Happy Friday, friends! In this week’s FF, Jake talks about how it’s possible to be gay and a Christian, and why he didn’t want to confirm people’s assumptions about him being gay. It’s all very relatable and we found ourselves so invested in Jake’s words and story. Take a look below to see what we mean…
Where are you from? I grew up in Jonesboro, AR
Where do you live? I now live in Little Rock, AR!
Instagram handle: @jbcoffman
On his favorite place he’s ever visited: Oh gosh, it’s so hard to decide! I think I’m gonna have to say Alaska – I went on a cruise after I graduated college that ported out of Seattle and ported in Juneau, Skagway, and British Columbia (Canada) and I fell in LOVE. It’s so beautiful up there! I love mountains and cold weather, so naturally I was in my happy place haha. We saw whales and glaciers and a Sarah Palin cardboard cut-out and I ate my weight in complimentary dessert. Perfect trip.
On not hiding it anymore: I feel very lucky as of now because the friends and peers I have come out to have been nothing but supportive. I didn’t come out until I was 23, and a lot of it was because 1) I didn’t want to admit to myself that I really was gay, and 2) I didn’t want to confirm people’s assumptions that I was. I had a real pride issue. I already assumed people assumed I was gay, and basically I didn’t want them to be right. Luckily, I found friends who were very supportive, and my friends who were also gay really helped me by just being there. I haven’t officially “announced” that I’m gay to the world, but I’m not hiding it anymore. If people ask me, I’m honest. It’s something I’d rather happen organically. The only backlash I’ve had has been from a few guys at my church, and luckily it wasn’t true backlash, it came across more as concern, mainly because they just didn’t fully understand. I had the chance to explain it to them, and while they still don’t fully agree, they at least understand and have empathy now. Unfortunately, I haven’t told a lot of my family yet, and that’s my next step, and to be honest I’m afraid of their reaction. But, I know now that I have a solid support system within my friends. I’m grateful.
On making faith your own : I grew up in a Christian home, went to church every Sunday and Wednesday, attended a Christian school up until high school, went to youth group, the whole thing. I had a close relationship with God as a kid, but my faith wasn’t really mine, it was my parents and my peers, I didn’t fully understand it. When I got to college (I attended Ouachita Baptist University, a Christian liberal arts college), I learned what it means to really make your faith your own, and that’s when my relationship with God truly grew and became, in my opinion, real. And I still have that faith today!
On being gay & a Christian: For me personally, the hardest part has been reconciling my faith and my sexuality. Growing up and currently living in the Bible Belt, where a lot of it is old, Southern Baptist ideology, the idea of homosexuality is simply viewed as “wrong”. It took a long time before I started thinking about it for myself, because I “believed” the same thing, but I only believed it because my peers did. Now, I’m seeing it’s harder to explain to people how I’m gay AND a Christian because they just don’t understand (and the ones who don’t aren’t gay, so it makes sense). My hope is that I’m adequately explaining it to them that just because I’m attracted to men doesn’t mean I can’t or don’t love Jesus. My being gay isn’t a choice it’s who I am. I’m not gay in spite of you, I didn’t wake up one day and decide to be gay. I still love God and I know God still loves me, and He always will.
On people who say being gay is a sin: I would ask them why think that? Is it because that’s what you were taught, or is it something you truly believe? I would ask that they explain to me why they think it’s a sin, and then, granted the conversation goes this direction, I would ask if I could tell them my story. Usually when the subject of homosexuality comes up in Christian circles, it only comes down to sex. No one mentions the emotions, no one mentions the longing for true intimacy, no one mentions how unbelievably depressing it feels to grow up truly longing for a long term relationship, or even marriage, and then thinking that it’ll never happen for you because you’ve been told your whole life that the way you naturally feel is wrong and will send you to hell. I would ask that person to put themselves in the scenario where they weren’t allowed to marry the person they love because they were told it would send them to hell. Empathy can go a long way.
On the meaning of church: True church is community! True church is a group of believers worshipping God and doing life together. True church is love and support from your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in times of gratefulness and times of hardship. True church is not a building, it’s not pews, it’s not an electric worship service. It’s community, love, and service. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of churches that exude this idea, and I’ve seen and been a part of true church community. It’s a blessing.
On one thing he wished he would have known when he was younger: I wish I had known that being gay is ok. I wish I had known that just because I’m attracted to guys that doesn’t make me a bad person, that doesn’t make me an abomination, that doesn’t directly send me to hell. I grew up with so much anxiety, not just because of my sexuality, but also because of my own insecurities with my weight and my appearance. Because of those insecurities, I hated being in the public eye, and I went years without getting up in front of people to sing and perform (which is what I LOVE to do) because 1) I was embarrassed and 2) I didn’t want people to assume I was gay because I loved to sing and I had a high voice. (I’m teling you, I had a lot of pride and insecurity issues growing up). I wish I had known it’s ok to be me, and that I should be proud of who I was.
On his first true love: I have my degree in music, and singing and performing is what I’ve always truly loved. I just got done with the musical “Anything Goes”, and next I’m doing “A Christmas Story: The Musical” in December, and “Newsies” in February! (Also I’m trying to keep up with my own personal music, so if you wanna follow along, follow my music Instagram: @jakecoffmanmusic)
On the power of faith & friends: The thing I’m most proud of as of now is how far I’ve come in my life. I lived a lot of my life in fear and insecurity because of my appearance and my sexuality, and now I am much more accepting of myself and I love myself way more than I used to. I don’t fear my sexuality, I don’t get anxious performing in front of others anymore, and I owe most of that to my faith and my friends. I’m extremely grateful to have a faith in God that is my own and for the people that are in my life who have shown me so much love and support.
On his biggest inspiration: Tori Kelly is one of my biggest inspirations, not just musically (and if you don’t know her, listen to her sing because DAMN) but also with how she holds herself. She is one of the sweetest people and also one of the most loving. You can tell through her words and her actions that she truly loves people and wants to the show the real, loving Jesus to everyone she meets. It’s inspiring to me to see someone who knows exactly who they are in their life and their faith, because that’s the kind of person I aspire to be.