Would You Rather Have a Gay Child or a Dead Child?


I am sorry if the title of this post shocks you, or strikes you as harsh or over-dramatic. But honestly, parents don’t realize what they’re asking of their LGBTQI kids. And they don’t realize what their rejection is doing to them.

This is not about inclusion. This is a matter of life and death.

By making their children stick to their own expectations and standards for them — whether they really think their gay child is going to hell or honestly are just ashamed of them — parents are asking their kids to change something inherent, something that son or daughter can’t change. No matter how much they pray or plead. It’s just not happening.

And the message that sends is absolutely devastating. It tells our kids (young, teens or adults) that they are broken, not okay, for whatever reason.

It’s plain wrong. And it can be tragic.

The suicide statistics for LGBTQ youth is alarming — 40% of gay youth contemplate suicide, 50% of transgender youth – 4 to 5 times the rate for their straight peers. And gay youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as gay peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.

I have been in dialogue with a close friend about my support and affirmation of gays, and I am heartsick. We are going to meet for coffee, to see if we can find any common ground. She follows Jesus too, so that should be our common ground. But people get disjointed about this, bent out of shape, worked up.

She has already expressed her deep disapproval in me. I am simply loving without condition, which my main job in life (and it’s hers, too!). To even think about meeting with her makes me queasy, but I must speak up for those who deserve to be spoken for.

Just imagine the one who IS gay. How do they feel? Having to discuss this with a family member who doesn’t approve, and other family members, and friends, and church, and society. No wonder this is so hard to walk through. No wonder they feel so alone, because they essentially are so alone.

Family… we are supposed to love and support each other no matter what. If our own family won’t do that, how does that impact our confidence that anyone else can?

Imagine the depth of the shame of a child rejected, condemned, shunned by parents. Or the shame that comes from parents who just “tolerate” their gay child, but the child clearly knows the parents are disgusted by who they are.

And imagine a parent conveying the message that God too is ashamed and disgusted?

Shame is not a good motivator, it’s a horrible motivator that can destroy a person’s heart and spirit.  Shame only makes a person feel fundamentally defective, and no one has the right to do that to someone else.

EVERYONE deserves to be treated as a human being. Even people you might disagree with.

I know this can be hard. Please don’t go through it alone. Seek out people to talk to – people who will support and encourage you – people who will affirm, accept and love your gay child, and you too.

I have private Moms groups on social media, Rob has a Dads group — email us about those.

I am so proud of you for reading this. It may be the first step in making the decision to err on the side of love, to affirm your child. You may have saved their life.

I promise you that it does get better. The answers will come. Just take the next step, and find someone to take it with you.

I am here if you need me.

We know of way too many families who kicked out, condemned, rejected, shunned and shamed their gay child – in Jesus name, claiming they were speaking for God – and who lost their child to suicide or drug abuse.

Please. Don’t. Just don’t. Don’t drive your child over the edge.

Every one of us would regret that for every single day of the rest of our lives.

Breathe. Love them for who they are. Err on the side of love. Trust God with all the rest.

It’s what they deserve because they are human – and because they are your precious child. No matter what.

Just love. Please.

We also have comprehensive video courses helping parents love, accept & affirm their LGBTQI children; helping LGBTQI heal shame from family, church and community; and helping those in the faith community be fully inclusive. Please click here. 🙂

Christians, Here’s Why You Don’t Have to be Afraid to Support Gays


“Prejudices are breaking down. Walls are breaking down. Pastors are rethinking their entrenched positions. Parents are choosing their child over learned doctrine that doesn’t reconcile with their lived experience or with the heart of God.”

I wanted to share this, from a Mom who is part of my private Facebook support group for Moms of LGBTQI children. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of moms — and dads — who feel the same way.

Being only two years into this journey with my son, I still once in a great while read people’s anti-accepting comments and blogs and wonder “am I being deceived?” Oh how I wish Jesus would have just come out (haha) and SAID what many of us know he’s showing us. But then I think… this journey is such a challenge, for us on “this” side, for those on “that” side, and for our gay friends and family caught in the middle. And challenges shape us, force us to draw near to God. If we allow them to, challenges CHALLENGE our thinking, our past teachings, make us take a look at our convictions (are they Biblical, just what we’ve been taught, or just the way we “feel”), encourage us to open our hearts AND our minds, to delve deeper, and to fervently pray our hearts out to the Lord.

