Friday, July 22, 2011


July 21, 2011

I was a senior religion major at a major Christian university studying for ministry. I felt that this was the plan for my life. I had always known I was gay but was terrified to ever entertain the homosexual thoughts and feelings in my mind. It was at this juncture in my life that I knew I had to deal with these feelings. I had come to the place where I could barely make myself get out of bed due to depression caused by the "sinfulness" of my thoughts. I contemplated suicide but could never bring myself to do it. I felt I had no place to turn. I did not dare reveal my secret to anyone for fear of being discovered or worse yet, kicked out.

I decided to maintain my secret and seek counseling. I traveled 200 miles once a week for about three weeks. I could not afford the gas. The counseling was supposed to convince me of the sinfulness of my homosexuality and reform me to the point of being able to start my own traditional family consisting of a wife and children. Exhausted I sought help from an online exgay service. My counselor was a man who had been a Baptist minister. He had been caught in the act of homosexuality an immediately removed from his position. He informed me of outlets and support groups offered by exgay groups. The more I read the more I was convinced that it wasn't so much about change as it was about repression.

I knew there had to be some organization that was committed to the support of homosexuals seeking help. I decided to begin that search. Online, I found an organization called HeartStrong. I sent an email describing my situation and myself. I received a warm and understanding response from Marc Adams. He assured me that my feelings were natural and were not sinful or wrong. He sent me a free copy of his own story, a book called, The Preacher's Son. I was so anxious to read it. It seemed unimaginable that another person could share my feelings and situation. When I got the book, I hurried to my dorm room and began reading it. It was inscribed "When your heart is strong, you're never alone."

Four hours later I completed the book without any breaks. I was so absorbed by the text, so much that I felt it was my own story sometimes. After reading it, I knew I had to free the captive inside me. I decided to return to my hometown. Shortly after that I began coming out to my family and friends. Many abandoned me and one even vocalized their wish for my death. I was disappointed and hurt but my mind often reflected back to Marc's story and the kindness of the people at HeartStrong. It was there that I found comfort and solace.

Nearly two years have passed since I came out to my supposed friends and family. I am living a full and happy life as a gay man with new friends and family that go beyond the boundaries of blood relations. This would not have been possible without the help of HeartStrong. I am forever grateful.

Kevin Lawling



Kevin's story is not unusual. For early 15 years HeartStrong has provided hope and help for students just like Kevin. Students who struggle with self-acceptance and the ordeal of after effects from family members who choose to make coming out a discussion/debate instead of an announcement.

It does not take much to give someone hope. We have spent the past 15 years opening the door for over 1000 students who feel that there is no hope to be found.

We cannot do this without you, our HeartStrong Friends. We provide our life saving materials without you.

For those who have given, thank you. For those who will give , thank you.

If you are in any of the areas where we will have HeartStrong Forums as listed below, please come out to find out more about all that we are doing to save lives.

Dr. Shelley Craig
President, HeartStrong Inc.

2011 HeartStrong Forums

July 19 UU Church Longview TX
July 17 PFLAG Chicago IL
July 23 Michiana GLBT Center South Bend IN
July 24 PFLAG Oak Park IL
July 27 PFLAG Munster IN
August 2 UU Church/PFLAG Jefferson City MO
August 3 UU Church Columbia MO
August 4 PFLAG Belleville IL
August 7 PFLAG Hinsdale IL
August 8 Kalamazoo Public Library Kalamazoo MI
August 14 Elkhart IN
August 17 PFLAG South Orange County CA
August 18 PFLAG Simi Valley CA
August 23 PFLAG Whittier CA
August 28 UU Church La Crescenta CA
September 4 UU Church Las Vegas NV
September 6 PFLAG Modesto CA
September 11 PFLAG Napa CA
September 12 PFLAG Redwood City CA
September 14 PFLAG San Jose CA
September 18 PFLAG Philadelphia PA
September 19 PFLAG Collingswood PA
September 27 PFLAG Baltimore County MD
October 2 Wayne NJ
October 9 Albany NY
October 11 PFLAG Columbia MD
October 13 PFLAG Wilmington DE
October 16 UU Church Hunterdon County NJ
October 16 Somerset NJ
October 24 PFLAG Staten Island NY
November 12 Pittsburgh PA
December 4 Dahlonega GA
February 26 River of Grass UU Church Weston FL


Minnesota school district lawsuit by SPLC

July 21, 2011

Dear Friend,

Today, we've filed a federal lawsuit to protect gay, lesbian and transgender students in a Minnesota school district where at least four LGBT students have died by suicide in the past two years.

The Anoka-Hennepin school district near Minneapolis is "ground zero" in our fight to stop the rampant bullying of LGBT students. Physical and verbal abuse has been allowed to flourish under the district's so-called "neutrality" policy.

The misguided policy stigmatizes LGBT students — casting them as pariahs who are not welcome in the school community, a message that encourages their abusers.

