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Until Christmans Eve 1991, Mel White was regarded by the leaders of the religious right as one of their most talented and productive supporters. He penned the speeches of Ollie North. He was a ghostwriter for Jerry Falwell, worked with Jim Bakker, flew in Pat Robertson's private jet, walked sandy beaches with Billy Graham. What these men didn't know was that Mel White—evan Until Christmans Eve 1991, Mel White was regarded by the leaders of the religious right as one of their most talented and productive supporters. He penned the speeches of Ollie North. He was a ghostwriter for Jerry Falwell, worked with Jim Bakker, flew in Pat Robertson's private jet, walked sandy beaches with Billy Graham. What these men didn't know was that Mel White—evangelical minister, committed Christian, family man—was gay. In this remarkable book, Mel White details his twenty-five years of being counseled, exorcised, electric-shocked, prayed for, and nearly driven to suicide because his church said homosexuality was wrong. But his salvation—to be openly gay and Christian—is more than a unique coming-out story. It is a chilling exposé that goes right into the secret meetings and hidden agendas of the religious right. Told by an eyewitness and sure to anger those Mel White once knew best, Stranger at the Gate is a warning about where the politics of hate may lead America … a brave book by a good man whose words can make us richer in spirit and much wiser too.


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Until Christmans Eve 1991, Mel White was regarded by the leaders of the religious right as one of their most talented and productive supporters. He penned the speeches of Ollie North. He was a ghostwriter for Jerry Falwell, worked with Jim Bakker, flew in Pat Robertson's private jet, walked sandy beaches with Billy Graham. What these men didn't know was that Mel White—evan Until Christmans Eve 1991, Mel White was regarded by the leaders of the religious right as one of their most talented and productive supporters. He penned the speeches of Ollie North. He was a ghostwriter for Jerry Falwell, worked with Jim Bakker, flew in Pat Robertson's private jet, walked sandy beaches with Billy Graham. What these men didn't know was that Mel White—evangelical minister, committed Christian, family man—was gay. In this remarkable book, Mel White details his twenty-five years of being counseled, exorcised, electric-shocked, prayed for, and nearly driven to suicide because his church said homosexuality was wrong. But his salvation—to be openly gay and Christian—is more than a unique coming-out story. It is a chilling exposé that goes right into the secret meetings and hidden agendas of the religious right. Told by an eyewitness and sure to anger those Mel White once knew best, Stranger at the Gate is a warning about where the politics of hate may lead America … a brave book by a good man whose words can make us richer in spirit and much wiser too.

30 review for Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mimi Lindborg Jove

    For any Christian who struggles with the issue of homosexuality (especially if he/she wonders if people are born gay, or choose to be gay)...this book will help. Mel White grew up in a Strict Baptist home and knew he was different from a very young age. He fought it every way he knew how; prayer, confession, good deeds, penance, and electro-shock treatment. His final "fight" was his long term marriage. His ex-wife writes a moving forward in the book and they are today close friends. As someone w For any Christian who struggles with the issue of homosexuality (especially if he/she wonders if people are born gay, or choose to be gay)...this book will help. Mel White grew up in a Strict Baptist home and knew he was different from a very young age. He fought it every way he knew how; prayer, confession, good deeds, penance, and electro-shock treatment. His final "fight" was his long term marriage. His ex-wife writes a moving forward in the book and they are today close friends. As someone who is close to many, many gay people (I think I attract them! LOL) who are Christians, this book is liberating and validating. For straight people who do not understand any of it, this book will teach compassion. One cannot read this heartbreaking story and wonder about nature or nurture. Years ago my mother had a dear friend who was like a son to her. She led the search committee that brought this talented young man to our church as the Director of Music in Orlando, FL. She had been an Elder at the church for 30 years. He was well loved by the congregants. He was also gay. This fact had been disclosed during the hiring process, but at the time he promised only that it wouldn't interfere with the mission of directing music at the church. He further promised to never do anything that would embarrass the church. He was hired. He had been in a long term relationship by then, and several years after he had come to the church he and his partner took a vacation to California where they had a commitment ceremony. He came back wearing a ring. Now many of the choir members (particularly the older members) had not picked up on the fact that he was gay. They loved him and were constantly trying to fix him up with their daughters, granddaughters, nieces, etc. He decided that wearing a ring would be a subtle clue to these matchmakers that he was not available. However, he decision to wear that wedding ring did not sit well with some of the more conservative (and influential) members of the church. He was fired. No severance. No notice. No nothing. My mom was furious and left the church. When she died 7 years later,(April 21, 2005) he played (at her request) music for her memorial service at the Methodist Church across the street. Two weeks ago, (May 2011) the Presbyterian Church voted that the denomination could ordain homosexuals as clergy. Too late for our old choir director....but I'm sure my mom is cheering in heaven! My mom used to buy this book in bulk to hand out to troubled, confused, gay Christians AND troubled, confused, straight Christians. She was a 60 something, divorced, white, straight, republican, conservative GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST. I was so proud of her. She KNEW that the God she believed in loved Gay children of God as much a he loved her and she made it her mission to teach others. Today she would be proud of the Presbyterian Church that caused her and her "son", the Gay Choir Director, so much pain. I'm not sure that the local church is on board with the decision of the denomination...but they are (hopefully) on the right track.