I love her thoughts here. When I started writing and speaking about LGBTQI issues, I kept saying, “PLEASE God, don’t let me lead anyone astray!” I love Jesus with all my heart, and that’s the last thing I would want to do.

I felt like I’d stepped onto a high wire without a harness. I prayed not to fall before I reached the other side… and it felt like a perilous walk.

But God kept confirming me in gentle ways.

People would comment that they could see the love of Jesus in what I shared, or they felt that someone had finally heard them and loved them as is.

That is the whole point. How could that not be God’s doing? Of course, I’d have preferred a text directly from God early on saying I was doing and believing the right thing, but God is more subtle than that.

Jesus taught outright, “I accept and love ALL people.” Period. He did not add regardless of orientation, just like he did not add regardless of race, or age, or gender. Many Christians seem to need that, and if he had, they would have just moved on to another battle.

Perhaps God gave us the journey this way to focus on relationship instead of on right and wrong.

Perhaps there was a plan here to encourage us to dive deeper into the road Jesus laid out for us, of love first, love last, and love throughout. Perhaps there was a plan to help us deepen our love for and relationships with those we may have been taught did not “deserve” our love and attention, and those we were taught are somehow “less than.”

Jesus did not add anything. Love. Period.

Many Christians add things so that they can have another platform to stand on and be right about. It has led, and continues to lead to marginalization and oppression of groups of people – simply because of who they are.

Focusing on right and wrong is living off the tree of knowledge. That was the whole point of the two trees. The tree of life is about focusing on the Spirit of God leading us in all truth. Leading us in love, and in relationship.

That gave me great comfort and I hope it does for you too.

Now, I have no doubt that God is moving — not just in me but in so many others.

Prejudices are breaking down. Walls are breaking down. Pastors are rethinking their entrenched positions. Parents are choosing their child over learned doctrine that doesn’t reconcile with their lived experience or with the heart of God and teachings of Jesus. I see it every day.

So much is changing, and I believe we are in a time of reformation, a time when people are stepping out and learning how to unconditionally love others, and learning that they themselves are indeed unconditionally loved by God.

Now there are many of us walking that wire. We know we are not alone, and it’s much closer to the ground.

I long since stopped being afraid. I know I am living in truth, and on the right side of God’s heart and the right side of history.

I affirm LGBTQI because of my faith, not in spite of it.

All it required was trust in that still small voice. And it showed me that I was hearing God all along.

You can hear that too. You have nothing to be afraid of.

We have comprehensive video courses helping parents love, accept & affirm their LGBTQI children; helping LGBTQI heal shame from family, church and community; and helping those in the faith community be fully inclusive. Please click here. 🙂

To Christian Parents of LGBTQI Children

Rob Susan Annie NYC

Rob & Susan Cottrell with their daughter Annie

“You want to shove those words back in and put the lid on. But you can’t. Your child is gay. This goes 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. This is the child you have cradled, spoon fed mashed bananas, and dreamed a beautiful future for. 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.

If you are a Christian parent, family member or friend to whom your loved one has come out as lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgender or queer, or maybe they are still sorting through it all, then this is for you. I invite you to sit down, relax, maybe get a cup of tea, and soak in what I’m about to tell you. My hope is to guide you as we walk for a bit through this maze of confusion, to help you find your way to wholeness.

In many Christian circles, this is not good news, and you may begin to spiral into reflection and self-searching. We’ll get to that. But at the bottom of it all, this is not about you. Most parents’ first mistake is to make it about them instead of about their son or daughter. So let’s talk about some of the major stumbling blocks for Christian parents.

1. This is not an offense against you. This is not something your child did to you. They did not “choose gayness” to rebel against you, get back at you or make your life miserable. In fact, it really has nothing do with you. You did not cause this; it’s not a failure on your part. As a younger Christian, taught that homosexuality is a sin, I believed that trauma somewhere in someone’s past caused homosexuality, even if they didn’t remember it. To my surprise, God completely shifted my understanding and revealed to me the many people who had a great childhood and are still gay. He also reminded me of the many straight people who had traumatic childhoods, yet remained straight. Your expectations may lay shattered at your feet. But those are your expectations for your child. Quite simply, they may not be God’s expectations. Ask God to replace yourvision for your child with His.

