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


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