Jeff Ford Finds His True Self After 14 Years of Ex-Gay Therapy

Can you have a relationship with God if you believe that God condemns who you are?

 

For twenty-four years, Jeff Ford was married to a woman, and they have three beautiful daughters. But along the way, Jeff had a secret. He was attracted to guys. Jeff’s conservative faith and love for his family motivated him to find a cure for his same-sex attractions. He spent fourteen years in church counseling and countless gay conversion therapy programs, but nothing changed his attractions.

He could not pray away the gay.

Jeff’s marriage and his family suffered because he could not live a life of integrity, and he considered divorce in 2005 and 2009.  He had faithfully pursued Christian counseling and gay conversion for many years but watched most members continue to struggle with no change in their sexual orientation.  He loyally followed Exodus International for years and watched their organization implode in 2013 when their leaders apologized for the work they did and finally admitted they could not change people’s sexual orientation.  With prayer, Bible study, and a long history with others in gay conversion therapy, Jeff finally realized he needed to live his own truth; the truth that God designed for his life.  He divorced in 2016, still unsure whether the Scriptures required him to be celibate or whether he could be in a relationship with a man, but he knew that he could not continue to live a lie.

Jeff’s spiritual journey has taken him to the place where he finally understood his relationship with God would never be what it needed to be so long as he continued to believe he was hated and condemned by God. Today, he has come to realize that God deeply loves him and everyone in the LGBT+ community.  Jeff finally knows and celebrates he is divinely created as someone special with unique characteristics and gifts to give to the world, his family, friends, and the community. And his faith has never been stronger.

Suzanne Dewitt Hall and the Transformational Power of Listening to God

IS YOUR FAITH STRONG ENOUGH TO ALLOW GOD TO SELECT THE PERSON YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE? AND BE WITH?

Suzanne Dewitt Hall was a straight conservative Christian who once blogged about the evils of homosexuality. But then she met Diane. “It felt like the angel was at the door of the prison saying, ‘Come out. Here’s your earthquake.  Get out of there.'”

Suzanne left her husband and followed the path that God laid out for her. “When you allow God to be the person to select the person you’re supposed to be with it’s transformational.”

Suzanne Dewitt Hall describes herself as a Freelance scribbler, one of Rumplepimple’s moms, a cookbookophile and an imagiplationist.

She’s a scribbler all right. She has three different blogs and is a frequent contributor to HuffPost.

Suzanne is the author of an exciting new devotional book (WHERE TRUE LOVE IS) that will reaffirm how much God loves each of us as an LGBTQIA+ individual.

She’s the author of the children’s book series THE ADVENTURES OF RUMPLEPIMPLE.  Rumplepimple is a naughty terrier with an annoying cat for a big sister and two moms who can’t understand a word he says. It’s a tale of an unlikely hero who saves the say in the most unusual way.

She’s a cookbookophile with an interest in cookbooks from the 50s and 60s. A recent example on her blog is a cookbook using Spry, a vegetable shortening and competitor to that essential ingredient in my momma’s biscuits – Crisco.

And you’ll have to listen to this phenomenal interview to find out the meaning of the word “imagiplationist.”

To reach Suzanne and find out more about the devotional book, check out Twitter or Facebook.

Where True Love Is, her new devotional book is available for purchase on Amazon.

 

Jackie McQueen and the Conflict between Love and Her Southern Baptist Faith

On this 15th episode, I talk to Jackie McQueen. She had been the wife of a Southern Baptist pastor for 30 years. And she firmly believed that being gay was a choice. But her world turned upside down on April 8, 2014, when she found out that her son was gay. For the past three and a half years, she has struggled with her conscience, her faith and being a mother.

She is an ordinary person whom God has called to do extraordinary things, and her courage, compassion, and conviction make her a shining example of the best of Christianity.

Jackie talks about those initials months after their church found out her son was gay. The deacons told them their son couldn’t talk about being gay at church, and he couldn’t do anything “gay” at church either. Parents were worried that their son might try to convert their children. The youth leader staged an intervention when their son went on a youth group trip to Florida. Eventually, Jackie and her husband realized that the church couldn’t handle them anymore, and they had to leave their church home. And their denomination.

