She speaks Sunday, Aug. 18, at the PFLAG Atlanta meeting from 2:30-5 p.m. at St. Mark United Methodist Church, 781 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30308.
We asked her a few questions ahead of her Atlanta visit:
You say you were called by God to speak out for LGBTQ people. What do you say to LGBTQ people who are unwilling to listen to people from the church about returning to the church because of the pain they have endured from people who believe they are committing a sin for loving someone of the same sex?
I don’t blame LGBTQ for being unwilling to listen. I am so sorry they’ve been hurt and the church has been wrong, wrong, wrong. They do not represent God or Jesus. My hope is to separate the life of Jesus from those who misguidedly represent him.
You describe how Jesus called you to speak out for LGBT people and when you asked for a sign from God to make sure this was the right path, a woman said you reminded her of Ellen. But you are a brunette — what do you think was going on there?
I absolutely LOVE Ellen, so I viewed it as a wink from God saying, yeah, you really don’t LOOK like her, but you have a heart like her. A little sweetness on his part and a little gift to me.
What will you be speaking about at PFLAG?
In short, I will invite the listeners to view this whole thing a different way. Non-affirming Christians view the bible as a book of morality when it is a book about relationship. The last thing anyone should do with the bible is beat back behavior they deem unacceptable especially in other people, for heaven’s sake. Not our job. Never was. My message to the Christians at PFLAG will be that it is indeed possible to truly reconcile your faith with loving and fully accepting your LGBTQ child.
What are some of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had with parents with gay children who were struggling to accept this? What about disappointing?
I have been deeply touched by parents who had a complete change of heart, who have apologized to their LGBTQ children for mistakes they made in fear and ignorance, and healed their relationship. I’ve been touched by people’s heartfelt emails and comments. They write things like: I prayed and prayed for understanding for my son and then I found your blog… I had given up hope and then I read your loving comments that went right to my heart.
But parents who simply won’t get it are disheartening. Or people who just won’t listen. I post something tender-hearted and loving, and someone comments, Well, the bible says blah, blah, blah, stating again what they already believed. It’s disappointing to hear that. I’ve learned to trash it and move on.
Do you ever wish you could just go back to how you were before you started this path to LGBTQ advocacy?
OMG, NO! I feel like a civil rights leader or suffragette – I feel Martin Luther King smiling over my shoulder. That truly carries me. He loved Jesus too, and he was compelled to speak for right, though it cost his life. I feel I was made for exactly this time in history, and I’ve been freed to take my stand. I love every single second of it.
You have a gay daughter and a bisexual daughter — did you immediately accept them or what was the process you went through to do so?
Never for one single second did I consider NOT accepting them, or choosing a creed over my daughters. Not gonna happen. But there was some cognitive dissonance that sent me in search of understanding of the scriptures and the thoughts behind it. It was an intimate journey with Jesus and he showed me all I needed to know. My bi daughter guided me quite a bit to resources she’d found, which made it much easier. I adore those girls. I cannot thank God enough for them, and anyone who thinks they’re going to hurt them one tiny bit will go through me first.
Do you have anything to say on what’s going on in Russia and other parts of the world where it seems Orthodox religion is leading the government to take some very hard line approaches against LGBTQ people.
It’s heartbreaking, and all of organized religion is manmade and produces horror. I wish people knew that Jesus hates religion more than anyone. In his life on earth, he made scathing remarks to only one group of people: religious leaders. He offers us a loving relationship with him, not to attack and condemn anyone we disagree with.
I admire the courage of the people taking a stand for freedom in Russia, and also the Olympic athletes from around the world! I wish our Olympic uniforms could have giant rainbows on them.