Would you confront a pastor as this gay man did?


I got this in last week from reader Mike Moore (whom some of you might recall from A Good Week to Hate Christians), and thought it worth sharing. What do you think of Mike’s bold action? Is it something you would do? Why or why not? Would you change your mind knowing it would end for you the way it did for him?

On a recent night out with my husband at 12 Bones, our favorite BBQ place here in Asheville, NC, I recognized Pastor Bruce sitting at a table enjoying lunch with his wife. The pastor’s denomination, Southern Baptist, was a driving force behind the anti-same-sex-marriage law passed in North Carolina last year. Given the vile things said during the election about gay people and their ability to be good parents, and given the “protect our children” mantra used by such churches, I thought I’d try an experiment.

Without invitation or preamble, I slid into an empty seat at their table.

“Hi Pastor Bruce,” I said. “I was wondering. Do you and your wife honestly consider yourselves capable of being good parents? And how’re things in the bedroom between you two? What do you like to get up to in there?”

I wanted the pastor and his wife to understand, in real time, from a calm voice, and face-to-face, what it feels like when a stranger forces themselves and their values into their life and then judges them, their parenting skills, their bedroom antics, and their morality. I wanted them to know how it feels to have a stranger attack them on personal matters which are none of their business and about which they know nothing.

What ensued was a quite scary. Things between Pastor Bruce and I got pretty ugly very fast.

I went back later that afternoon, tail between my legs and glaring husband in the car (a diehard BBQ fan, he had said to me, “If you have gotten us banned from 12 Bones I will kill you dead”), to apologize to the restaurant’s crew at  for what I had done at their restaurant. My apology was sincere; I had put into a very bad situation a super-cool, super-nice staff whom I adore. I felt that their business was, after all, an inappropriate place for such a confrontation.

John, I was truly shocked when as a group the staff not only thanked me for my apology, but told me it was unnecessary—and then treated me like a hero. The employees—right back to the kitchen staff—all gave me big smiles and waved at me. They told how they disliked the guy and his church. How disgusted they were with the things Pastor Bruce’s denomination had said about gay people during the election. They told me they were jealous of me, of how many times they’d played the roll of polite servers when what they really wanted to do was dump a plate of BBQ on the good pastor’s head.

A week later one of the guys who seems to always be working at the restaurant came out of the kitchen to introduce himself to me. He told me how much he appreciated what I did. He said he hadn’t seen Pastor Bruce, a regular customer, since the incident.

“And good riddance to him,” he said.

He thanked me for running off one of his regular customers!

I made a lot people happy that day. I spoke for them in a setting where it would be inappropriate for them to speak up. And I learned that a whole bunch of straight people have our backs in ways and depths which I would not have ever imagined.

(When first published on JohnShore.com, this post was shared about 7,000 times. [Those ShareThis numbers were lost when I moved my blog over here to Patheos.])

"The whole thing about wives submitting to husbands opens the door for these kind of ..."

Why Pastors Struggle With Confronting Domestic ..."
"I have a stupid question for you:If you are asking someone else what to say ..."

What should I tell my child ..."

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Tim

    Interesting the reaction you received. I have often been tempted to do something similar, but I’d like to think that I wouldn’t have to to make my point.

    Perhaps I was wrong?

  • Anne

    Wow. I wish I had been there!!

    You are right when you say that there are a whole lot of straight people out there backing you up, cheering you on and believing that you are entitled to all the same rights and privileges straight people are afforded. This is something I say to my congregation every week when I welcome them and all visitors: (in part) “no matter who you are, how you live your life or where you are on your faith journey, you have a a home at [church name]. We don’t merely accept you, we EMBRACE you for the beautiful perfect person that God created.”

    How funny that listening to the song “We Are” to sing this week. Just some of the lyrics:

    We are the light of the world

    We are the city on a hill

    We are the light of the world

    We gotta, we gotta, we gotta let the light shine

    Pretty awesome. God Bless you, Mike.

  • Eddie Keator

    Yes, I do believe I would.

  • Anne

    Oops, I meant to say how funny it was that I was listening to the song “We Are” as I read this post.

    Should have proofed.

  • Michael

    “And good riddance to him.”


  • Rob B

    To paraphrase a line from the movie Dragnet, “He’s got balls as big as church bells.”

    The older I get, the more apt I am to do the same.

  • HJ

    I would never have the guts for that. Way to go… I think! Wish I could have been there to applaud you. Can’t help to be curious about what was actually said.

  • joann forsberg

    I am not confrontational on any issue. Yet, I do applaud those who have the strength to do so. I will say as a Christian, I make my stance of believing all humans desired to be treated equally in and outside the Church. So as I am not confortational I have had people confront me with opposite opinions and I kindly stand my ground.

    I also was asked to leave a Church a year ago. Because I would not “shut” my mouth in general conversations with others (friends?) in the Church. And I was being a “thorn”.

    So even gentleness can be attacked when you are making someone uncomfortable in their dogmatic thinking.

    On facebook I daily post support for gay individuals.


  • I’m with you, Jo…I’m not a confrontational person, and sometimes confrontation can result in the other person becoming even more strident about his or her views. I post support for GLBT individuals on my blog and Facebook, too…it’s a less confrontational way to express my strong views.

    I admire people who stand up for what they believe…and do things like this. Sometimes I wish I had more courage myself, but it’s not my personality. I hope to live out peace and justice, and my beliefs as a Christian, through the way I act and talk.

  • Just before reading this article, I read this one:


    A teen in Oregon (my state) committed suicide because of bullying. LaGrande is in eastern Oregon, in a much more rural area than the Portland metropolitan area where I live. I would hope that this would be much less likely to happen in Portland, but I know bullying happens everywhere.

    This is so sad–just like gun violence, these gay teen suicides continue. Fortunately, I see some signs of hope. A young man who attended middle school with my teenage son has founded a group called “Project Believe in Me” to combat teen bullying:


    Things have changed so much over the past 30-40 years…I have many gay/lesbian friends who are open and proud, and they wouldn’t have felt as comfortable many years ago. But we have so far to go. Some Christians aren’t helping.

  • textjunkie

    good heavens. I would have thought that was the absolutely worst thing to do, but apparently I would have been absolutely wrong!! Kudos to this person for a) doing it and b) going back to the staff to apologize and looking out for their feelings. Serious maturity!!

  • Allie


    Well, I wouldn’t have done it, and I wish I had more details about how things “got ugly.” Honestly I found that more surprising than the reaction of the staff. Surely such an outspoken anti-gay advocate is used to having to respond to those who dislike his policies and behavior and has prepared canned answers? The usual canned answer in my area is something like “I’m sorry you feel that way but take it up with God, not me, that’s what the Bible says.”

    Very glad to hear that you weren’t banned from BBQ, even if you NC people make BBQ funny. 😉 And I’m delighted you were able to be a hero, and found out that you had support you didn’t even know about. What a wonderful ending.

  • Al

    If it’s safe to stand up to a bully (which it was in this restaurant) then that’s generally the right thing to do. Those mainstream gay-haters who vent their poison in public do so because they feel empowered to do so by the silence of the majority. Traditionally, they’ve gotten away with it.