Some questions:

  • Is being gay a choice?
  • Why is homosexuality looked at differently than divorce?
  • Why do conservative Christians spend so much time focused on the lives of other people?

Thomas Mark Zuniga Struggles with Same-Sex Attractions, Faith and Masculinity

On this 14th episode, I talk with Thomas Mark Zuniga. Tom is a Christian who has same-sex attractions, and his core belief is that the only kind of sex God blesses is marital sex between a man and a woman. But Tom has never tried to “pray away the gay.”

Instead, he struggles to balance faith, sexuality, and masculinity. And each week, he checks in with his “brothers” where they discuss their SPERM count.

Tom is the co-founder of Your Other Brothers (YOB), an online community of Christian men who struggle with same-sex attractions. Through blogs, a podcast and online comments, men on YOB share their stories and explore life with raw honesty and courage.

Tom and his spiritual brothers are not out to stoke culture warrior sentiment or contribute to the rowdy political or theological debates over these touchy issues.

For more information: www.yourotherbrothers.com or http://thomasmarkzuniga.com

For the Your Other Brothers Podcast:  https://www.yourotherbrothers.com/category/podcast/

Tom is the author of two books: Struggle Central and Running To http://thomasmarkzuniga.com/running-to-book/

http://thomasmarkzuniga.com/struggle-central-book/

Susan Cottrell Has Freed Hearts to Love, Heal and Affirm

EPISODE DESCRIPTION:

On this 13th episode, I speak with Susan Cottrell, the mother of two kids in the LGBTQ community. She became a devout Christian at the age of 14 and was a women’s ministry leader at her church. But after her kids came out, she realized that her family would never have a place in their church again.

She is a proud Mama Bear and the founder of a ministry for families of LGBTQ individuals, called FreedHearts. Her mission is to free hearts to love, heal and affirm.

Susan has a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and we dive deep into the Bible, talking about Genesis 2 and complementarity, the “purity culture” and how it’s not good for us to be alone. I solicit advice from Susan on how to heal from the wounds inflicted by the faith community, and she offers tips on how to be your own best friend.

WEBSITE: For outstanding resources for Christian parents and LGBTQ kids, please see her website www.freedhearts.org.

If you’re a mom or dad and would like join her online support group (a private Facebook group), please contact Susan on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FreedHearts/. If you’re in the LGBTQ community and need someone to talk to, Susan is there to listen and offer support and encouragement.

BOOKS: As the author of three books, her goal is to change the human conversation on love and inclusion:

 

Liz Dyer and the Joys of Serendipity Do Dah Moments

On this 12th episode, my guest is a woman who believes that if she can change her mind about faith and sexuality, then anyone can.

Liz Dyer is a mama bear who is changing the world, by not only helping educate and support mothers like herself but by inspiring others to make the world a safer and kinder place for LGBT folks to live.

She was raised Southern Baptist and believed that gay relationships were sinful. But when her son came out to her his sophomore year of college, she decided to look deeper into the Bible and her faith. She fully expected to prove to her son the error of his ways, but instead, she found that the Bible does not condemn loving and committed same-sex relationships. And in her view, it was a sin to suggest otherwise.

As a conservative Christian with a gay child, she realized that the resources available to mothers like her were limited. She created Serendipitydodah for Moms, a private Facebook group for open-minded Christian moms who have LGBTQ kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBTQ kids.

For information on the stories by moms with LGBT kids, please see the Mama Bears Story Project page on Facebook.

For more information, please see https://serendipitydodah.wordpress.com.  Liz encourages folks to reach out to her at her private email: lizdyer55@gmail.com. Please contact her if you’re a mother who is interested in joining her private Facebook group.

Jill McCrory is a Baptist Preacher and LGBTQ Advocate

On this 11th episode, I speak with Jill McCrory, the first Baptist female preacher I’ve ever met.  I love her stubbornness in holding onto her Baptist heritage and for her insight during our chat.

