August 08, 2009

Encouraging Words 8/8/09-Jay Bakker Speaks For Gay Marriage

This video clip from a Jay Baker speech is fascinating for the way that the audience is really with him and encouraging him...until he speaks out in favor of same-sex marriage. He sees it coming but that doesn't slow him down or get him to moderate his message.

That kind of courage would serve us all well.

Encouraging Music 8/8/09-"Free"

The Fight to Help LGBT Youth

LGBT youth are coming out earlier, and there are often severe consequences for doing so. From

Dr. Robert Reid-Pharr was in New York City walking his dog one morning when he was approached by a young black teenager. He appeared to be 15- or 16-years-old with slightly feminine mannerisms, Reid-Pharr said later. He propositioned the professor: sex in exchange for food. Like so many other homeless gay youth in New York City, the young man in front of Reid-Pharr has resorted to prostitution in order to survive.

Reid-Pharr, a critical essayist and professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, turned him down.

“I asked him what he was doing and he said his mom was addicted to crack. He had been out all night because there were people doing drugs at his home and he couldn’t stay there,” Reid-Pharr recalled. “He said, ‘usually when guys take me home they give me food first.’”

Like the young man who Reid-Pharr encountered, gay youth take to the streets for a variety of reasons, some resorting to hustling to survive. Whether they are kicked out by their families for being gay or are forced to leave to escape abuse, staying at home may not be an option for many gay youth.

According to a 2007 study done by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 20 to 40 percent of homeless youth in the United States identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. The same study also found that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 homeless youth in New York City, of whom 3,000 to 8,000 are LGBT.

Even when they are able to live at home, a gay kid’s life may not be easy. Bullying and a lack of support are pervasive problems in schools. A 1997 Massachusetts Department of Education Survey found that gay students hear anti-gay slurs as often as 26 times each day. Faculty intervention occurs in only about 3 percent of those cases.

This continues to be a serious problem, one that can be more easily ignored by government officials who are dealing with large, wide ranging issues during the severe economic downturn.

Those of us who realize this need to speak out for those who don't have a voice so they can get some help, and maybe even be pointed toward someone who can demonstrate the love of Jesus to them.

Click here to read much more in this story from

August 07, 2009

Encouraging Words 8/7/09-"Different Families"

So how does it feel to be raised by two parents who happen to be of the same sex? Bay Windows GLBT newspaper in New England went right to the source, asking the 10-year old daughter of a lesbian couple what her family was like. Here's an excerpt:

I may not be what you think of as a qualified advice columnist, but I have learned a few things growing up with my two moms in a small town outside of Boston. If you are wondering what it is like to be a 10-year-old living with two moms and a sister, I have some news for you.

Some people ask some very personal questions about your life, and other people look at you in funny ways. It’s important to stay true to yourself instead of changing your style just because other people are curious or nervous or uncomfortable around you and your family-even if they say mean things to you or about you. Here’s a few of the most common questions people ask me about my family.

At the top of the list, most people ask, "Why do you have two moms?"

I have two moms because they love each other and wanted to have a family. My sister and I were born in China. We’re not blood related and all that, but we love each other and are one family brought together because of these two people.

I'll tell you what, there are a LOT of people who can learn from this 10-year old.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Encouraging Music 8/7/09-Let My Words Be Few

Is Leadership the Key LGBT Issue?

That's the point columnist Phil Reese makes at The Bilerico Project:

Across America, our leaders today--even our 'grassroots' leaders--are not enticing us to buy into the strategy at all, because they see no reason to offer us a stake of ownership. They 'know' what works, and we don't, and they want us to trust them but stay out of the way. If they do offer us ownership in the 'agenda,' it's on their benevolent terms--we can sit and watch and learn how it's really done. Familiarity breeds contempt--organizers need to stay above the fray--but exclusion also breeds contempt. They're feeling the hot breath of criticism getting a little too close.

Leaders have to know when to stand their ground and say "No, that is not a strategy we will use," but they also need to know when--regardless of 'conventional wisdom'--to get everyone on board and to take a chance on new roads to victory.

Click here to read the entire post.

So readers, what is your take on the leadership of LGBT activist initiatives today? Discuss.

August 06, 2009

Upcoming changes to our site

Since we've been pretty good about establishing a schedule with our postings here, we want to let you know when we make changes. We've got two to announce this evening.

First, we are discontinuing our "Saturday Mini-Concert" feature and replacing it with the type of postings you see Monday-Friday. The mini-concert is one of the most time consuming posts we do and the one about which we have received the least positive feedback. If you miss it, let us know and we'll consider returning it to our lineup. Starting this Saturday, you'll see a news item early in the morning, Encouraging Music mid-day, and Encouraging Words late in the afternoon.

