Coming Out Stories: Reflections on Faith & ‘Being Me’

Reverend David Rushton (Chaplain & Outreach Officer of St Chad’s) has been kind enough to share his coming out story with us!

If you’d like to share your story, email [email protected], and if you’re thinking of coming out, have a look at our guide [link]!

Reflections on Faith & ‘Being Me’

When I first came up to Durham in 1993 to read Theology, I arrived with a great deal of anxiety about the course ahead and what would be expected of me. I had worked for 6 years before University after leaving school at 16. Durham was, therefore, rather a daunting place for me. Thankfully I had been accepted to the wonderfully hospitable St Chad’s College and the welcome was one of a “home from home”.

I have now arrived back in Durham 24 years after my matriculation. I never imagined that I would be coming back here as a member of staff!

My upbringing was within a loving family where religious faith was very much part of family life, attending church sometimes twice on a Sunday. As I entered into my teenage years I remained very active in church life, albeit within a different tradition to the one I had been brought up in through much of my childhood. I was appointed as organist of a local parish church within my village and this was the beginning of a journey towards being ordained within the Church of England. Little did I know that somehow I would end up leaving work as a civil servant to study theology in Durham.

I resisted for many years within this process of discernment the notion that I could possibly be ordained within a church where the clergy (as I perceived it) were holy and without blemish. Clearly this is not the case and I had misunderstood completely the reality of what it is to be fully human within the Christian tradition.

Back in the early 90’s I did not have the language to express my sense of “being different”. I knew that I had feelings which didn’t seem to fit within any of the role models that I saw around me and somehow I tried to fit myself into a mould which was clearly not meant for me.

It was during my time in Durham that thankfully I met like-minded students and some very supportive local clergy who helped me to understand that being gay was OK and that my sense of calling to ordained ministry should not be seen as conflicting with that.

It was still a painful process during my degree course to deal with some around me who felt that I was somehow flawed. Thankfully I managed to get to a point where I was selected for training within the Church of England. I chose this period to come out to my family, to ensure that as I went forward into further training, there was no sense of anything being hidden.

I don’t pretend that this was an easy period for me or my parents but it was one that developed a real sense of profound growth for us as a family. The discussions around the table have certainly changed over the years and as a family there is very little that we would not discuss.

After 19 years of ordained life I hope I am able to be that role model that others were to me in Durham some 24 years ago. To live fully as I am is to live with integrity. This is, for me, central to living authentically as a Christian and as a Priest. Anything less is to fall short of all that I am called to be.