On a hot summer day in 2013 a peace came over me as I was mowing the grass. I felt these words resonate in my soul “if you tell the truth everything will be ok”. I knew what I needed to do but felt my world would come crashing down once I told.
I had built my life on a lie.
I pretended to be straight my entire life. One week from my 37th birthday in October, I entered a campus staff meeting and told my fellow pastors that I would be resigning my staff position.
In the next week I would be telling my wife that I’m gay.
It all seems like a blur now. The last four years have been incredibly difficult and painful. I lost long-time friendships and gained depression and anxiety. I struggled to find work and figure out what it looked like for me to be a gay man. I was an Uber driver, car salesman, windshield repairman, debt relief specialist, air bnb host and a bartender. I spent the first year seeing a therapist every week. I had some very dark and lonely days.
Nevertheless, I did critical work on me.
I had to rid myself of the shame I felt for being gay. I wondered whether I would even look and act like the same person when I came out on the other side of the trauma. Fortunately, I am feeling more and more ok as the months and years go by.
I have a lot of optimism about life and do not regret a thing.
Currently, I am a bartender at the Ford airport and working on a graduate degree in counseling. In another year and a half, I hope to have my license to do professional counseling. I am dating an incredible guy. We’ve been together for three years. Without his support I would not be as far along in my journey. He is a gift from God.
This past summer I told my children that their dad is gay. There was anxiety about this process as the kids are in an environment where being gay is spoken of as a sin. My fears subsided as all three of my young children (7,7 and 11) all told me that they love me no matter what.
The best response was from one of my girls who asked if gay people can get married. Her immediate response was to tell me her willingness to be a flower girl in my wedding.
I always wanted to be normal. I felt different and misunderstood. I’m happy to say that after connecting with other gay Christians I learned that my experience is quite normal. It is exciting to me to hear about young gay people who have the courage to be who they are. I hope to be able to encourage a new normal to where there is no pressure to wait until you’re 37 years old to finally tell the truth about who you are.
Robb Kornoelje resides in Grand Rapids Michigan. He is currently working on his Master’s degree at Spring Arbor University to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. He enjoys spending time with his three children and his boyfriend Brandon. In 2013 GIFT Chaplain, Jim Lucas, was extremely helpful to Robb and his parents as they were processing his coming out.