The other change is something we're very excited about. We are changing Brenda's podcast schedule from two shorter ones into one longer teaching message which will now be part of our "Mid-Week Worship" on Wednesday evenings. I know there are a lot of folks out there with Protestant backgrounds who are familiar with the practice of mid-week worship, so we're going to try it out here. Like other mid-week services, this will be a shorter version of our Sunday worship, but will still feature music, teaching, and most importantly be open and affirming.

Brenda is also going to change the nature of her messages somewhat, focusing more on teaching and messages geared toward discipleship. She is a gifted, experienced teacher and the Lord is leading her to fully utilize those gifts and share them in this venue.

We're glad you're with us at Straight, Not Narrow and hope you continue to find this site a blessing.

Encouraging Words 8/6/09: God's true nature

Brenda teaches that, despite how God has been represented as angry and vengeful, just waiting for us to mess up so we can be punished, in reality nothing is farther from the truth. Based on Psalm 145.

Encouraging Music 8/6/09-The Stand

Official Repudiation of "Ex-Gay" Therapy

I know some of you will read this and go "well, duh," but yesterday's declaration by the American Psychiatric Association effectively debunking repairative (ex-gay) therapy is very important. From Yahoo News:

The American Psychological Association declared Wednesday that mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can become straight through therapy or other treatments.

Instead, the APA urged therapists to consider multiple options — that could range from celibacy to switching churches — for helping clients whose sexual orientation and religious faith conflict.

In a resolution adopted on a 125-to-4 vote by the APA's governing council, and in a comprehensive report based on two years of research, the 150,000-member association put itself firmly on record in opposition of so-called "reparative therapy" which seeks to change sexual orientation.

No solid evidence exists that such change is likely, says the report, and some research suggests that efforts to produce change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies.

Wayne Besen, a gay-rights activist who has sought to discredit the so-called "ex-gay" movement, welcomed the APA findings.

"Ex-gay therapy is a profound travesty that has led to pointless tragedies, and we are pleased that the APA has addressed this psychological scourge," Besen said.

I couldn't agree more. Click here to read the rest of the story, including a rebuttal from Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International.

August 05, 2009

Encouraging Words 8/5/09-"Following God's Will in Stand on GLBT Rights"

Here's a straight ally who is just trying to figure out what God wants: From the Lincoln, NE Journal-Star; here's an excerpt:

I guess the main difference is, unlike many of my Christian brothers and sisters, I don't believe you forbid people of the same gender from loving each other, committing to each other, and expressing that love and commitment through sex and marriage.

In fact, I believe that you already have blessed many same-sex relationships, which in your eyes are spiritual marriages, and that you have extended your blessing without waiting for permission from either the government or churches. And, as I've said before, I think you are calling people like me, those in the majority who are relatively unaffected by gay rights issues, to stand up for those in the minority who are affected.

The question is, how did I get here? How does anyone like me, raised in predominantly Christian surroundings, go from believing homosexuality is a sin to believing that, not only is it not a sin, but that you are calling me to stand up for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people?

So, Lord, even to this day, I humbly recognize that without presuming to be you, no one on either side of the debate can rule out that they might be wrong about what you think. But that controversy stands in stark contrast to the fact that you clearly, without a doubt, call us to love one another - and to love each other regardless of what genders we are attracted to.

Lord, the conviction that you are calling me and others to take a stand for GLBT civil rights is strong, and so that's what I'm doing. In love, faith and obedience, your will, not mine, be done. Amen.

Amen indeed! Brenda and I aren't doing this ministry work because we're bored and have too much time on our hands--we feel the calling of the Lord has led us here.

I'm glad he also called Lisa Pytlikzillig, the author of this article. Click here to read the rest of it.

Encouraging Music 8/5/09-Who Am I?

Gay Activists: Basic Rights More Important Than Marriage

From the Associated Press through Google News:

Gay marriage and gays in the military may dominate the headlines, but activists in many states say their fight is much more fundamental: basic rights and protections against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation.

Activists from state-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organizations from throughout the U.S. are meeting in Missouri this week to share their efforts to make inroads in state legislatures, municipalities and school districts.

"In Missouri, you can still be fired for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender," A.J. Bockelman, executive director of PROMO, Missouri's statewide organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, said Thursday. "Sexual orientation is not a protected class in Missouri."

A spokeswoman for the Missouri Commission on Human Rights confirmed that is the case, saying past efforts to include sexual orientation as a protected class have failed.

Toni Broaddus, executive director of their national alliance, the Equality Federation, said gay marriage has never been the movement's No. 1 priority. Rather, it's about the ability to work, get housing, adopt children, have families and have their partners recognized, she said.

"We just want the rights that everyone else has," she said. "This is about being equal citizens under the law."

