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Equality in Faith July 8, 2017

Equality In Faith: Stories from N.C. affirming faith communities
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This bi-monthly presentation of stories and information is generated by EqualityNC's faith outreach program. We hope you will share by forwarding to friends, family, congregants and others to help us raise visibility of North Carolina's growing LGBTQ-affirming faith community.
EQUALITY  IN  FAITH

Sharing stories from within North Carolina's
LGBTQ-affirming faith communities 

Saturday, July 8, 2017
In this edition...
• Carrboro filmmaker explores affirmation in homes – bound and unbound
• The powerful voice of a Greensboro rabbi
• A Charlotte man's journey from rejection to affirmation
• A mom from rural North Carolina shares her family's story
* New report on refusal to serve laws
Please share these stories within your faith community as we work to make our affirming faith more visible.
Rabbi Fred Guttman of Temple Emanuel in Greensboro is pictured with his daughter Maital and his mother Reta, who is holding the family's newborn grandson.

N.C.'s Rabbi Guttman

a staunch LGBTQ advocate 


More importantly, says Fred Guttman, his congregation is as well

Speaking last year in Greensboro at a service to honor those killed in the Orlando, Fla. Pulse nightclub tragedy.
 
Speaking in Raleigh at a 2013 service commentating the 10th Anniversary of the Mass Moral March on Raleigh.

Jewish faith community leaders in North Carolina have been at the forefront of efforts to make full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals a reality.

One of those leaders, Rabbi Fred Guttman of Greensboro, is proud of the role his congregation at Temple Emanuel has played and is playing in the LGBTQ Civil Rights Movement.

Guttman, who has served the congregation at Temple Emanuel for 22 years, cites an example from North Carolina’s 2012 Amendment One – a law that temporarily banned marriage equality – as a historic moment for both his congregation and himself. 

His congregation had adopted only one resolution under his leadership and that was in 2005 with a resolution to support sanctions against Iran – aimed at thwarting efforts by the country to obtain nuclear weapons. 

Its second resolution came in 2012 in opposition to Amendment One.

“I took a resolution to the congregational board which opposed Amendment One,” Guttman states. “I thought there would be intense discussion. One person raised their hand and said ‘I move we accept the resolution.”’

Last year, the congregation at Temple Emanuel passed a resolution opposing North Carolina’s HB2 legislation – a hastily crafted and ill-intentioned attempt to prevent nondiscrimination protection for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender individuals.

He says the HB2 resolution passed within a minute.

While those votes were historic for the congregation, Guttman says it also was significant for him personally and as leader of the congregation. 

“It meant that I could speak on Amendment One and HB2 not only as Fred Guttman and Rabbi Guttman but I could speak on behalf of the congregation,” he said. “It was a historic occurrence for our congregation. “

“Fred Guttman” and “Rabbi Guttman” had been a vocal advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals for a number of years. He came to be a staunch advocate through a process that began some 18 years ago when his daughter came out as lesbian.

 

To continue reading, see RABBI below

"We received 204 completed surveys representing a broad spectrum of organization types—from umbrella and advocacy groups to local nonprofits and synagogues. Of these organizations, 50 percent received the top score of “inclusion,” meaning they are taking significant steps to welcome LGBT individuals and families. 

"This compares to just 4 percent of the organizations that participated in HRC’s first Corporate Equality Index of Fortune 1000 companies in 2002."

Human Rights Campaign

Keshet offers an excellent key resource document for Jewish educators, compiled by Ann Abrams, the librarian of Temple Israel of Boston (Abrams 2013).24 In one location, this non-annotated list pulls together both Jewish and non-Jewish LGBT books, films, and organizational websites. The Keshet website also has many short lesson plans and curriculum ideas for educators; links to Torah Queeries, a series of over 150 short essays on each Torah portion and most holidays written from an LGBTQ lens; transgender text studies; information on Hineini (see under the Films in the Annotated Bibliography section below), the documentary lm that Keshet produced; as well as sharing Keshet’s training and advocacy programs from across the country. 

 Information on other resources 

Scott Mealus of Charlotte enjoys dinner with family.

One love equals

happiness and peace

 

Gay, lesbian and transgender individuals often find a different love

Scott Mealus has lived on both sides of an equation which often define the lives of lesbian, gay, transgender individuals.

It is somewhat of a simple equation, but as Mealus understands, it also can be excruciatingly and needlessly complex for many.

