Across U.S., LGBTQ Christians try to change hearts and minds from the pews

Bad theology kills protest sign
Image credit: Tyler Clementi Foundation

For John Freml, a devout Catholic who is also gay, abandoning his faith is not an option.

“If everybody who thought like me were to leave the church, then there would be nobody left in the church for the youth who are dealing with the same things that I had to deal with,” he said.

Freml, 32, is a coordinator for Equally Blessed, a nonprofit group that advocates on behalf of LGBTQ Catholics. He lives in Springfield, Illinois, with his husband and two foster children. Like many Catholic families, they go to church on Sundays. But they have to drive across town to one of the only churches with a gay-friendly priest, Freml said.

“LGBT people really have to search and do some research to find a parish that will accept them for who they are,” Freml explained.

Freml came out as gay his senior year of high school, he said, after “quite a few years of inner turmoil.” Catholic school, he explained, had taught him that marriage and sex should only be between a man and a woman. He said the shame was so intense that he contemplated suicide.

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