    What the letter-writer did took a lot of guts because he knew he was crossing a line in a public place. He’s right, the restaurant was “an inappropriate place for such a confrontation” and 20 years ago he might have had a much more negative reaction . Congratulations to him for being willing to take a risk for justice and kudos to the owner and staff for having thought through what it means to be gay and to be denied basic rights. It’s been a long time coming but the attitudes of a lot of people have changed around this issue.

  • Diana A.

    There’s no way that I would do something like that, but I’m a coward, so that kind of makes a difference.

    I’m impressed by Mike Moore’s audacity. What he did took both guts and conviction. I’m glad he did it but there’s no way I would ever have the courage to do something like that.

  • Mary Coleman

    I don’t know that I would have done what you did, BRAVE ONE; however, I would have wished I had!! One of the signs, to me, that you did the “right thing” was the reaction & validation that you received from many others working at the BBQ place. You were right to go back & touch bases with those this situation affected. I wish you more & more opportunities to “do the right thing”. Maybe someday, I will join you!

  • Mindy

    First, any ugliness in response to your questions was certainly not very Christ-like. Yes, you were confrontational (in a wonderfully obnoxious way), but if Pastor Doofus was truly a follower of Christ, he’d have turned the other cheek and handled you in a way that contained no ugliness. So he failed, big-time, in defending his position, simply by his ugly behavior.

    Second, even as I doubt I’d have been nearly as strong as you were, I think what you did was not only effective, it was also necessary. As Al said a few comments back, “Those mainstream gay-haters who vent their poison in public do so because they feel empowered to do so by the silence of the majority. Traditionally, they’ve gotten away with it.”

    Not only did you make the good pastor squirm – obviously he was upset – you did so in front of others, which is exactly what he thinks is acceptable to do to you and every other LGBT person. Too many people think they can spout whatever vitriol they like without ever considering that actual human beings on are the receiving end, and sometimes showing them via actual experience is the only way to make it clearly understood. He deserves, actually, many more encounters like this. Regularly. My proverbial hat is off to you, Mike Moore!

  • Elizabeth

    THAT’s WJWD. Perhaps he didn’t realize it in the heat of the moment, but Mike said what many wanted to say, and he did it mirroring the pastor’s own behavior. (At least initially. I’m dying to know the deets on the ugly escalation, but I’m a lousy Christian that way.)

    Mike spoke for the disempowered. He spoke for the silenced, the overlooked, the underestimated, and he showed they could do it themselves. That they recognize him as a hero regardless of their own orientation is the best part. It’s irrelevant. Right is right.

  • nothingpetty

    Good for confrontation. That’s the only real way things change.

  • It matters how things got scary and ugly. Assuming that Mike remained calm and factual while the pastor became scary and ugly in reaction to getting a taste of his own behavior, then rock on. I would totally do that, given the chance. Bravo.

  • Linnea

    Wow, wish I’d been a fly on the wall to see that!!

    I don’t think I would have had the guts to do it, but kudos to Mike for doing so! It’s exactly what Jesus would have done, IMHO.

  • DR

    I adore you.

    And I’m realizing standing up to these bullies is never about the bullies. They are way too terrified to change and you certainly won’t get a reaction from them that’s satisfying. What is SO important about those moments is those that have been beaten down by these people who don’t have a lot of courage as a result see these people get a verbal beat down and they draw strength from it. And they also know that there are strong people who are there to fight for them. I think it’s so important to give people a model for courage and strength. Thank you for that.

  • LOL…I would SO do that 🙂

    Still smiling from reading this!!!

  • skip johnston

    I live 45 minutes south of Asheville. Twelve Bones sounds like a great place to take my wife on a date!

  • John Williams

    It’s wonderful that he did this–I’ve done similar things, but not in regard to any topic as meaningful as this, and never to a Pastor. I’d like to think, given the same circumstance, I’d have done the same thing. As to the Pastor, I’d have to say he’s not worthy of the title if he resolved into anger and ugliness. Regardless of the beliefs he holds, if he truly has the heart of a pastor, he would have recognized this as a “teachable moment”–or at least a moment when he could show his caring for another of God’s creatures, albeit one with whom he disagrees. All in all, kudos for the confrontation, and shame on the pastor!

  • Hannah


  • Hannah

    An old lady went up to my friend’s granny at church to talk about anti gay stuff, she was gathering signatures. The granny put her hand up in the woman’s face and said “Don’t even talk to me”. Badasssss

  • Judy Volkar

    Not living in North Carolina, I had no idea what pastor he was talking about. I googled and now am asuming this is Pastor Bruce Frank of the Biltmore Church. I then looked at who he is attached to and what they say adn “Holy %#* He is nuts!

    His postings:…homosexuality (whether in practice or identity), as well as other sexual addictions, is direct rebellion against God’s plan for mankind, and is therefore sin.

    7. …true, lasting change is possible, but requires a commitment to the process of healing and transformation.

    8. …that homosexuality is not chosen, nor is there any scientific evidence to point to genetic causation. We further do not believe there is any biblical evidence to point to a demonic spirit specifically, however we believe that the demonic realm may play a part.

    9. …that gender development, whether homosexual or heterosexual (or other variances), occurs between twelve and twenty-four months of a child’s life, between healthy relating with one’s own gender, starting with his or her parents. Many things can go wrong but often times can be brought back to this point in life.

    Now after doing research as to who he is and how public he has made such idiotic comments, I think Mike was reserved adn shy. I am just sorry that I was not there to sit doen at the table with him. NOrmally I am not a fan of confrontation as I believe in the Scripture cautioning us against throwing pearls to swine, but sometimes you just have to confront stupid and call it what it is.

    I am just so so tired of idiots spreading falsehoods in God’s name. I believe that God has a special punishment for them, but I would like to speed up the timetable and do some of that punishment here on earth. I am tired of being ashamed to call myself a Christian becuse people will think I am another nut job.

  • Jane Carlton

    I’m surprised at the rabid interest in the “ugliness”…well, not exactly surprised, but definitely saddened…Come On People….the outcome is the point, NOT the “ugliness”.

  • DR

    Jane, the ugliness is where redemption begins. It’s essential to understand it and talk about it.

  • Andrew

    Yeah, because a disruptive confrontation is a way bigger faux pas than trampling on LGBTQ rights. :-/

    Good on this guy! Great story!

  • V. Brodie

    Even the rest of the Christian faith is embarassed by Southern Baptists. Don’t forget that there are many TRUE Christians (who follow the message of love and acceptance for all people) who have your back 🙂

    We are always ready to be a friend to you in your endeavors.

  • Mindy

    Jane, don’t be so judgy. I’m curious about it, too – altho’ I don’t believe anyone here sounds “rabid.” My curiosity stems from a desire/need to understand how those who are so self-righteous, like this pastor, react to doses of their own medicine. Was he angry at the intrusion? At the blunt words specifically? Did he seem embarrassed, which might indicate that he at least had a small clue that what he was receiving was exactly what he dishes out? Did any part of him “get” what was being thrown in his direction? Was his defensiveness due to not having a good answer that justified his prior public bigotry? I think those are important aspects of the situation to understand for those of us who are trying to speak out more often on behalf of our LGBT brethren. Because even if we try to be reasonable and polite and kind, we are likely to be met with ugliness, and I, for one, would like to be able to understand the ugliness in order to keep the conversation going, move through the ugly and come out still talking on the other side.

  • I used to wrestle with the question of homosexuality etc.. I prayed and fasted to seek clarity on this nearly 20 yrs. ago. The only message that ever came to me was the ultimate command to love all! We are in the dispensation of mercy and grace and ever since that time in my life I have been blessed with a gift to draw people to HIS spirit. My next door neighbors are gay and we do have a strong relationship with them. They have even gone to church with us. I will trust my loving God and move forward. We are warned that in the end times many will become hardhearted. He is not talking about the unsaved HE is talking about us. I will stick with the mercy and love message.

  • Donald Rappe

    Standing up to bullies!

  • AnnMarie Martin

    Thanks for sharing this, John!

  • Scott Amundsen

    OMG I just GOTTA pass THIS one along!!

  • Susan Golian

    Wow! I’ve confronted a few ugly-minded people in my day – it’s never gone well. The heart of the problem is a paraphrase of another saying “Don’t argue with a unkind person – they’ll drag you down to their level and then they’ll beat you with experience.”

  • Daniel Bootblack Woodward

    I hope I would have the courage to confront this mean spirited fool.

  • Denise Burke

    Nope. Maybe this pastor was that sort of person. But from what I read, I don’t know that. And just because a person sports a particular label doesn’t mean they toe the party line. And don’t think that I won’t confront a person publically, but this is not how people’s minds are changed.

  • Betsy Hansbrough

    So, it seems that is a pastor publicly destroys people and works against their human dignity as the pastor apparently did, it feels good to humiliate him. He will live for years on his own perceived martyrdom. Now, such people need public confrontation….how to do it in a manner that does not destroy their human dignity. I’m sure I do not know.

  • LD

    Exactly, DR. Nicely put.

  • Karen Teigen

    “Evil exists because good people do nothing”…or something like that. The “right thing” is not always comfortable to do…but…”Its never the wrong time to do the right thing!”

  • Takeshi Paul Ohno-Reagan

    I am shocked that everyone is condoning this person’s behavior. To stand up for something is to also know and acknowledge that people may have a different view. The same way this person went after this preacher for his views is the same thing we are trying to stop, right? If this preacher went after a couple dining at 12 bones because they were supporting gay marriage, it would be a hate crime. So why do it to a person who has a different view? Just because someone has a different view or sexual orientation does not mean he should be confronted in a restaurant while dining with his wife. There are other platforms and ways to express your feelings that are more respectful. There will always be people with views different from yours, but lets not forget they are people to and can believe what they want just as freely as anybody else.

  • cath

    But haters DO go after gays like this! Gays are given poor service routinely. Gays get ugly looks and rude comments made loudly enough for others to hear. Gays get refused service in some places, and in some places gays get attacked just for daring to be togehter in public.

    So when someone is confronted for their views, when some hater gets a hint of what it’s like to be gay, I cheer. You betcha!

  • Takeshi Paul Ohno-Reagan


    Sorry to hear that you think hate/anger should be met with hate/anger. We will never get anywhere with that mentality.

  • Mindy

    Takeshi, how long have you participated in conversation/activism on behalf of the LGBT population? Meeting hate with hate is not what happened here. Meeting bigotry with a sample of what intrusive bigotry feels like is something different entirely. I doubt I could have done what Mike did – but then, I’m not gay. I haven’t dealt with discrimination and bigotry my whole life. I’ve participated in the effort for marriage equality and the end of anti-gay bullying and discrimination for a few years now, and this sort of active behavior is absolutely necessary. Not to everyone, of course. With people willing to listen – have you seen the recent story about the Chick-Fil-A CEO? – peaceful and meaningful conversation is, of course, the way to go. But with an ignorant man like this pastor who knows little of the LGBT experience and has a bully pulpit he uses regularly to demean, belittle and discriminate, the activism needs to match the bigotry. Making this hateful man uncomfortable was a necessary action, in my mind – as he has made so many uncomfortable with his ignorant vitriol. I’m all for peaceful resolution – unless the attacker is using weapons, then those weapons must be matched. This man regularly speaks loudly in public about all those private aspects of “the gay lifestyle,” as if he isn’t talking about actual children of God. He needed to feel what they’ve felt at his hands for so long. And those who witnessed someone rise up and confront a man who holds himself above the laws of decency saw, in reality, decency in action.

  • Mark

    Bah. It’s a common tactic for the gay community’s enemies to try and silence everyone else with this nonsense about “respecting opposing views.” Generally they means that the rest of us are to shut up and listen politely to bigots as they call us perverts, pedophiles and God knows what else. Just out of curiosity, Takeshi: how “respectful” of different views do you think Pastor Bruce and his flock are when the subject of gay marriage comes up? If these Christianists want to dish it out, they damned well better learn how to take it.

  • *******To stand up for something is to also know and acknowledge that people may have a different view. *******

    That doesn’t mean it should not be confronted when it is as injurious as religious anti-gay views frequently are. If such attitudes are not firmly confronted, nothing changes. Without those willing to talk back to bigotry we would not be the winners in this culture war that we are rapidly becoming.

    Your attitude is incomprehensibly stupid. Make nice with intransigent bigots? Make sure their feelings don’t get hurt?

    WTF’s the matter with you?

  • David

    I’d never do that. Not because I think Mike Moore was wrong to do so, but because I wouldn’t handle it as well. His questions were perfect. Bruce needed to know what it is like being attacked for just “being there” as well as to have his ridiculous beliefs challenged. I’m glad the staff and cook responded so well to the apology.

  • THEIR human dignity?! They aren’t much concerned about mine and I feel no obligation to be concerned about theirs in such an social conflict. Some people cannot be talked nicely to and don’t deserve the privilege. If they can’t take it, they shouldn’t dish it out.

    Kudos to that confronter of ignorant bigotry.

  • You’re not a coward, Diana, you just have a different personality. We are not all the same and for good reason. Mike’s bullish audicity works beautifully against another bull, but would wreak havoc against a china plate personality. To reach those kind of people, God needs a Diana. 🙂 He puts us all in the right place at the right time because of who we are.

  • Honestly, that pastor was just reaping what he sowed. Mike stood up against a bully and look at the fruit of his action: a clear showing of love from those who were there.

  • I love anyone who uses the word “Bah.” 🙂

  • Kenda Kei

    Naturally, this is America, and the good pastor is welcome to his views. HOWEVER, this guy and his ilk have muscled their way into the most private parts of GLBTQ folks’ lives. I wouldn’t do it, but an pleased as punch Pastor Bruce got his comeuppance. It is DANGEROUS to be gay in this time and place, even to express the most mild public affection is dangerous, and gay kids are targeted from very, very young. I’ve made a practice of sticking up for gay folks my whole life, and am proud to say my girls do too. One daughter was the leader of the Gay/ Straiggt Alliance in college, and no, none of us are gay. WE JUST WANT JUSTICE AND KINDNESS. Remember Jesus wreaking havoc in the temple? Sometimes it is RIGHT to raise a little Hell!

  • Mary Sue

    You have the right as an American to say any damn fool thing that crosses your mind, and I have the right as an American to walk up to your face and say, “Sibling, that was a damnfool thing you just said.”

    (p.s., what you just said is a whole mess of damnfoolery)

  • Robert

    Personally… Minsters like Pastor Bruce don’t really bother me all that much… they are hateful and mena spirited… but they are at least honest about their hate… which sells much better in some areas of the country… remember it is all about knowing your audience and knowing what will sell… to keep that tithing coming in…

    I live in Los Angeles where overt homo-hating doesn’t sell well… so we are surrounded by “non-denominational” churches that are linked to the southern baptists… (such as Mosaic LA)… but never actually admit to the connection…

    They keep their hate hidden… but it is there and they will eventually turn their backs on any gay or lesbian that mistakenly joins their church… (I know of at least one closet gay guy that is terrified to come out… because he knows he will loose all of his friends) and have pod casts that after an hour of listening to it… finally equates gays and lesbians to “pigs that eat their young”….

    I prefer my haters to be honest haters… not passive aggressive simpering little twits.

  • Takeshi Paul Ohno-Reagan


    I agree. If you dish out your views you should be able to take it the criticism. But where is the line drawn? What’s next, people confronting his kids because of his views? That’s exactly the same thing we are trying to stop in America these days right? People will say, oh he deserved it because he spreads his view to his church. Well people choose to go to his church. I doubt this pastor goes around and seeks out gays and lesbians and make a point to stop while they are dining to preach what he believes.I am in no way saying he is right, or I believe what he preaches is true, but I do believe confronting someone about his beliefs while he dines with is wife is not the best way to get your point across. That’s what’s wrong with America these days now. You make me mad I’ll let you know about it regardless of how I do it. That does not help the pastor change his view, it makes him think you are also inconsiderate. I believe in standing up for what you believe in but confronting people in a hostile manner does not solve the problem.

  • Sharon Whalen Eaton

    Emotions run high, when you see someone that has hurt you, this I too understand. I got into a heated discussion in a sandwich shop in our small town, with the preacher from my mom’s church. She had moved down to live with us, a devoutly religion lady, she joined this church. My family tried for mom, she usually slept through the service being 89, but I could barely tolerate the fire and brimstone, then the preaching the sins of Roe.vs Wade, vote for the GOP, etc. Separation of church and state are very important to me. Bottom line a friend would take mom, she was just happy to try for the fellowship. Long story short, we work on the road, family cared for mom while we were gone, but after she had fallen broken her leg, she stayed in her wheel chair. NO one from the church ever came to visit her, no preacher, no members, she was too much trouble.

    Well after mom passed away at 92, I was not happy about all this, my parents had been lay ministers all over the country, mom had dementia, near the end, she knew us, read her bible every day. The last year she was in assisted living, 4 miles away.

    Back to my out burst. I chewed this ….preacher out, up one side and down the other. What he said was that my friend had kept them informed, and they prayed for her. Thanks, but no thanks. No one was happy about my confronting this man, I seldom go there anymore, it usually just doesn’t help at all. Small southern town, not from there, not one of them, and we refused to attend, period, so they refused to be kind to a lady that smiled and loved Jesus.

  • Al

    Takeshi, you need to put this into a more personal context than you seem willing to. Imagine that somebody decided that, because of some personal characteristic you have, you deserve to be treated as a less worthwhile person than someone else. If any one finds this out about you, you might lose your job or get kicked out of your apartment. You can’t marry someone else who shares this characteristic and you risk losing your friends and family if they find out. That’s what it means to be gay.

    It’s not about a difference of opinion on a level playing field but about you having the right to live a fully expressed life while denying me the right to do the same.

  • Matt

    Well done, Mike! I’m glad you got such a positive response.

    To answer your question, John, I would not do the same thing in his place. I live in a state where losing my job is not out of the question if I did that. In addition, being transgender adds an extra layer to the situation. My partner and I are generally just happy to be accepted as an ordinary guy and girl out on the town, or just “that weird-looking lesbian couple” without anyone bothering us.

    I feel like a coward, but I’ve made it a general practice to keep my head down, keep quiet, and just take it. None of what they say about me or my partner is true. The real battle is keeping it from sinking into my heart. Because occasionally, I wonder if they’re right. It’s just the product of hearing it pretty much constantly in a thousand different ways, but it happens.

  • Lisa

    I am a liberal, progressive Christian (yes, we DO exist and in far larger numbers than you might think!) who attends a progressive, liberal, social-justice-oriented seminary in the Twin Cities ( it is ecumenical, though affiliated with the UCC) where a large number of the faculty, staff and students are GLBT and fighting for equality and equal rights for the GLBT community is an integral part of the seminary’s life and mission. We were heavily involved in the fight against that horrible so-called “protect” marriage amendment in MN and were thrilled when that work paid off last November. I think what you did was exactly appropriate, although I’m afraid the “good pastor” (bleh) will probably not quite understand what it was all about and not get the message. I’m just glad he didn’t pull out a gun or get violent (you never know with these haters). I just wanted you to know that there are, indeed, plenty of us Christians out here who are NOT haters and are happy to work for GLBT equality and inclusion and who want to see gay marriage legalized in every single state in the country.

  • DR

    What in the world are you talking about? We’re not talking about a “different view”. We’re talking about abuse done and said in the name of Christ that drives kids who are gay to suicide and if they survive us as a Church to adulthood, many want nothing to do with us. That you’d actually consider the vile evil these people spout in the name of Jesus as “a different opinion” is equal to a father beating his child with a pipe because he reads “spare the rod, spoil the child” differently than other parents. Would you just agree to disagree with that as his kid is getting smashed by a pipe? Or would you intervene and try to stop it?

  • DR

    That is sick and twisted that you’d suggest his children get involved, no one has remotely suggested that. You doing so is like someone who is anti-gay who says, “What’s next if we allow gay people to get married? Are we ok with people having sex with children and animals legally?” Please stick to the actual topic, you’re injecting a scenario that is completely against the tone and manner by which Mike approached this man.

  • otter

    Well, I think Mike was extremely lucky to have support of the staff. Just goes to show the times they are a changing.

    I would LOVE to know what Mike means by ” really ugly, really fast”! I want to know how the Rev. fought back… How about elaboarating a bit??

  • Sara

    Takeshi, I appreciate your concerns, but the people with power, like this pastor, don’t need to seek out gays and lesbians to preach to them while they are having lunch. In North Carolina, religious people made a denial of the equal rights of LGBT people a part of the state constitution.

    Is it rude to ask someone about their sex life in public? Of course it is. But it’s much worse than rude to enshrine one’s opinion about someone’s sex life in the most fundamental legal document in the state so that they cannot enjoy equal rights. One of those things ruins someone’s day. The other prevents them from enjoying participation as a full member of society.

    To argue that what Mike did is like the bigotry he is fighting is to argue that the insult he gave to the pastor is like the very real injury that people in North Carolina gave to him and other LGBT people in the state.

  • Mark

    Takeshi: “That does not help the pastor change his view, it makes him think you are also inconsiderate.”

    Oh Takeshi. Have I got news for you. I hope you’re sitting down for this because based on what you’ve said, I think it’s going to blow your mind.

    People like Pastor Bruce are NEVER going to change their minds about this. Never. It does not matter how sweetly or rudely one approaches them or what combination of words one uses or does not use. It’s never going to happen in any event. Why? Because people like Pastor Bruce have invested a lot of time, money and energy into twisting the Bible to legitimize their hatred of LGBT people. They’ve told the flock that it’s “absolute truth.” They’re emotionally invested in the belief and no amount of logic or reason will ever dissuade them of it. And even if it did, someone like Pastor Bruce would never admit it publicly. He can’t very well face his congregation with the news that the thing that was “absolute truth” yesterday is now a lie.

  • My sister-in-law recounted this to me years ago. My nephew who was around five at the time, had developed a strong interest in learning what church was all about. So his parents were taking him to different ones every week so he could compare them for himself. When they went to a service that centered on condemning the homosexuals, he had a pretty strong reaction. Stacia told me “I was afraid he was going to stand up and interrupt the sermon!” But being the well behaved little boy that he was, waited till the end. Afterwards, as the line of people where shaking the pastors hand, my nephew politely told him, “I didn’t like your sermon today, because my uncle is gay and he is one of the most wonderful people I know!” Needless to say they didn’t go back. This was over 20 years ago and he is still one of my fiercest advocates.

  • Lymis

    If you do, make sure to tell the management why – even saying that you’ve heard that they fully support diversity and equality would be enough. And tip well.

  • Anne

    I’m so sorry to hear your story, Matt. Please keep coming back to John’s page. We represent thousands upon thousands of people who love and respect you exactly as you are. Please know that the haters are NEVER right.

  • Lymis

    I’m so glad that I read the other comments before I commented.

    From just the letter that Mike wrote, my concern was that he was confronting an individual because of the actions that had been taken by his denomination, and that seemed unfair on the face of it.

    But it’s apparent that Mike took for granted that we’d know that this guy was not only a member of the denomination, but vocally, personally, and publicly involved in demonizing gay people, and not just in terms of religion, but taking that into the public sphere and using his views to influence voters.

    Because of his actions and advocacy, everywhere Mike and his husband go in their state, everyone – gay, straight, Christian, non-Christian, bigoted, equality-minded, passionate or apathetic – is required by law to treat Mike and his husband as legal strangers. Mike only personally interrupted one meal with this man’s wife, and we can see how incensed he got because of it.

    But this pastor not only personally and individually interrupted a single meal, he encouraged everyone to legally forced everyone else to interrupt every meal Mike and his husband have, every tax they pay, every medical decision they make, their tax status, their inheritance rights, their retirement income, their employment prospects, and thousands of other aspects of their lives, and the lives of every other gay couple in the state.

    And he makes a living from doing it.

    And then feels he has every right to go out into the public sphere he’s poisoned for others and be free to his privacy and his smug assurance that he is a pillar of the community.

    No, I wouldn’t have done the same thing, mostly from fear of reprisal. And my husband wouldn’t have slept for at least a week out of sheer terror. Frankly, he was terrified to even be physically in Virginia when we last visited some of my family there, afraid that we’d be assaulted just pumping gas. I doubt I could even get him into a restaurant in South Carolina.

    But I would, and have, made comments to people who were at nearby tables loudly proclaiming this or that anti-gay, racist, or other bigoted remarks. Generally along the “Do you mind keeping it down, we don’t need to hear that” lines rather than specifically trying to give them what they’ve dished out.

    Good for Mike, and wonderful that it worked so well.

    No, the pastor isn’t going to learn a thing from it. Yes, he’ll feel like a martyr. But, that’s not the only way to improve this sort of thing. A huge part of why casual bigotry, especially casual homophobia, is so common is that people don’t think that anyone else feels it’s wrong, so they don’t speak up when they see it. Everyone at that restaurant now knows that everyone else at that restaurant is supportive, or has learned that they’d better not share that sort of bigotry out loud. And the fact that the pastor hasn’t come back means he’s learned that there’s at least one place that doesn’t accept his hatred.

    The real, best, and most Christian answer would be everyone realizing that gay people are their equals, legally and in the sight of their Creator. But it will still be real progress when everyone behaves as though they believe that, even if they only do it for fear of being negatively judged by others.

  • I love this. 🙂

  • I asm 58 female. I was a flight attendant for 11 years in my 20’s and 30’s most of my best friends were gay guys. I loved them so much. They were compassionate and kind and always had an ear for me throwing me a birthday party, the list goes on. God judges those who judge others. And I hope I never forget that.

    I became a christian in my 40’s. I still love my gay friends whereever they may be now. I didn’t judge them then and I am not judging them now. Sin is all the same. Just because they might sin diiferently than we do doesn’t mean one iota of a difference. Sin is Sin in God’s eyes. We just repent and go on. People need to take the plank out of their own eyes !Whatever measure you use in judging others , it will be used to measure how you are judged!

  • Lymis

    I hope your point is that gay people can sin in all the same sorts of ways that straight people sin, and that the whole wide range of not measuring up to our highest potential is exhibited regardless of orientation.

    I hope you are not saying that being gay is a sin, to be considered right alongside all the other ways people can sin, and then claiming that your Christianity justifies that sort of twisted understanding of sexual orientation.

    Yes, gay people sin. But not by being gay. We sin the same ways everyone else can.

  • Lymis

    That’s wonderful!

  • Lymis

    “I doubt this pastor goes around and seeks out gays and lesbians and make a point to stop while they are dining to preach what he believes.”

    He doesn’t have to. He convinced the voters of his state to just write it right into the Constitution. He’s interfering in their lives every moment of the day, in public, in private, whether they are in the closet or waving rainbow flags from the rooftops. So now, the bigotry just runs on automatic.

    They’ll have to pay literally thousands of dollars more in taxes than a straight couple with similar salaries, not to mention having to pay two sets of medical insurance premiums (if the can even afford any), and won’t get access to each other’s pensions, social security, or 401(k) when the time comes, not to mention a thousand other inconveniences. He doesn’t have to interrupt their dining, because in a lot of cases, they won’t be able to even afford to dine out, certainly not as often as the pastor does.

  • Lymis

    If the pastor had simply said, “I’m sorry, that’s none of your business. You’re interrupting a private dinner” rather than doing whatever “turned ugly” his human dignity could have been on public display all to see.

    Instead, confronted with his own bigotry, he showed that he doesn’t have any particular dignity – or class – to be damaged, much less destroyed.

    How were those questions humiliating? Intrusive and annoying, by design, but he not only didn’t have to rise to the bait, he had the opportunity, as a Christian pastor, to engage someone in dialogue, discover that they were in pain, and show the love of Christ to his neighbor. It’s not surprising that he didn’t choose to, given how little compassion he’s shown for his neighbor in his ministry. It apparently never even occurred to him to try.

    If those simple, politely phrased questions, however intrusive, are humiliating, that just makes what he does for a living all that much more insupportable, because what he has helped bring about, to thousands of his fellow citizens is far, far, more damaging, and far, far more lasting.

  • Rachael

    Have you ever explored or written about the relationship between gay-friendly clergy and homophobic church members? Now THERE’S a clusterfuck. you have no idea the things people do to negatively impact the ministry (and, frankly, income) of a pastor who believes that homosexuality is not a sin nor is it a choice. It’s insane. In. Sane.

  • JillJ

    Love it. You have an awesome nephew.

  • DR

    You’re anything but a coward. You’re dealing with a situation that was put upon you, Let those of us who wouldn’t suffer any repercussions fight it. You just live your life! xoxo

  • Actually, I’ve written about that a lot. Here’s the first one that comes to mind: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2011/09/05/all-aboard/

  • Rosemary

    I would imagine the pastor ‘got pretty ugly, very fast’, because he had no answers to the common sense questions expressed by his unexpected (and very brave) table companion! Without his scripted bigotry and nonsense, he’d have been at a total loss.

