Matthew Vines, whose pro-LGBT speech at College Hill United Methodist Church went viral on YouTube earlier this year, is in New York this week for a variety of engagements. In addition to his discussion, Being Gay Is Not a Sin: A Conversation with Matthew Vines, which will take place on the evening of Wednesday, August 8 at Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan, Matthew will talk to filmgoers at a screening of Love Free or Die at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village on Thursday, August 9. Matthew will also attend GLAAD Manhattan on Tuesday, August 7 as a guest of the Religion, Faith, and Values program.
Matthew’s talk at Marble Church will look at why being LGBT is often seen as incompatible with being Christian and why the Bible disagrees with that view. The conversation is open to those who agree and disagree with his conclusions and those who are still unsure. It will surely be a lively, enlightening discussion. Join us if you are interested in learning more about what the Christian Bible really says and want to discuss what that means in the context of the world we live in today.
GLAAD spoke to Matthew about how he came to deliver his speech at College Hill UMC and the impact it’s had on his life since:
GLAAD: Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to study what the Bible says about LGBT people?
Matthew Vines: In 2008, I started school at Harvard, where I stayed for three semesters before taking time off after deciding to come out. Hailing from a conservative Christian community in Kansas, that wasn’t an easy process for me, and I needed time to navigate the coming out process as carefully as possible. A big part of that process for me was studying the six references in the Bible to homosexuality, because the interpretation of those verses has a tremendous impact on the way LGBT people are viewed within Christian communities—and I both wanted to remain in Christian community and be treated as an equal in them.
GLAAD: Why did you decide to parlay what you had learned into something as public as a YouTube video?
MV: I made the video because I wanted to create an empowering resource for LGBT Christians in communities where they have little to no support and where the Bible is brandished as a weapon against them. The Bible is not, in fact, anti-gay, but if people aren't familiar with the theological issues and arguments, then they can find themselves at a loss for how to effectively advocate for equal treatment in their home churches and communities.
GLAAD: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the responses you’ve received to your video? What has been most rewarding?
MV: The biggest challenge has been trying to manage the volume of responses effectively. Given how personally and profoundly this issue affects people’s lives, I would like to be able to spend much more quality time responding to individual messages than I actually have. But I have been encouraged by those people who’ve been able to connect with others in similar situations through my video, and I’ll work to continue to facilitate those connections as best as I can going forward.
The most rewarding responses are those from people who've changed their minds after watching the video -- both Christians who’ve changed their minds about LGBT equality and LGBT people who’ve changed their minds about Christianity. It’s especially gratifying to hear from LGBT people in Christian homes who opted against self-harm or whose parents finally felt like they were able to support them after watching it.
GLAAD: What do you hope to achieve?
MV: Going forward, I’d like to continue to advance my message and my arguments, with the goal of changing how Christians interpret the Bible on this subject and reforming Christianity to make it strongly supportive of LGBT equality. No doubt, there’s a lot of work left to be done to accomplish that goal, but it’s critical to truly achieving equality and is worth the effort. As the Bible says, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).
Registration for the event at Marble Church is still open: RSVP here!
Please join us at GLAAD Manhattan, Marble Collegiate Church, or the IFC Center to meet Matthew Vines and discuss his in depth research on the place of LGBT people in Christianity. See his Viral YouTube Video below.