  2. 4 out of 5

    L.A. Witt

    I read this book in two sittings. It's...amazing. And heartbreaking. And should be required reading for anyone who's ever had to struggle with reconciling religion + homosexuality, regardless of where you stand on the issue. It's an excruciatingly honest account of someone who tried desperately to live as a straight man, but realized he couldn't change this aspect of himself. Also, massive kudos to the guy's now-ex-wife for being mature, loving and just generally amazing through the multi-decade I read this book in two sittings. It's...amazing. And heartbreaking. And should be required reading for anyone who's ever had to struggle with reconciling religion + homosexuality, regardless of where you stand on the issue. It's an excruciatingly honest account of someone who tried desperately to live as a straight man, but realized he couldn't change this aspect of himself. Also, massive kudos to the guy's now-ex-wife for being mature, loving and just generally amazing through the multi-decade ordeal. Just an awesome book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tim April

    This book is one of the ways Holly and I learned a lot and is one of the reasons our marriage is stronger now. It really opened our eyes to the reality that God creates us Straight, Gay, Bi, or Trans and that we can be the men/women that He created us to be and still love God and be loved by God and spend an eternity with our Lord and Savior.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Maegan Roper

    I wasn't quite sure how I felt about his view on the subject of homosexulaity & Christianity. It definately was eye- opening to learn the difficulties that most proclaimed Christians endure when discovering that they're attracted to the same sex, then trying to evaluate what that means for them spiritually. I do have a great deal of respect for the author and his boldness to share his story. If you're struggling with this subject, no matter what your sexual orienation, I encourage you to deeply I wasn't quite sure how I felt about his view on the subject of homosexulaity & Christianity. It definately was eye- opening to learn the difficulties that most proclaimed Christians endure when discovering that they're attracted to the same sex, then trying to evaluate what that means for them spiritually. I do have a great deal of respect for the author and his boldness to share his story. If you're struggling with this subject, no matter what your sexual orienation, I encourage you to deeply search God's Word and seek His wisdom in developing your outlook, before taking someone else's word for solid truth.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Mel White has done amazing things for the LGBT community when it comes to faith justice. This book and his involvement in the MCC sort of "started it all" for him. He has now moved into the territory of civil disobedience with the aim of achieving equal rights for the LGBT community by founding "Soulforce." I have nothing but respect for him and his work.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lydia Sue

    I wish I read this earlier in my life. I could have spared my queer friends and self so much pain from the homophobia I was raised in. It is ridiculous that this book came out in 1994 and every church did not immediately change to gay affirming doctrine. I think Mel makes an important connection between homophobic churches and the suffering and death of queer people. Its well past time for the Church to own up the the pain they have caused the LGBTQIA+ community and change its ways. I feel lucky I wish I read this earlier in my life. I could have spared my queer friends and self so much pain from the homophobia I was raised in. It is ridiculous that this book came out in 1994 and every church did not immediately change to gay affirming doctrine. I think Mel makes an important connection between homophobic churches and the suffering and death of queer people. Its well past time for the Church to own up the the pain they have caused the LGBTQIA+ community and change its ways. I feel lucky to have come out at a more excepting time in secular culture and angry at how slowly the churches have moved toward queer affirming doctrine. Its ridiculous that even though we are 54 years apart in age I related a lot to Mel's experience growing up gay and christian in america. I am so thankful to Mel and other queer Christians who stories have saved me years of pain and hiding. I am so thankful for the encouragement to embrace who God has created me to be and to support others as they do the same.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hilary Mak

