“What’s Wrong With Me?” – Reflections on Pray Away, Part 2

Disclaimer: Pray Away is a documentary film on the harm caused by the ex-gay movement that promotes changing one’s sexual orientation through reparative (conversion) therapy. Please be aware that the film can be very difficult to watch, especially if you have been hurt by the movement. The Pray Away website offers “tips and resources to prioritize your mental health before, during, and after viewing the film.” If you think it may trigger trauma, you do not have to watch it. If you have already watched it and need support, please reach out to a safe person. For those who have not suffered at the hands of this movement, please watch it. We need you to listen to these stories. Pray Away released August 3 on Netflix.

Below the trailer for the film is the second in a series of reflections inspired by the film. You can read the first post here.

Official Trailer for Pray Away.

“What’s Wrong With Me?”

One point of resonance I experienced while watching the documentary film Pray Away was when Julie Rodgers reflects on how she understood her self-harm. She reads from her book, Outlove:

“The first time I burned myself, I was sitting on a curb outside of the church after a Living Hope meeting… As the cigarette burned low, without giving it much thought, I shoved the burning end of it into my shoulder and listened as the skin on my left arm sizzled… Shortly after that night, I sat alone in my room, lost in a whirlwind of fear, agony, and self-loathing. That’s when I remembered the cigarette burn and the wave of detachment that flowed through my body the moment the fire seared my skin… In the years that followed, when the anguish became unbearable, I would return to this routine: burning straight lines into my shoulders and tending to the wounds to self-soothe.”

In the midst of this experience, she says she was severely depressed and didn’t know why she was overwhelmed or sad. “I always felt like such a freak. Like, oh, ‘What’s wrong with me? I’m a total maniac – burning up and hurting my own body.'”

The ex-gay narrative that provided an interpretive lens for her life led her to believe she was the problem. As she details in her book, she came “to see how my story functioned to serve a particular agenda.” It was “rearranged and interpreted to serve [the ex-gay] narrative.” Her “testimony” was meticulously shaped by the leader of the ex-gay ministry she was involved in, and she had no other interpretive options for the experiences of her life. She blamed herself – What’s wrong with me?

It took being confronted by other survivors of the ex-gay movement to expose the ex-gay narrative as false. Hearing the stories of those who had escaped the ex-gay narrative and come to understand themselves and their experiences outside such an oppressive paradigm, was critical in Julie’s journey of shifting her own understanding of her story. “It was absolutely devastating, and I think for me, it was the first time that I identified more with the survivors sharing their story than I did with anybody from Exodus. These stories of deep, deep pain shook me down to my core. Feeling like they were in many ways sharing my story. I remember feeling like I was sitting on the wrong side of the circle.”

She and so many others, myself included, when confronted with the trauma experienced within the ex-gay movement, saw its toxicity. As Randy Thomas says in the film, “When the Lisa Ling show came out, I knew then that Exodus was death, and it was destruction. Because those survivors were looking at us right in the face. And we could no longer excuse it away. We could no longer deny it. And that Exodus could no longer promote the idea of change, because that was a lie.” The Lisa Ling episode referenced, God & Gays, aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network in 2013 and is available for viewing on Amazon Prime Video, but you can watch the trailer here.

As I’ve reflected on the guiding story that animated the ex-gay movement, I cannot help but see how that narrative was created, reinforced and given legitimacy by Evangelicalism’s telling of the “gospel.” Within Evangelicalism’s worldview, the question “Who are we?” or “Who am I?” sets the stage for the drama of salvation within which “the gospel” is “the answer” to the problem of humanity. I can remember unfolding the sections of the Romans Road tract as part of my evangelistic efforts to “lead people to Jesus,” so they could “get saved.” Step one of that road is a sort of opening chapter for the story that shaped my life from the moment it was taught to me as a teenager. Who are we? We are sinners.

I want to let you on the inside of how this story shaped my young understanding of myself, God and life. Over the last couple of years I have been going through my old journals and doing some narrative analysis for a future writing project. Below is a narration of a few early parts of my life in the voice I’ve reconstructed from those journals and memories.