When lesbian, gay and transgender persons, especially youth, are rejected on the basis of religious belief or teaching, it inflicts immense emotional, psychological and emotional trauma. 

When lesbian, gay and transgender individuals are fully affirmed – embraced for who they are and not merely accepted – their emotional, psychological and spiritual health is nourished and uplifted.

Like many others, Mealus has lived life on both sides of that equation.

“I was raised in a Pentecostal church that believed ‘homosexuals’ were sinners with no value,” he says. “They were only sexual deviants that God hated, and we should turn our backs on them.  I remember crying myself to sleep, begging God to take this from me.  I started sinking into a deep hatred of myself, but couldn’t admit to myself that I was gay because of the deep shame.”

His last visit to his church would soon follow, a visit in which only two church members spoke to him – both telling him that they didn’t want him around their children.

Mealus decided to go to a Christian college in 1995 and believed that if he lived a good life and continued to pray, God would make him straight.  It was there he met another gay man and they became friends. He recalls how after their first meeting he felt a sense of disgust and actually made himself throw up.

He later would meet other person who he began dating. He recalls feeling shame and more disgust, responses he knows today were generated by years of hearing anti-gay sentiment being expressed around him. He also felt that he could not divulge his sexual orientation to his parents, as he knew their religious perspective would likely cause separation, rejection and even hatred.

“That life of shame is so painful,” he says. “I began to sink into a deep depression.” 

After meeting a group of friends during the summer between his freshmen and sophomore year who had asked him if his parents knew he was gay, Mealus said he decided to do what at one point he thought he could never do.
 “The next day I woke up, and suddenly felt that I had to tell them,” he says. Weeping as he told his parents that he was bisexual, he says he was still too ashamed to say that he was gay.

The response from his parents was not what he had hoped and had feared.
 
To continue reading, see LOVE below.
Affirming Faith Highlights
"Christians Talk" video gives voice to affirming faith perspective.
No major religious group expresses majority support for allowing small businesses to refuse service to gay or lesbian people on religious grounds, finds a new PRRI survey report.
A 2015 study showed 66 percent of transgender participants said that they had been part of a faith community at some point in their life. Of all racial groups, black trans people are the most likely to have been part of a faith community.
Mother’s walk with transgender

son guided by affirming faith

She lives is a rural portion of North Carolina. She is hopeful as a person of faith. She is thankful as a mother.

She loved, embraced, cared about and possessed a unique parental hope for a daughter for 20 years. She embraces, loves, cares about and possesses that same unique parental hope for that son today.

When her daughter came out as lesbian a number years ago, she felt prepared – despite being reared in a family where a more fundamental religious ideology dominated the family’s Christian perspectives.

That level of preparedness began when a friend in college came out to her as being gay.

The relationship that had been formed with the friend was a powerful influence on how her thinking would change on the matter of sexual orientation – as with the case of so many people who have changed their thinking and attitudes.

“My belief system and my religion told me that same-sex relationships are a choice, and a sinful one at that, but my friend told me his story,  and I believed him,” she said.

And while her relationship with the college friend allowed her to discard many of the negative thoughts that had been instilled by a certain Christian religious perspective, remnants of that earlier viewpoint were still present.

It was a conversation with another person of Christian faith a few years later that served as somewhat of a marker in her journey toward better understanding, particularly when it came to the religious perspective.

“I remember saying homosexuality was a moral deviancy,” she said. “I remember saying that aloud. This person laughed at that notion. ‘Homosexuality is not a moral deviancy. People are made that way. It is not sinful or immoral. What are you thinking?”’

It was an important point in her journey because it was a different religious perspective on sexual orientation being expressed by another person of faith.

According to data, she is among many North Carolinians who have embraced a different religious perspective on sexual orientation and gender identity and those conversations within faith communities have greatly contributed to changing attitudes.

Over the next several years, she would have the opportunity to meet other lesbian and gay individuals and develop relationships with those persons.

“I kept having experiences and listening,” she says. “There was still some of the ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ mentality. It’s really great to love people even though they are sinful. But I came to understand this is how they are created.

"This is their reality of personhood and they aren’t sinful and they are not rebelling against God. They are God’s children and were created by God.”

By the time that her daughter came out as gay, her daughter had already been suffering emotional and psychological stress that so many lesbian, gay and transgender individuals experience, especially youth.

