Post 11/9: The Election is Over. How Do We Move Forward?


Beloveds, it’s a strange time, isn’t it? I don’t even mean the outcome of the election or the electoral college, I mean the ongoing aftermath. Regardless of whether or not your candidate won, it is likely that the whole thing feels vaguely gross. Like waking up someplace you should never have been, and now you just want to get home and take a shower.


But we need to take a little pause here. A big pause. Let’s take a big pause. We need to find our breath. Breathe in, breathe out. Again… in, out. And take a look around. Look at those who love you, and those you love. Find them. Tell them you love them. Reaffirm that you will be there for each other. We need each other’s community now more than ever.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Look at all those you don’t know who are supporting you. All those who will defend you though they don’t even know your name. Those who are fighting for justice and peace and a place for each one of us. We will continue to fight for those things—that has not changed. Find comfort in that.

Breathe in, breathe out.

And look ahead at the future you were looking forward to last week. And last month. Last year. All that you have ahead in your life. Look at that. Press into it. Walk with those who love you as you seek to get there. Please, don’t throw away your own hopes and dreams in despair. You are too good for that. You have too much life and beauty ahead of you and within you to lose sight of it all.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Please, take a step back from the intensity and give yourself a break.

I don’t do scary movies, because I don’t like to emerge myself in fear. But sometimes I’ll watch a movie that gets intense, and I’ll go in the kitchen and start cleaning up so I can still see the movie but get some distance from it. I don’t need to be so upclose to intense or frightening things. I just don’t need it.

Don’t let fear get you either. Fear destroys all sense of proportion. It strips your joy and vitality. And it will disable you from creatively moving into your future. You still have a future!

Some people feel their hope is gone. Some are tempted even to call it quits completely—I know that’s true. But please, please don’t do that. Please don’t let the panic of the immediate rob you of the joy of the future.

Breathe in, breathe out.

You are still here. You are still standing.

And we are still here. And we will continue to stand with you in the days ahead.

We need each other’s community now more than ever. But then we’ve always needed each other’s community. We just may know it now more than usual!

Continue to love because that is who you are. We will continue to love you.


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

Do Those on the Other Side Love Their Children Too?


Well here we are, caught in a maelstrom. The fear has never felt so intense, the fracture never so deep. Stephen Colbert said 50% of people on both sides feel terror of what the other side might do. Abject terror. Those who fervently voted for their candidate, and those who merely voted against the other candidate. Everyone believes “their side” is right, “the other side” is wrong—and they believe it with all their heart.

My daughter said, “I just don’t know how healing is possible.”

This whole political machine runs on polarization. Flattening people’s concerns into one dimension, squishing out all the nuance. No critical thinking. Just flat.

Vitriolic epithets. Unfriending. Blocking. Even of best friends or family.

You’re for him or you’re for her. Republican or Democrat. To agree with them means you disagree with me. Multi-layer human issues have become caricatured into black and white—a binary.

Human beings are far too layered and multifaceted to be shoved into a binary, flattened into a caricature.

Our nation cannot sustain this type of thinking. We as human beings, as families, as communities, cannot sustain this type of living.

What have we come to? Is this who we want to be? And what do we do now?

Sting’s 1985 song Russians beautifully reflects the fear surrounding the nuclear threat of the Cold War. I have taken some poetic license and modernized the lyrics a little. I want to share it with you today…

In the right and left areas

there’s a growing feeling of hysteria.

Conditioned to respond to all the threats

In social media frenzy and media blitz.

 One side says, “We will bury you.”

I don’t subscribe to this point of view.

It’d be such an ignorant thing to do

If the other side loves their children too.

 How can I save my little boy

from those I think would steal his joy?

There is no monopoly on common sense

On either side of the political fence.

 We share the same biology, regardless of ideology.

Believe me when I say to you,

I hope they love their children too

 There is no historical precedent

To put the words in the mouth of those we elect

There’s no such thing as a winnable war,

It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore.

 One side says, “We will protect you.”

I don’t subscribe to this point of view.

Believe me when I say to you,

I hope they love their children too

 We share the same biology, regardless of ideology.

But what might save us, me and you,

Is if the other side loves their children too

What is so difficult is that our love for our children – regardless of your issue – is what drives our passions, and also our fears. What do we do when the thing that justifies our anger is the same thing that could save us?

This is not a new problem. This did not start with this election. It goes back further than we know, but let’s take it all the way back to the Civil War. Maybe that is a gaping wound that has never really been treated and healed.

In that war, there were many divisions… North vs South, Free vs Slave, Urban vs Rural, Working Class vs Privileged Class. In countless real-life cases, you had biological brother vs biological brother fighting face-to-face, hand-to-hand. Both felt justified, both felt horrible. Both felt trapped by circumstances, both felt like they just wanted to lay their guns down and go home.