9 years old: We are moving to a new town and this weekend I get to sell anything I don’t want anymore in a garage sale. This is my chance to get rid of all my Barbie stuff. I don’t know why my parents keep giving me these toys. I don’t like them. I don’t play with them. Who wants to dress Barbie up in frilly outfits? Not me! Maybe I’ll earn enough money to buy a few more Micro Machines. Or Legos. Now those are my favorites. Of course, only when I’m tired from playing outside – climbing trees, riding my bike. We’re moving to the country. I hope that means we will get to go hiking and fishing and camping more often. Getting dirty and swimming in rivers – what could be better than that?!? Maybe Mom would let me get rid of some of those girly clothes I hate too. Every time we go clothes shopping, she tries to pick out something dumb with flowers on it. Yuck. I hate that stuff. And dresses? No thank you! I’m so uncomfortable in that stuff. Why is it such a big deal to her? So what if people call me a tomboy? I know she doesn’t like it. Maybe she doesn’t really like me.

13 years old: Katie* slept over last night. We laid outside and watched the stars and talked. I’ve been having these feelings. I really wanted to touch her, to hold her hand. I just wanted to be close. I felt kinda nervous even thinking about that. She’s my best friend. I always tell her everything, but I’m too scared to tell her this. She’d probably freak out, maybe hate me and stop being my friend. I mean, it’s weird. Why do I feel this way? Last week at school I kept looking over at her in Math class, and I got totally distracted because the thought of kissing her kept popping up in my mind. Picturing it made me feel butterflies in my stomach. But then I was afraid that someone might know what I was daydreaming about and I forced myself to stop looking at her. There’s something wrong with me. Why am I like this? If my parents find out, I’m dead. They’ll hate me too. I’m already a failure of a girl. Now this? I’m disgusting.

15 years old: We’ve been going to church for a few months now. When my mom found out about my feelings for Katie, she flipped out and now I’m forced to be here every Sunday. I even have to go to youth group every week. I mean, people are nice enough, but I know why I’m here. “Satan has a hold of you!” That’s what my mom said. I don’t know, maybe it’s true. The pastor keeps preaching about how sinful we are. How we don’t have hope without Jesus. I’ve always tried to be good. I get straight A’s. I follow the rules. I do my chores. But there’s this thing inside of me. They say it’s an abomination. It’s against God’s will. So, I guess that’s my sin. That’s proof that I’m separated from God, that I deserve hell. I’ve been trying to forget about Katie. About my feelings. I’m not allowed to see her anymore anyway. Maybe this will go away. Maybe if I can get rid of it, my parents won’t be so mad at me. Maybe I won’t be so messed up. I think I need to accept Christ. This is too terrible. I’m too sinful. I need God’s forgiveness. We’re singing now. The pastor is asking if anyone wants to come to the front to pray for Jesus to enter their life and save them from their sin. My heart is racing. I feel sick. I have to do this. There’s no other way that I’m going to be ok, that anyone will love me.

The “gospel” I encountered in that small Southern Baptist church gave me a story through which I learned to see everything. My young mind was anxiously asking – What is wrong with me? How do I fix it? The story began with: You are a sinner – unclean, broken, unworthy of love and belonging. The shame I carried as a teenager trying to make sense of my feelings and desire to love and be loved was reinforced by the Christian story I received. It told me that pretty much nothing about my body could be trusted – my feelings, desires and thoughts were part of my evil flesh. During adolescence, as I was trying to understand my changing body, I was taught that what it was revealing was the worst of the worst.

Even after responding to that altar call and begging God to forgive me, I was terrified that the corruption within me would disqualify me from God’s love. Throughout high school I tried with all my might to resist temptation, suppressing every thought and feeling for girls. I committed to being obedient. I excelled at bible study and memorizing scripture. I volunteered at church. I evangelized my friends at school. I started and led our campus’ first Christian club. I took the True Loves Waits purity pledge. I publicly declared my faith by praying early in the morning at See You At The Pole. I fasted during the 30 Hour Famine. I ended up going to a Christian college. Remember, I am an enneagram 1. I spent every ounce of energy I had trying to be perfect so that somehow God would not change his mind about loving me, that he would not revoke my salvation.

It was on the foundation of Evangelicalism’s story that the ex-gay narrative seemed to offer hope. The following passage is highlighted in yellow in the Bible I voraciously read as a teenager: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, NIV). Exodus International proclaimed, “Freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.” The ex-gay promise fused with the gospel and “overcoming homosexuality” became synonymous with “being saved.” My parents gave me ex-gay books and newsletters to read as part of their attempt to help heal me. The ex-gay narrative offered an easy to understand explanation for why I was “same-sex attracted” and how I could change. My next blog post will focus on that narrative and how it held me hostage for 15 years.