While she knew it may be difficult for her daughter and her family – primarily because of that traditional religious perspective present in many families in rural conservative North Carolina – she personally felt relieved.

“This is going to be hard but I was also relieved,” she said. “ Is this all it is? Thank goodness. We can deal with this.”

As for many parents who fully embrace their lesbian daughters or gay sons and begin sharing that life experience with their children, this mother’s journey to full affirmation would seem close to a culmination point.

But her child’s journey was not complete and neither was hers. She, at the time, would not recognize several significant steps along the way during a three-year period.

One such step was when she watched a news program that featured a transgender member of a university swim team and how the person’s teammates and parents had been so supportive. “I remember thinking how courageous those parents are,” she said. “They are just awesome.”

Another step would come when a friend sent her a note about a list of books that had been banned. Wanting to support efforts aimed at ending such bans, she purchased one of the books,  “Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out” by Susan Kuklin.

She also participated in a professional development seminar in 2016 sponsored by her employer. The session, occurring during the period when North Carolina’s infamous HB2 legislation was being debated, focused on transgender issues.

When her son came out as transgender, she says that those steps formed a foundation of understanding and one that would help her work through some of the anxiety she first experienced.


She says that anxiety stemmed not as much from her own thinking but primarily how the announcement would be met by her religiously conservative family and community members.

Even though she had changed her thinking about sexual orientation, she says she felt she needed some time to process her son’s transition.  “I need a little bit of space,” she recalls telling him. “You don’t have anything to worry about. I just need some time to learn and do some self care. This is going to turn out well for you.”

For her personally, it was the sense that she would be losing a daughter that invoked somewhat of a grieving response. The other primary concern was whether the transitioning process would be safe for her son and what were the longterm effects of hormone therapy.

During the next month, she would have the opportunity to meet a young transgender woman at a local church whose parent was a physician. 


“This doctor had researched all the transgender myths,” she said. “They were fully embracing and moving ahead with the transition. That gave me peace of mind. Knowing someone in the medical community who had done the research.”

She had also came across the statistic that shows nearly half of transgender persons attempt suicide and tragically 30 percent of those are successful.

“This was more impactful to me, in terms of any lasting side effects of taking hormones,” she said. “In my mind, not transitioning is more dangerous than transitioning.”

And then there was the person who had spoken at the professional development seminar last year. Although she hadn’t spoken with the person at the seminar, she had taken one of her cards. But she had since moved offices and had performed the type cleaning and discarding process usually involved in such a move.

But the card was still there. “If that is not God walking with me, I do not know what is,” she says. “If you saw my office, you’d know what a miracle that was.”

A month after her son shared his transition with his mother, he composed a letter to share his transition with other family members.

As for so many transgender individuals, it is the response from family members that can be difficult – and so often it is because of misunderstanding born out of certain religious perspectives that shape how people think about transgender persons. That religious perspective also can serve as a barrier to individuals examining the medical science behind transgender issues.

“My family has been kind but also very clear that their belief is that this is against biblical principle,” the mother says. “They say we are praying that he will come back to God. I always thank them for their prayers. ‘We all need prayer and I appreciate that but you are making an assumption that my child is not walking with God.”’

She is very familiar with the misunderstanding often erected by religious thought.
“You should not change the way God created you,” recalling words she has heard. “They don’t understand my son is being the person God created him to be.”

“Religious indoctrination can be so strong,” she says. “You don’t question. When you open your mind, you open your mind to the devil. Don’t question. This is it. It is black and white.”

While she at times feels impatient with those who refuse to examine the medical science behind transitioning and are unwilling to consider a different Christian response, she is willing to give them some time.

“My own journey has been a process,” she said. “It would be unfair to think others will change overnight.”

Perhaps the most important lesson she hopes more people will consider is how the  scriptural command to love your neighbor as yourself is placed above all other commands. She questions how some people can profess such a religious ideal and at the same time justify deeply hurtful words and action toward lesbian, gay and transgender people.

As a person of faith, she’s hopeful that such examination is taking place more often than not. Recent data indicates that hope is not misplaced.

As a mother, she’s thankful her fear of losing the person she once called a daughter indeed proved unfounded.

“Nothing has changed,” she said.