What resulted was a war that was only resolved when the other side was beaten into submission and ran out of ammunition. There was no coming to the table to heal, no standing together in common ground.

Is that where we are heading? I hope and pray with all my heart that the answer is no.

Can we sit down and find that love for our children is enough common ground to begin to talk, to listen, to work together for our children’s sake, and then to heal and reconcile? The answer to that question is yes.

The real question is… will we?

What might save us, me and you, is if the other side loves their children too.


The Slippery Slope… of Judgment!

Freeing Hearts to Love and Be Love.  By Susan Cottrell

I’m a mom of 2 queer kids and 3 straight/cis kids. But tonight I speak to you as a pastor!

Every day I fight to stop the damage inflicted on the LGBTQI community by parents and Christian conservatives.

My name is Susan Cottrell, founder of

If you’ve had any dealings with the conservative church, you know that their MO is to exclude those they consider unworthy. Beneath them. More sinful than they.

But if you have any dealings with Jesus, the Real Jesus—not the one propped up by the church—
then you know HIS MO is full inclusion.

What’s the deal? Why the big disparity? Let’s do a little “compare and contrast.”

Full inclusion is an AMAZING THING, a beautiful thing. Why so much resistance?

You may have heard the expression the “Slippery Slope of Sin.” (Sorry if that’s a trigger!)
That’s the idea that acceptance of “unauthorized” behavior is a slippery slope toward more acceptance.

Yes it is! Acceptance is a slippery slope toward more acceptance—and it’s one Jesus modeled!
Let’s look at where this slippery slope has played out.

Women were once considered subhuman, property, “deformed men.” We shifted on that—
which paved the way to treating women as humans—
which paved the way to the vote —
which paved the way to JOBS for women—
which led the way to creating a life outside their
father’s or husband’s ownership—which led to women in business, government, and (shh!!) being pastors!

Dear Lord, what will happen next?

African-Americans—and other people of color—were once considered subhuman, property, “deformed whites.”
We shifted on that which led to emancipation—
which led to the vote—
which led to jobs in corporations and government—
which led to desegregation—interracial marriage.

What’s next?

Poor people were once considered subhuman, property, subjects of the king. We shifted on that which led to founding a new nation outside the reach of a king.
Which led to a country that says that every person is created equ—… well, every man is created equ—… well, some men… straight men… straight, white men.
So we’ve created a system in which some men are created equal!
Anyway, we’re still working on that.

The slippery slope is the normalization of people, previously regarded as subhuman. This is the growth and maturation of humanity. THAT’s what the Bible is clear about.

In truth, rethinking our acceptance of one group does open the door to acceptance of other groups!

Acceptance leads to acceptance… and Jesus shocked people by the ragtag people he accepted!
The slippery slope is toward full inclusion—I say, “Slide on down”!

Now, let’s turn this Slippery Slope idea upside-down!

It is in fact religious people who are on a Slippery Slope. Judgmental-Christians are continually focused on sin,
on defining sin, on notifying others of sin,
on trying to stamp out sin—
none of which they have any business doing!

Jesus told us to love, not judge sin.

In fact, he didn’t really talk about sin as a thing,
he talked about having a loving relationship with God.
He did not define sin in terms of what’s sin and what’s not, but defined sin as not trusting God! That’s all!
Sounds to me like Judgmental-Christians are in sin…
because they’re not trusting God.

Jesus said we ALL need God—he intentionally put us all in the same boat, instead of “You sinners and us non-sinners”! Did you know that Jesus was kindest to the people the religious leaders rejected, and harsh only to the religious leaders?

They didn’t see that coming, did they?

Jesus warned religious people repeatedly about their arrogance and harshness and oppression of the powerless, and he warned people not to judge but to mind their own damned business!
Jesus railed on them for their lack of love.

The real slippery slope is judgment.
The real slippery slope is defining other people’s sin.
The real slippery slope is the horrific lack of love.

No one has the right or authority to define for you what your journey looks like. You’ve heard the phrase, “Who died and made you king?”
Well, we can say, “Who died and made you judge!”

No human being gets to tell you who to be.
You get to discover that, as you connect with what’s real inside you.

Jesus slayed the idea that your spiritual path rests in the hands of religious leaders—or belief systems, or structures, or traditions. Instead, he taught people to listen… and follow the life-giving Spirit within.

I am so grateful for you. For your incomparable courage—courage to be true to yourself. And for not letting others define you.

You… are giving the world… an amazing gift of authenticity.

You’re indispensable to the growth and evolution of this world—and you’re making a huge difference.

Please, keep being you. This world needs you.

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

Like this:

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


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.


“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. 🙂


Coming Out to Christian Parents


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!


“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”.


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.

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