My Year of Living Dangerously… as a Christian LGBTQ Ally!

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Only one year ago today, I wrote my first post about LGBTQ issues. Hard to believe so much has come and gone these past twelve months. I have learned more than I can put into words… but for this blog, I will try! So for the next several posts, I’ll share the changes I’ve seen. I invite you to join me as we celebrate and reflect together!

Funny story… Justin Lee, author of Torn and Executive Director of The Gay Christian Network accidentally helped me start this blog. When I first knew I wanted to turn my small, personal blog into a platform for LGBTQ issues, I didn’t know where to start. I had so much to say, and I didn’t want to take those first tentative steps in public. It’s like pushing off into the middle of the rink the first time you put on skates while all your friends – and everyone else in the rink – are watching. I knew I had much to say, from various angles, that was different from what was out there. I knew it wouldn’t make as much sense until I developed a body of work that interrelated. That would take time and some trial and error to catch my groove. (And as I wrote on my About page, I was afraid of the church’s reaction.)

Perhaps I could write under a pseudonym, just to test the waters. Once I gained my sea legs, I would somehow transition to my own name. Instead, it happened like this:

My daughter Annie was preparing to move from New York to Chicago, and I was privileged to spend six weeks with her in New York to help her transition. (Can I just say, how awesome is six weeks in New York City?!?) First thing we did was take the bus for a sightseeing weekend in Washington, DC, because – why not? (Can’t make that quick jaunt from my home in Texas!) We’d packed our itinerary with every fun and educational activity. It happened to be the week of the Supreme Court DOMA case. Turns out the day we went to the Supreme Court, the Plaza was full with LGBTQ people carrying signs. Their beauty, peace and joy took my breath away. Whoever believes this issue is about rules instead of people is not paying attention.

As it happens, I talked with Justin Lee the evening before! His book Torn had impacted me deeply, so I connected with him by email, we scheduled a phone call, and I asked him how to proceed on my blog. 🙂 (Maybe he was a little less busy then!) He was kind and encouraging, and told me I was needed in this conversation. Very nice. He also convinced me that writing two blogs (one under a pseudonym), was much harder than I thought. I figured he was right, and I nixed that idea. Now I had no idea how to move forward.

So there Annie and I were at the Supreme Court Plaza, watching this peaceful and loving demonstration. These were not the church’s enemies. I already knew that, but something about seeing their love, that all they wanted was to live peaceable lives as Paul suggests, moved me to the core. There was a lovely woman with her two homeschooled girls, with their sign: “Straight, married, church-going mom thinks love equals love and discrimination is mean.” She could’ve been me. I’m straight, married and church-going. I took their picture, we finished our sightseeing, and I went home and wrote my first LGBTQ post.

It’s not exactly that God tricked me, but without my realizing it he’d changed the course of my blog! What could I do but continue? I got several abrupt messages from people I knew, friends even, challenging me on what I had written. One said, “I was a little surprised to see your post today…” which was an understatement. I answered them all thoroughly and confidently — somehow the answers just came to me. But my answers did not satisfy them, though writing them drained my time and energy. God made it clear I needed to move on, and he showed me clearly who my audience was and was not. More on that in the next post.

What began as one post became a life-changing journey. I tentatively offered my contribution, afraid I’d be chewed up and spit out on the internet. Instead, God guided me gently and filled my heart with hope. Oh yes, I was chewed up a bit, but I found that God has protected me. (I would not compare myself to the apostles, who risked their very lives to share the gospel, but I have drawn comfort in Jesus’ promise to give them the right word when they needed it.)

Of course the last thing I would want to do is to lead anyone astray, especially in their relationship to God. I kept praying: “God, if I’m wrong here, show me. If I’m ‘condoning sin,’ tell me! I don’t want to do that!” I prayed that a dozen times those first weeks. And every time I did, God would encourage me. One mom called me in tears because she was estranged from her lesbian daughter. We talked at length, and she realized her job is to love her daughter, unconditionally, not do some kind of “tough love”… translated, “reject her daughter until she changes.” She had seen where that road led, and it wasn’t toward Christ. Several things happened like that — messages from gay kids rejected by their families or churches, parents who couldn’t speak up for fear of backlash — and I knew for sure this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing. 

I’ve learned much about Christians, LGBTQ, and human nature. I’ve lost friends and family over this battle. Some were exactly the ones I expected would back away, some were out of the blue. On the other hand, I have made new friends, tender-hearted friends, in person and through my blog… and some friends through the blog I have now met in person. How cool is that? In the end, I have opted out of the evangelical circle that so carefully monitors each other’s behavior. It’s been more freeing than you can imagine.

Over this year, I’ve grown a stronger voice, a fuller message, and richer peace in God’s rest. Over the next several posts, I will share with you some of the wisdom I’ve gained along the way.

So, here’s to us, on this journey, together. Happy Anniversary, FreedHearts! It’s been an enriching year.

26 thoughts on “My Year of Living Dangerously… as a Christian LGBTQ Ally!

  1. Once again, I’m so thankful for you, proud of you, and I loved hearing how it all began! I had no idea that I’ve been following almost from the beginning. Congratulations to you. I’ll be using your journey as inspiration for what is sure to be a challenging road ahead for me, as I work to start a much needed GSA. A big move for me in so many ways. It’s time.