This bullying has devastating consequences, as the heartbreaking suicides in Anoka-Hennepin and elsewhere illustrate.

You can learn more about the situation in the Anoka-Hennepin school district in a special CNN investigative piece scheduled to air at 8 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 24.

Our work would not be possible without the support of people like you. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of children who are suffering from bigotry and injustice.


J. Richard Cohen

President, Southern Poverty Law Center


Breaking News; School Officials Increase LGBT protection


(305) 751-7283




Miami-Dade, FL – Three years after Florida passed the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act, which prohibits the bullying or harassment, including cyber bullying, of any public K-12 student or employee, Miami-Dade County Administration amended their policy to be explicitly inclusive of students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT). The policy will now include “sexual orientation and gender identity” providing clearer protections for LGBT students.

“For the past year we’ve focused on strengthening Miami-Dade’s anti-bullying policy as a way to create a climate where bullying a student because of their real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity is no longer tolerated,” said C.J. Ortuno, executive director of SAVE Dade. SAVE Dade worked with their partner the ACLU of Florida in developing the policy’s new language.

“The most common forms of bullying and harassment in Florida schools, and across the country, are based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and physical appearance,” said Shelbi Day, ACLU of Florida LGBT Project Attorney. “Although the state anti-bullying law clearly prohibits bullying and harassment of any students, it is imperative that individual school district policies make clear that bullying and harassment of LGBT students is prohibited and will not be tolerated. This is a critical step in making Florida schools truly safe for all students.”

According to GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate Survey 7,261 middle and high school students found that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students (84.6%) experienced harassment at school in the previous year. Miami-Dade County provides significant support through public school programs and nonprofit organizations for LGBT students.

Suzy Milano, Director of Mental Health and Crisis Management Services for Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Coordinator of the District’s Sexual Minority Network said, “Our work provides prevention and intervention services that promotes awareness, diversity, and acceptance in the fourth largest school district in the country.” Ms. Milano’s project is unique to Florida’s school systems with services focused on protecting students from bullying in schools. Milano also credits SAVE Dade’s technical support as being critical to the policy’s success. The amendment took place during a county wide update aimed at improving and streamlining many of the school district’s administrative policies.

Whereas policy is an important factor in providing anti-bullying protections, it is one of several actions being taken to protect the interest of all students. “To confront bullying head on, we need a balanced approach by passing effective policy and offering programs that educate faculty/administration; removes barriers for reporting; and provides support and safety for all affected students,” said Carla Silva, executive director of the Alliance for GLBTQ Youth. Silva’s organization takes a holistic approach by integrating education, advocacy, and services into programming that helps our LGBT students.

“SAVE Dade’s contribution is to strengthen policies in hope that it provides some clarity for adults and students on the frontlines of bullying – if a teacher knows and understands that gay students are explicitly protected from bullying, it could result in a report that saves a young person’s life,” said Ortuno.

The new policy updates will go into effect Friday, July 22, 2011. An English version will be posted on the school board’s website at that time, with Spanish and Creole versions to follow.

The new policy language will read:

"Bullying, Harassment, Cyberbullying, and Discrimination (as referred to and defined herein) encompasses, but is not limited to, unwanted harm towards a student or employee based on or with regard to actual or perceived: sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability (physical, mental, or educational), marital status, socio-economic background, ancestry, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, linguistic preference, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or social/family background. This policy prohibits bullying or harassment of any student by any Board member, District employee, consultant, contractor, agent, visitor, volunteer, student, or other person in the school or outside of the school at school-sponsored events, on school buses, and at training facilities or training programs sponsored by the District."

SAVE Dade's mission is to promote, protect and defend equality for people in Miami-Dade County who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Established in 1993, SAVE Dade accomplishes this mission through education initiatives, outreach, grassroots organizing, and advocacy. Starting with the landmark passage of Miami's Human Rights Ordinance in 1998 to recent enactments of domestic partner benefit policies, SAVE continues to lead the fight for LGBT equality in Miami-Dade County through grassroots action focused on civil rights, parental rights, and relationship recognition through political advocacy, community outreach, and candidate endorsements.

Paid for by SAVE Dade

4500 Biscayne Blvd
Suite 340
Miami, FL 33137

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Equal Time

Here's a really good article about Michael Irving appearing on
the cover of the latest issue of OUT magazine.

As a friend pointed out, a straight black man appearing on
the cover of a national LGBT mag is major, and a big step up
for the black community.

Certainly there's a lot of damage to be undone by the likes of
David Tyree as a mouthpiece for NOM. Black folks have
been notoriously bad about anti-gay sentiment, confusingly
so based on their own experiences with prejudice, so here's
hoping this provides some help with that.

The article features some interesting bits, including
Irvin coming to terms with his own homophobia.

To read the article in its entirety online, go to: