BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- Many people have been posting on social media for National Coming Out Day, where people in the LGBT community offer support to others and discuss how they came out to loved ones.
Fr. Brian Coleman at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Battle Creek is one of those people. He's an openly gay man. His journey to get where he is today wasn't always easy, but he's hoping his story will inspire others.
When Coleman was growing up, he always knew he’d someday likely be Fr. Coleman.
“Probably from the time I was about a teenager I had a sense that I probably was going to wind up becoming a priest and being ordained," said Coleman.
At the same time he always knew he was gay.
"I would ride around in my car and say, 'Brian you’re gay, you’re gay, you’re gay', almost like by saying it would make it okay," said Coleman.
Growing up in a religious family, Coleman says telling them wasn’t easy.
"I was scared to come out and I wrote to my family and when I sent those letters in the mail I wondered if I’d ever hear anything back again.”
He also came out to his priest who became a mentor to him.
“I went to my priest at the time and said, 'I think I’m called to be a priest, but I’m also clear that I’m gay, so are those two things incompatible?' And he said, 'Gosh I hope not Brian because I’m gay' and I was like 'Wow!' That was really affirming for me to have an example of a priest who was gay.”
While Fr. Coleman has lost some family and friends because of his sexuality, he says new relationships have come into his life that outweigh the loss, including his husband of four years. The two of them have been together for a total of 20 years.
He’s hoping his story inspires others to feel comfortable in their own skin and feel welcome to go to church.
"I hope that they can see me and others who are living out in our lives in a wide variety of professions and that they can see that and gain courage and hope and confidence that there’s a place for them where they can have integrity, where they can live their lives as a whole person," said Coleman.
The St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Battle Creek shared Fr. Coleman's story on Facebook saying they've been working towards inclusion since the 1970s.