Nothing like getting back to the fundamentals, is there. Marriage is the "sexy" issue right now, but before that LGBT people just want to be able to live and work just like anyone else.

Sounds pretty reasonable to me. Click here to read the rest of the article.

August 04, 2009

Encouraging Words 8/4/09-No one can condemn us

In her latest podcast, Brenda teaches that no one can condemn us. Jesus is constantly praying for us. Nothing can separate is from God's love as written in Romans. 8:31-39.

Encouraging Music 8/4/09-The River is Here

So What IS Wrong With Two Girls Kissing?

It's not very often I've run across a mention of the Human Rights Campaign in the sports page, but that happened recently when I saw a piece by Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise He writes about how uptight the WNBA, the professional women's basketball league, is of being perceived as condoning, much less promoting, lesbianism.

"Why don't they have a KissCam at Mystics games?" a young friend asked last week, which preceded an awkward pause and an even more awkward answer.

Really, why doesn't the inclusive WNBA franchise in the nation's capital, of all places, send their video cameramen and camerawomen to find unsuspecting couples in the stands during timeouts and capture their mugs for all of Verizon Center's crowd to see? And wait for the couple's reaction, which usually involves a polite, if awkward, peck on the lips.

Just like they do at NBA games and other sporting events in which the participants are men.

"We got a lot of kids here," Sheila Johnson, the Mystics' managing partner, said when asked last week at a game. "We just don't find it appropriate."

Understood is that women's professional basketball has two major fan bases: dads and daughters, and lesbians. The KissCam issue, frivolous on its surface, puts the effort to cater to both audiences squarely at odds.

Devon Goldsmith, returning to her seat for last Thursday's game between Washington and Chicago, understands Johnson's rationale -- begrudgingly.

"It's one thing for Daddy and Mommy to be kissing, but Mommy kissing Mommy?" said Goldsmith, a 26-year-old systems analyst from Silver Spring. She also happens to play linebacker for the D.C. Divas semipro women's football team and is openly gay. "I don't think people are ready for it now.

But how long does a league keep some of its most loyal and longtime customers in the closet? How long should any historically persecuted group keep quiet when the Mystics take sponsorship dollars from a company (Exxon) noted for discrimination against gays?

Can it be true that even in a progressive town like our Nation's Capital, there are still enough people who would freak out at two women kissing to cause a stir? Are we still giving a wink and a nod at a crowd half full of same-sex couples just as long as they don't show any public affection?

Then shame on us.

Click here to read the rest of Mike Wise's column.

August 03, 2009

Encouraging Words 8/3/09-"A Sanctuary From Hate"

From the Washington Post (thanks to Pam's House Blend for the tip) comes the story of Inner Light Ministries in Washington DC and how it is a safe place for LGBT African-Americans to worship God:

In the middle of a sermon, Bishop Rainey Cheeks felt his medicine bottle bulging in his pocket and realized he hadn't taken his pills. He paused in the pulpit and faced the congregation in his tiny storefront church.

"Excuse me," Cheeks remembers telling his parishioners last year as he poured three pills into his hand. "This is my HIV medicine. I'm going to take it now."

As he washed down the pills with water, Cheeks saw some members staring with wide eyes. Everybody knew that their pastor, an imposing man with flowing dreadlocks who once competed in taekwondo championships, is gay. But not everyone knew that he is HIV-positive.

"Go ahead, Rev," a few congregants urged. But most shrugged and waited for the bishop to swallow and get on with delivering the good word.

Inner Light Ministries in the District's H Street corridor might seem like a traditional black church, with fiery sermons, electric gospel music, a soulful choir and a congregation that sways and claps in rhythm. But it is hardly that.

Click here to read more about how this church serves a minority within a minority.

Encouraging Music 8/3/09-The Love of God

Religious Freedom Doesn't Include Promoting Hate

Originally published in the 7/31/09 print edition of Baltimore OUTloud. This is the first LGBT piece I've had printed, and I'm appreciate Managing Editor Steve Charing giving me the opportunity. I am hoping to be a regular contributor to Maryland's independent voice of the LGBT community.

As the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act moves closer to passage through Congress, right-wing spokespersons are screaming louder about how this legislation will severely impact religious freedom.

Is that true?

It all depends on how you define religious freedom.

Religious conservatives often cite cases of preachers who have been arrested for preaching anti-gay sermons, and there is truth to this. A quick Google search turned up stories of such occurrences in the UK, Australia, and Canada, all countries that have passed their own hate crimes laws protecting GLBT people.

These same religious folks claim that similar laws passed in the United States would inhibit their ability to preach the “truth of the bible” that condemns homosexuality. Of course, that arrogantly presumes that anyone preaching a message accepting of GLBT people is not preaching “the truth,” and that’s where the issue gets sticky.

