LGBTQI: You Deserve to Love & be Loved! You Deserve to be Free!

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Well, here you are! You’re gay or bi or lesbian or transgender or intersex or queer in some way or other. You may be or agender or pansexual. Or you may not yet be sure what the heck is going on! I understand. I really do.

You may even be in a straight marriage and now you realize you’re not straight. Believe me I’ve heard that dilemma many times in private conversation.

Wherever you are, I am here for you—to help you navigate your questions, your uncertainty, your spinning head, your aching heart.

I want you to find peace. True peace. Peace with yourself… peace in your spiritual life… and as far as it’s up to you, peace with others as well.

You may have been told all kinds of things—about sin, about needing to change, about a requirement to be celibate… THIS IS NOT THAT! AT ALL!

I am all about healing from those kinds of lies, hurtful comments and treatment.

Just so you know, I wouldn’t change my LGBTQI kids, or you, if I could.

It doesn’t matter where you are on your journey, you belong. You may be a Christian, a recovering Christian, an agnostic, or something else: that’s great! You belong!

You may have once believed in God but now—with all the stuff that’s gone down—you want nothing to do with any of it. You may now consider yourself an atheist—and who could blame you?! I understand that.

You belong!

Through FreedHearts, every day I engage with people who have been hurt and need to be loved. I love them, and encourage them, and offer them hope. And I tell them they are good exactly as they are. They are delightful and lovable and worthy. Period.

And so are you.

I want to walk this road with you—as a mentor, as a friend, as a mom if you need it!

I have no agenda for your spiritual life… except to free you from lies you’ve been told about God, about what God thinks of you, and about your worthiness.

Far too many LGBTQI people are bludgeoned with vitriolic lies—that God is not happy with them, that they’ve disappointed God. Really? What is God—an alcoholic rager you need to tiptoe around lest you get zapped with a lightening bolt?

As a mom and a friend, here’s my promise:

I am here for you on this journey of healing, to discover how beautiful you are, just as you are.

No exceptions. I will tell you what you should have heard in school, in church and in your family.

Together we will recover the love that belongs to every human being.

Healing is in three areas of your heart: healing with others, healing with God, and healing with yourself.

Some people may have told you that your heart is deceitfully wicked and you can’t trust it… but then… aren’t you being told that by people whose hearts are deceitfully wicked?—so you why would you trust them?!🙂

Your spirit IS good, and you do know. You know what’s good for you—and you know what doesn’t fit you! You are the expert on you. Nobody else is!

Wherever you are, I want to help you to discover and celebrate the truth and beauty of the real you.

So your heart can be set free.

So you can love and be loved, as you deserve.

FreedHearts Online has full, conference-length, comprehensive video courses helping LGBTQI heal from family, religious and community wounds, and helping parents love, accept & affirm their LGBTQI children. Please just click here.🙂

Are You the Parent of an LGBTQ Child? You Are Not Alone.

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“Mom, I’m Gay!” You want to shove those words back in and put the lid on. But you can’t. Having a gay or trans child may may go against everything you’ve been taught. It was not what you had in mind, and you instantly wonder where you went wrong.

When you become a parent, you know to expect the unexpected. But for many Christian parents, nothing can prepare them to hear that their beloved child is gay.

How could this be? What will the church say? What will your friends say? What does the future hold? You can’t even get your head around this.

You are not alone.

My husband and I were in the conservative, evangelical church for 25 years. We led small groups, Bible studies, retreats, and Rob was a worship leader. You get the idea.

Then our daughter Annie came out! She was 20 years old, she called me from college, and she said, “I’m struggling with same-sex attraction”—because that’s the language we had then. She said, “I’m attracted to girls, and I think I’m bisexual. I have tried to deny it but it just won’t go away.”

In that moment. I wondered: “What will become of her? Will she live a normal life? Will she have a career or even a job? Will she be bullied? What does this mean about her faith—and our faith?” And then this other thought: “We’ll never be the same in the church again.”

