“It’s unconventional, it’s not a typical marriage, but it’s real in the sense that we have real children, we lived in a real house, we built a real ministry,” says newly out pastor Jim Swilley, 54, who is a married father of four. “We were not intentionally lying. We were, I guess, trying to change a situation that was unchangeable.” That Swilley is so willing to openly discuss how his marriage worked — which, let’s be honest, many of us are quite curious about — is definitely brave. But it’s also his approach to coming out: being gay is not just about sex.
Asked by CNN’s Don Lemon whether coming out means Swilley — who says he came out because of all these teen suicides — will be on the hunt for a partner, the pastor puts on the brakes: “Before I answer that question I’d like to say I usually don’t like the answer that question, not because I have anything to hide, but (because) straight people have a tendency to think orientation is just about sex. That’s where a lot of the confusion comes from in the church. The reason … I’m careful how I answer it is because orientation is about more than (sex).”
And that, friends, is how to answer this sort of question.
It’s perfectly natural to wonder whether coming out means Swilley will find a same-sex partner (and what his wife and kids think about that). It needn’t be a question about whether he’s going to hit the bathhouses, but about whether he’s going to find new happiness.