People aren’t guilty of hate crimes when they speak real truth, otherwise known as facts. Saying most oriental people have yellowish skin and black hair is a fact. Saying the average American has a higher standard of living than the average Nigerian is a fact. Neither of these constitutes a hate crime.

People don’t even have to have their facts right. I can say you are wearing a pink blouse when you actually have a blue dress on and not be committing a crime. I’m committing stupidity, but we all know that being stupid is not a crime—if so, we’d need a prison on every block.

There are things people can say that aren’t facts. These are called opinions, and as the saying goes, opinions are like…..tushes-everybody has one. I could tell my wife a dress makes her look fat and that is not a hate crime. While it revisits the stupidity concept, it is not a hate crime.

When a pastor stands at his pulpit preaching to his congregation about how depraved homosexual behavior is and that GLBT people are abominations (stop me if you’ve heard that one before), the one thing he is NOT doing is stating a fact. He is stating something based on his interpretation of a translation of the Bible which is at best an opinion but has the potential to be much more, including a hate crime.

There are two key points here that I believe totally refute any claims about hate crime legislation damaging religious freedom.

First, a hate crime by its nature results in harm to the affected minority, usually violence. Remember, Matthew Shepard wasn’t just teased because he was gay, he was pistol whipped, tortured, and left tied up to a fence to die. Any pastor who preaches a sermon that even indirectly leads someone to commit a violent act has no business behind a pulpit, but might very well belong in jail.

Second, there are only really eight verses in the Bible, the infamous “clobber passages,” that are used in the condemnation of homosexuality. That’s right, all of this anger, discrimination, and hatred stem from EIGHT verses of scripture, translated and retranslated over thousands of years, written in times where society had no concept of a long-term same-sex relationship. Society also condoned slavery and polygamy (now there’s traditional marriage for you) back in those times.

There are over 31,000 verses in the bible, and if a preacher can’t make a good sermon drawing from all but eight of them, then maybe he needs to be selling used cars instead of preaching the word of God.

So how do I define freedom of religion? I view it as the ability to openly worship and celebrate God as I have come to understand Him. There are plenty of places in the world where that is still not an option, especially for those who profess to be Christians, so I don’t take it for granted.

I DO take for granted, however, that my freedom should not harm anyone else or infringe on their ability to worship God as they understand Him. I also take for granted that this does not give me the right to preach hate and incite anger toward anyone.

Not even right-wingers who do just that toward GLBT people I know and love.

August 02, 2009

Sunday Worship 8/2/09

If you don't have a welcoming church near you, or you just can't make yourself step into one, we're bringing worship to you. Here are links to some worship music and services from open and affirming ministries (all times eastern). I hope you are blessed and take time out of your busy schedule to enter into the Lord's day.

Don't forget to click on the tab on the upper right of this blog and leave your prayer requests in the comment section so we can petition the Lord for your needs.

If you know of a service we should add to our list, please send an e-mail and share it with us.

Live Sunday Services (all times Eastern)
MI-Renaissance Unity Church, Warren, 10:00 AM
FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa, 11:00 AM
VA-Believers Covenant Fellowship, Vienna, 11:00 AM
AL-Covenant Community Church, Birmingham, 11:45 AM
NC-Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, Winston-Salem, 12:00 PM
OK-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, Tulsa, 1:00 PM
CA-Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, Long Beach, 1:00 PM
WA-Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore, 1:30 PM

Canada, Vancouver-Christ Alive Community Church, 10:15 PM
FL-Beacon of Hope Ministries, Dunedin (Living the Good Life radio program) 4:30 PM

Video Archive

AL-Covenant Community Church, Birmingham
CA-Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, Long Beach
FL-Church of the Holy SpiritSong, Ft. Lauderdale
FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa
GA-Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Atlanta
MI-Christ Community Church, Spring Lake
MI-Renaissance Unity Church, Warren
NC-Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, Winston-Salem

OK-Expressions Community Fellowship, Oklahoma City
OK-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, Tulsa
TX-The One Church, Garland
WA-Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore

Audio Archive
AZ-Community Church of Hope, Phoenix
AK-Open Door Community Church, Sherwood
CA-Christ Chapel of Long Beach
CA-Christ Chapel of the Valley, North Hollywood
FL-Beacon of Hope Ministries, Dunedin (Living the Good Life radio program)
FL-New Hope Christian Center, Pensecola
GA-New Covenant Church of Atlanta
MD-Kittamaqundi Community, Columbia
NC-Revolution Charlotte
OH-Emmanuel Fellowship Church, Akron
OH-All Saints Community Church, Cortland
TN-Covenant of the Cross-Madison
TX-New Hope Fellowship Church-Dallas
TX-White Rock Community Church-Dallas
TX-Community Gospel Church-Houston
TX-Through Him Fellowship-Houston
South Africa-Deo Gloria Family Church