Now just think about that. In this tender moment, when my daughter is sharing the most intimate part of her life, I feel the ground crack because my church, my worship community, will not be there for me. It’s a strange thought, isn’t it?

Church is the place we all believe or pretend is safe for our deepest hearts—and heartaches—we think of it as our community, our family. Suddenly it was exposed as not being safe at all.

What do I do at this point? Do I continue to go to this church that, if they knew about my daughter would not accept her? If they knew I accepted her as is, they would not accept me?

Do I live in silence about my daughter among these people whose marquis says, “All Are Welcome!”—and whose Savior says, “All Are Welcome!”??

That’s the position the nonaffirming church put me in, to be brutally frank. It essentially asked me to deny my daughter: either outright by rejecting her or implicitly by not talking about her.

This was the very beginning of the journey, when the world was spinning and we had no idea what’s next.

My husband and I had a choice to make.

Let me tell you about this choice. Some will say: you must choose between your child and God. That’s not the choice.

You may have to choose between your child and the church, or your child and your own beliefs around this—but it’s never between your child and God.

To choose your child is to choose God, because this is the child God gave you!

God does not call us to abandon our children. God did not give us a little warranty with our child that says, “If they don’t turn out the way you hope, you can just get rid of them.”

We get to choose whether to surrender to this path God had placed in front of us or resist.

We chose the path God gave us; we chose our child.

After awhile, Annie moved to New York. She was dating women. She called me some months after she moved. She said, “I love being in NY, I’ve stopped fighting who I am—and I’m more at peace with God than I’ve ever been.

I said, “Annie, that’s all I need to know!” I knew enough by then about an authentic relationship with Jesus to know that peace is the marker. It’s what confirms to you that you’re in the right place.

Colossians 3:15: “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”

Philippians 4:7: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

1 John 3:21: “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in the presence of God.”

Next thing I know, God’s leading me to work with parents and LGBTQI. I had no idea what that meant, no idea where I would start, but I knew it would cost me in the Christian community. And it did.

About a year later, our youngest daughter came out as well! Our first thought was, “Okay it is us!” But it’s not. :-)  And to see her blossom into the beautiful young woman she is today brings joy to my heart.

Here’s the amazing thing: I wouldn’t make either of them straight if I could!

I’m just a mom who’s going on the journey in front of her. If you’re a parent on this road, let me speak to you parent to parent—or maybe you’re an LGBTQ person reading this, let me speak to you as a mom, whatever your age.

God has got this! God has got you!

You can rest, be at peace, and find joy in this journey. You’re not alone. You’re on the right side of history.

And you’re on the right side of God’s heart. Trust God—and trust your heart.

If you have to choose between loving and doing what you’ve been told is right, choose love because to love is always right.

My love for my child and for my family, my faith, and my relationship with God are deeper and richer than ever before.

That is what’s available to you!

Love, Susan

Wherever you are on this journey, FreedHearts Online has a full, conference-length, comprehensive video course helping parents love, accept & affirm their LGBTQI children, and strengthen their faith in the process! It addresses the core issues and answers the tough questions.  We also have a course for LGBTQI to help heal from family, religious and community wounds. Please just click here.🙂

**FOR A LIMITED TIME, REDEEM THE COUPON CODE “LAUNCH25” AND RECEIVE A 25% DISCOUNT.**

Coming Out to Christian Parents

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If you are LGBTQI, coming out to your Christian parents and family can be overwhelming. You don’t know their response until you tell them… and then it’s too late. I hope this article, written with a gay friend, will help.

Be honest

This is the most fundamental piece of advice, and also the most important. It is so easy to water down the truth of what you are saying out of fear, but this will never work out well in the long run. Instead, be honest and clear about the truth of your experience and feelings. If you have uncertainties, it is okay to be honest about those, too. You want to get them on the same page as you, so you can go through this together.

Tell a friend first

If you have a close, trusted friend who is outside of your family, think about telling them first. This gives you a sort of “practice run” with someone who you trust, making it easier the second or third time around. Of course, ask them to keep it completely confidential until you are ready to tell others.

