Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Favorite "It Gets Better" Video

Dan Savages's "It Gets Better" project has exploded. There are now literally hundreds of videos made by everyday people the likes of you and the President of The United States and many major celebrities. But of all the videos that I have seen from the project...this one just blew me away:...The gay grandson of Oral Roberts writing an "It Gets Better" letter to his gay uncle who committed suicide in 1982.

Its no doubt that religion plays a large roll in the shame that LGBT teens go through...hell all of us have to go through. It did for me in a major way. So many of us take the risk to come out to our families as an act of love and honesty only to be met with disapproval....threats of hell...and sometimes outright rejection. So when I man like Randy Roberts Potts tells his has an amazing ability to help...not only gay teens, but grown men like me. His heartfelt words to his uncle moved me to tears. Please watch the video after the jump...

Every Sunday my parents used to turn on Oral Roberts. In addition to church, Mega Televangelists like Roberts were a staple of my religious upbringing....giant cathedrals, thousands of congregants, and a revivalist hellfire message were part of our Sunday morning worship. My parents accepted...and still do live by that message. Like Ronnie and Randy I was also told "your going to hell". For me, it came from my mom and it comes from the way she was raised. Even today we have a very distant relationship because of my choice to tell her I was gay and stick to my guns on the issue.

Coming out and accepting myself has meant a long a tortuous struggle with the evangelistic traditions of my family. I've had to struggle, and fight to find a way to reclaim my own spirituality on positive terms. yet today, nearly twenty years later, those messages still echo in my memory and question all I have become in life.

This is why this particular video blew me away. Men like Roberts figured so large in my past and still cast large shadows into the present. To think that a man who stood as a moral absolute for me as a kid(He literally put the fear of GOD in me) could have a gay son and did something inside of me. Maybe it questioned the absolutism of a group of preachers who threw down the gauntlet every Sunday. It put a tiny chink in the wall of fear that I carry with me from those days. Perhaps putting two gay men in this family was GOD's way of healing the damage the evangelism and literal interpretations of the bible have done to his gay children. All Randy and his uncle had to do was live long enough to tell their stories. While his Uncle Ronnie did not make it....Randy did...Perhaps driven more intensely to survive by the parallels between their lives as well as from experiencing the pain of his Uncles decision to end his own life. Hearing him talk about it left me a tearfull mess. The pain in his voice was so evident.

I lay no blame down at anyones feet...not Oral Roberts...nor my mother. Sometimes I look down the road at my past and can feel scars of yesterday vividly. I can see how they shape the person who I am today. But I also know that people are just people...all of us are shaped by what came before...even those who gave us heavier weights to carry through life. And myself being human...who might I be adding a heavier weight to? So I try to appreciate my past for what it has made transmute it to a more positive outcome. So I lay no blame in telling this story...I only wish to communicate how much this video has affected me.

I am grateful to Randy for making it..not only for myself but hopeful for anyone else who grew up with a head full of the same messages I grew up with. I hope that one day he will tell more of his story and how he dealt with the influence of religion in his family. He's become a very fascinating person to me.

If anyone would like to share their history with religion...or even just televangelism..I would love to hear it. :)

Until next time dear readers...


  1. have you heard about the story of Clint McCance?
    you should do a video about it once you learned some more about it. This guy is a SCHOOL OFFICIAL!

  2. I hadn't seen this one yet. Thanks for pointing it out. It's powerful and moving.

  3. I grew up Mormon... went on a mission to Brazil, married in the temple, had four children and lasted about 11 years as a straight very active Mormon. Then, I followed Randy Roberts Potts' path and came out. I left the religion and essentially lost every friend and almost every family member. Fortunately I grew up in a place with not so many Mormons and I have been able to reconnect with old friends and re-nourish those relationships.

    I have 4 children who are still being raised Mormon...except when they're with me. My biggest challenge now is dealing with their indoctrination by their mother and on the other hand creating some semblance of a social life for myself from scratch.

    I love this blog because you are a dad too.

  4. Thanks Bryan. This video is definitely one of the best. Well made, well thought-out, and genuinely sincere and open. I agree with you, that with two gay descendants, Oral Roberts needed to think about what it meant...perhaps a message from God to him...these are my creation, your flesh and blood. Why can't you love them like I commanded?

    If the two greatest commandments both start with the word "Love," why do so many priests and evangelists teach hate? If Jesus only taught us to love, to be humble, to serve one another, why do these leaders demand hatred, self-righteousness, and domination over others?

    Can these "Christians" really be called Christians, when they do NOT following the teaching of Christ?

  5. Fortunately I realized religion was bovine effluent by the time just after my first communion.

    Went along with the motions for all my years of Catholic schools but it came to a crux when I was 15 years old. I was doing confirmation classes and towards the end one of the parish priests counseled us individually.

    I went in and told the priest that I had a major issue with the faith thing. Told him that I didn't believe in God, that it was all worthless mumbo jumbo.

    And I was pretty adamant that I didn't want to be confirmed in a church and faith which I had no faith or belief in thereof. Took a $500 cash bribe to get me to go along.

    They confirmed me. Doesn't mean a damned thing.But it did give me one strength, I know their Bible as well or better than they do.

    Always fun to argue with Catholic priests when they're taking biblical quotations out of context to justify their bigotry.

  6. I grew up (sounds odd) non-denominational fundamentalist christian. I no longer believe, but if there is a god or gods (and there's no way to know one way or the other)then people are born as they are to be. It would be a powerful irony if the gods were trying to send Oral Roberts a message by giving him gay descendants. I'd be curious to know who else is gay in that family, and also if any female relatives are especially fertile.