    Compelling and impacting story of a right wing evangelical Christian who eventually embraces his sexual orientation. This book is quite old now but the issues are still so real. Whatever one thinks on the subject- why is it so hard for some to show grace??

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    A very important book chronicling the life of a devout Christian who did everything he could to pray away the gay, but it just didn't work dammit... because the whole notion of "changing" one's sexual orientation is as ridiculous as forcing a leftie to become right-handed. The driver behind this foolish quest is the rhetoric of the religious right, doing what they do best: profiteering by reinforcing deeply held prejudices with selected bible quotes, gross exaggerations and outright lies about t A very important book chronicling the life of a devout Christian who did everything he could to pray away the gay, but it just didn't work dammit... because the whole notion of "changing" one's sexual orientation is as ridiculous as forcing a leftie to become right-handed. The driver behind this foolish quest is the rhetoric of the religious right, doing what they do best: profiteering by reinforcing deeply held prejudices with selected bible quotes, gross exaggerations and outright lies about the "dangers" posed by the "gay agenda." There is a price to be paid for such hatemongering: thousands of LGBT youth are drowning in a sea of self-hatred, silence, isolation and shame because they have been told that their automatic feelings and desires are sinful and loathsome. Many others who refuse to stay in the closet become victims of discrimination and violence. On the one hand, things have improved greatly for the LGBT community in the 20 years since this book was written: hell, gay marriage is legal now. But the voices of right wing fundamentalists are louder and angrier than ever, particularly when you add Twitter and the blogosphere into the mix. We need courageous voices like that of Mel White to counter this hate and bigotry uttered in Christ's name.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dave Swavely

    I read this book recently as a part of a thoroughgoing attempt to understand the experience of Christians who identify themselves as gay, so I can be a better pastor and friend to people like that. I'm reading two books by men who believe that God made them gay and that lifestyle is compatible with Christianity (this one and Torn by Justin Lee) and two books by men who have always had same-sex attraction but don't believe they should act on it (Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill and Out of a Far I read this book recently as a part of a thoroughgoing attempt to understand the experience of Christians who identify themselves as gay, so I can be a better pastor and friend to people like that. I'm reading two books by men who believe that God made them gay and that lifestyle is compatible with Christianity (this one and Torn by Justin Lee) and two books by men who have always had same-sex attraction but don't believe they should act on it (Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill and Out of a Far Country by Christopher Yuen). I found Mel White's book to be very interesting, for some reasons he intended and some he didn't, and gave it three stars because it did well what it was intended to do--tell his story and explain why he thinks Christianity and homosexuality are compatible. But I only gave him three stars because I thought some of his interpretations of Scripture were in the category of what my seminary professors called "exegetical gymnastics."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Mel White has quite the life story: A former ghost writer for the likes of Jerry Falwell and other conservative Christian honchos, he was married with two children and then came out as a gay man when in his 40s. This account starts with his childhood (as it should) and works up from there to his activism in the present. He is a good writer, but unfortunately this memoir sometimes gets bogged down in self-involvement. He really didn't need to delineate all of his relational-sexual exploits for th Mel White has quite the life story: A former ghost writer for the likes of Jerry Falwell and other conservative Christian honchos, he was married with two children and then came out as a gay man when in his 40s. This account starts with his childhood (as it should) and works up from there to his activism in the present. He is a good writer, but unfortunately this memoir sometimes gets bogged down in self-involvement. He really didn't need to delineate all of his relational-sexual exploits for the reader to understand that his marriage was in peril and his mind was a mess. Written in 1993, his info seems dated sometimes, but the personal stories are heartrending. Here's hoping that his story has at least catalyzed conversations among family, friends, and fellow churchgoers across the nation. The subject matter is so often under rug swept.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Martin