Answer some of their questions before they ask them

While some may debate this one, I believe it is much easier to try to answer some of their questions before they have a chance to ask them. Rather than just saying, “I’m gay,” and then waiting for the crickets, tell them a bit more about your journey. Say things like, “I have been feeling this a long time,” or “I know I had a[n opposite sex] girlfriend/boyfriend, but I just did not have those feelings for them.” This kind of preemptive answering can also help alleviate some of the potentially awkward/hurtful questions they may otherwise ask.

Be forgiving

For most Christian parents, this is a whole new world for them, even newer than it is for you. Know that, in their confusion, they may say things that feel hurtful. While it is important to acknowledge that hurt, and even tell them (now or later) that what they said was very hurtful to you, it will not help your communication if you storm away because they asked something like “Have you tried just not being gay?” (Sure, I’ll get right on that — thanks, Mom and Dad.) Instead, take a moment to breathe, and remember that you have been preparing for a while, but this is a shock for them. Better yet, forgive them ahead of time. Remind yourself that there is a good chance they will say something wrong, and it doesn’t mean they no longer love you.

Give them time to hear God for themselves

Most Christian parents have internalized from church that homosexuality is a sin and a choice. Those beliefs can be so firmly stuck (from years of repetition) that only God can dislodge them! Give Him time. Offer resources to help them work through it. I’m not justifying their negative reaction in the least – their job is to love you without condition. But this might help you see how their reluctance here is not at all about you.

Ask for their prayer

This is an easy one, but it says a lot. It acknowledges that you are always their child, and that your coming out has not changed your relationship with God. One of the hardest things for my friends and family to understand was that my faith and my orientation were perfectly compatible; many assumed that I had chosen orientation over faith. Not so! Just be sure to acknowledge what you want prayer for specifically; ask for prayers for protection from bullying or violence, for God’s guidance as you come out to other people, for deeper growth and joy in your relationships. This helps them know that you do not view this as an “issue to overcome”, and in fact, it is even okay to specifically ask them not to pray for change. Instead, ask for them to pray for God’s clear will in your life, and for positive prayers that can help them understand your hopes and desires.

Be safe

Tragically, some of you may have parents who are very homophobic. I am so sorry for what you have had to go through. If you worry for your safety with your parents, you have a couple of options. First, find a family member or friend (or two) whom you trust completely – maybe an aunt/uncle or church mentor – and tell them first. When you’re ready to tell your parents, you can ask them to come along as a protective presence. (It definitely helps if this person is physically intimidating.) The other option is to tell your parents from a distance, by phone or email/letter. While it is usually better to have this conversation in person where communication will be easier, the exception is when you are afraid for your physical or emotional safety. Do not put yourself in harm’s way. Finally, if you are seriously concerned, I strongly recommend you wait until you are 18 and have the independence to leave if necessary.

Telling them does have to not mean telling everyone – unless it does

If you are not ready for other family or friends to know, tell them to keep it completely confidential. Ask them not to tell your brother or sister, Aunt Bertha, or even their “prayer partners”. Tell them that you will reveal this to people in your own timing, and that it is important to you to tell them personally.

If you truly do not trust them to keep it confidential, that is a different matter. In this case, think about people whom you may want to tell personally (siblings, grandparents, etc) and prepare to tell them all at the same time or within a short period (before or after) so that it comes from your lips and not your parents’.

Do not be afraid

The most often repeated divine imperative is “Do not be afraid.” Almost every time an angel appears in Scripture, it immediately begins with the same command: “Do not be afraid!” When faced with the unknown, our first instinct is fear. Why? Because it is something out of our control. We are afraid of things we may not be able change, but that could potentially change us. The truth is that you cannot control your parents’ response – but you can control yours. They could reject you, waver for a time, welcome you with open arms, or any of a hundred other responses. The fact that you cannot control their response provides you with an incredible opportunity: to cling to the truth of God’s love in the face of possible rejection. Yes, it will be a deep loss if they choose to reject you, and it will be healthy to grieve that loss. But assurance in God means that no matter what they do, they cannot take away God’s love for you or the truth of God’s involvement in your life. No. Matter. What. Do not be afraid.