He is the same wonderful gift that God gave me and this family.”
FEATURED READING
Six unwaveringly honest American teens describe what life is like for them as members of the transgender community. Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender identity. This book was published to critical acclaim in the US, where it was selected as a Stonewall Honor book. 
N.C. Religious Demographics and Data
Support for HB2 is clearly related to the political parties with which voters identify. Republican voters tend to support the law with 60% supportive, compared to only 34% of Democrats and 20% of Independents. Roughly two-thirds of North Carolina voters are Democrats and Independents. Voters who do not identify with either political party tend to be the most opposed to HB2, which is unexpected because nationally, Democrats tend to be the most supportive of LGBT rights. 

The Williams Institute May 2016
N.C. film addresses religion,
transgender issues in homes

Diana Newton of Carrboro understands how the issue of gender identity can play out in religious homes. She, her sister Christine and other family members have lived that experience.

She is sharing her family’s powerful and poignant story in a new film, The Ties That Bind.”

Those title words indeed are descriptive of what Newton has attempted to do in this personal documentary – explore the symbiotic processes in a family in which relationships are bound by love but also how family members’ love can often be bound by their religious belief. As the daughter of a Baptist minister, this filmmaker knows this complex territory well.

This documentary is particularly relevant for faith communities in North Carolina – where data shows evangelical Protestants form a majority religious group in many communities. In most areas, particularly rural, non-urban areas, the data shows those evangelicals hold a more conservative religious perspective.


The film features an altar-call embrace of full affirmation – most importantly what that affirmation means to transgender individuals like her sister Christine. But it is also about how her sister’s affirmation is processed by those close family members around her.

But the data also shows dramatic shifts taking place in North Carolina religious communities – even among those evangelicals – in relation to attitudes and religious perspectives on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Newton’s film comes to this intersection of religious attitudes and perspectives in flux and it captures how that crossroads is playing out not only in her family’s homes but homes across North Carolina.

It is authentic and impactful in the way it captures the progress of attitudes changing while at the same time giving the viewer an honest and genuine examination into impediments to that progress.

The film features an altar-call embrace of full affirmation – most importantly what that affirmation means to transgender individuals like her sister Christine. But it is also about how her sister’s affirmation is processed by those close family members around her.

“The process of our family system grappling with her change really was – and still is – a prompt for us to grapple with what is our bandwidth for real love in this family,” says Newton. “Can we  risk being really authentic and proactively look at each other’s differences?

“For any lesbian, gay or trans person to come out is to finally be seen and to be heard. What can be more affirming that for people who say I see you, I hear your experience, I hear your needs and I am here for you? That is the ultimate affirmation.”

The film explores both sides of the equation.

“On what basis have we come toward acceptance of Christine and what is it that pushes us away,” says Newton.

Newton hopes families in faith communities throughout North Carolina will find the film informative and inspirational at a time when demographic and social attitude data points to what she considers the most important driver of such change – the capacity we have to grow and be enriched by our differences. What better place to start than within our families?

Clergy and others who may interested in exploring and sharing her family’s experience can learn more about the film at http://www.tiesthatbindmovie.com. Newton can be contacted at diana@fallingapples.com


RABBI – from top of page

For the younger rabbi and at a point when he had not gained the understanding he possesses today, he said those earlier years were difficult.

“It is not now as big a deal as it was then,” he said, a nod to the data that shows just how far the needle has moved in terms of negative attitudes toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals changing to positive ones. 

“But it was a big issue for me then and I didn't understand it,” he said. "And 18 or 19 years ago, I don’t think my daughter understood that it would take time to metabolize into my psyche. It was a game changer for me. It took me by surprise and I had no idea what it meant.

“At first, and I know this is stupid, but I thought maybe it's because I encouraged her too much in sports. But then I looked at all the girls on the team and said well they aren’t gay,” he added, displaying a sense of humor that so many have come to know.

Like so many other parents who grapple with misunderstanding of sexual orientation and gender identity, he questioned whether his daughter’s sexual orientation was the result of something he had done wrong as a parent. What could he do to fix it?

“Eventually I realized that this is who she was and this is how God had made her,” Guttman says. His daughter recently gave birth to the newest addition of Guttman’s family, a beautiful grandson. “And 18 or 19 years ago, I would never have thought my daughter would have a child. What did I know?

“Eventually I went to her when she was in her early 20s and I told her I didn’t think I had been a very good parent.  I asked her forgiveness for not always being as understanding and supportive as she deserved.”