    I am moved to action I was raised conservative Christian. My son is gay. This book has helped me understand his struggles and the mark my background made on my own struggles. Andrew suffers from debilitating secondary progressive MS and is bed ridden but God's love overcomes all obsticles. He found love with a young gay man from Columbia. Their relationship is long distance. Thanks to Skype they can talk and share their love for each other. Thanks Mel for finally putting those nagging conservativ I am moved to action I was raised conservative Christian. My son is gay. This book has helped me understand his struggles and the mark my background made on my own struggles. Andrew suffers from debilitating secondary progressive MS and is bed ridden but God's love overcomes all obsticles. He found love with a young gay man from Columbia. Their relationship is long distance. Thanks to Skype they can talk and share their love for each other. Thanks Mel for finally putting those nagging conservative Christian fears to bed forever. I can now embrace my son's sexual orientation as a gift from God.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    I found reading this intensely powerful. It made me feel immense sorrow for the religiously-based beliefs I have held in the past about homosexuality and shock at the things I never knew about the people behind the people who encouraged and fostered these beliefs. Mel White's story is a powerful testimony for greater inclusion and love in the evangelical church for gays and lesbians.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pablo Rodriguez

    This book changed my life. Mel White's struggle with being gay and Christian helped set me on a journey to reconcile my faith and sexual orientation. A fascinating biography.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Eckels Burrows, aMGC

    Published at Convergent Streams Magazine Vol. 3 #4 http://www.convergentStreams.org Published at Convergent Streams Magazine Vol. 3 #4 http://www.convergentStreams.org

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ron Stowe

    Hats off to Mel White!! My new super hero. Gay Jesus freaks will love this coming out story. Modern Christians will likely be confused, if not outright offended. A victory for love against all odds. A wonderful true story about a real hero of honesty and truth and real life in a jungle of hypocrisy and hatred and lies. A must read for all gay Jesus freaks. Very inspiring and uplifting!!!!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shane

    This book was one of the most impactful books of inclusiveness and educated realness I have ever read! It truly depicts the depths and realities that people go through when seeking religion in their lives and the ignorant rhetoric that often surrounds it! Well done Mel White!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    I will have to go back and reread this book to write the review. I do remember how impressed I was with this book. I loaned my copy to a gay male friend. I had to buy myself another copy. I will reread.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sandie

    Excellent, excellent book. This is the 2nd time I've read it. He was a ghost writer for Jerry Falwell, Sr, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, others. He saw firsthand the rise of the Moral Majority, and the issues that were raised to forge a political movement. This is his story.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Jo

    Fastening book...the struggles that Mel went through are traumatic and heartbreaking. What we are doing to Christian lgbt members is just wrong!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Humphreys

    It may have been written 25 years ago but I would consider this a must read for anyone who calls themselves a Christ follower. I am not the same person today because of reading Mel’s book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    Well done. A very revealing look into the mental torture mainline Christianity imposes on homosexuals in this country. Sadly, it continues to this day.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alise