  • Lymis

    That and, like so many people, he sees someone asking him those questions as offensive and intrusive, but since he doesn’t see gay people as people who matter as people. It probably never even occurred to him to think of how it would feel to have what de does to others done to him – after all, he’s a man of God, not a pervert!

  • Marisa

    As a South Carolinian, I’d like to assure you there’s nothing to fear here. My best friend in the world is a gay man who lives in New York.

    A couple of years ago he came to spend a week with my family (even came to church with us where he was treated with respect and made some friends he still keeps in touch with). We waited for him at the airport with a sign proclaiming his Fabulousness and later in the week took him shopping at the Charleston Market where we purchased a handpainted sign saying “I want it all and I want it brought by cute naked men.” He, my 18 year old daughter and I walked the streets of Charleston that day, w hile J carried his sign for all to see. We weren’t strutting or trying to get in anyone’s face… we simply figured if a woman could buy such a sign, J could too.

    The beautiful part? Only the occasional blue haired old lady even raised an eyebrow and we had one wonderful time making a non-verbal point that he had NO REASON to hide.

    There’s a few backward folks around here but I promise you, the ones who know how to accept and love are the majority… they just don’t always speak up.

  • Jill

    Matt, what DR and Anne said.

    I know you (hopefully) enough through your comments here to know you’re anything BUT cowardly. Standing up like Mike is did is a way of courageously saying nobody gets to put anyone in a box and dictate who I am and how I live, but as I’m fairly certain he would agree, that is simply one way. (And yes, as his astute husband noted, it could have gone much worse–no more BBQ!)

    Owning who you are, understanding that to include being another gender, and making life decisions that honor that truth in spite of opposition, judgment, and losing things that cis-gendered people can so easily take for granted. Like status, and friendships, lovers, careers, family approval and support, community, physical safety. I’m forgetting some, but you get the point.

    Sometimes there’s courage in a moment, and sometimes there’s courage in everyday living. You live who you are based on who you know yourself to be. If you hadn’t noticed my friend, that takes courage every single day.

    Do you think any of those people judging on you and your partner could do what you both have done to be authentic? Not intending to fight judgment with more of it, but really– it’s so much easier to stand in ivory towers, untouched by the unwashed masses than it is to be a real, live human being. Think of that, maybe, when you feel the doubts that creep up behind you and begin convincing you again that their cruelties are somehow deserved. What if one of them woke up one day to find themselves facing the exact same decisions that you’ve already faced and conquered?

    You live from your inner strength and self-actualization. Not every grown-up has learned how to do that, and yes some of those adults are jealous of you for it.

  • Jill

    Ah Sharon, your story just broke my heart. How much you must have made your mom so proud, standing up for her and for what is right! Guaranteed she’s still smiling on you.

  • Jill

    Bah. It’s three letters, a facial expression, a tone of voice, and a full-on dismissal of bullshit, all neatly packaged.

  • Jill

    ‘Make nice with intransigent bigots?’

    That’s just about as perfect a statement as I’ve ever seen. (Or rhetorical question, to be technical…)

  • Jill

    If confronting repressive dogma in public ways is not how people’s minds are changed, then what would you suggest are the right ways to effect transformation?

  • Jill

    Oh my goodness, this is so perfect! If every child on this earth could be taught to understand this simply genius message, I think we could heal this world.

  • BecCa MaRtin

    I believe u should pray for them and God will do the rest.

  • Silvia Wilson

    That took a lot of courage! I’m glad he gave the pastor a taste of his own medicine.

  • Allen Randall

    In-your-face confrontation is the Christian way?

  • Valere Hull

    I say bravo to him! Unfortunately, all it did was allow him to express himself. Creeps like that pastor (and far too many fear-filled conservatives) don’t have any sensitivity to others who are not clones of them. And facts — hah! what a joke!

  • Randall Lay Tin

    Randall Lay Tin “I wanted the pastor and his wife to understand…”

    Pastor Bruce is the public figure, not his wife.

    Why attack his wife? How many guys would tolerate a stranger asking his wife about sex acts?

    Send a letter of apology (with movie tickets maybe?) by mail, don’t deliver it personally.

    If you scared her off from the restaurant, she may be less tolerant if she sees you walking up to her front door.

  • Charleston is remarkably gay-friendly for a smallish “southern” town.

    Or it’s just our legendary politeness.

  • David S

    Steve Chalke, a high profile evangelical pastor in England, recently came out publicly to affirm covenant same sex relationships. To my knowledge, he is the first high profile evangelical leader to reject the idea that homosexuality is inherently sinful. That took IMMENSE moral courage, and evidently has already taken a toll on his relationships and his ministry. GOOD FOR HIM.

    It is well worth reading his hermeneutical explanation of this change of heart. His article is called A MATTER OF INTEGRITY:

    The Church, sexuality, inclusion and an open conversation.


  • David S

    I know I’m of a minority opinion here, but I agree with Jonathan Rouch that as acceptance of gay people grows, we need to be careful not to abuse our advantage. In fact, the tyranny of the majority is what we have suffered all these years; we, of all people, should understand that and resist the temptation to treat others are second class citizens. As Jonathan says, we need to share the country.

    So how do we change hearts and minds? We get to know each other personally. We treat people like people. I was heartened by the recent HuffPo piece by Shane Windmeyer about the relationship he developed with Dan Cathy in the wake of the hurtful Chic-fil-a controversy.

  • David S

    I totally understand the intent here: a righteous desire to turn the tables and give this guy a taste of his own medicine. I share the pain, frustration, and anger caused by anti-gay crusaders misusing the cross to justify their bigotry and oppression. I get it.

    But intent doesn’t excuse impact; I question the impact here.

    After I came out at work (and ever since) I’ve had to fight the “bitchy queen” stereotype. Where I was once usually viewed as asserting myself like a leader, I am now sometimes accused of having overly emotional reactions. I wonder if this confrontation (that was not directly provoked) reinforced the stereotype.

    And in conservative Christian circles (in which this pastor presumably runs), we are often accused of having an evil agenda to destroy society. I’m not exaggerating. We are viewed by some people as dangerous activists to be despised and stopped at all costs. For bystanders living in this culture, including those who may be trying to sort out their own feelings about gay people, I wonder if this episode leant unintentional credence to that homophobic narrative.

    And if we pull Christ into the conversation, I wonder if this is a money changer moment, or an opportunity to love our anti-gay neighbors as ourselves.

  • Gordon

    Well done, Mike! You shit-disturber you! My hero.

  • mike moore

    I understand your concerns, and by your comment, I feel you’re seeing the bigger picture without quite understanding it.

    We were “accused of having an evil agenda to destroy society” when our lives were lived in secret and long before Stonewall. We demanded equality and were accused of wanting “special rights.” We ask for marriage, and the response is the Red Herring argument of “protect our children!”

    The homophobic narrative has never been informed by facts or kindness.

    I also think it is important to remember: one night at Stonewall Inn, a bunch of drag queens, trannies, nellie boys, and street hustlers said, “ENOUGH,” and fought back. Two years later, inspired by Stonewall, gay rights/pride marches were going on in at least 17 major cities across the US and Europe.

  • mike moore

    Lori Frank is a public figure who speaks for and supports the Southern Baptist denomination and its mission. She is due no apology.

  • mike moore

    Based on Jesus’ record, I’d say yes …. am I wrong? (sincere question, not rhetorical)

  • Lymis

    ” Where I was once usually viewed as asserting myself like a leader, I am now sometimes accused of having overly emotional reactions. I wonder if this confrontation (that was not directly provoked) reinforced the stereotype.”

