperative to love.

This National Coming Out Day, I think of two incredible songs that are personal anthems: “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga (a gay classic), and “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons. If you’re out there trying to figure yourself out, know that you are part of the biggest and most colorful family in the world: the LGBTQ community.

Tevin V. Williams

Tevin V. Williams is the director of community and external affairs to U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.). Mr. Williams holds a B.F.A. in mass media from Valdosta State University in Georgia.

All articles by Tevin V. Williams

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  1. Thank you for sharing your story with us! I’ll put those songs on right now.

  2. Thank you for a wonderful story on Coming Out Day.