The mom of openly gay singer Lance Bass spoke with a local church about her journey as a Christian mom with a gay son. This week, Lance shared the transcript of her testimony with The Huffington Post.
Lance prefaces the transcript by recalling parts of his own difficult path of growing up gay and living in the south: "The constant fear of people discovering who you really were and the inevitable shame that would fall upon you and your family dictated how you lived your life every day."
In what he describes as "a very open and honest letter," Lance's mom addressed her church, which she felt had much progress to make regarding its treatment of the LGBT community. Her words were not only welcomed, but made such a splash that another local church invited her speak to its congregation on the subject, so that's exactly what she did.
While she announced to the crowd, "I am not a public speaker," Diane's words poignantly captured the ways many people connect their faith with their support for people who are LGBT, as well as the frustrating disconnect between one's faith and the actions of one's faith community.
Diane let the church members know how deeply her devotion to her religion runs. "I have been a Southern Baptist all my life," she explained. "I attended Sunday School and church as a child. I married a man with the same Christian principles as me and we raised our two children in the church as well. My husband is an ordained deacon, I taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, taught vacation Bible School, attended Bible studies and revivals just like most of you."
When her son first came out to her, Diane prayed for a miracle. "Lance is still gay," she said, "However, I did get a miracle."
(This is where it gets awesome:)
"The miracle is that I learned to have unconditional love and compassion for my son and others in the gay community. I haven't marched in parades or spoken at conventions, but I do feel that God has led me to speak out concerning the church's role. My son is a Christian and wants to be able to worship, but he does not feel that the church cares about him and has pretty much disowned him as a fellow believer. There is something terribly wrong with that and I have to speak up on behalf of my son and others who ﬁnd themselves in the same situation. When I was a little girl, I went to a celebration with my grandparents on the courthouse lawn in Laurel. I was thirsty and ran to drink some water from one of the water fountains. My grandmother screamed at me to stop. When I looked at the
fountain it had the word 'Colored' on it and she told me I had to drink out of another one. I was only 6 years old but I knew something was just not right about that. Just as my heart told me something was wrong that day on the courthouse lawn, my heart is telling me that something is wrong with the way the church treats those who are gay."
As her speech came to a close, Diane offered a prayer, "that we can all try to have a Christ-like attitude while on this earth. We, as Christians, must let the Holy Spirit lead us to ﬁnd ways to reach out to all people regardless of our differences because I truly believe it is the right thing to do. I am convinced that is what Jesus would do."
Diane's experience is not uncommon. For many, reconciling religious faith with compassion for LGBT folk is not the challenge, and, indeed, they often go hand in hand, as they did for Diane. Rather, a bigger hurdle can be getting an institution's policies and actions to reflect the evolving positions of its members. Less than a month ago, for example, hundreds of students at a Catholic high school staged a protest in support of their vice principal, who was fired for being gay. With time and persistence, though, change is possible. Some of the biggest LGBT faith moments of 2013 include the election of a gay Lutheran bishop, continued actions towards marriage equality within multiple denominations, and more.
Of his mom's words, Lance said, "To me, she represents a true Christian and what the majority of Christians believe today in the country."
You can read the full transcript of Diane's speech at the Huffington Post.