    So, when you behaved one way and were perceived as straight, it was seen as powerful, as appropriate and as leadership. When you behave the same way and are perceived as gay, it is seen as bitchy, emotional, and inappropriate

    Because the stereotypes *are* that straight men aren’t powerful, can’t be leaders, can’t be serious, and can’t stand up for themselves without a hysterical screaming fit.

    Think about it. If behaving powerfully “reinforces the stereotypes” the obvious answer is to keep our heads down, blend in, and never stand up for anything important. Just sit there and eat whatever anyone chooses to shove at us.

    Sorry, no.

    If you want to “pull Christ into the conversation,” consider taking another peek at Matthew 25:31-46. Jesus didn’t feel it was inappropriate to tell people in no uncertain terms that their eternal salvation is based on how well they treat their neighbors – especially the poor, sick, and downtrodden.

    Pushy and confrontational, Mike’s approach may have been, but please don’t try to hint that it wasn’t Christlike.

    As for the impact, impact on who? A bigoted pastor who isn’t going to change his mind anyway? A restaurant full of people who witnessed a clearly powerful reinforcement of their own beliefs in equality? The people who read this blog? The people whose lives are influenced by the people who read this blog?

    You want a stereotype, or at least a commonly held belief, that needs to be questioned? How about the one that says if we just sit quietly, behave nicely, and never speak up, people will figure out all on their own that they really ought to treat us as equals?

    My guess is that if Jesus had found the need to have this interaction, it’s possible he would have kept his cool better than Mike did. But even the Bible made it clear he had his, shall we say, “dramatic” moments.

    Of course, it’s true. If the Holy Spirit wanted to have that pastor publicly confronted on his hateful bigotry, the Holy Spirit would have sent someone to do that.

    Oh, wait….

  • Lymis

    Damn. Third paragraph. That should be that gay men aren’t seen as capable of leadership. I hate it when I screw up a rant.

  • Lymis

    See also, “whited sepulchers” and “go jump in a lake with a millstone around your neck,” not to mention rearranging the tables in the moneylender’s section.

    I’d say it depends on the face, the point of controversy, and the goal of the interaction. In-your-face was certainly in Jesus’s toolkit. As was turning the other cheek. Complex guy, that messiah.

  • mike moore

    Matt, I hope you don’t continue to feel like a coward. I don’t have to worry about being fired, I’m a big guy and not a tempting target, and adding transgender into the mix does complicate things.

    You and your partner sound very brave to me.

  • Michael C

    Hi Mike Moore, First I would like to join the restaurant staff and other commenters here in saying thank you.You stood up to a man who attacked your family, that’s something we all should do.

    I do, however, feel the need to offer a bit of criticism. David suggests that there could have been a more potentially productive way to engage Pastor Bruce. You have dismissed his suggestion entirely even though you readily admit feeling the need to apologize to the restaurant staff for your actions. The truth to the situation is this; by instigating a heated argument in a public place you A) won favor with those who agree with you and B) appeared hostile toward those who don’t. It was your intention to educate Pastor Bruce on how his actions are affecting real-life families but after what ended up happening, I doubt he’ll be interested in open dialogue with gays and lesbians in the future.

    I’m not saying that David is right and you are wrong, but is it possible that you are both right? …or is there only one way to win a fight?

  • mike moore

    way to go, Sharon. These so-called “pillars of the community” are used to a lot of deference … the preacher needed to be called-out.

  • David S

    Hi Mike –

    The Mattachine Society was not without merit, but you’re right – a Stonewall moment was called for. I am not saying for a moment that we should not demand respect and fairness from those who wish to do us harm. And aggression is a valid tool to have in our toolkit.

    I’m not sure I see your’s as a Stonewall moment. It seems like the intention of your confrontation was punitive. It seems less like you were demanding respect and more like you were expressing justifiable anger. I guess you could argue that treating others with the disdain they show you is one way to “teach them a lesson”. And if the anti-gay pastor felt uncomfortable, then…good, he should.

    But your actions had an impact on those who witnessed it. Perhaps the one you hoped for (like the staff), but perhaps not.

  • mike moore

    hey Robert. I’m completely with you.

    Unfortunately, Pastor Bruce is very dangerous because he is exactly what you describe … he wraps everything in a warm loving tone, speaks of acceptance and tolerance, and says he and his church “are not anti-gay,” when they are quite the opposite.

  • David S

    Hi Lymis –

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to engender a rant. I really just have a different point of view on this.

    I totally understand what you are saying, but I’m not sure I agree that an unprovoked, anger-fueled escalating confrontation is really operating from a place of power. Granted, the anger is justified; but is this the most powerful way to express it?

    And, as Christians, should we really be trying to “stick it” to those who wrong us? After all, before giving up the ghost, Jesus didn’t say “Father, get those rat bastards for what they did to me”.

  • mike moore

    I completely agree the Mattachine Society was a brave organization filled with brave people who potentially faced imprisonment for their actions.

    And you are partially correct in your assessment. Unpremeditated and not at all thought out, my actions were certainly motivated by multiple factors.

    I may be splitting hairs, but I wouldn’t characterize my action as trying to “teach them a lesson.” Nor was it my (conscious?) intention to show them disdain. I sat down with a smile on my face, open body language, and a calm pleasant voice … what I wanted, in that moment, pure and simple, was for them to understand how it feels to have a relative stranger insert himself into their lunch, their life, their happiness, and their private affairs.

  • mike moore

    don’t worry, David, we LOVE Lymis’ rants!

    (though I don’t really think of them as rants)

  • mike moore

    BecCa, I don’t know you, but with true respect, I don’t believe you really believe that.

    Would you never feed the hungry? Donate time and/or money to groups or persons doing good works? Help a friend move? Would you have told Rosa Parks to move to the back of the bus and pray? Would you have told the folks in Selma to go home and pray? Would you not intervene – call 911 – if you saw or knew of an adult physically abusing a child?

    We all act on our beliefs, just in different ways.

  • mike moore

    Charleston is awesome! (it’s driving to and from Charleston that’s a little scary)

  • mike moore

    I love what he did then … and that he hasn’t changed over the years.

  • mike moore

    You’re of course right … there many ways to win a fight. It takes a village, as it were.

    Where I disagree is with your assessment of the end result. I couldn’t know what Pastor Bruce’s response might be, but I do know a man with a 6000 member congregation – particularly in a relatively small town – tends to walk around town with impunity.

    From past experience, I know that when public figures, used to much deference, are challenged in public, it causes them to pause. To be become less secure in their dogma. To see their actions affect real people.

    It won’t happen, but I love to imagine a town where Pastor Bruce and his wife cannot go out in public without some smiling member of our community walking up to them and saying, in essence, “you two don’t even know me, but you’re trying to fuck up my life. Please stop.”

  • Mindy

    David, my take on it is that had Mike sat down and done this to a member of Pastor Bruce’s church who has never made a public statement, he’d have crossed the line. But he publicly confronted someone who has publicly demeaned him and his partner and so many others without a whit of retribution, ever. Consider this the retribution beginning. Christians most definitely SHOULD stand up for those who can’t or won’t stand up for themselves, and as far as I can see, that is what Mike did.