2. This is not news to your child. They likely did not tell you the first time they noticed their same-sex attraction, or felt that they were different in some way. In fact, they have probably lived with this quite a long time. They had to discover how true it was. They had to watch other young teens grow into puberty, and realize they weren’t developing the same feelings. Perhaps they dated the opposite gender to see if passion might develop, and yet none did. By the time they come out to you, they are pretty sure of what they’re saying. You may have to work through a slate of brand new emotions about this, and your emotions will affect them, but theirs are not brand new. Do not ask them if they are sure, if maybe they want to take a little time and see what happens. Instead, consider the journey they have been through. Ask them things like, “When did you know?” “How long have you felt this way?” and tell them how you are grateful that they are including you, that they don’t have to go through this alone anymore.

3. Now is a key time to embrace your child. Imagine for a moment the courage it took to tell you about their sexuality, especially when they know it seems to contradict your core beliefs. In this moment, your child needs to know he did the right thing by telling you. You may flood with fear, doubt, anger, grief, disappointment, shame, anguish or guilt, but do not let those hinder you from expressing your unconditional love and admiration for your child. Your child will have their own list of emotions to deal with; don’t hand them yours. Give yourself time to process all of your own emotions. Be kind to yourself and your child through this.

4. They were terrified to tell you. The risk they took is very real. Some gay teens have been shamed, banished, threatened, beaten, and shunned. They know that once it is said, it cannot be unsaid. They took this chance either because they trusted you and hoped for the best, or because they could not stand to live inauthentically any longer. You have a strong child. Be proud. You have the opportunity to make the most of their trust and come through for them with the unconditional love of a parent. That’s your job as a parent and a Christian — to love unconditionally.

5. Praying, wishing and believing will not make your child straight. If doing these things meant that homosexuality would not visit a Christian home, then we wouldn’t see it cropping up so often. I have heard countless stories of people who prayed without ceasing, but nothing changed. Picture with me the false faith-healers who pray to heal audience members’ maladies; when there is no result, those charlatans tell the poor kid in the wheelchair, “Maybe next time you’ll have enough faith to be healed.” Where does that place the blame? If anyone has ever been healed in that setting, it is God’s choice, not the one in the wheelchair. Has anyone prayed themselves straight? I don’t know. Meanwhile, countless stories of those who prayed, did everything right, followed every suggestion, and poured themselves wholeheartedly into being straight–only to experience disappointment and self-loathing. Your child does not deserve this.

6. For teens, there are still many changes to come. Don’t panic! Let them discover themselves. What did you know at 18 that you feel the same about today? Come to think of it, sexual orientation is probably one of the few things you were sure about. Do not require a certain life path for your son or daughter at this time when the world is their oyster. Haven’t we yet learned how crippling it is to have to please someone else? Do not tell them that it is a phase that will wear off. Acknowledge how far they have come, that they have an exciting future, and that you will be with them every step of the way. If they discover that their orientation may not be what they thought, then they alone will discover that. Telling them you are praying that they change, or that they will likely “straighten out” as they get older, will only distance them from you. Worst of all, do not send them to “reorientation” camp. This traumatizes countless teens, cementing deep shame and self-hatred.

7. Adult children are out of your hands. Even more than teens, adult children are beyond your parental authority. You have done your best as a parent, however flawed you were. (We all were!) You must trust God with this child you have raised. Embrace them and love them as a fellow believer–Jesus asks that of you. Do not shun them or take other action, which will only alienate you from their lives. Instead, look forward to the many major life events ahead, and be there for them as you wanted your parents to be there for you.

8. Put other peoples’ responses aside. The opinion of your pastor, your Bible group, or your extended family are not as important as your son or daughter’s well-being. Put others’ opinions aside and focus on how God would lead you specifically. If you can’t say in your heart that your child is more important than others’ opinions, then seek the Lord about this and ask Him to restore your priorities.