Guttman said his journey took a turn inward and outward when Amendment One was passed by the N.C. House on Sept. 12, 2010, just a day after the annual observances of 9/11.

“On that day (Sept. 11, 2001) 3,000 people, most of them Americans, lost their lives because of intolerance, bigotry and hatred. The very next day after the 2011 observances, our state House had to pass a bill that proposed a constitutional amendment that was filled with intolerance and bigotry. 

The passage of Amendment One the following May would enshrine discrimination as an affront to a broad swath of North Carolinians – his daughter, other lesbian and gay individuals, their families, friends, co-workers and faith communities opposed to such discrimination.

“Now it wasn’t just about somebody else it was about my child.” Guttman said. “It goes very quickly from being about my child to everybody else, particularly as a rabbi.”

 

Guttman said it was during that period that he began to understand just how important the civil rights issue was for progress toward full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. Guttman says during that period he had been reading statements from Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, who emphasized how the struggle for LGBTQ equality indeed was a civil rights issue.

“Rev. Barber was writing not from a religious point of view but a civil rights point of view,” he said. “That really resonated with me.”

He says he had seen how impactful that message has been to African American audiences who deeply understand discrimination and social hostility.  A Stanford University political scientist testified in the 2010  California Prop8 trial that no other minority groups in America have been the target of more restrictive ballot initiatives than gay men and lesbians. 

He believes Amendment One might not have failed at the ballot box if those in favor of marriage equality had focused more on marriage equality as a civil rights issue – the argument that won the day in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court case whose June 26, 2015 ruling overturned Amendment One and similar marriage bans across the nation.

While Guttman is a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community, he’s also a vocal advocate for other social justice issues. In 2013, he was honored as one of the 50 Faces of Justice, a one-time recognition for the 50th anniversary of the Religious Action Center on Reform Judaism – the hub of Jewish social justice and legislative activity in Washington.

In addition to his Rabbinical Ordination from Hebrew Union College in 1979, he has a Master degree in Hebrew Literature from Hebrew Union College and a Master of Education from the University of North Florida. His undergraduate education was at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. In 2004, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity from Hebrew Union College. 

Guttman has seen progress on many fronts of the LGBTQ Civil Rights Movement – marriage equality, changing attitudes, and most important changing religious perspectives.

As recent data shows a dramatic shift in the way persons of faith think about sexual orientation and gender identity, affirming faith communities will continue to play a pivotal role in bringing that majority voice to the forefront.

While “Fred Guttman” and “Rabbi Guttman” are strong and passionate voices for LGBTQ equality, it is the work and support of Temple Emanuel of Greensboro that gives him a deep sense of thankfulness and pride.

“They have done a lot and I am really, really proud.”

LOVE – from top of page

He understands today how years of being conditioned to think about homosexuality in terms of sin – something evil, disgusted and hated by God – allowed his parents to truly believe they were doing the right thing by saying things that might turn their son away from a “wicked lifestyle.”

Such a response is very familiar to a large segment of LGBTQ youth who are raised in Christian homes where the traditional “sin” perspective on sexual orientation often guides their words and actions.

Recent studies have shown that such rejection and hostility for young people reared in homes where that traditional perspective is at play, places that group of LGBTQ youth at risk to higher rates of suicide and suicidal ideation – while those rates are already high for LGBTQ youth in general.

Mealus says it is a cruel irony that parents believe they are doing what is best for their son or daughter when in fact nothing could be more harmful than to hear their lives are somehow an affront to the God they have been taught is all-loving and all-understanding – words from parents who they once knew as all-loving and all-understanding.

That is when many LGBTQ youth desperately try to rid themselves of same-sex attraction. For many of those reared in religious homes, it means sleepless nights praying that God will remove the curse from them.

Many, either through their own volition or the urging of parents, find themselves in reparative therapy groups. Some find themselves with Christian counselors who may not advertise themselves as practicing reparative therapy but who promote the same message that the young person hears in the home – homosexuality is not to be condoned and that God’s ideal is for men and women to be heterosexual.

Mealus attended a reparative therapy group within the Exodus organization, a group whose president later in 2013 would admit the entire reparative therapy industry is a sham and causes great harm to LGBTQ youth.

"It is strange to be someone who has both been hurt by the Church's treatment of the LGBTQ community, and also to be someone who must apologize for being part of the very system of ignorance that perpetuated that hurt," said then Exodus President Alan Chambers.

Mealus experienced that hurt.