Jill McCrory is a straight woman whom God has called to be a Baptist voice to the LGBTQ community. I talk with her about her theological questioning as a teenager and why she left the church for twenty years. We discuss the moment when she discovered that there was more to the Bible than what she’d been taught in Sunday School, and her decision to attend seminary. She admits that she never expected to be a minister. But that all changed when she was told that she couldn’t preach the truth because people couldn’t handle the truth. We talk about the church’s history of “othering” and its abuse of the political process.

Jill discusses the importance of the four freedoms to Baptists and how her stubbornness keeps her loyal to the Baptist brand. She talks about her work spear-heading the development of an LGBTQ community center in her Maryland county of Montgomery.

She is the epitome of someone who practices what she preaches. Her insight and wisdom on Scripture and the teachings of Christ are inspiring.

For information on the MoCo Pride center in Montgomery County, MD, please see https://www.mocopridecenter.org. For information on centers in your area, please see www.centerlink.org.

Justin Lee is the Original Gay Christian Bridge Builder

Justin Lee is a firm believer that Christians should be known for showing love, not for being jerks. Twenty years ago, he started building bridges between the gay and Christian group on his campus. in 2001, he founded the Gay Christian Network, which has grown to 30,000 members. He is the author of Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays v. Christians Debate. I speak with Justin about his faith and how his spiritual quest led him to a different yet richer understanding of the Bible.

To find out more about Justin, to book him as a speaker, or to connect with him, check out his website here.

Daniel Helminiak on what the Bible REALLY says about homosexuality

Daniel Helminiak is the author of What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality. Since its publication in 1994, the book has sold 120,000 copies and been translated into seven languages. Daniel was ordained a Catholic priest in Rome on Christmas Day in 1967. But by 1976, he realized he was gay and could not reconcile his integrity with Vatican expectations. He obtained doctorate degrees in psychology and theology and became an authority on the Bible and its teachings on homosexuality. I talk with him about how his examination of the Scripture challenged his faith and changed his views, but how he became a stronger and more spiritual person in the end. For more information: www.visionsofdaniel.net.  Daniel is also the author of the book, The Transcended Christian: What do you do when you outgrow your religion?

 

Greg Coles Shares His Journey as a Single Gay Christian

Greg Coles is a single Gay Christian whose love and enthusiasm for Jesus shine through in this week’s episode. We talk about his childhood on the Indonesian island of Java and his spiritual odyssey of faith and sexual identity. Greg’s warmth and humility shatter any preconceived notions I had about someone who has decided God has called him to gay and celibate. For more about Greg, check out www.gregcoles.com or his memoir Single Gay Christian.

 

Michael Parise and His Callings to be a Catholic Priest and Gay

In this seventh episode, I speak with former Catholic priest Michael Parise. As a kid, Michael was bullied by his entire class, and for many years considered himself asexual. His senior year in college, Michael Parise decided to abandon his plans for dental school and become a Catholic priest. When he was 48, he had his first kiss with another man. For thirty-two years, he served parishes in the Boston area, but today, he is a teacher, mentor, healer, author, and artist. His insights on the Bible and religion make this episode one of the most informative.

For more, check out https://mpariselifecoach.com.

Jaron Terry Protects Her Cub

Jaron Terry is one of the most dynamic and fabulous people I’ve ever met. I fell in love with her after getting a free Mama Bear hug at the Gay Christian Network conference this past January. Few people in this world reflect the light and love of Christ like she does. We talk about her about getting shunned by her Methodist church after her son came out and how she found solace in support groups like PFLAG and the Serependitydodah Facebook group. And she dishes advice for LGBTQ parents in dealing with family holiday obligations, including this gem – Don’t be afraid to drop the “F” bomb on grandma.