9. Bear your son’s or daughter’s burdens. Let the weight of unanswered questions and discomfort rest on you. You are not the one being pressured to change your identity. Your child has the whole rest of the world to navigate; you are uniquely equipped to help bear their burden and so fulfill the law of Christ, as Galatians 6:2 tells us. Your relationship with your child calls for that much. Don’t press for answers or easy solutions. As with other big events in life, get comfortable with not knowing, and patiently let God reveal answers in His timing.

10. Finally, remember that we are not responsible to change people’s behavior. Not our job, even with our children, especially as they get older. If you think you’re going to make your pianist into a football player, give it up now. Jesus is not about behavior modification; He is about life, His life flowing through us. That is what grace (kharis) means — to let Jesus’ love flow through us instead of feeling obligated to fix everything. Your job is to love people, especially your child. Let God use this situation to show you what it means to love unconditionally. While we love others, God is at work in ways we can’t see.

I discuss Bible passages in depth, especially in our comprehensive video courses. I encourage you to read more here, look at my website’s resources page and especially look at the video courses. There is a special link below. But please understand that even if we disagree, nothing changes regarding our responsibility, our blessing as a Mom or a Dad to unconditionally love, accept and affirm our gay children – as God has done with us.

This journey is likely not one you would have chosen, nor initially welcomed. But if you seek it, God will show you the beauty of the journey.

My love for my child, for God and my faith is deeper and richer now than it has ever been. I affirm BECAUSE of my faith not in spite of it.

Perhaps God has chosen you for such a time as this, to shine love amidst all the anger and hate (even if your beliefs about it never fully change). Perhaps God will work through you to restore the love of Jesus that has been so maligned to a group of people who need God — as we all do. God is good at giving us quandaries we didn’t expect, to rock our little tiny worldviews. God shakes everything that can be shaken until all that’s left is what is unshakeable. Cling to God in this time, and you will discover something wonderful — for you and your family.

Please feel free to comment below on your experience of your child coming out, or email me directly through the contact page. God bless you on this journey.


We have comprehensive video courses helping parents love, accept & affirm their LGBTQI children; helping LGBTQI heal shame from family, church and community; and helping those in the faith community be fully inclusive. Please just click here. 🙂


Can You Tell Which Woman is Transgender? And Why Does it Matter?

Trans Brady Bunch 2

With all this conversation about who we pee next to, I wondered if you could tell who was actually a transgender woman. Can you spot her? Can you tell? Do you care?

Unfortunately, many seem to care, and have responded with fear-mongering and vicious lies, trying to make this about the safety of our children.

Honestly, they should be ashamed of themselves.

Anyone who takes an authentic look at this knows there is no connection whatever between transgender people and pedophilia. Most predators are straight men who already have arranged their lives for easy access to children.

This is nothing new. We have been going to bathrooms with transgender people for as long as we have been alive.

Those who stir up fear pretend it’s about the children when it’s really about fear, and power, and personal dislike of trans people. We have been through this before with left-handed people, women, blacks, interracial marriage. You would think we would have learned.

Sad. Truly.

So an entire group of people is being marginalized and oppressed and discriminated against, simply because we disagree with them, or just plain do not like them. Its called the “ick” factor.

Who really needs protecting? The one who says “ick”??

The truth is that when a transgender person goes into a public restroom, THEY are the most vulnerable person in the room, subject to harassment and attack—the stats bear that out.

And the ones who may not be able to pass as easily as the women in the photos are in increased danger and in even more need of protection.

So, take a look again at those photos and tell me…  When your son uses the restroom, would he be traumatized, upset, uncomfortable seeing any of these woman in the same restroom?  Yeah, I think so.

What is really the most disruptive? Letting them use the restroom that fits their lived identity or the one on their birth certificate? Because that’s the seedy underside of this debacle: to require the latter will bring more upheaval than we now imagine.

I asked at the beginning if you could spot the transgender woman. Well, it’s not just one of these women who is transgender—it’s eight. All BUT one.

Who is the cisgender woman? (The one who is NOT transgender?)

I’m not going to tell you. 🙂

Because when you use a public restroom and see someone who reminds you of one of these lovely women, you won’t really know, will you?

Instead, let me leave you with this advice…

Go to the bathroom, wash your hands, and get on with your day.  There is much life to live, much love to give. Focus your heart there. ❤

We have comprehensive video courses helping parents love, accept & affirm their LGBTQI children; helping LGBTQI heal shame from family, church and community; and helping those in the faith community be fully inclusive. Please just click here. 🙂

Transgender & Bathrooms: Who Are The Ones Who Really Need Protecting?