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It's difficult for me to know quite how to rate this book. On one hand, I applaud Rev. White for coming forward with his stories. The abuses that he and other LGBT people have suffered at the hands of the religious right deserve to be noted. Certainly his struggles to "cure" his homosexuality should be shared so that people can have a greater understanding of the innate nature of sexuality. And his move from hating and fearing his sexual orientation to embracing it and finding someone with whom It's difficult for me to know quite how to rate this book. On one hand, I applaud Rev. White for coming forward with his stories. The abuses that he and other LGBT people have suffered at the hands of the religious right deserve to be noted. Certainly his struggles to "cure" his homosexuality should be shared so that people can have a greater understanding of the innate nature of sexuality. And his move from hating and fearing his sexual orientation to embracing it and finding someone with whom to share his life is a fascinating and beautiful story. I particularly found his thoughts about silence to be moving. I would consider myself a straight ally, but I think that sometimes I forget that part of supporting my LGBT friends is being vocal in my support. However, there were a few issues that I had with this book. While I don't want to include many spoilers, I feel that I can't fully review this book without giving some away. Because of homophobia in the church, White chose to marry his friend Lyla, even though he was not attracted to her. I understand that he had desires that could not be met by his wife, and so he sought comfort elsewhere. What frustrated me more than these indiscretions was that he seemed to give these affairs God's approval. When he says that God blessed lying to his wife, I think that undermines his larger, more important point of God blessing his relationship with his husband. It certainly left me with that impression. Additionally, I'm wary every time someone starts making Nazi comparisons. I do understand that there have been (and sadly, continue to be) some very below-the-belt shots taken by the religious right and some of these have lead to the suicides of numerous LGBT people. And I understand that there are some comparisons that do hold water (the propaganda, the lies, the media blitz, etc.). However, even most of the worst offenders have said (if not always exhibited) the "love the sinner, hate the sin" line. This was simply not the case in Nazi Germany. It was always "hate the sin, kill the sinner." Given that this has never been the predominate message of the religious right, I just sour at the comparison. Again, I do understand that these messages have a pretty direct line to violence against gay people, both from the outside and from within, but I don't believe there is a direct CALL for violence, which to me would be the difference. All that said, this is definitely an important book. Mel White tells a story that needs to be heard. There ARE gay and lesbian people in your church congregation, for sure. We need to be aware of how our words and our silence can cause them to feel. Even though this is an older book, the message is still timely.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Roy

    This book took me on a journey that I did not expect: I was made aware of this title by reading Philip Yancy's "What Is So Amazing About Grace" and realised that I had never faced up to pro-homosexuality Christian views. This book seemed to be a good start. First I was a little bit disappointed about the overly personal format. I was more interested in theological debate than a single personal view. But reading on I understood that personal experience and theological understanding must go hand i This book took me on a journey that I did not expect: I was made aware of this title by reading Philip Yancy's "What Is So Amazing About Grace" and realised that I had never faced up to pro-homosexuality Christian views. This book seemed to be a good start. First I was a little bit disappointed about the overly personal format. I was more interested in theological debate than a single personal view. But reading on I understood that personal experience and theological understanding must go hand in hand if you are really serious about following Jesus’ footsteps. Jesus himself was a master of living out scripture in very personal and intimate settings, with often surprising results, especially for the religious educated. Through Mel's story, I got a sense of the urgency of this issue and especially the connection of unreflective religious judging to the political agenda of America's "Religious Right" (or "Radical Right" how he calls them in his epilogue). This book was written twenty years ago, but the political agenda of the Religious Right and their influence on the last ill-fated US presidency is more relevant than ever. I felt Stranger At the Gate gave me a history lesson not only about the perplexing wrongness of the Religious Right's agenda, rhetoric and even their doubtful motives but also about the unsettling parallels to Nazi-Germany and their actions against homosexuals (supported or at least tolerated by the majority of morally superior feeling Christian Churches). It is a hard message to fathom and it makes sitting on the fence very uncomfortable. But that's expected as soon as theory becomes personal. I have the feeling Stranger At The Gate will have a lasting impact on me and how I see and will respond to homosexuality. Apart from the excellent content, the book could have been edited better. I found it was a bit redundant and unnecessarily lengthy in parts. I guess reduced to two-thirds of the pages the book would have been a bit punchier and more focused on the important points it has to make.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This is a remarkable book, and I wish it was required reading for ministers, their congregations, and anyone who continues to believe that being gay is a choice. For twenty-five years, Mel White tried his level best to live as a straight man, loyal husband, loving father, and impassioned speechwriter for the evangelical Christian right. If there was a therapy to squash his homosexual impulses--prayer, counseling, electric shock, exorcism--he tried it, sometimes more than once. Although the book i This is a remarkable book, and I wish it was required reading for ministers, their congregations, and anyone who continues to believe that being gay is a choice. For twenty-five years, Mel White tried his level best to live as a straight man, loyal husband, loving father, and impassioned speechwriter for the evangelical Christian right. If there was a therapy to squash his homosexual impulses--prayer, counseling, electric shock, exorcism--he tried it, sometimes more than once. Although the book is a bit dated at a few points (since the gay rights movement has made such progress since the book was last printed), it doesn't actually weaken the book's impact. It's a bittersweet memoir of White's childhood, young adulthood, and early professional life, as well as a powerful story of his awakening, near suicide, and coming out. White continues to practice his Christian faith as a member of the clergy, but he now does so in a gay-supportive church environment. For those who are interested in an insider's look into the Christian right movement of the time, White offers some interesting insights. One passage that especially struck me explained the change in ministries that came about after the weakening of communism in the Eastern Bloc and Soviet Union in 1989/1990: "[The religious right's] television and radio ministries had been financed in large part by using the communist threat to raise funds and recruit volunteers. Without communism, Jerry [Falwell], Pat [Robertson], and James [Kennedy] had only two issues hot enough to mobilize their forces: abortion and homosexuality. In 1990, the religious right launched a campaign against [gays] that still shocks and terrifies me with its painful and deadly long-range consequences." White later mentions that Robertson, Falwell, and Jim Dobson had to mobilize an estimated $1-3 million dollars per week (1994), much of it just to pay their media bills.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lana

