by Kristen Hatten
“I’m still in the pro-life closet, and I don’t know how to come out!”
I have been told this a surprising number of times, but it never fails to stir my sympathy. I remember coming out.
It’s difficult now to describe the feeling I had then, in the winter of 2006, but I knew in my gut that a lot of things were about to change. As a recent convert, it had never occurred to me how much belief in abortion “rights” was part and parcel with the lifestyle I was leading then. I was in my twenties; I was an actor and writer, a self-described liberal feminist, and most of my friends were pot-smoking punk rockers, artists of various stripes, comics and entertainers, burgeoning intellectuals, and the like. I had a gut feeling my friends and fellows would have a hard time accepting this change of heart.
I was right.
In those dim, long-ago days, I came out on my MySpace blog. (Google it; maybe you can find some old black and white photographs.) MySpace was huge then, and roughly everyone I had ever met read my blog posts. The comments section came alive with a heated debate, amid cries that I had been brainwashed, or that it was just a phase. A nasty, evil, woman-hating phase.
Seven years later, it’s looking less and less like a phase.
Not long after this, I would REALLY freak my friends out – and lose quite a few of them – when I announced my intention to become a Catholic. But that’s another story. Despite all this drama, I’m still glad I “came out” using social media – I’m one of those who prefers to rip off the Band-Aid quickly – but it’s not for everyone.
If you’re struggling with how to reveal your pro-life beliefs to some or all of your family, friends, and peers – or just want to be more public about your views on abortion – here are a few ideas about how to do it.
1. Social media
This is the quickest and easiest way, most of the time. When I say “easy,” I mean it requires the least legwork. Please understand that coming out may not be easy, no matter how you do it.
Most people who aren’t already “out” are converts – usually somewhat recent – who have a lot of pro-choice family and friends. Maybe you’re the only pro-life person you know. I almost was. I had one friend I knew was pro-life, the one who converted me. Seven years later, I have several pro-life friends and about a brazilian pro-life web buddies. So you have a lot of good stuff to look forward to.
Find an article that lays out your beliefs perfectly – skim the Live Action archives – or, if you’re a writer, pen one yourself. Post it to Facebook, say a little prayer, and remember that it will all be over soon.
If you’re not into Facebook, Twitter works, too, especially if brevity and bluntness are more your speed. Just attach the article – or a photo that says it all – to a tweet reading, “Hey guess what? I’m #prolife and here’s why.”
Advantages: A quick and easy way to tell everybody at once; might be easier to handle comments and questions in writing than in real life.
Disadvantages: Impersonal; might offend some people who wish you’d told them in person.
2. Face to face
If you know someone who is going to have a hard time with your decision, consider telling him or her face to face. This might be the best bet not only for someone who will particularly care about your newfound fetus love, but for those who don’t particularly care either way. “Oh, hey did I tell you I’m pro-life now?” “Really? Cool. Let’s watch another episode of ‘Fringe.’”
If you have buddies or relatives who, say, works at an abortion clinic, or routinely throws condiment-coated hot dogs at sidewalk counselors, you might want to tell them in person, out of respect for how important the issue is to them. It will almost definitely be a very difficult conversation, but it’s a great way to show you are a stand-up guy who has the intestinal fortitude to look somebody in the eye, tell the truth, and hash it out.
Advantages: You may get to practice your debating skills; it shows respect and a commitment to your belief.
Disadvantages: Pretty obvious: it’s always difficult to look people in the eye and disappoint them. Also, be prepared to defend your beliefs.
3. Subtle and Gradual
This is kind of a “soft” coming-out. Instead of “Hey, guys, listen: I’m pro-life,” you more or less just let it slip. This can involve wearing a T-shirt with your beliefs printed on it, but that’s not everyone’s speed. (It’s not mine.) My compromise is the bumper sticker. I have a cool one on my truck that the folks at Life Dynamics gave me.
If you’re still in school, consider joining a student group like Students for Life of America and wear or display some of their swag. If you’re not in school, there are probably pro-life groups in your community, and of course there are plenty online.
In general, joining a pro-life group can be a good way to start learning how to talk to all kinds of people about abortion, and you may find that being open about your beliefs no longer feels like such a daunting task.
There’s also the subtle social media reveal: just start posting pro-life stuff and wait for people to notice. Depending on how rabidly pro-choice your online buddies are, this can work great. If nobody you know has a strong opinion about abortion, you might get a “who cares?” response. But if lots of your friends think Planned Parenthood is a gift from Heaven, just go ahead and post an explanation right off the bat. They’re gonna want one.
Advantages: This may be the way to go if you’re not the direct type, or like to avoid confrontation.
Disadvantages: It may take a while for everyone to notice you’re pro-life.
There are other options for letting everybody know you’re cool with letting fetuses live: mass text or e-mail, skywriting, you name it. There are as many ways to come out as there are people.
Any method you choose has two great advantages: one, you’ll feel a profound sense of relief once it’s over with, in no small part because you’re being true to yourself and your beliefs. Two, you’re about to make a lot of new friends. Pro-lifers are the salt of the earth, the kindest people you’ll ever meet, and the rare exceptions only prove the rule.
Once you’re out, there are about a million ways to get involved. Take your talents and put them to work for life.