Let me urge you that this is not a foolproof formula for coming out. Some parents will respond viciously, and there is nothing you can do about that. The world as it is and as it should be are two different things, and that includes family. Please tread carefully. (If you have concerns, feel free to email me.)

This blog was written anonymously. Though the author is out to friends, family, and colleagues, possible career ramifications prevent using their name publicly.

We have just launched FreedHearts Online — comprehensive video courses, including one for parents to help them love, accept and affirm their LGBTQI children, and strengthen their faith! This course addresses the core issues and answers the tough questions. Please click here.🙂

My Daughter… the Wise, Wonderful Heretic!

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“If the you of five years ago doesn’t consider the you of today a heretic, you are not growing spiritually.” — Thomas Merton

My delightful daughter Hannah, whose AMAZING coming out post we ran last year, has written another great post on her Facebook page. She is always thought-provoking and I just had to share this with you (with permission). I hope you enjoy it too.

Story time!

A while back, I received a note from someone I’ve known for over a decade.

This person expressed their disappointment and disgust in my ‘lifestyle’, my love for my same-sex soulmate, and how I wasn’t the same person they knew so long ago.

They also finished with telling me that they’ll be praying for me, but requested me not to contact them.

Of course, my first instincts were sadness and anger. But I wasn’t surprised, as many of my ‘Christian’ friends have declared their presence of prayer in my life and have cut me off (because if you touch a gay person, you might get the gay virus. Yikes!)

After some time, I was able to view the situation from a new perspective.

The subject that left the most impact was the fact that they were upset because I’m “not the person I was 10 years ago”.

(MAIN POINT OF LONG RANT)

It got me to thinking, if I were the same person I was when I was 10 years ago, then someone please get rid of me.

I’m so grateful for the hardships, mountains, graceful seasons, and any second I’ve ever breathed on this earth, it has led me to where I am now.

And more so, I’m grateful for the people around me who have encouraged, loved, taught, and challenged me to constantly move forward and grow. I never want to be the same person I was 10 years ago, 1 year ago, or even yesterday.

May every day we wake up be a day we move even just one step further forward then the day before.

Let’s be grateful for those around us who TRULY understand love, challenge each other to keep growing, care unconditionally, and answer at any hour of the day. I love you, homies.

What an incredible human being. Inspirational, daring, courageous. A deeply spiritual soul whose tender, caring heart is becoming more free every day. I am a proud Mom.🙂

A lot of you reading this have some sort of Christian background or beliefs. I want you to know something. Practically everything Jesus said was heretical! Those apostles didn’t understand him in the beginning–but after they hung out with him and listened to him and got to know him, things began to make sense. Same with us! If we think we have it all figured out and that we’ll think the same in five years, we are fooling ourselves.

Going beyond what we know, beyond the words on the page, continuing to grow, is where you find the heart of God.

Take courage, my friends. You don’t need to fear! Embrace the unknown and trust God to bring you through it. See everything as part of your journey to get to know God better.

There is no right way and no wrong way to take the journey.  It is your journey and God is a personal God.

Be at peace. God’s got this, and God’s got you.

It’s all good. And you’re all good. 🙂

With love, Susan

We have programs for parents of LGBTQ children, and for LGBTQ. We help free hearts to love, heal and affirm. 

Private online support groups, books, resources and our new FreedHearts Online comprehensive video courses! For more information, please click here.

Eat, Pray, Love Who You Love. Elizabeth Gilbert Comes Out.

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I love how Elizabeth Gilbert – the bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love – came out today about her relationship with Rayya: she just came out. Not gigantic fanfare, just a Facebook post saying, this is our relationship.

She came out now because Rayya has cancer, and they want to be able to walk in a room arm in arm and, as Liz says, “feel relaxed enough to stand comfortably in simple openness about who we actually are to each other.” They want not to have to pretend, because “pretending is demeaning, and it makes you weak and confused.”