    I first read this book many years ago, and it has held up over time. In fact, it's probably close to time to read it again. Mel's story was the first I heard that made gay plus Christian=okay make sense. I will never forget parts of it, but I do like to read it every so often because he told the truth the whole way through. I personally believe that it is Truth with a capital T, but I know all these years later, some disagree with my belief. I wonder if it will always be this way. The world has I first read this book many years ago, and it has held up over time. In fact, it's probably close to time to read it again. Mel's story was the first I heard that made gay plus Christian=okay make sense. I will never forget parts of it, but I do like to read it every so often because he told the truth the whole way through. I personally believe that it is Truth with a capital T, but I know all these years later, some disagree with my belief. I wonder if it will always be this way. The world has changed, but will it ever change that much? Maybe we will at least let God judge someone like Mel instead of trying to judge him ourselves if he is so threatening.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    The auto-biography of Mel White, a conservative evangelical Christian who fought for 30 years to get rid of his homosexual impulses, before deciding that homosexuality was his God-given identity. This is the first book I've ever read by a gay Christian. Understanding his perspective is invaluable to me. Especially the early years of how his feelings expressed themselves and the internal battle he fought gave me a better understanding of what gay Christians go through. The fact that Mel White was The auto-biography of Mel White, a conservative evangelical Christian who fought for 30 years to get rid of his homosexual impulses, before deciding that homosexuality was his God-given identity. This is the first book I've ever read by a gay Christian. Understanding his perspective is invaluable to me. Especially the early years of how his feelings expressed themselves and the internal battle he fought gave me a better understanding of what gay Christians go through. The fact that Mel White was not just any Christian in the pews, but a pastor, a well-known evangelical leaders, and a producer and writer of Christian media made the story all the more compelling. The fact that he was ghostwriting books and autobiographies for Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jim and Tammy Bakker, and other prominent anti-homosexual leaders was even more interesting. Though he spent decades in self-condemnation or uncertainty, Mel White is quite convinced of his position by the time he writes this book, and it shows throughout. I am not so convinced myself. Because he is so brutality honest about all of his attempts to reconcile himself and his failings to do so, and because he justifies some of the half-measures he took to try to remain sane on the journey, there will be something in here to justify anyone who wants to hate or dismiss him. But the degree of suffering he was willing to face on both sides of the struggle show that his story is not one so easily dismissed. I'm glad I read the book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Belenen

    The story of a person who tried to please God and the people ze loved and admired by hiding part of zirself, until ze realized that not only did God love all of zir, but ze had a responsibility to speak out against the injustice done to LGBT people, especially by Christians. In places it was quite gripping, but overall, too repetitive and disorganized. I think it suffered from trying to be two things at once -- an honest, in-depth autobiography, and an explanation of how fundamentalists have irr The story of a person who tried to please God and the people ze loved and admired by hiding part of zirself, until ze realized that not only did God love all of zir, but ze had a responsibility to speak out against the injustice done to LGBT people, especially by Christians. In places it was quite gripping, but overall, too repetitive and disorganized. I think it suffered from trying to be two things at once -- an honest, in-depth autobiography, and an explanation of how fundamentalists have irresponsibly and often selfishly caused so much harm. (ze has since written a book focused on the latter) I wanted to know more about the people in Mel's life. And I found the repeated assertions that "sexual orientation is not a choice" to be quite annoying and besides the point. I've read Mel's very succinct strip-down of the 6-7 verses used to condemn homosexuality, and it's quite plain that God doesn't have a problem with it -- so what does it matter if it is inborn or not? I suppose after 30 years of trying to change zir desires, undergoing the most inhumane 'treatments', that phrase has a lot more meaning to Mel, though. If you are curious about Mel zirself it's a good read, but if you want to learn more about how the Bible has been misinterpreted or how fundamentalists have hijacked the faith, I'd recommend checking out the site of the organization ze founded instead: soulforce.org