What do you when the bully in a school is the teacher? What impact does it have on a child’s life when those he thought were there to protect him, turn out to be the biggest threat?

J.D.’s mom, Shawna DiCintio, recalls J.D. as a happy, carefree kid, an up-and-coming advocate for youth, a leader determined to bring acceptance and awareness to LGBTQI youth. She was a competitive cheerleader who trained 12 hours a week and dreamed of going to worlds. Although J.D., then openly gay, was bullied a lot, he still had a sense of safe adults—and teachers—and he still believed in a life of possibility. He even made this video for It Gets Better.

Then came the high school bullying—from teachers. Teachers.

J.D. was sitting on the bleachers at his high school assembly when he pointed to a guy across the gym and said to his friend, “He’s cute.” The man in front of them turned around and said, “Shut up,” according to The Oregonian, and then threatened to kill them and throw them both down the stairs. Twice. The man turned out to be a teacher. A teacher made this death threat, the newspaper reports.

The two students complained and the teacher was put on administrative leave. But the teacher was returned to his position after other students rallied in support, saying this teacher was “a dedicated teacher known for sarcasm.” Support turned into threats against J.D., the newspaper reports, with tweets like, “Don’t worry about [teacher’s name], I’ll do him a favor and throw you down a flight of stairs myself. Drama queen.” And “I hope J.D. really does fall down the stairs Monday.”

J.D. was out as a gay male at the time but has since come out as transgender—which only increased the bullying.

Shawna talks about the ongoing bullying and abuse J.D. suffered, including specific incidents reported in The Oregonian:

  • Another teacher told D. “to stop being a diva and a priss.”
  • The school’s dean of students refused to help the student while he was being verbally and physically assaulted in the lunchroom.
  • District officials took some action but did not do enough and instead caused D. “emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety, stress and fear.”

J.D. had to leave the school and now suffers from PTSD, fear of leaving the house, and a whole host of fears related to the ongoing abuse.

Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you suffer from PTSD and panic attacks if you were threatened and attacked by teachers and school administrators and masses of students? Yes, you would. So would I. And if this were your child, wouldn’t you do anything in your power to protect them? You would. So would I.

I learned about J.D. only because Shawna is in our private Facebook group for moms (and gave me permission to share), but J.D. is far from alone. These horror stories are more common than you might think for trans and other LGBTQI students.

If you are a parent, and would like information about our private Facebook support groups, please email us at freedhearts@gmail.com. Subject line: SUPPORT GROUPS

In the debate about transgender rights in schools and in bathrooms, the talk is always about protecting the children. So I ask you… Who do you think needs protection here: LGBTQI people like J.D.? Or the school community that wishes to silence LGBTQI people like J.D?

Who needed more protection in the 1400’s: young girls called witches or those who want to silence and burn those girls at the stake? Who needed more protection in the 1800’s: left-handed students who were called demon-possessed by the church, or those who wanted to stop left-handedness? Who needed more protection during the Civil Rights era: blacks being beaten and murdered or a society that believes blacks are subhuman and should be beaten and murdered? Who needs more protection: Jews or people who want to exterminate Jews? Do you see where this goes?

When a transgender person walks into a public restroom, THEY are the most vulnerable person in the room.

There are always people we don’t understand. There are people whose story we don’t know. But that does not mean that we get to terrorize those people. A civilized society is obligated to protect people who are powerless to protect themselves.

The role of the government is to protect and defend its citizens.

 The role of Christians is to feed, clothe, shelter, protect and defend “the least powerful of these.”

Humanity requires us to support and protect those who are at risk, who are being excluded, who are being dehumanized.

Not to protect them is subhuman.

You may not understand being transgender at all… or gay, lesbians, bisexual. You may even be afraid because now your understanding of male/female feels at risk. That’s okay!

What we cannot do, what we dare not do is dehumanize those we don’t understand, or are afraid of: not lefthanders, not people of color, not foreigners, not transgender.

Nothing—not government, not church, not God—gives any of us the right to treat humans as less than human.

