Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

The Pitfalls of “Coming Out” of…


…well…just about anything that doesn’t conform to the “norm”.

Yesterday christianagnostic had this to say about his experience of coming out as an unbeliever to his family:

I know it’s not fair to Gays, but I got a teency weency taste of what it would be like to come out when I told my in-laws I no longer believed in God. My Father In-Law said it even felt like I was telling someone I was gay…anyway.

A Methodist pastor in my area resigned her pastorate recently and was honest about her reason.  She no longer believes in God.  This is her experience:

  Atheist Compares Atheism to “Coming Out’ as a Homosexual.


19 thoughts on “The Pitfalls of “Coming Out” of…

  1. I would agree that it is quite similar to the things I have read about homosexuals coming out.

    My family said some of those same things that I’ve read are said to homosexuals.

    It’s a very scary experience, but very liberating. Everyday I become more comfortable with who I am now. That’s not to say I don’t have days where I feel very anxious about it. About no longer being Christian about no longer being in the norm. But there is also a bit of pride that comes with it as well.


    • Yep. The responses range from:

      “You’re not really homosexual/atheist/you name it. You’re just going through a phase.”


      “You’re deceived by Satan. This is spiritual warfare.”


      “Just study [the bible] more. The truth will be revealed to you if you just pray and study[only the bible].”


  2. Friendly neighbourhood bisexual agnostic/atheist checking in here. 🙂

    I don’t know what I think about this comparison. Is there a lot of prejudice against non-theists in certain communities? Oh heck yeah.

    But there’s a part of me that feels weird about saying being X is like being Y. I completely understand that it’s done in order to give “outsiders” an idea of what it feels like to be part of a certain group but how do you measure these things?

    This is in no way a snarky comment. I find the comparison really interesting actually.

    I’d just never thought to equate (ir)religious beliefs with sexual orientation.

    Thoughts, anyone?


    • In once sense I agree with you. I don’t think you can ever really compare one person’s experience to another because of our individuality. Some people handle being “different” better than others.

      However, in another, I think you can say that any quality one might have that is considered against the normal of society would probably feel much the same emotionally speaking. Being ostracized is being ostracized regardless of the reasons why.

      There was this recent poll, I’m sure you’ve seen it, in which atheists were counted as the least trusted group in America. Even behind Muslims and homosexuals. The a-religious are quite stigmatized here in America.


      • You make a good point.

        There are just such a wide range of reactions to these kind of things even if we only look at one person’s life.

        There have been times when my sexual orientation, (lack of) religion, etc. have been capital-I Issues. As in, the other person or people simply cannot relate to me as a fellow human being because of them. Everything I do and say is filtered through those labels (often with the worst interpretation possible).

        That’s a horrible way to live.

        And of course in other situations these things are a non issue. Or maybe they make things awkward at first but the other person makes an honest effort to push through his/her assumptions.

        I don’t know if this makes sense but so much depends on where you live and what kind of people are in your life! I think it makes more sense to compare people living in the same environments – supportive, still in the “closet,” hostile, “came out and now I’m disowned”, ambivalent, etc.

        (And thanks! It’s great to talk to you again as well. 🙂 )


    • By the way, it’s really good to hear from you, Lydia. Long time, no see! 🙂


  3. agnosticwife said

    “It’s a very scary experience, but very liberating. Everyday I become more comfortable with who I am now. ”

    That’s a good description of the process. I feel more comfortable with myself, but there are still family that want to seem to pretend that I never told them I no longer believe.

    It’s weird..kinda like if I told you I could no longer walk any more, but you kept asking me if I wanted to go jogging or hiking next weekend….what do you do with denial?


    • Is it denial or is it that they want to bring you back from the dark side?

      If it’s denial there’s probably nothing you can do. You can’t make someone face reality if they don’t want to. I guess the same thing can be said for those trying to drag you back from the dark side.

      It is what it is. Having said that, I’ve been far too much of a chicken to out myself for those very reasons you describe. I don’t want the intense proselytizing nor do I care to be the subject town gossip. I’d be on every prayer list in three counties. 😦


    • I don’t know what to do about the denial because I have family members and one friend(who I haven’t officially told, but I think she knows) who just act like I never told them.

      I think they are just convinced that it is some sort of phase, because they state everyone questions at times, that I’m going through. People still ask me to pray. My grandma says she knows what I’ve said but still thinks I KNOW there is a god and perhaps I’m just mad at him.

      So I don’t know what to do with it either and because of that I usually just ignore it. Maybe that’s what they are doing? Ignoring as well because they don’t know what to do or how to act either.


      • They sound terrified to me.

        That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, of course, but maybe there’s something you can say or do to reassure them?

        (Or maybe not. So much depends on their personalities and your relationship. 🙂 )


      • I’ve done okay with responding to people who don’t seem to get it by just, well, looking really puzzled – and keeping my responses very simple and matter-of-fact. Like:
        Random Person: “Please pray for family member X’s medical problems.”
        Me: “I’ll definitely keep X in my thoughts.”


  4. Terrified might be the right word…I’m not sure what I can say, but I’m open to suggestions.

    My other quandary is that I have spoken 2 or 3 times to my dad, in no uncertain terms, that I am no longer a believer. But I don not think he’s said a word to my mom, which means it’s up to me to bring it up. I don’t want to force a conversation, but I don’t want this to go on for much longer.


    • Honestly, I wouldn’t force it – not only would I not want to, but that makes it sound important, maybe defiant. I’d try to wait until it comes up naturally… but that depends a lot on what you’re comfortable with, and your relationship with your parents, and probably other things as well.


      • I’m with you…the challenge is that we are cross country and haven’t seen each other in 3 years. I just don’t know what to say when mom starts talking about church and the Evangelism stuff they are going to do.

        I don’t think my mom would reject me, and I feel like my dad and I have this unspoken secret that I don’t want to be a secret. Normally he tells my mom everything we talk about…except for this.


  5. In my experience there is nothing one can do about someone else’s denial. We can’t make them believe anything they aren’t capable of believing. It’s like deconversion. None of us could stop believing until we stopped believing. We had to go through our own doubt, questions, study and research and gradually, each of us at our own pace, changed our minds.

    I wrote about his I think in the last year or so. I just felt invisible because people just seem to not hear me. A good friend sort of laughed and said, “Do you think you are anymore an atheist than I was during my non-religious phase?” I’ve decided should I ever get the chance to respond to these type of comments again I’ll counter with, “Do you think you are anymore a Christian than I was during my religious phase?”

    I think the pitfalls are universal. Some are deadly. 😦


  6. Totally! To my family I’m the veritable image of satan, no kidding.


  7. None of your posts since the “pair o ducks” have shown up on my dashboard, so I see I’ve missed many. This post made me think of a client I recently helped with coming out to family as being lesbian. During the whole process, I kept thinking how much I could use the same therapy to help me “come out” to my family in
    regards to my religious beliefs.


  8. This was exactly my experience as well. I always said I felt like a homosexual in a pentecostal church.


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