Coming Out as Prophetic Witness

By Erica Lea-Simka

No mainstream television show has had such a significantly sustained culture-impacting influence for gay visibility as Will and Grace. For all the very relevant critiques of the show, particularly the original run 1998-2006, the dialogue and situations in the show bring to the fore common challenges for many people in the expansive LGBTQIA2S+ community.

Cue season 3, episode 16.1 Will discovers his father, George, is having an affair and responds by perpetuating the unhealthy family dynamic of extreme avoidance of confrontation and conflict until George has had enough:

“Say what’s on your mind!”

“Come on, Dad. We’re Trumans. We don’t do that! Remember?”

“We don’t, but you do! You’re the brave one. Look at your life. You came out. You told the truth. I rely on you to say what’s what.”

Since the beginning, the family of God has depended on truth-tellers, sometimes called prophets. To come out is a form of truth-telling, and the Church needs more truth-tellers these days.

Recently, Alliance co-director Rev. Dr. Elijah Zehyoue led an online session on the topic of “Black Liberation in Prophetic Preaching.” He brought to the group’s attention the Transfiguration narrative in Matthew 17, especially connections to Elijah and Moses. Jesus’ ministry was powered by the Holy Spirit and the ancestors, including prophets that he references in his own prophetic ministry. Mystical relationships with ancestors give strength to transform the now. Jesus spoke truth from his ancestors, and as followers of Jesus we are invited to do likewise. What truth are you being invited to share?

For LGBTQ+ people, October 11 is a sacred day of truth-telling, National Coming Out Day. The date was chosen to honor the second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights October 11, 1987. The Washington Post reported, “During the slow, 20-block procession, marchers lined up 30 abreast behind a phalanx of AIDS patients, many in wheelchairs, and many well-known civil rights, labor, religious, women’s rights, and gay rights activists whose participation was intended to underscore the human rights aspects of the event.”2

The power of being unashamed, unafraid, and visible in such a sizable community strengthens everyone from the front of the march to the back, from the healthiest to the sickest, from the youngest to the oldest, from the deeply closeted to the flamboyantly out.

Since the beginning, the family of God has depended on truth-tellers, sometimes called prophets. To come out is a form of truth-telling, and the Church needs more truth-tellers these days.

I may not have been at the first or second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, or Mt. Sinai, or the Transfiguration, but my ancestors were there so I was there by proxy as I connect to their stories and wisdom. I draw on their strength and learn from their mistakes in my own challenging times. I am also comforted by the joy my Queer ancestors lived into as they risked everything to tell the truth about themselves and the life-and-death need for civil rights.

To come out is to join a long line of ancestors who survived closets and threats, fear and hostility. To come out is to join a long line of ancestors who thrived and organized, loved and persevered. To come out is to claim your truth and to be claimed by the ancestors who lived their truth. 

There are not necessarily more LGBTQ+ people today, but there are more out people than before, especially in the Western world. We have always been present in every place and culture, and we will always exist. We have always been among God’s children, and we have always been part of the Body of Christ.

Lesbian women were the hands of Christ when they tended to gay men dying of AIDS in the 1980s and 90s when other people and institutions refused to do so. Bisexual and pansexual people are the neck of the body of Christ inviting others to see the mysterious both/and of Creator and Creation. Gay men are the shoulders of Christ invited to use their strength to boost others. Transgender people are the heart of the Body of Christ, living boldly into their truest self, inside and out. All are needed and valued. All are connected to one another.

Scientists tell us “every single atom in your body—the calcium in your bones, the carbon in your genes, the iron in your blood, the gold in your filling—was created in a star billions of years ago.”3 Our bodies and Christ’s body have been formed by the cosmos. May we draw cosmic power from within ourselves, the Holy Spirit, one another, and the ancestors in these challenging times, especially this Coming Out Day.




Rev. Erica Lea-Simka [she/they] is a graduate of San Jacinto College, Texas A&M University, and Truett Theological Seminary. She has also studied as a continuing education student at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Eastern Mennonite University, and Hebrew College. Pastor Erica previously served Alliance of Baptist congregations Lake Shore Baptist Church [Waco, TX] and Calvary Baptist Church [Washington, D.C.]. She is thankful to be home among Mennonites since November 2017 as Pastor of Albuquerque Mennonite Church. She also serves as the Southwest Representative for Mennonite Women USA. When not at church or the public library, she can be found cooking, powerwalking, travelling, watching British mysteries, and spending time with her interfaith family.

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