I know you love to call out hypocritical, gay-bashing figures who espouse hate and bigotry in the name of 'Christianity.' I just wanted to offer more evidence that a lot of Christians—and Christian leaders—aren't like that.
I attend a very mainstream Episcopalian church in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Last week, our pastor (an openly gay, partnered man) came out against the despair caused by hatred and bullying that have caused so many gay (or assumed to be gay) teenagers to take their lives recently. He openly wished he could have reached out to them and let them know that life is worth living, that things get better. This week, in his sermon he spoke about the "It Gets Better" YouTube channel and how much he supported it. He also said he liked Skipping Towards Gomorrah and The Kid - although he did warn parishioners not familiar with your work that you "use profanity the way other authors use punctuation."
I grew up Catholic, and never thought I'd see the day when a mainstream Christian priest could openly acknowledge his sexuality, rail against bullying and bigotry of gay teens, and even mention Dan Savage as a force for good in this country. Little by little, we're making progress.
Love your podcast & columns. Keep up the good work.
A Longtime Reader & Listener
In an excellent piece about the It Gets Better Project, Leanne Italie of the AP tracked down and interviewed Stephen Sprinkle—a professor at Brite Divinity School—who made one of the most popular videos on the site. The AP:
It's been 40 years since Stephen Sprinkle was in high school. At 58, he rocks gently in an office chair, his trim gray beard and gentle smile offering a touch of Santa Claus in his video. He describes his Christian upbringing in rural North Carolina and his decision to deny himself an "affectional life" as a gay man when he received his call to the ministry in his 20s. "It made me lonely for a lot of years," he tells his viewers, as he constantly looked over his shoulder and lived in fear he would slip up and reveal his secret.
It wasn't until he was hired as an assistant professor at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas, that he decided to come out "utterly, fully and completely," surviving attempts to have him fired and earning tenure, Sprinkle said in an interview. Since posting the video, he's heard from several young people, including one so upset that Sprinkle tracked down professional help.
"He's 18. He's a closeted religious person and he told me he was afraid he was going to explode," Sprinkle said. "He kept asking over and over, `Does God hate me?' I said 'Heavens, no. God created you beautiful and complete. God makes no mistakes like that.'"