I. Love. Disco! The Bee Gees, Earth Wind and Fire, Rick James, Donna Summer, Sister Sledge, and of course, The Village People… I loved all of it, especially back in the day! Disco music transported me—this nerdy, toe-headed, closeted, awkward teenage queer in a small town in the rural South—away to a fantastical place that only disco could… to a place where I could be me. And no artist did it better than the incomparable Diana Ross with her anthem: I’m Coming Out! The lyrics took on a psalmic quality for me.
I’m coming out I want the world to know Got to let it show I’m coming out I want the world to know Got to let it show There’s a new me coming out And I just have to live And I want to give I’m completely positive I think this time around I am gonna do it Like you never knew it Oh, I’ll make it through
It was released at a liminal time for the queer community. By 1980, the queer community had claimed important moments in our civil rights movement—first Pride celebrations, Stonewall Riots, ReconcilingWorks predecessor founded—and suffered terrible backlashes—Harvey Milk’s assassination and Anita Bryant… the AIDS genocide was just around the corner. And, in 1980, in this time and in this place where I existed, it was still painful to be gay, and it was not safe to be queer. But I had Diana Ross who gave me space, who transfigured me, who let me dream of an embodied inconceivable reality…
The time has come for me To break out of the shell I have to shout That I am coming out I’m coming out I want the world to know I got to let it show I’m coming out I want the world to know I got to let it show
And, that is what I remember most about that period in my life. The hope that someday I could come out and that it would be amazing. In truth, it was not for another twenty plus years that I did come out, and it was amazing… and it was awful. That’s how it often can be for folx in our queer community. We achieve significant moments of affirmation followed by moments of cruel setbacks, but we persevere because we have to!
I’m coming out (coming) I want the world to know (out) Got to let it show (I’m coming I’m coming out (coming) I want the world to know (out) Got to let it show I’ve got to show the world All that I want to be And all my abilities There’s so much more to me Somehow, I’ll have to make them Just understand I got it well in hand And, oh, how I’ve planned I’m spreadin’ love There is no need to fear And I just feel so good Every time I hear
And now, again, beloveds, the queer community is under threat. We are being circled by that loud, ravenous lion. From coast to coast and in faraway places, man-made works are underway to wipe away what God has made, to erase us, Imago Dei! All this because we audaciously exist, coming out loving who we do, and being who we are, even though some go to extremes to stop us from our Pride…
I’m coming out I want the world to know I got to let it show I’m coming out (coming) I want the world to know (out) Got to let it show (I’m coming) I’m coming out (coming) I want the world to know (out) Got to let it show I’m coming out I want the world to know Got to let it show
It’s June y’all! Pride is upon us! Now is the time to celebrate who we are and to be transported to that wonderful promise again! With the Holy Spirit leading the way, with Christ within us, and with our Creator by our side, we will trust and do the work. We will persist because God is with us, and so we will persevere!
I’m, I’m coming out I have to shout that I’m comin’ out I want the world to know, I gotta let it show I’m coming, I’m coming out
Mo Goff (he/him) just completed his second year as an MDiv student at United Lutheran Seminary and is an endorsed candidate pursuing ordination in Word and Sacrament under the care of the Delaware-Maryland Synod. Before seminary, he worked in politics and public policy in Washington, DC. He and his husband, Rev. Shawn Brandon, reside outside of Annapolis, MD, with their dog, Lola, and cat, Eve.
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