In all these years that trans people have used the restroom of their choice—unbeknownst to you and me—they have not targeted people for assault, they have only been the target of assault. I’m not afraid trans people going to somehow derail our otherwise moral and upright society. Seems like the derailing is happening just fine through hate, and condemnation and rejection.

How is J.D. doing now? First, she is Candace! ❤ I spoke with Shawna about her. “I miss that happy-go-lucky kid. Everyday now is triage, just trying to overcome the obstacles of each day. Moments and hours fluctuate between “I can do this,” to fear and anxiety, to “I am done.” I answer each phone call, but I never know is this going to be a good call or a bad one. I so wish people would see how horrible and life-altering bullying is.”

Now she watches with grief as more protection of trans people is rescinded on local and national levels. “What will become of her—and others like her? Her K-12 is almost done, but someone will always be out there rejecting, intruding, and causing her and the LGBTQ community pain and resistance. I pray and try to understand, but I question my faith in humanity daily. The rescinding of protection is much more than bathroom equality—it’s much deeper than that. Thank you for blogging about my daughter’s experiences—I hope that for someone to see/listen/read her story will help them, but it also helps me and it helps her realize that what she has gone through is wrong and someone else thinks so too.”

I want to flood my inbox with love for Candice.

If you would like to send some love, email me at freedhearts@gmail.com, subject line, “CANDICE.” (I did NOT tell Shawna I’m asking this! I want it to be a surprise.)

A transgender person is just a person. Another human being. Nothing to fear. But these horrors that happened to Candice are fearsome, and no one deserves it, least of all children.

If you do not know any trans people, I encourage you to get to know someone. Go to a PFLAG meeting. Ask around. You can simply say, “I would like to understand trans people better. Can you tell me a little about yourself?”

Be respectful and just be a decent human being, and you too will find these are just regular people. You may find that they are more like you than you expected.

Above all else, love.

Here are some links you might find helpful…

To hear Gavin Grimm’s story, the young man whose case is slated for the Supreme Court next month, click here.

For more insight and better understanding of transgender stories, watch this story with Katie Couric.

For HRC’s 10 Things Parents Can Do to Show Their Love and Support for Transgender Students, click here.

To stand with HRC and Transgender Youth, click here.

We have comprehensive video courses helping parents love, accept & affirm their LGBTQI children; helping LGBTQI heal shame from family, church and community; and helping those in the faith community be fully inclusive. Please just click here. 🙂

You Had Me at Hello… My Advice to Adele


She was so upset. Almost to the point of tears. And nearly an hour later, you could still see the shame on her face. But why?

Her voice. Her beauty. Her charm. She plays to sold-out stadiums. She delights her fans and moves people to tears. I am simply mesmerized as I watch her—including her outstanding performance last week on the Grammys.

But as she started the tribute to the late George Michael, something was wrong, it wasn’t quite on, she had missed the key. After several measures, she had to do the unthinkable on live TV: she said “Stop. Stop.” She said a curse word and asked the band to restart.

It happens. Life happens. And to her listeners, it was not a huge deal. It is what it is.

But to Adele, it seemed like the end of the world. She cursed, she messed up on live television with a huge audience. You could see it in her face. You could sense it in her body. You could hear it when she apologized a dozen times to the audience—even after the standing ovation for her phenomenal performance.

She felt she had disappointed people she really cared about. Shame fell on her like darkness; shame consumed her; and Adele fell under shame’s corrosive and deadly spell.

The audience was not upset that she cursed or that she had to start the song again. They were upset for her, they felt bad for her. They wanted to encourage her.

When Adele went onstage to receive her Grammy from Celine Dion (Celine Dion!), the shame went with her. Celine took Adele’s face in her hands and said, “You are amazing!” But Adele couldn’t receive it—those words of honor and admiration smacked against the coat of shame and slid to the floor.

And I wondered how long Adele would beat herself up over that, how long she would think those terrible things she was clearly thinking about herself. I hoped it would not be long.

But shame lingers. It doesn’t go unless we send it away. It stays and fills our very being as long as we let it.

If I could speak to Adele, I would say, “You are lovely, you are worthy, you belonged in that place that night. That’s why you were there! Don’t let shame steal your joy; don’t let shame steal the honor of the night. Set shame aside so you can embrace the generous encouragement from Celine Dion, and the loving support of the audience. They thought nothing less of you; on the contrary, they wanted to offer you love and encouragement. It is our humanity that endears us to each other. Soak in the love poured over you that night.”