Faced with the damage done by the ex-gay movement, it is important to see how its harm is one manifestation of a dangerous theology that defines humanity primarily as sinful and separated from God. The ex-gay enterprise is legitimated by Evangelicalism’s anthropology. The shame generated by such a self-concept sets us up to, as shame researcher Brene Brown says, “stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness.” Exodus claimed a way out from the shame of homosexuality. However, as explored in Pray Away, it deeply traumatized people, partly because it sent us further into shame. The narrative we tried to live from abused us, killed many, and continues to inflict harm through the ministries still claiming it as “good news.” Pray Away uncovers the toxicity of the ex-gay movement, and I think we also need to interrogate the larger narrative within which it gained traction.

In Pray Away, Julie, once trapped by the self-blaming answer to the question “What’s wrong with me?” recognizes what her teenage self did not: self-harm was “a result of the system and the culture around me that made me hate myself.” She writes in her book: “I’ve heard depression described as anger turned inward. Perhaps that’s what I was doing in my room all those years ago: I took the rage I felt about living in a body that couldn’t be submitted into the kind of body it was supposed to be – a straight body, a feminine body, a good Christian body – and I lit it on fire.”

* Name changed

“How Did I Believe That?” – Reflections on Pray Away, Part 1

The release of Pray Away, a documentary on the ex-gay movement that promotes changing one’s sexual orientation through reparative (conversion) therapy, has been on my calendar since its August 3 date was announced. So, Tuesday morning I woke up, turned on my television, opened Netflix and pressed play. Because of my previous involvement within the ex-gay world, I knew watching would be difficult. The Pray Away website offers “tips and resources to prioritize your mental health before, during, and after viewing the film.” To label this film (or this post) with a “trigger warning” seems obvious, and, doesn’t come close to matching the gravity of the experience of watching this film. Please, please, please care for yourself if you choose to watch this film. If you have already watched it and need support, please reach out to a safe person. Though this is an incredibly important film, if you think it may trigger trauma, you do not have to watch it. For those who have not suffered at the hands of this movement, please watch it. We need you to listen to these stories.

Below this sneak peak from the film is the first post in a series I will share over the next several weeks of reflections inspired by this film and from my own experiences as a survivor.

“My whole entire life was structured around not being gay.” Julie Rodgers in Pray Away.

“How Did I Believe That?”

Days after graduating from college, I boarded a plane from California to Orlando, FL. Alan Chambers, Executive Director of Exodus International, invited me to join the Exodus team and I accepted, believing that God was calling me to use my story to help others find “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.” My job as Publications Manager was essentially to be the ex-gay storyteller. I worked to help others share their testimonies of “freedom” and crafted communications that promoted the message of “change.” I was 22 years old. I had been shaped by the ex-gay narrative since my parents found out about my same-sex attractions when I was 15. They turned to Exodus’ message to “save” me. It was like a dream come true to join this ministry as my first job out of college. I thought, This is what faithfulness to God looked like. This was a place I could belong. I could make a difference here. Though I left the staff 10 months later, the narrative shaped my life for another 10 years.

I joined the staff of Exodus International in May 2002 as Publications & Office Manager.

Yesterday I sat across the table from a pastor who asked me, “Did they really believe it?” From some perspectives, it may seem unbelievable that those leading the ex-gay movement really believed their own message. In the film, Yvette Cantu Schneider reflects on her time as a leader in the movement: “I spent a lot of time thinking – How did I believe that? And how was I involved in it for so long?” She answers her own question later in the film when she comments on the new wave of leadership and testimonies moving the current ex-gay movement forward. “It’s such indoctrination. All of the lingo that they use, and the pattern of the testimony and even the pattern of their lives.”

For most of my life, I’ve been drawn to the way story functions in human experience and meaning making. For a while now, I have specifically been thinking about the way that the ex-gay narrative shaped reality for so many of us, keeping us holding on to it as a guiding vision for our lives long after it even seemed plausible anymore. Yes, we believed it. We devoted our lives to it. We learned to understand our lives and our identities within its boundaries. It became the script for absolutely everything.

