'Torn': Living As An Openly Gay Christian | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

'Torn': Living As An Openly Gay Christian

Justin Lee was raised in a conservative Southern Baptist home. He had two loving parents, and was deeply committed to his faith. In school, classmates even referred to him as "God Boy" because of his devotion.

But, as he was entering high school, Lee's whole world began to change, as he came face-to-face with feelings that he'd tried for many years to suppress.

"I didn't know I was gay at first, because I was the kid who was preaching against folks accepting themselves as gay," he tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered.

Lee formed the Gay Christian Network in 2001 to try and help other gay Christian kids and their families talk to one another, as well as with their respective churches. His new book is called Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays Vs. Christians Debate.


Interview Highlights

On coming out

"I absolutely believed it was a sinful choice to be gay. But I knew that I was attracted to guys and I kept thinking that was a phase I would grow out of. And as the years went by and I wasn't growing out of this phase, I got to the point that I was just crying myself to sleep, night after night, begging God, 'Please don't let me feel this anymore.' When I turned to the Christians I most respected in my life — my parents and my friends and my pastors — I found that they didn't have a lot of answers for me, other than just don't be gay. And I thought, well, I could not act on my feelings. I could not talk about my feelings. But I can't make myself straight. So that really sent me on this journey trying to figure out how do we address this as a church."

On being 'too gay' or 'too Christian'

"I talk to people still every day who are just living in that constant feeling of being alone, and it's very depressing when you feel like nobody understands you. You feel like you've been caught up in the midst of this culture war between the gay folks on one side and the Christians on the other side. And here you are, a gay Christian, and there's no place for you."

On reconciling with family who disagree with your choices

"I hear from so many folks who are just desperate for a way to sit down and be a family with their family members who don't agree with them on this, or hold their church together ... and I tell folks it's all about continuing to express your love for each other and continuing to share stories."

On his relationship with his parents since coming out

"I love my parents dearly and we have a wonderful relationship. And through the whole process they have been nothing but loving. We've disagreed; sometimes quite strongly. We've had a number of arguments over the years, and ultimately my position has changed on some things, and their positions have changed on some things. What I can say above all else is that I know that they love me and that they're proud of me, and even when we disagree we do that in a way that's loving and respectful of one another."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Cumberbatch Wants Britain To Pardon Men Convicted Under Anti-Gay Law

The Oscar-nominated star of the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game has joined actor and comedian Stephen Fry in calling for a blanket pardon of 49,000 men punished under long-defunct law.
NPR

Shake Shack Sizzles With IPO As McDonald's Fizzles

Shares of the burger chain shot up Friday, its first trading day. Shake Shack and other fast-casual joints are taking a bite out of McDonald's, which can't recast itself to fit the current trend.
NPR

What Romney's Retreat Means For GOP Hopefuls

NPR's Scott Simon speaks with senior Washington editor Ron Elving about the narrowing Republican presidential field for 2016 and what we've seen so far in the first month of the new Congress.
NPR

The Infinite Whiteness Of Public Radio Voices

The hashtag #publicradiovoices, about the "whiteness" of public radio, trended on Twitter this week. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Gene Demby of NPR's Code Switch team about the conversation.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.