Our Faces, Our Stories: Members of the Soulforce Delegation on a Journey to Lynchburg

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Heterosexual
People of Faith

young and old, from near and far, of many races
joining together for a common purpose

Soulforce delegates on the Journey to Lynchburg
were invited to write answers to three questions:
Who am I?
How have I been impacted by hate speech?
Why am I going to Lynchburg?

These are a few of their responses.

Click on the name to read the story

Brian Randall
Chicago, Illinois
I am one of only a handful of openly gay graduates of Liberty University that will return Lynchburg and face not only Falwell but also my fundamental Baptist heritage…

Daphne Burt
Fredericksburg, Virginia
As one who has been healed by the power of God’s unconditional love, I am committed to declaring that love to all of God’s children – and find myself quite mystified by those who see the need to "protect" God from loving the "wrong" people…
Ladonna Green
San Diego, California
I have been told that I am an "enigma" to them because they see Jesus all over me, but how can that be if I am gay? This is why I am going to Lynchburg…
Bob Henrikson
"But they’re still fags," I keep hearing over and over in my mind. It seems that no matter how decent, how loving, how faithful, moral or honest gay and lesbian people present themselves, they are still perceived as something less than human…

Larry Wise(left)
Kokomo, Indiana
I want to go to Lynchburg, Virginia, to show any I come in contact with that we are not all the godless deviates we are pictured to be.

Larry Little(right)
Kokomo, Indiana
Growing up gay in a family which is constantly bombarded with anti-gay rhetoric from pulpits, experts, and the media assures you that you become unwanted. It’s never overt. It’s very subtle…

Maggie Heineman
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I have been … a gayrights cyberactivist since 1995. … An exgay man and I founded the cyberspace initiative "Bridges Across the Divide" …
Saundra Farmer -Wiley
Kihei, Hawaii
The lies that were told about us and the venom with which Christians spoke at us as we did sign waving were both frightening and bewildering to me…

Jimmy Creech
Raleigh, North Carolina
Spiritual violence is assault upon the integrity and dignity of a person when that person is told that, because of who she or he is, she or he is not loved and accepted by God, and is in fact rejected and condemned by God. Damning, judgmental words cause massive and deep wounds…

Robert Winsor
Richmond, Virginia
Anyone meeting me would comment that I am a "nice man" – a "good man." In short, I am any man until I confirm that I am gay. Then some people may find me queer….

Carolyn and Elizabeth Glover and Norman Brown
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
We think that the presence of three loving, gentle, close friends – a white heterosexual woman, her 10-year-old daughter who has multiple disabilities and is non-verbal (but communicates on a "soul" level), and a black homosexual man who is the beloved teacher of that little girl- will send a strong message that may contradict many prejudices at once…

Kathleen B. Stayton
Wayne, Pennsylvania
… my heart cries in shame that we heterosexual people, especially people of faith, insist that gay and lesbian people must lie, deny their being and engage in deceit to remain safe…

Judy Osborne
Seattle, Washington
I live a moral life, caring for others, fulfilling my obligations, and doing things that are useful to society. Given these moral qualifications, why should anyone care that I have become the woman I always have been in my heart and soul? …

Karla Lee Fleshman
Havertown, Pennsylvania
I am not a monster in the grips of Satan trying to undermine the American Family, but rather I am part of the American Family. I go to Lynchburg as an act of anger transformed into positive love-filled action toward those who would call me by names other than "child of God"…

Jack Payden-Travers
Lynchburg, Virginia
I’m on this journey because I see this issue as part of the struggle for liberation which has been ongoing long before our time. … I have no desire to go back or to raise my children in a homophobic world…

Pam Garrettson
Catonsville, Maryland
When I finally began to recognize my sexuality as a gift, I vowed that I would life my life openly and courageously in a way that would help change things for myself and for other gay folks. … [S]triving to love and forgive opens up a place where enemies can become friends…
Mike Perez
Seattle, Washington
My family…thought I was the smart one that hopefully would be the first to make it to college. Privately they worried that I was a sissy…

Eve Sepulveda (left)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
I tried … going through a program to become an ex-gay. … After 8 plus years, many prayers later I believe that God spoke to me. I was created in His image, I have Dignity, and I am a Lesbian. God loves me just as I am…

Sharon Inouć„° (right)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
My grandmother is 85 years old, and I love her very much. She is worried that I’m going to hell, just because I love a woman…

Gordon I. Herzog
St. Louis, Missouri
I am a gay evangelical Christian… and now I co-chair Other Sheep – the only International Ecumenical Gay Christian Ministry…

Philip Deitch
St. Louis, Missouri
In my professional work as a diversity facilitator and in my personal life, I have seen the effects of discrimination and hate crimes…
L Clyde Carter
Daleville, Virginia
I feel God is calling me to Lynchburg. I have struggled with my own homophobia…
Mary Hayman
Flint, Michigan
I lived 40 years as half a person. Denial took up a lot of my energy. I denied to myself that I was a lesbian until…

Dave Chandler
San Francisco, California
At that moment of deep despair, my relthionship with Christ became extremely personal and the most real for me. I suddenly recognized that God had blessed me. My homosexuality was a gift…

Douglas Donley
San Francisco, California
I was denied ordination twice because I refused to say that homosexuality is a sin. I could not live with integrity as a minister if I forsook some of my sisters and brothers…

Mary Lou Wallner (left)
Elgin, Illinois
I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching to figure out just what part I played in Anna’s death. I’ve had to wrestle with who I am and how I treated my own flesh and blood…

Bob Wallner (right)
Elgin, Illinois
I am the stepfather of Anna Wakefield who took her own life while living in the gay lifestyle. Her death totally devastated me. Earlier, when I found out that she was gay, I became angry…

Mark Holdbrooks
Boulder, Colorado
I was told that changing my sexual orientation would be extremely hard to do, would take a very long time and that it may not work. With the odds against me, I set out to do just that. For the next fifteen years…
Fred Hammond
Danbury, Connecticut
I needed to know God’s love for me was personal and that his love was real. As I prayed this prayer, the answer began to sink in…
Ken Martin
Manor, Texas
In an uncontrolled rage, his father attempted to shoot Ramon. Instead, he shot and killed Ramon’s three-year-old sister…I have witnessed countless examples…
Gary Rimar
Shelby Township, Michigan
Because of the bondage of this misinformation, many people spend incredible amounts of time dealing with phantom issues…