“I was struck by the shame and the guilt in the room, the self-hatred and disgust, the loneliness and hopelessness,” he said. 

By the time he went back to college his sophomore year in 1996, Mealus’s home was no longer the home it once was for him and his family.

“My parents and I were fighting constantly,” he says. “They were once so proud of the amazing son I was – for my academics, athletic pursuit, my kindness and compassionate. Now they felt embarrassment, shame, and often refused to tell me they loved me.  I was in a very deep depression and could barely function.  Everyone at school immediately knew something was wrong.  I couldn’t go to class, eat, be social. I just wanted to die.  This was too much to handle.  I started to beg God to just kill me.”

One of Mealus’s professors sensed that something was wrong and recommended he speak with a counselor. Still attending the Christian college, he feared a repeat of reparative therapy but was surprised when the counselor was empathetic and advised that he see a counselor outside the Christian college.

He began taking medication for anxiety and depression and attending outpatient counseling where he met others dealing with similar trauma.

But things took a turn for the worse when he confided in a roommate, which led to fellow students making prayer requests on his behalf – which in turn led to his outing among his peers. That was followed by hateful and hostile comments by some of the

college peers. He ended up in a psychiatric hospital for four weeks.

Upon terminating his college and returning home, his situation grew more dire as the rejection intensified – from his parents, family members and from his church. He had confided at one point with a youth pastor at his church, which would lead to an incredible hurtful episode with his mother.

“My mom came down and asked me if I understood what I had done,” he says. “Did I understand the shame and embarrassment I had brought to this family?  I asked, do you understand these people are turning their backs on me.’’

His last visit to his church would soon follow, a visit in which only two church members spoke to him – both telling him that they didn’t want him around their children.

For the next 10 years, Mealus lived imprisoned by the guilt and shame that he had internalized for so long. It would take a near-death experience involving an attempted robbery that finally served as the impetus for his family to begin examining their attitudes, beliefs an understanding around their son’s sexual orientation.

“Enough of this,’’ he recalls his father saying. “If you had died last night, we would never have known you, and would never forgive ourselves. We are coming to see you.” 

That episode brought some hope but it wasn’t enough to overcome the years of self-hatred and shame that raged inside him. After attending a church service in 2014 and faced with an overpowering sense of brokenness, hurt and rage, Mealus said he just could not bear the weight of such oppression. Following an overdose, he awoke in a hospital and upset that his suicide attempt was not successful.

Sometime after that incident, Mealus says he met someone who encouraged him to attend church with him.

“When I opened the hymnal, I wept, and all of that pain started to surface,” he says.

Mealus says that the church attendance that day wasn’t just a visit to a church that fully affirms lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, it was “an introduction to a God that loved me. “

From that point, Mealus said his life began to change as he began to experience peace and forgiveness instead of anger and shame.

Mealus now is employed with company where he work in its human resources department assisting and supporting employees and company retirees who have experienced the loss of someone. He also works with transgender employees.

As someone who experienced years of loneliness and grief, Mealus says he finds it fulfilling to be using his experience in helping serve others.

Despite many years of rejection suffered at the hands of parents and family, Mealus is not bitter. He says that new level of understanding that began in 2006 with his father after the robbery attempt has continued and has flourished. Once forbidden to have another gay person in the house, Mealus said he and his partner feel safe, comfortable and loved when visited his parents.

He also knows that many parents today still do not recognize the harm they do to their gay, lesbian or transgender children. He says today he understands that his parents truly believed the harsh words and actions were part of their faith’s call to love him.

He hopes to share his story with others in the future in hopes that more parents and families will come to understand that love, especially God’s love, cannot embody rejection and hostility.

For years, Mealus lived with the love exemplified in “love the sinner and hate the sin.”  It almost killed him.

He found God’s love in 2015. Today, his life is filled with happiness, hope and peace. He hopes more and more families will come to understand that love is the only equation – the only love.

If you missed our last edition of Equality In Faith, you can find it here.
The articles and information presented in this feature are complied, researched and written by ENC faith outreach staff. Contact Faith Outreach Director Brent Childers at brent@equalitync.org with comments or suggestion for stories from within your faith community.
Copyright © 2017 • EqualityNC • All rights reserved.


Send comments and suggestions about Equality In Faith to brent@equalitync.org


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]]> Equality In Faith: Stories from N.C. affirming faith communities

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