One of the reasons this narrative was so powerful is because it was completely at home with the larger narrative so many of us already embraced: that of conservative Evangelicalism. Confessing “Jesus is Lord” meant obediently resisting the temptation of same-sex attractions, and “salvation” meant “freedom from homosexuality.” In a story where a holy God cannot look upon the dirty sinner, and in a culture where “homosexuality” evokes such disgust, of course we believed that the forgiveness we needed is forgiveness for such abhorrent feelings, and of course the salvation we needed is deliverance from such darkness. Yes, as Yvette said, the pattern of the testimony serves as a powerful tool of indoctrination. But it is not just the pattern of the ex-gay testimony. The ex-gay testimony is a product of the larger story that provides its worldview and stamps it with divine legitimacy. “Every society needs a narrative that justifies why it is how it is and does what it does. Such a narrative is the realm of religion, the rituals and stories that connect individuals into a sense of being ‘a people,'” writes Wes Howard-Brook in his book, Empire Baptized: How the Church Embraced What Jesus Rejected, 2nd-5th Centuries. “The first step in establishing… legitimacy was an increased association between the [authority figures] and divine authority.” There is immense power-influencing belief when spiritual leaders are teaching “God’s will” from “God’s word,” and are providing evidence through testimonies. I’ll unpack this more in this series of reflections.

In the film, Julie Rodgers mentions writing a book to “make sense of my experience.” Outlove: A Queer Christian Survival Story released June 22 and I highly recommend it. Julie beautifully examines the experiences of her life within the ex-gay world, inviting her readers along her journey of weaving together new meaning for her life. As she says in the film, “I suffered trauma, and it definitely resulted in extreme forms of self-hatred, but I survived. I’m really happy and I found somebody that I love so much. And we’re doing well, but not everybody is.” She survived. But not everybody does.

Randy Thomas, former Vice President of Exodus International, acknowledges in the film those whose lives have been stolen: “As a leader, I had been trained to acknowledge the loss, but to rationalize it away, to go into denial. And I hate that I did that. And for many people who don’t commit suicide, we’re killing ourselves internally by not embracing who God created us to be.” In the months I worked with Randy, I knew him as someone who was committed to helping others. His motivation for submitting his own life to and leading others along the ex-gay path was to help alleviate suffering and offer hope. Yet, when asked, as he describes, “What do you think about the blood on your hands?” he says, “Right now, all I know is that I am afraid to look at down my hands.”

Regardless of our intentions, every single one of us who provided leadership within the ex-gay movement contributed to the pain and suffering of those impacted by it. Though we were also trapped by its narrative, though we suffered our own pain and losses, though we were manipulated and used, our investment in it did so much damage. The ex-gay movement stole years from me. And it killed so many others. My complicity in the movement is part of what fuels my passion to work for LGBTQ inclusion in Christian spaces now. I am not doing penance, as if good work now will somehow pay for damage done. Nothing can make right what was done. As I said in my post a few weeks ago, as someone who wants to invest in justice and flourishing, this work is part of embracing and offering my full and truest self. This work brings me to life, and my hope is that it will also be life-giving to others.

Pray Away is available to watch on Netflix. In the next post of this series, I will share more about how the ex-gay narrative, as it was situated within the larger Evangelical narrative, functioned in my own life as I tried to make sense of my experiences and faith. In other words, I’ll explore how I came to believe this story and internalize it as my own.

Official Trailer for Pray Away.

Remembering Goodbye

My Facebook memory on Wednesday was from two years ago. Kim and I got up super early and drove to Yosemite National Park so we could watch the sunrise at Tunnel View. We were in countdown mode, experiencing our favorite California places before moving, yet again, across the country. As the sunlight filled that iconic Yosemite Valley view, we held each other and soaked in that moment.

We moved to California from Tennessee three years earlier to live a dream that was now in pieces. California was home for me, and I had hoped that we would make it home for us – that we would find home in a community that would affirm our belonging and promote our flourishing.

Previous to moving to Tennessee to be with Kim, I lived in Fresno, CA. I was connected with a church community that meant the world to me. It had nurtured my theological development and welcomed my service. I preached my first sermon there. I worshipped there when I was just starting out teaching within the Biblical Studies department of their denominational university. I was eager to grow into a leader within the Mennonite Brethren (MB) worlds of church and higher education. I wanted to belong within a chosen family and to experience the Anabaptist vision for community and peacemaking.

I remember going through the process to become a member in 2008. I met with a small group to share my story and discern the fit of membership. At that time, I still used an ex-gay paradigm to understand and tell my story. I talked about my struggle with same-sex attraction throughout my teenage and college years and how following Jesus led me to resist and overcome homosexuality. I felt called to serve God by devoting my life to teaching bible and theology. I needed a community that would help me continue to grow in my faith, challenge me to obedient discipleship, and provide deep relational connection.

