Metro Nashville Councilmember Brett Withers Shares His “Coming Out” Story

National Coming Out Day 2020

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Brett Withers headshot for web.jpg

This month’s issue of Out & About Nashville is ALL about politics, so what better way to celebrate National Coming Out Day than to have your favorite openly LGBT politicians spill the tea on how they came out? Get comfy and pour a cup, sis. In this episode, we chat with Metro Nashville Councilmember Brett Withers about his coming out “non-event”!

 

Tell us your “coming out” story

“I would say that mine was kind of a non-event. I was one of those kids who was the last to know somewhat. I was raised by my dad’s mother, who was a Jehovah’s Witness, so I grew up in that. I would say that the benefit of that group is that you grow up okay with being different. Despite not being an affirming denomination, in its own way it was a source of strength. I grew up knowing there was something different about me, that I had different beliefs from other people, and I was proud of who I was for my religious beliefs, so in an ironic way it strengthened me.

“Being different in a crowd, not saying the pledge of allegiance, celebrating Christmas or birthdays, I grew up believing it was okay to be different. Not everyone has that, so I view it as a real gift. My grandmother who raised me died when I was in the Eighth Grade, and I don’t know if I would have come out to myself had she lived longer. That was very difficult for me to cope with.

“I got involved in drugs in middle school and early high school because I was just trying to hide it. I had feelings that I just couldn’t pray away. I was very fortunate in that I had school counselors who got me into programs and had a supportive family to help me through that. I count myself to be very, very lucky. I have relatives who aren’t crazy about it, but through some odd paths I had a support network.”

What’s your advice for people coming out?

“You’ve got to be true to yourself, and you have to love yourself before you can love somebody else. That really is even hard for people who already are out. Sometimes we don’t love ourselves, but if you’re living in the closet, you’re hiding, and it’s really difficult. You can still love people dearly, and I know people who are closeted, who have very complicated relationships and they are very devoted, but you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else and be loved in return.”

What’s your go-to “out and proud” song that really makes you feel empowered?

“Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera

 

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Brian Sullivan is a reporter for Out & About Nashville. He has served nearly 2 decades in the television industry, with over 20 years experience as a print and broadcast journalist. Sullivan is an Emmy Award Winning producer, writer, lobbyist, activist and marketing strategist. He is active in several campaigns raising awareness in addiction treatment, equality and mental healthcare. He received recognition as a Nashville Emerging Leader of the Year at the NELA Awards. He is an Executive Board Member of the Prevention Alliance of Tennessee, a member of DrugFree Wilco, the Williamson County Anti-Drug Coalition, the Memphis Area Prevention Alliance, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Facing Addiction, Fed Up!, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Center for Nonprofit Management, Music City Theatre Company, LGBTQI Nashvillians of Faith, Covenant of the Cross Ministries, Human Rights Campaign, HRC Nashville, Team Friendly Tennessee, Tennessee Equality Project, Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, Wilson County Anti-Drug Coalition, National Fraternal Order of Police, the Nashville Filmmakers Guild and is an ordained Minister. Sullivan is a proud donor of the Memphis Hope House, Nashville Cares, Covenant Cupboard Food Pantry, and Second Harvest Food Bank. He has worked extensively on projects with several major networks including Fox News Network, CNN, Time Magazine, Washington Post, New York Times, Inside Edition and Mic.

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