Hey, I’m Max!
I play the harp… and I pole dance. I’m always late. I like my vodka straight (I know). I’m learning tai chi, and my first tattoo, the Fool tarot card, is a skeleton skateboarding off a cliff into flames. (The skeleton’s name is Morty.)
Oh, and I used to be a fundamentalist Christian.
That’s right. I was that kid reading her Bible at lunch. I memorized Bible verses every Friday night, learned to argue against evolution and hand out pamphlets on the sidewalk, felt “called” to become a missionary in Argentina, and at every revival night, prayed that I would never, ever become one of those traitorous fool disbelievers we were warned about.
High school took me on a 4-year slip-‘n-slide of doubts that left me in a disillusioned, very-much-heathen, also-I-realized-I’m-gay heap. I fled from New Jersey suburbia to a Boston-area university, perfecting the art of a double life. And I firmly believed that if I lived my life honestly, as both queer and an apostate (double whammy), my family would reject me and life would end.
That is, ’til Sunday, March 19, 2017. The day I accidentally Kool Aid Man’d my way out of the closet. And my family rejected me. And life began.
I was 19. I lost, or gave up, or maybe a little of both, my relationship with my parents, my sense of home, my financial support…
It took about a year for me to realise that because I had lost my family, I now had the chance to reimagine what family could be. What love should really look like.
Where I expected an end, I won a new lease on life, self-discovery, and love that only living openly for the first time could bring. I lost my old world… and gained my soul.
A blog for everyone reimagining life for themselves
I began this blog because I had nowhere to fearlessly speak my mind about what I was taught. I poured out my doubts, grief, and confusion and deconstructed my way through once-beloved doctrines that were holding me back all along.
I never planned to come out. The words spoke themselves that night. There was an original self inside me that my religion tried to suppress my whole life, but she knew I could never truly live if I carried on hiding. She knew no one should have to pay a price for being themselves, but that I had the power to pay mine.
Since then, I’ve been on a wild journey of self-discovery, shouldering past old fears into life like I’ve never known. It’s felt scary. It’s felt lonely. And it’s been so dizzyingly worth it that I break out into a smile just walking down the street.
That’s what I write about now: living in full-fledged pursuit of who you really are. I write about the things so many of us face, but so few talk about — what it’s like to question what you grew up with, strike out from the pack, and live authentically, with all the fear and doubt, awkward/sweaty/hilarious moments, grief, thrill, growth, and healing it brings.
Through it all, an unshakable sense of hope, adventure, and joy carry me forward.
I want this blog to be a breath of fresh air. Inspiration. Hope. A sign that you can be who you are or leave a group and be MORE than okay. I consider people leaving closed ways of life, especially fundamentalist groups, to be family. Some I’ve met online have become family! We are resilient, funny, and badass as.
I write because I know I’m not alone. Over the years and now more than ever, I get emails, messages, and comments from people from many religions and family situations saying similar things: I thought it was just me this whole time! ME TOO!
If you’re out there thinking, I wish I could show people who I really am
or I’m leaving/left a group and now I feel out here and alone…
come and be welcomed. Be safe. Be known.
If my story resonates and you’ve something to say, reach out by email or say hi on Facebook.
On my blog, you’ll find the meat-and-potatoes of my experiences and discoveries; my Insta is home to snippets of daily milestone celebrations I share with the world. I hope you find something for you on either one!
Max “Traitorous Fool Disbeliever” Tang