Tim Rymel Goes Ex Gay and then Gay Again

On this fifth episode, I talk with Tim Rymel, author, educator, and rethinker, about his experience as a leader in the gay conversion therapy movement. Tim grew up Pentecostal in a small town in California, and from a young age, he knew he had same-sex attractions. He also knew that he needed to pray away the gay. His journey from an unshakable conservative Christian to a progressive social justice writer has been long and arduous. Tim married a woman, had two kids and spent years as a key figure in the ex-gay movement. But after his divorce, he realized that he needed to live his authentic life and is now happily married to a man.

www.timrymel.com His book Going Gay: My Journey from Evangelical Christian Minister to Self-Acceptance, Love, Life, and Meaning was published in 2014. To purchase, click here.

Amber Cantorna Refocuses Her Family

On this 4th episode, I speak with Amber Cantorna. As the daughter of a Focus on the Family executive, she grew up in the idyllic Christian home. But at the age of nine, Amber learned that appearances were more important than her feelings. She did not have a safe place, even in her own family. She went through a dark period until she was able to accept her sexuality and become her authentic self. She talks about how she has refocused her family while staying true to her faith.

Published in October 2017, don’t miss Amber’s memoir: REFOCUSING MY FAMILY: Coming Out, Being Cast Out, and Discovering the True Love of God.

www.ambercantorna.com

Follow her on Facebook www.facebook.com/amberncantorna and Twitter @amberncantorna

WARNING: This episode does contain a discussion of self-injury.

Nathan Tyler Sliwa Don’t Sing the Blues

In this third episode, I speak with Nathan Tyler Sliwa about his spiritual journey as a gay man and follower of Christ. Nathan is 24 years old and the Minister of Contemporary Music at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Cary, North Carolina, which is just outside of Raleigh.  Like so many people who have tried to stay in the church after coming out, Nathan met some resistance in balancing his sexuality and his spirituality. He hasn’t always been accepted, but unlike so many of us, he persisted and kept going in the church.

Nathan describes himself as gay, Christian, a singer, competitive, silly, a foodie, a Lutheran and nerdtacular.

To find out more about Nathan, check out his website at www.nathantylersings.com.  His recently released video response to the Nashville Statement can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8pUDLHICX4.

Jack Schaeffer and a Much Needed Conversation

In this second episode, I chat with gay romance writer and conservative Christian Jack Schaeffer about how the LGBT communities and the Christian church can work to reconcile the huge divide between the two.

We discuss the gay conspiracy to destroy Christianity and explore why the church considers gay sex a “super sin”. Jack talks about a pivotal moment in his life when twenty years ago, a worried mother asked Jack to cure her gay son. Would his advice be any different today if faced with that same situation?

Jack is a pastor at his evangelical church just outside of Chicago, and for most of his life, he thought that being gay was a sin. But after watching his stepfather battle to keep his church from becoming an affirming member of the United Church of Christ, Jack’s eyes were opened. He realized that the love that two men or two women can have for each other is not much different from the love between a man and a woman. Of course, the mechanics aren’t the same, but love is love.

In the end, Jack and I discover that more conversations between the LGBTQ and faith communities are needed. And we discuss how each of us can initiate that dialogue.

Jack’s wisdom will inspire you to BE THE BRIDGE whether you’re gay, straight, Christian or not. Don’t miss this episode!

Michael Sharp and the Power of Possibility

In this first episode, I talk with Washington DC radio personality Michael Sharp.

Michael grew up in Shacktown just outside Detroit. His parents were Pentecostal and Catholic, but he and his brother were raised Lutheran and sent to Christian day school.

From the age of 10, Michael knew he was gay, but he never told anyone until many years later. Because of the abuse he saw heaped on the LGBTQ community, he gave up hope. And tried to take his own life with an overdose of pills and by cutting.

At the age of 15, Michael was kicked out of his house by his parents and ended up homeless. For four months, he slept in the back of his Honda Civic, wrapping himself in a sheet so that no one would see him.

At one point, he was run off the road by a gang of four guys just because they saw his rainbow flag sticker. He was beaten and lost part of his hearing.

At times, Michael didn’t think that he had a future, but his world changed when he found a support group for the LGBTQ community in Detroit. Although it started as a suicide prevention group of about six people, it eventually grew into a community of more than a hundred.

Michael’s wisdom and insight invite us all to understand the power of possibility.