In the few years prior to my attending the church, they had gone through a period of wrestling with the issue of LGBTQ people and membership. The outcome provided the option to join the church as an “affiliate member,” a category used for those who want to be part of the community, but who are out of alignment with the Confession of Faith in some significant way. Article 11 of the USMB Confession of Faith defines marriage as “a covenant relationship intended to unite a man and a woman for life” and dictates that “sexual intimacy rightfully takes place only within [such a] marriage.” So, for a same-sex couple to formally become part of the church, they must accept a category of membership that deems their relationship outside the boundary of the community’s interpretation of the Bible for ethical practice. Policy, then, would prohibit such members from serving in a couple of key leadership roles. At the time, I was impressed that the church was willing to have those hard conversations. Though I was a bit uncomfortable with making room for what felt like passive acceptance of same-sex relationships, I was confident that the church would support my own decision to reject homosexuality. I was welcomed into membership and actively participated in various lay leadership roles over several years.

As I’ve shared before, my journey led me to wrestle with my sexuality and theology intensely for a period of two years that culminated in a full affirmation of myself as a lesbian and for same-sex relationships. During that time, though I felt the support of a couple of trusted people within that congregation, I did not trust I could live that period of my journey “out loud.” I did not share what I was going through with many people. Because I was also struggling with depression that radically limited my capacity to engage, I quit the leadership role I was in and stopped participating beyond attending Sunday services. No one asked questions, and I felt largely alone as I slipped away from active participation.

Toward the end of that two year period, I found most of my connection through the Gay Christian Network’s online community (now known as Q Christian Fellowship). On November 10, 2013, I received a message from a woman who had also recently come out to herself and reconciled her faith and sexuality. She asked me about my experience of coming out to my best friend, because she was about to come out to hers and she knew, as was my experience, that it was not going to go well. Thus was the beginning of my relationship with Kim. We connected during a very difficult time in our lives, and we’ve been by each other’s side every day since then (even when we were 2,000 miles apart for the first 10 months of our relationship).

The first time Kim came to visit me in California, I took her to my church. We had the practice of passing around the microphone to introduce our guests toward the end of the service. I stood up and proudly proclaimed, “This is my girlfriend, Kim.” She wanted to crawl under her chair. I was also nervous. Though a few people knew about my affirming shift, that moment really was my public coming out. For some who only knew me as ex-gay or committed to celibacy, I’m sure it was surprising. The service ended, and several people came up to us to welcome Kim and express their joy for our relationship. A couple of those people told me years later that they had been hoping I would embrace my sexuality and find someone to love authentically. At the time, I had no idea anyone would feel that way. After all, the church was non-affirming, and coming out resulted in the loss of my closest friend and meant that I would not be able to work for the denominational organizations within which I had spent much of my professional life. For years the desire to belong within that MB world, though I was not aware of it at the time, kept me from even being open to honestly seeing myself and wrestling with my theology around sexuality. That Sunday morning gave me hope that I might find belonging as my authentic self within the community I loved and had invested in for longer than I had connected with any other community.

Circumstances kept Kim from moving to California as was our original plan, so in September 2014, I moved to Tennessee to begin our engaged life together. We got married soon after SCOTUS declared same-sex marriage legal nationwide. Though we got married in California where it had already been legal, Tennessee – home of one of the plaintiffs that culminated in Obergefell v. Hodges – had no legal protections against workplace or other discrimination. Kim was not out at work and even though same-sex marriage now had to be legally recognized, she didn’t feel comfortable telling people that we had gotten married. We flew out to California on a Thursday, got married in Tahoe on Saturday and flew back to Tennessee on Monday. The cultural climate toward LGBTQ people in Tennessee combined with the hope of making the Fresno community our family motivated our plan to move as soon as it was possible.

A job offer moved us near Sacramento, CA for a year before a transfer opened up to Fresno. In my mind, we were finally home. I had kept in touch with several people from the church and was so excited to rejoin that community. The conversations I had over the three years I was away only served to grow my hope that the church was moving toward LGBTQ inclusion. It wasn’t long after we began attending that we were invited to participate by sharing our faith stories in the Adult Education hour, I was invited to preach, and we read scripture during several Sunday services. The more we talked to people, the more we heard a desire to become affirming. We were finding our place, and I invested myself in moving change forward.

