Welcome to MelWhite.org! Thanks for this visit. Hope you come back. However, I have to warn you in the words of Bette Davis, “Hang on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
At the outset, I’m hoping that you have read my autobiography, Stranger at the Gate: to be Gay and Christian in America. Reading it will give you a better perspective on who I am and where I’m coming from. Then when I write something in this blog that angers or offends you, you can know for certain that those are not my goals.
I grew up in a loving Christian home with parents who meant well but almost destroyed my fledgling gay spirit with their antigay beliefs. I spent 35 years on treatments hoping “to overcome my homosexual orientation” with ex-gay programs including everything from prayer, fasting, Bible studies and ice-cold showers, to exorcism and electric shock.
Finally I overcame the untruths about homosexuality that I had heard from my childhood. Now like my heterosexual sisters and brothers I believe that my sexual orientation is a gift from God to be accepted, celebrated and lived with integrity.
Gary and I have worked twenty years to bring truth to Fundamentalist Christians. Hundreds possibly thousands of our faithful friends have worked with me. If you have worked with Soulforce to help end religion based oppression, we am forever grateful. Together we have made some giant steps forward.
Nevertheless, Catholic and Protestant clergy and laity alike continue to misuse the Bible and ignore scientific evidence “to prove” that homosexuality is a sickness to be cured and a sin that needs to be forgiven.
If you want to know where I stand on these two basic (tired) issues you will find on the Soulforce website two pamphlets that can be downloaded responding in detail to the false charges we hear from pastors, priests, parents, friends and family: What the Bible Says – and Doesn’t Say – about Homosexuality and What the Science Says – and Doesn’t Say – about homosexuality.
For me, the debate is over. The verdict is in. Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a sin. Furthermore I have no interest in continuing that debate. Whether fundamentalist Christians believe it or not, I can say without fear or ambivalence: “I am gay. I am proud. And God loves me without reservation!”
I’m no longer willing to debate my friends on the religious right. I’ve sat through a thousand dialogues. I’ve stood in protest, been arrested and thrown in jail. I’ve written. I’ve preached. I’ve been interviewed endlessly, all hoping that one day fundamentalist Christians would realize the tragic consequences of the untruth they proclaim.
Now when someone interrupts a speech or sermon to ask me “Have you ever read Leviticus 20” my answer is simple if abrupt. “Friend, you’ve confused me with someone who cares what you think about Leviticus 20.”
Don’t worry. Soulforce volunteers young and old alike are still working to create dialogue with the fundamentalists. Under the leadership of Jeff Lutes, Soulforce continues to reach out to fundamentalist Christians in a variety of new and powerful ways. Last year for example our “over 30” Soulforce team created an exciting and rather daring new program – the American Family Outing – hosting gay/lesbian parents and their children on visits to establish dialogue with the pastors and people of 6 mega churches across the nation.
And the leaders of our youth program, Soulforce Q, are recruiting and training a whole new generation to take on the job of loving the fundamentalist into truth. Soulforce Equality Rides are just one example. These are young justice volunteers who travel across the US visiting Christian universities and military academies entering into dialogue, discussing and debating policies that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The Spirit is changing lives through Soulforce Q and their generation just might be in the room when everything changes and the war ends in real reconciliation.
For twenty plus years I’ve experienced up close and personal the war that fundamentalist Christians are waging against LGBT people. I wrote Religion Gone Bad: Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right to expose that war, to undermine the antigay rhetoric with truth, and to make it clear that though they believe what they say about us, they are using us and our supposed “threat to the nation” to raise money and mobilize volunteers.
In coming weeks I will use this blog to continue my journey where Stranger at the Gate and Religion Gone Bad leave off. OK, so “I’m gay. I’m proud! And God loves me without reservation.” Now what? Accepting my sexual orientation was just the beginning. Now what?
I’m retired now. I finally have the time to look back at my life (so far) as a man who just happens to be gay and Christian, to think and write about questions that have needled me for years.
And though I’m going to be very personal with my answers I have this feeling that you might find my questions very much like your own. My answers may be wrong. They may make you angry. You may end up being disappointed or even offended. But I am ready to take that risk.
For my twenty plus years as a gay Christian activist I’ve been very careful about what I revealed about my life so that I wouldn’t disappoint or offend anyone. Now, I’m old enough to be entirely honest (well almost entirely honest) and trust the Spirit of Truth to do the rest. I can’t continue to write to please others. In this blog I will be writing to please myself.
I’ve spent enough time trying to convince the fundamentalists that our sexuality is a gift from God that we can accept, celebrate, and live our lives with integrity. Most of the time I spent getting LGBT people to accept and celebrate their lives. With this blog I’m going the next step, to do my best to find out exactly what it means FOR ME to live my gay, Christian life with integrity. I’m hoping that writing about my personal struggle for integrity will inspire and inform your own.
May the Spirit guide us all as we take this journey together!
Lynchburg, February 11, 2009