They just want freedom to spend every waking moment pursuing life to the fullest—the freedom we all want.

I know there’s still risk involved—because some people just can’t get their head around it. It is too different and too scary. If you are still at risk from those who won’t let you just be who you are, my heart goes out to you. I wish for you to be able to gain that freedom.

I love that we are approaching that day when our orientation is a nonevent—that saying you’re in a relationship with anyone is about that person, not their gender. If that scares you a little bit, you who keep checking the book for the rules and regs, take heart! We’ve done this before!

We can now come out as loving someone of a different color. We can now come out as having parents of different colors! We can even come out as writing with our left hand. We don’t have to fear prison, or a cross burning, or our own burning—all because of something some people find different and scary.

Don’t be afraid of different and scary. If you are afraid of different and scary, I wish you full-strength courage to let things just be different, not scary.

If you are afraid of coming out, I wish you freedom to be who you are and love who you love.

And Liz and Rayya, I wish you peace and healing, in your freedom to eat, pray, and love who you love.

We have programs for parents of LGBTQ children, and for LGBTQ. We help free hearts to love, heal and affirm. 

Private online support groups, books, resources and our new FreedHearts Online comprehensive video courses!

For more information, please click here.

Does Christian Scripture Really Condemn Homosexuality? (Hell No!)

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Rejection, shunning, condemnation, ridicule, bullying, all in the name of God. If you are LGBTQ, or the parent of an LGBTQ child, or anyone who is affirming and including, you have likely been on the receiving end of this kind of treatment. And worse.

Does such treatment have anything to do with God?  No, not really. It is about fear.

Does it have to do with the Bible? Not at all. Those who use Christian Scripture to stand against same-sex relationships are twisting those Scriptures to justify the marginalization and oppression of an entire group of people.

Indefensible.

The rest of this post is courtesy of our friend, Pastor Jim Rigby. With his permission, I share it with you.

5 Things You Need to Know About the Bible and Homosexuality.

1. Neither Greek nor Hebrew had a word for the modern concept of homosexuality. The English word “homosexuality” was not coined until the 19th century. This means that phrases like “a man shall not lie with a man as with a woman,” are not as clear as it may seem. They may refer to other same sex practices such as temple prostitution, rape or pederasty, but we don’t really know. Jesus did not mention the topic.

If the point of the text were to condemn all homosexuality, it is strange that women would be left out of the prohibition. The best concordances and modern commentaries no longer use the word “homosexual” to translate those phrases because they could mean other things. In any case, because the terms are not completely clear, the benefit of the doubt should be given to those being attacked.

2. It is dishonest to say biblical marriage was between one man and one woman. Many characters in scripture had multiple spouses. Some of them impregnated their slaves or the widows of their dead relatives. “Biblical marriage” was nothing like our modern concept of marriage. The Bible says nothing about needing a wedding license, nor the blessings of the church.

(For more on the issue of the Biblical definition of marriage, you can read Susan’s post about it by clicking here.)

3. The “cleanliness codes” of Leviticus were cultic practices, not ethical norms. I will let Rabbis explain what Leviticus means to modern Judaism, but in the Christian covenant such cultic practice are clearly overturned. “Unclean” foods were considered acceptable, and Christians were specifically commanded to call no person “unclean.”

The healings of Jesus seemed to focus on people whose illness would render them “unclean” by the Levitical Code, and one of the first converts to the new religion was a Eunuch. If the Levitical prohibitions were still intact that never would have happened.

4. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is often interpreted as a condemnation of homosexuality, but the prophets clearly refute that interpretation. The crime of Sodom and Gomorrah was not homosexuality, but cruelty:

“This is what your sister Sodom has done wrong. She and her daughters were proud that they had plenty of food and had peace and security. They didn’t help the poor and the needy.”(Ezekiel 16:49)

And: “Hear the word of Jehovah, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. What unto me is the multitude of your sacrifices? …And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:10-17)

5. Finally, the ace in the hole for those who try to use the Bible to attack the LGBTQI community is Paul’s diatribe in the first chapter of Romans. What homophobic theology always leaves out is the whole point of the passage, which is found in Romans 2:1, “Therefore none of you has an excuse when you judge others.” In other words, the entire passage was NOT a condemnation of homosexuality, but of judgmental Christianity.

