And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. (Genesis 50:19-20)
Joseph made the above statement to his brothers after he became governor of Egypt, after he was sold into slavery by his brothers, after Pharaoh’s wife lied on him for rejecting her sexual advances. In spite of his harsh treatment, God still had a use for Joseph. In my reflection on coming out, I identify with Joseph because as a child I was teased and verbally abused by others for not doing the so-called boyish things, i.e. chasing the girls on the playground, talking with a low tone of voice, liking Superman better than Wonder Woman, etc.
As I grew older, I began to read about homosexuality. I realized the rationale behind my desire to be paired with the doctor instead of the nurse as a child. I questioned family members about my great uncle (who was gay), and I noticed how some of my family would become disgusted and upset at the idea of two men romantically involved; some felt it was an unnatural sin which would send a person straight to hell. So here I am: a young man who hoped his kindness and his love for church, family, and school would overshadow the fact that he never had a girlfriend, that the boys at school didn’t have any stories to tell about the number of girls I’d screwed (which was zero and still is zero to this day). I struggle with society’s view of gay people, my spirituality, and myself. I asked myself, “Am I disgrace to my family? Am I a disgrace to you, God? Lord, is your salvation and grace beyond my reach because I’m gay? Do I have to fight the world for the rest of my life? Why me? Why am I gay? Why do I have to endure the name-calling? Will this always be my secret shame? It’s bad enough folks think I’m a homosexual; it will be worse if I tell them the truth!” I never wanted to displease anyone and so I tried to hide, ignore, and deny my feelings.
A few years ago, God spoke to me and answered the prayer I had prayed for years. He directed me to his Word, and showed me Psalms 139, Romans 8:28, and Philippians 4:13. God told me I am fearfully and wonderfully made and I have the strength through Christ to do all things. Because I love God, all of my trials, my homosexuality, the pain, the hurt, the abuse, the tears, the good times, the sorrow, the sleepless nights, and my very existence has worked together for my good. All things work together for the good of them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. In other words, my being a homosexual is for God’s glory; my being a black man is for God’s glory; my life is for God’s glory. I have given myself to God, and I live so that he is further glorified. As with Joseph, God had set my life up in order for me to seek him and serve him. The Lord says in Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage: be not afraid, nether be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Florida native Shurron Mitchell Farmer is a mathematics professor in Washington, D.C. He earned his bachelors in mathematics from Florida A&M University and M.S. and Ph.D. in mathematics from Howard University.