But I can relate. I don’t sing like Adele or you’d all know it, but I did sing a song once at church, and I biffed it, right from the beginning. I felt as I Adele must have felt (but without the voice to back it up!), so I can imagine how she felt. I remember. I felt alone and exposed before hundreds (for her it was millions) of people. I had nowhere to hide.

What about you? Can you relate? Have you ever felt that you have disappointed people who you really cared about? Maybe just because you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer? Do you remember what the shame felt like? What that shame feels like?

Where does shame conceal us? Where does it prevent us from receiving the love of others? Are you cloaked in shame that you’ve internalized? Are you able to hear the words of love, acceptance and affirmation people offer you? Maybe they are not the people you had hoped would encourage you, but I am just one of many here to tell you how beautiful and wonderful and amazing you are—just as you are. One of many people who love you—for just who you are.

So let me be Celine, and you be Adele. Let me take your face in my hands and say:

You’re amazing! Take it from me, because I know! YOU. ARE. AMAZING! Let go of that shame of feeling you have disappointed people. If that disappointment is still being heaped on you by people in your life, then it may be time to let go, to cut short your time with them. Let the shame go. They do NOT speak truth. Don’t stay stuck in shame because you don’t deserve it. You deserve to be loved as you are, where you are, for who you are. Let it in, my friend, let it in. After all, you had me at Hello!

FreedHearts Online has comprehensive video courses helping parents love, accept & affirm their LGBTQI children; helping LGBTQI heal shame from family, religious and community wounds; and helping those in the faith community love and include. Please just click here. 🙂

“You must obey!” It’s One of the Biggest Lies in the Church


One of the biggest lies perpetrated throughout Christendom is that God is primarily interested in our obedience. Not true. Patently false.

To say our first responsibility to God is to obey is a big fat lie and distortion of the relationship God wants with us. God’s paramount interest in us is a relationship. Didn’t Jesus say simply, “Follow me!”?

How quickly we complicate things by adding cherry-picked list of right and wrong behavior and focus our attention on that. By the way, focusing on EITHER list is still eating from the same tree – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, instead of focusing on the Tree of Life.

Let’s say that a couple is about to have their first child, and you say to them conversationally, “What is most exciting to you about having a baby?” and they answer, “Making sure this child obeys!” You’d be shocked. Really? That is the main point in having a child?

You would wisely identify that something is seriously wrong, and you would suggest they run, not walk, to a qualified therapist who could help them unravel this unhealthy obsession with power and rule.

The amazing thing about bringing a baby into the world is the new life this person gets to emerge into, and the astounding relationship we get to enjoy with them! That’s the main point. Anyone whose primary interest is that their child obey them is a narcissistic sociopath.

Do we want them to learn to heed our voice, lest they burn their hand on the stove or dart in the street and get smacked by a car? Of course! Because all of that protects them and facilitates relationship. But that is not the same as enforcing “first-time obedience” in some sort of patriarchal power structure so they know who’s boss.

Humans in their folly can be very drawn to fortifying their power this way. Some of us endured parents (or coaches, teachers, pastors) who imposed their will in the name of “obedience to authority.” And we wonder why many of us have “authority issues”? Yeah, we can stop wondering!

This path leads to death – of the soul of the one made to submit, and to the relationship itself.

God created us for community.

If we were here to be obedient, wouldn’t Jesus have been delighted with the religious leaders of his day?

They were extremely obedient, but without love. Indeed, they were the only group Jesus blasted, for their selfish, prideful and loveless focus on legalistic adherence to rules without relationship, and for marginalizing, oppressing and excluding those who did not adhere to the list.

Remember, it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. Kindness is relational.

We are here on planet earth to be in relationship – with God and others. Period.

Blind obedience to parents, to a pastor, to the Bible, is not healthy. It’s idolatry.

Set your heart free… focus on relationship.

FreedHearts Online has comprehensive video courses helping parents love, accept & affirm their LGBTQI children; helping LGBTQI heal from family, religious and community wounds; and helping those in the faith community love and include. Please just click here. 🙂