Amazing isn’t it? That so many unloving people in the church have taken stories and passages condemning mistreatment of the vulnerable, and used them to persecute the vulnerable?!

When heard in the spirit of love, the stories of the Bible are a source of ever-widening compassion. When heard arrogantly and lovelessly, the Bible becomes one of the deadliest books ever written. When we project our current prejudices upon the ancient stories we “weaponize” the text in the same way violent prisoners see every spoon as a potential knife.

Christianity was a call to a new understanding of humankind where there are no longer religious insiders and outsiders, no longer masters and slaves, and no longer gender roles. (Gal. 3:28)

Gay bashing is a renunciation of the very heart of Christianity.

We have programs for parents of LGBTQ children, and for LGBTQ. We help free hearts to love, heal and affirm.  Private online support groups, books, resources and our new FreedHearts Online comprehensive video courses! For more information, please click here.

A Boy in a Tutu, a Mom, and the Scary Words of a Stranger

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“My son wears tutus. It was fine… until yesterday!” This is the story of the innocence of a child, the love of a Mom, and the scary, hurtful words of a stranger.

Unfortunately, it is a situation repeated on a tragically frequent basis.

Is it hate? Ignorance? Misguided interference? You decide.

I will let Jen, the Mom, tell you what happened…

My three-and-a-half-year-old son likes to play trucks. He likes to do jigsaw puzzles. He likes to eat plums.

And he likes to wear sparkly tutus.

If asked, he will say the tutus make him feel beautiful and brave. If asked, he will say there are no rules about what boys can wear or what girls can wear.

My son has worn tutus to church. He has worn tutus to the grocery store. He has worn tutus on the train and in the sandbox. It has been, in our part of the world, a non-issue. We have been asked some well-intentioned questions; we’ve answered them; it has been fine.

It WAS fine, until yesterday.

Yesterday, on our walk to the park, my son and I were accosted by someone who demanded to know why my son was wearing a skirt. We didn’t know him, but he appeared to have been watching us for some time.

“I’m just curious,” the man said. “Why do you keep doing this to your son?”

He wasn’t curious. He didn’t want answers. He wanted to make sure we both knew that what my son was doing—what I was ALLOWING him to do—was wrong.

“She shouldn’t keep doing this to you,” he said. He spoke directly to my son. “You’re a boy. She’s a bad mommy. It’s child abuse.”

He took pictures of us, although I asked him not to; he threatened me. “Now everyone will know,” he said. “You’ll see.”

I called the police. They came, they took their report, they complimented the skirt.

Still, my son does not feel safe today. He wants to know: “Is the man coming back? The bad man? Is he going to shout more unkind things about my skirt? Is he going to take more pictures?”

I can’t say for sure. But I can say this: I will not be intimidated. I will not be made to feel vulnerable or afraid. I will not let angry strangers tell my son what he can or cannot wear.

The world may not love my son for who he is, but I do. I was put on this earth to make sure he knows it.

I will shout my love from street corners.

I will defend, shouting, his right to walk down the street in peace, wearing whatever items of clothing he wants to wear.

I will show him, in whatever way I can, that I value the person he is, trust in his vision for himself, and support his choices—no matter what anybody else says, no matter who tries to stop him or how often.

Our family has a motto. The motto is this:

We are loving.

We are kind.

We are determined and persistent.

We are beautiful and brave.

We know who we are. Angry strangers will not change who we are. The world will not change who we are—we will change the world.

We have programs for parents of LGBTQ children, and for LGBTQ. We help free hearts to love, heal and affirm.  Private online support groups, books, resources and our new FreedHearts Online comprehensive video courses! For more information, please click here.