Our experience during the two years we lived in Fresno will be the topic for an upcoming blog post. Now we’re back where we started: the Facebook memory from two years ago. With dashed dreams of belonging within that community, we were soaking in the sunrise filling Yosemite Valley and saying goodbye. Several days later we loaded our two pups in the back of our car and drove away.

I share this memory today to say to all those LGBTQ people (and allies) who have lost the people and places they most wanted to belong: I see you. I have suffered my own hurt and grief. As someone who deeply feels the pain of “this is not the way it’s supposed to be,” I understand that these losses, these rejections, these shattered hopes are traumatic. As I said in my last post, the anger and sadness I feel in response to suffering is energy I want to engage to offer the healing gifts I have to give: compassion, resilience and imagination for seeking justice and flourishing.

If you want support as you navigate your own journey, I would love to connect with you about spiritual coaching. If you are in a non-affirming church that you want to influence to move toward LGBTQ inclusion, let’s talk about how I can help facilitate that change. As in my story, things may not work out the way you hope. However, you are not alone. Together, we can chart a path that opens you up to greater healing and flourishing.

The Next Right Thing

I’m an enneagram type 1. My type is commonly called “The Perfectionist,” “The Reformer,” or “The Improver.”

At my worst – when I most disconnected from my true self – I devolve into incredibly harsh self-criticism because I feel “not good enough” and I can’t “fix it all.” When that inner critic is raging, it spills out as judgmentalism. What is really going on is deep insecurity, anxiety and rage – that it is “not the way it’s supposed to be.” Whatever it is – me, others, the world. All I can see and feel is the pain of the “not yet.”

At my best – when I am most connected to my “very good” and “beloved” embodied identity – I open up to hope and am energized to participate in the cultivation of shalom. I am able to join the suffering I see without being consumed. I am able to celebrate the present moments of goodness, practicing gratitude instead of giving in to foreboding joy or resentment. When I am most fully myself, I have healing gifts to give: compassion, resilience and imagination for seeking justice and flourishing.

Over the last year and a half, during the isolation of social distancing, I have watched as people and communities respond to a global pandemic. There have been stories of neighbors grocery shopping for those at most risk. I have seen people urging their friends and family to pull together and make sacrifices even though at a distance – encouraging wearing face masks, foregoing holiday gatherings and learning to connect on screens instead of in person. I have also seen some of the most egregious, selfish and harmful behavior I have ever witnessed.

I have spent much of these last months wrestling with anger and the temptation to throw my hands in the air in resignation. Because of the privilege of my race and socioeconomic status, I could choose to stay in isolation. I could detach and retreat into the safety of a self-centered and self-righteous existence. I’d have to numb my emotional life and close myself off from compassion. I’d have to console myself through distraction and avoid moments of stillness and quiet when I might have to face myself. But, I could give in to the despair of the suffering I see in the world and fear that healing and justice are hopeless fantasies. That would be to allow my worst shadow to overcome my true self.

I have also spent much of these last months wrestling with how to use my energy to engage – to seek justice and promote flourishing. A few weeks ago I decided it was time to quit my job and commit full-time to the work I have been trying to do “on the side” for the last couple of years. It is time to give this my full attention and effort. It is time to go all-in with the work that most reflects and shapes my truest self. It is time to wholeheartedly embrace that my story, my self, and my gifts are an important contribution to the story of liberation and healing that has been at work in the world as long as Love has “heard” and “come down.”

It is time for the next right thing. This is not the whole thing. This is not every thing. This is my part. I cannot heal the whole world, but I can spend my life healing. I cannot fix all that is wrong and causing harm, but I can spend my life tending to pain and fostering hope.

Here it is: the relaunching of my website comes with the announcement that I am launching my own business. The majority of my work is focused on LGBTQ inclusion in Christian spaces. I am building a spiritual coaching practice. I am also teaching and facilitating courses and seminars on faith related topics such as the Bible, theology, spirituality, and on other topics such as personal growth and leadership for non-faith based contexts. In addition to teaching, consulting and coaching, I will be creating content to share on my blog, and, eventually, in other media.

So take a look around. Let me know if I can be of service to you. If you would like to support my work, the first thing you can do is share it with others. Check out the “What I Do” page for the services I offer. If you would like to contribute financially, one of the first things I want to establish is a scholarship fund for clients that cannot afford coaching or consulting. Contact me for more details. If you would like to talk more about what I’m doing and how you might benefit or get involved, let’s schedule a time to meet in person, on the phone or online.