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    this book really shows the agony Christians go through when they're raising fundamentalist homes that teach them that they are inherently evil and beyond God's love. White struggled with feelings of inadequacy and what can only be described as spiritual torture because he believed his natural desires were evil. he went through ex-gay programs, counseling, even electroshock therapy, all in a vain attempt to make himself straight.It was very sad reading about his journey. However, at times, I got this book really shows the agony Christians go through when they're raising fundamentalist homes that teach them that they are inherently evil and beyond God's love. White struggled with feelings of inadequacy and what can only be described as spiritual torture because he believed his natural desires were evil. he went through ex-gay programs, counseling, even electroshock therapy, all in a vain attempt to make himself straight.It was very sad reading about his journey. However, at times, I got very frustrated and angry at him. This was because he was having affairs with gay men while he was working for the religious right, the very people who were trying to take away the rights of people like him. Even the fact that in the beginning, mostly when he was helping them, the religious right were not focused much on homosexuality, he knew how they felt – he knew that they hated gays and lesbians. And hate is really the only word for it – I didn't realize how bad people like James Dobson and Jerry Falwell are/were. The things they said about gay people are horrible – the fear mongering, the hatred – White actually spoke about the religious right's key campaign in comparison to the Nazis, who went up killing gays and lesbians in concentration camps.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

    A highly recommended and must read for any pastor, priest, minister or other clergy and lay people alike. I personally know Mel White and have heard him preach. He is one of the finest preachers and prophets of our generation. Speaking boldly and bravely for the rights of God's gay, lesbian, bi and transgendered children both in the world at large and in the church. There are no strangers in God's family and the unity of Christ's church cannot be based on the exclusion of any of God's children. A highly recommended and must read for any pastor, priest, minister or other clergy and lay people alike. I personally know Mel White and have heard him preach. He is one of the finest preachers and prophets of our generation. Speaking boldly and bravely for the rights of God's gay, lesbian, bi and transgendered children both in the world at large and in the church. There are no strangers in God's family and the unity of Christ's church cannot be based on the exclusion of any of God's children. Because to exclude anyone especially on the basis of sexual orientation is an affront to Jesus who welcomed all into his ministry, an affront to God whose nature is love, and undermines the very things as Christians we are supposed to be doing- doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with God, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim goodness to the poor, to seek liberation of captives and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. We as the church need to see the light of God within all God's children where all means all and to see the face of Christ on each person.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Moving autobiography...some of the political material is now dated but it's still eye opening to see how far we've come in less than two decades. I admire his forthrightness about his struggles and failures attempting to keep his marriage together. It took guts to write this. I would say that while I feel I know Mel White very well after reading this, the other primary characters in the story-his wife, his children, even his partner Gary are still strangers. I don't really have a grasp on why Ly Moving autobiography...some of the political material is now dated but it's still eye opening to see how far we've come in less than two decades. I admire his forthrightness about his struggles and failures attempting to keep his marriage together. It took guts to write this. I would say that while I feel I know Mel White very well after reading this, the other primary characters in the story-his wife, his children, even his partner Gary are still strangers. I don't really have a grasp on why Lyla stayed with him for so long-what it was like for her experiencing this. And perhaps she didn't want to contribute to the novel, or have him try to present things from her point of view. But it definitely would have made a more rounded story to have more material on what his family was thinking and feeling. Still, it's one of the best memoirs I've read. Highly recommended, whether you are gay, Christian, or none of the above.

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