From Unaware to Activist – One Man’s LGBT Journey

by Dave Sutton, Ainsworth United Church of Christ, Portland, OR

I’m really good at hindsight. That’s why it’s so easy for me to ask, “How could I have been so unaware?”

My theology was first formed by my Methodist pastor father constantly and joyfully sharing the “good news” that grace was not earned but available to all simply for the accepting. The foundation of my theology today is “God loves me. And you. And you, too”. The disconnect between the good news and the old attitudes and slurs about LGBT people never occurred to me. It was long before I knew any term that wasn’t derisive for people of a different sexual preference than mine. Of course I didn’t know any of those people personally, or at least I wasn’t aware (there’s that word again) I did. The pain of staying closeted was less than the devastating judgment, derision and discrimination these people would face if they were “out.”

My personal dam cracked when I learned the lesbian daughter of a former pastor of my Methodist church in Olympia, Washington was not welcome there, and if we raised the issue, “It would split this church in half.” My shock was first that anyone was not welcome in my church. How could that be right?