    Thanks again!

  2. As a mom with 2 gay sons, who is still attending an evangelical church, your blogs are a lifeline to me. You demonstrate what I believe the Christian message should be (love) and not what I see and hear so much (condemnation and judgment). So glad you obeyed God’s leading. I am trying to do my part by changing minds and hearts too.

  3. Susan, I toast you tonight with Diet Dr. Pepper in hand…if I had some peach tea, I would do it with that. 🙂 I am so blessed to know you and look forward to seeing your continued impact on people’s lives. Again, “Thank You for Giving to the Lord!”

  4. I didn’t know any of how you got started. So cool! I’m so glad you are following God’s will for your life and especially your writing! You are helping so many of us. Thank you.

  5. Congratulations on celebrating your one year anniversary! I found your site through a post that my daughter recommended (she had seen it posted on one of her friend’s facebook walls, and thought it might be helpful to me). My gay son came out to his father and me a little over 3 years ago, and Freedhearts has been a lifeline to me as I continue to learn to love my son as Christ loves him. I have recommended your blog to several of my friends whose sons are also gay. Thank you for all you do, and for taking a risk to speak out. God is blessing so many people through your blog.

  6. Susan, I love your blog and it is a much needed blog. My dd directed me to you after she came out. I can’t thank you enough for your continuing efforts to just love on the LGBTQ community. It is so needed. Many churches haven’t figured it out yet so I guess they’ll need to take their cue from you and other like-minded people. Blessings to you and yours.

  7. Susan,
    Congratulations on your first year.

    Justin was right—you are very much needed in this conversation. Thanks for your courage, and for the calm, thoughtful, logical, and loving way you address each topic.

    I only wish my parents were alive so I could share your blog with them. They didn’t reject me forcefully, but they did refuse to meet my partner before they passed, which was their loss because he is a wonderful human being. We have been together many years, and got legally married in NYC last year since our home state of Texas still won’t allow it.

    Congratulations and thanks again, and I look forward to many more posts from you in the years to come.

  8. Happy One-Year Blog Anniversary!!! I’ve told you this before, but it’s totally worth repeating at this auspicious occasion: In the middle of one horrible night, I was in total despair over how to reconcile my faith with my son’s being gay, thinking I was going to have to choose one or the other. I cried most of the night away. The next morning I logged on to my computer and saw a quote from you via FreedHearts on Rachel Held Evan’s “Sunday Superlatives.” I don’t recall the quote, but it got me to your blog, and it was then that I realized that God had been listening to my cries and had answered me via Susan Cottrell. It was one of the sweetest moments of my life to date.

    I look forward to ringing in all the upcoming FreedHearts’ anniversaries for years to come.

    Love you, friend. 🙂

  9. Hi sweet Susan, congratulations on ONE year!!! I wonder how many folks have been touched/helped by your doing this blog… so glad!!!    

  10. Susan,
    Congratulations on your one year as a blogger milestone. Your site is wonderful and so needed. Keep up the good work. Thanks for plucking up your courage and speaking out loud!

    I am a heterosexual evangelical Christian in my sixties, and for most of my life have held the “love the sinner, hate the sin” viewpoint. But over the last three years, that has changed. The first step on my journey was when I read Andrew Marin’s “Love is an Orientation”. Today I no longer believe that same sex attraction or marriage between same sex individuals (or partnering between committed same sex partners where marriage is not available) is a sin.

    I appreciate the dilemma you faced before starting your blog. I’ve struggled to see how I can best contribute to the discussion. I’d like to contribute my voice but I’m still speaking with a pseudonym because I know that I’d experience huge backlash from family. I had a discussion with one family member that I thought might be more understanding and got hit with a huge blast of viciousness. I was really shocked and it sent me into silence for a year. I’m not a good debater. I’m a peace keeper, but my heart aches for the LGBTQIA community… particularly the youth and young adults who have grown up loving the Lord and now face such vicious attacks from the very community that should love them the most.

    I’m willing to open my home to Christian youths who have been rejected by their parents, but anyone who lives in my house has to have a vehicle since I’m in a rural/suburban area north of Chicago and getting anywhere requires a vehicle (and a bike won’t help much). Anyway, I would love to open my home to a LGBTQIA young person who who needs a home. I have three empty bedrooms and two extra baths and I love it when God fills my house with people.

    Anyway, Susan I’ve been reading your blog almost since you started and it has been a blessing to me. Thanks. Emmaline

    • Wow, Emmaline, thank you so much for your kind words as well as your generous offer! I will let some people know. Very kind indeed. You’re being a good neighbor — something like the man who helped the man beaten on the side of the road, when the religious people wouldn’t help! I understand your staying secretive. It’s too high a price to pay. BUT, the pieces are falling down. You can’t keep a whole movement at bay by shame forever. God is doing this, no amount of legalism is going to stop it! Best to you, good neighbor. :)) Susan

    • {{{Emmaline}}} <–Those are hugs by the way! My heart goes out to you for the journey you have begun! You have only just begun and I know you will make a HUGE difference by the time it is all said and done. I KNOW you will have those empty bedrooms filled and lives will be changed because of YOU! There will be a day when you, too, will be free to openly be yourself…an ally to the LGBTQ community!

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