Controversial Gay Rights Activists Move to Lynchburg, VA – Home of Religious-Right Leader Rev. Jerry Falwell

Soulforce Co-founders, Rev. Mel White and partner Gary Nixon join with others to confront the "untruths" of Jerry Falwell

Soulforce Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592 (media only)

Lynchburg, VA – Rev. Mel White and his life partner of more than twenty years, Gary Nixon, co-founders of Soulforce, Inc., have leased a home in Lynchburg, VA, right across the street from Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church. Falwell, a conservative minister, televanglist, and chancellor of Liberty University, is notorious for his condemnation of gays and lesbians.

"When we met with Falwell and his supporters in 1999, he promised us that he would tone down his rhetoric against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people," said Rev. Mel White, co-founder and Executive Director of Soulforce. "We have been carefully monitoring his untruths, and it has only gotten worse. We can not let this misinformation go unanswered."

Soulforce announced the move today after Rev. White delivered adinner invitation to Falwell’s office, informing him that White and his partner were now neighbors "in fact as well as in spirit." White, who wrote Falwell’s autobiography, and White’s life partner, plan to begin attending Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church this Sunday.

In the coming weeks, White and Nixon will be joined by Soulforce supporters from Lynchburg and all across the United States. Supporters intend to help restart a PFLAG Chapter in Lynchburg for parents of gay and lesbian children, meet with members of Thomas Road Baptist Church to give them the opportunity to hear real-life stories of tragedy and inspiration from gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, and go door-to-door in an effort to "take the truth" about GLBT people to Lynchburg.

"The truth is that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people can and do lead happy, healthy, and productive lives, we love our families, and we are committed to building lasting relationships with our partners. Conversely, Falwell’s untruths waste lives, destroy families, and lead to terrible suffering," said Karen Weldin, Director of Operations for Soulforce. "People of Lynchburg need to know us and hear the truth about us!"

Additionally, hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and allied Soulforce volunteers from across the nation will gather in Lynchburg, VA October 25 – 27, 2002. This will mark the three-year anniversary of the initial Soulforce event in Lynchburg, when 200 Soulforce volunteers met with 200 members of Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Plans for October include a march for equality around Lynchburg; a display of untruths uttered by Falwell answered by truths from mental health professionals, scientists, and Bible scholars; and trainings in non-violent civil disobedience.

Soulforce, Inc. is an interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people.