In a recent Boston Herald interview MIT baseball player Sean Karson talked about the experience of coming out to his teammates. He said,
I have never been myself up until very recently,” he said. “Everything’s been just sort of cold and calculated. I’ve been in this fortress, I guess, and haven’t let my emotions out at all.“I worried that I had no emotions, that I didn’t feel much about anything. It was really weird.”
In my mind, what Sean describes is the difference between being alive and being the walking dead.
We all protect ourselves in the world, we all cover up some of our vulnerabilities. We have to. We can't go emotionally naked through the world any more than we survive in a blizzard or in the desert without clothes. What Sean Karson illuminates is the irreplaceable blessing of self-revelation, though. When we closet ourselves, when we “cover” our identities too drastically, we build fortresses around our hearts and our souls.
These fortresses keep us from our fellow human beings and from God. Because if we have no emotions, neither human nor Divine love will register with us.
Sean Karson mostly received immensely positive feedback from his teammates. “They came up and gave me high fives and said they’d have my back and everything,” he said. “It was so supportive, it was ridiculous.” Others said "how much they respected [him], but that they needed to collect their thoughts first."
The trade-off, though, is so clear, and our world is changing. Even in a context like male, competitive team sports, where coming out is still revolutionary, the blessings of courage outweigh the risks. The revolution of revelation brings on more revelation. Sean's revelation of self sparked the revelation of his teammates' compassion and love. Think what this will mean for the next athlete who hasn't dared to speak out, and the next, and the next.
Blessed is God who blessed humanity with life and with the capacity to love.