Saturday, March 5, 2016

Christian Lesbian Shares Story of Being Shunned by Her Parents, Including Her Father Who's an Executive at Focus on the Family

I was directed to a podcast called "That God Show" this morning. This particular episode shared the story of Amber Cantorna, the daughter of a Focus on the Family executive. On 04/14/12, she came out to her parents as a lesbian at age 27 -- and was subsequently shunned by her parents, brother, and most of the rest of her family:
But, as I sat one night with my journal in hand, heartbroken over the loss of my first love and all together confused as to how and why it all happened to begin with, I gathered my courage and told God I was ready to start walking the difficult road ahead. I prayed, studied and researched for months allowing everything I had believed up to that point to be re-examined. I talked to people on similar journeys and, in doing so, found those who were both completely in love with their same-sex spouse and also completely in love with God, without any conflict between the two. That was when I began to realize that there didn't have to be a dichotomy between my faith and sexuality, as I had been led to believe. Finally, after a long and difficult climb, the Scriptures in question settled in my heart, I found the answers I needed and knew that in God's eyes, I was not only accepted but also loved for exactly how He made me. 

The odds were high, however, that my family would not feel the same. Anxiety, panic attacks and nightmares swelled as I approached the day where telling them my truth would disappoint and break the illusion of that "perfect Focus family". As I mustered every ounce of strength I had on that chilly April day, I looked my family in the eyes and said those three small, but life-altering words, "I am gay." With my exposed heart hanging in the air, I awaited their response. To my deep dismay, the only response that came out of my dad's mouth was, "I have nothing to say to you right now," and he walked out the door.
Amber's relationship with her family continued, though strained for a while. However, she eventually began dating another woman and it became serious. So the family ties were snipped, with the exception of one cousin and one uncle, both of whom maintained a supportive relationship with her.

She eventually married, but none of her family (with the exception of that cousin) attended the wedding. Much less, acknowledged it.

You can read the entire essay here.

I bring up this article because I've been mulling over my relationship with the Gay Christian Network lately. It's an online community that I engage with every week -- often daily. But I often wonder why, when dealing with gay Christians who have made the mental leap to figure out that God actually loves gays, but still cling to other repressive belief systems that limit the roles of women or even gay people/families within the church.

Back in January 2015, GCN founder Justin Lee announced that he planned to outreach to organizations such as Focus on the Family to seek their support and when it comes to situations where LGBT people are shunned from their evangelical Christian families. Listening to Justin's speech, it seemed like he was seeking to partner with FotF, though he was quick to clarify that this wasn't a partnership. This was merely reaching out to educate conservative and anti-gay organizations on the effects of their rhetoric on LGBT Christians and families. Not to change their opinions, but to get them to eventually moderate how they live out their beliefs.

I was quite angry when Justin announced his engagement with Focus on the Family. People got after me. I was told that I was being uncharitable towards an organization that has specialized in being uncharitable towards LGBT people throughout my entire adulthood. Basically, I was encouraged to shut up, sit back, and let Justin do his bit.

And then I read the first-hand essay of a lesbian who has been actively shunned by her evangelical parents for the past four years -- including a parent who is an executive within Focus on the Family; an organization that Justin has specifically reached out to and made social media updates about during the past year... And I'm wondering how effective his #LiveLoveOut outreach effort truly is.

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