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Outspoken: Justin

Outspoken: Justin


As I drove by the First Evangelical Free Church near St. Louis on February 25, where the "ex-gay" Love Won Out conference was being held, I did not know what to expect. Would there be many protesters on our side or only a few? Would counterprotesters be present? To my surprise, I was greeted by hundreds of people smiling and waving. They were holding signs that read love needs no cure and god made me gay. I couldn't wait to get out of the car and join everyone.

I had struggled for so long as an adolescent with my sexual orientation. I thought I was sinful and did not deserve to live because of who I was. Every day was worse than the one before--the pain, hurt, and suffering of feeling like I was less than human was all too difficult to endure at times. During that period of pain, I could not ever have imagined feeling support like I did at this protest. I was overcome with a feeling of joy and hope for the future.

Some of the people in the cars pulling up to the church were adolescents, many of whom looked like they were being forced to attend. It broke my heart to see these kids being brought to an event that told them to change who they are. The expressions on their faces were of devastation and despair. Yet some of these forced participants waved back to us.

Later in the day an 18-year-old guy from Arkansas sneaked out of the conference and came over to talk to us. His parents were forcing him to attend. He told me that the signs of love and hope made all the difference to him. He had been kicked out of his Christian high school for being gay. He did not have support at home. As I listened to him talk, I realized why I participate in all of the activist work that I do. Nobody should ever have to feel rejection from his or her own family.

Once the conference began to let out, we all began to chant. One of my favorites cheers was "Still gay? That's OK." Even though I was cold from standing outside all day, I was filled with a sense of rejuvenation. I will always keep this experience in a special place in my heart and carry it with me for the rest of my life. I learned today that love truly needs no cure.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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