  • Mindy

    Wait, what are you saying, Lymis? Jesus lived in the gray area?! Heretic! How can you say he was not the paragon of black and white thinking?

  • Jill

    Hi David, I don’t necessarily think you are of a minority opinion– my genuine question is intended to point toward a tendency for many of us, me included, to shy away from overt conversation that, yes, can often make people uncomfortable. And if I’m reading you correctly, I agree that there is a time and place for all of it.

    What I mean by my question is that public confrontation is such a broad spectrum– this blog is a public confrontation. The pastor that speaks to the congregation directly about inclusion is such a vehicle, as is saying ‘I don’t understand the reference’ to a coworker making an off-color remark. Not every ‘public confrontation’ must be painted in bold colors, sometimes it’s enough just to help people to pause from their learned tendency to segregate gay from straight. That’s what I’m suggesting by my question.

    I too loved reading that article about Shane and Dan. I hope it sticks and makes a long-term shift in how we all work toward a livable solution. I’m not of a mind to buy timeshares in Utopia, but I know we’ve still got work we can do to shift mindsets.

  • Jill

    May I first just say that I respect the hell out of all of you—Lymis, David, and Mike. Wow, you’ve all changed me, and I’m grateful for it.

    And, to boldly channel Nicole, who just posted this a day or two ago on this page, “bullish audacity works beautifully against another bull, but would wreak havoc against a china plate personality. God puts us all in the right place at the right time because of who we are.” That really makes sense to me.

    Point is, every one of you and every one of your points of view ARE necessary to ‘win this war’, effect positive change, in different ways, in different scenarios, on different days, for different people to observe, experience, and talk about later on this blog. My 2₵.

  • Matt

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. I usually feel pretty brave, especially because I have a wonderful immediate family and in-laws. It’s been a pretty great wonderful past few days. I came out to a close friend of mine, and he was very supportive (he said he could “sense” what was up).

    I also ran into a couple of 0ther young transgender men completely by accident. We bonded over being short little guys. They showed me their driver’s licenses, which they had changed to their new names. Even though I was dressed female (I had just come from work), they didn’t hesitate to us the right pronouns and my true name. It was so nice to meet people just like me, just for a little while. And it gave me hope, that this could be for real, that I could actually do this.

    So yeah, just thanks :).

  • Matt

    Good for you, Sharon. It definitely hurts when a community that is supposed to help us lets us down instead.

  • David S

    Yes, I really, really appreciate Lymis! His perspectives are always awesome and written with amazing clarity.

  • Lymis

    “but I’m not sure I agree that an unprovoked, anger-fueled escalating confrontation is really operating from a place of power.”

    This is where it gets fuzzy and hard for me. I absolutely agree that it’s complicated, awkward, and not easy to pin down, and that there are valid viewpoints either way.

    I have to take issue with the idea that this was “unprovoked.” I know what you mean, but I think we all need to rethink that idea – especially because it is so very prevalent in our society, and especially since it is often used specifically to defend the powerful and influential while they are consciously and deliberately screwing over people who are less powerful.

    You, and a lot of people who use this kind of argument – even elsewhere in this discussion – are applying the rules of polite, face-to-face conversations and social interactions. The pastor was “minding his own business” and Mike confronted him in an “unprovoked” manner.

    That’s potentially true if the playing field is even. If this is just some random Baptist out for ribs, even if Mike had, say, known from a mutual acquaintance that the guy was a bigot and routinely said nasty things about gay people to his friends.

    But this pastor was involved in the politics of all this in the public sphere. Using his pulpit in what is apparently an influential church, having web articles, and, if I understand correctly, being on television, holding press conferences and so on. By doing so, he’s not just quietly being homophobic in a private conversation – he’s taking it public in a big, well-funded, and well publicized way, with the clear and firm intention of influencing a lot of people.

    So he wasn’t “minding his own business” and he was already effectively in the face of not only Mike and his husband, but every other citizen of South Carolina, telling hurtful lies about Mike’s family for the express purpose of convincing voters to make that discrimination based on lies and misrepresentations as permanent a part of South Carolina government as it is possible to get.

    Someone’s not “minding their own business” if they take a baseball bat to your car, even if they don’t say anything to you personally first. He intentionally conducted an organized attack on all the gay people in South Carolina.

    Let’s retire the concept of “unprovoked” in this context.

  • vj

    Well said!

  • vj


  • vj

    Thoroughly enjoyed this article, thanks so much for posting the link!

  • David S

    Hi Lymis. Thanks for the comment.

    Your point about provocation is well made and well taken. And this discussion has been thought provoking for me.

    Why does Mike’s description of this episode bother me in a way that his description of the confrontation with catholic clergy didn’t?

    With the priests, if I’m remembering correctly, Mike made the moral case that the actions of the church they represent have a devistating impact on his family and families like his (and mine too). He made it clear that the anti-gay position of the church is not OK. He addressed their provocation directly. Was that aggressive? I’d say so. Was it impolite? Probably? Was it appropriate? I think yes. THAT, for me, is a Stonewall moment.

    With Pastor Bruce, he didn’t make the moral case (at least not as conveyed). It seems like the point of the exchange was retribution. That Mike was trying to give the anti-gay pastor his comeuppance and teach him a lesson. For me, that goes beyond standing up to a bully. That’s operating from the same place as the bully – fighting fire with fire so to speak.

    Some might argue “good, he has it coming…what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”. And it feels pretty good to see pain inflicted on those who are inflicting pain on us. I can understand why some might think that’s ok. Personally, I don’t. It’s not aligned with the great commandment and I think it does more harm than good in the public conversation.

    Speaking only for myself, I think it’s more powerful and more effective to speak directly to the issue. Rather than trying to inflict harm, hold up a mirror to the bully’s own ugliness. IMO, it’s not the pink panther approach that has moved the needle so dramatically so quickly on religious bigotry (not that there’s not a lot of work left to do). It’s personal connections that have.

    My best to you.

  • Robert


    When I was a kid, there was this bully who tormented me for years. He would usually do it with a crowd of supporters etc. Teachers did nothing, the principle and vice principle did nothing and everyone knew it was going on.

    One day, I punched him in the nose.

    And he stopped bullying me.

    So bravo Mike for punching the bully in the nose.

    Bcause sometimes… that is what has to happen…

  • David S

    I see Archbishop Timothy Dolan as really dangerous for the exact same reason. He’s like a homophobic Santa Clause.

  • Lymis

    Maybe what we read was different.

    In Mike’s story, as I read it, he wasn’t out to humiliate the pastor by asking about his sex life and intruding into his privacy – he was showing the pastor how he, his husband, and every gay person in the state feels when they have to listen to people like the pastor make intrusive (and usually lying) statements about HIS sex life and family life, with no value put on their privacy or dignity.

    It wasn’t about humiliating him back for a perceived injury, but to make the point that having total strangers feel that your sex life isn’t private, but is up for public discussion – and in Mike’s case, used to pass laws that discriminate against him – is humiliating.

    Asking about the pastor’s sex life IS holding a mirror up to the pastor’s public conviction that each and every gay person’s sex life is open to public debate, judgement and evaluation. The pastor passed judgement in pretty much the most public way imaginable about Mike’s sex life. Mike just made it personal. He did hld up a mirror, and he did address it directly.

    Would you rather he put up a billboard?

  • ********Naturally, this is America, and the good pastor is welcome to his views. *******

    NO!!!! He is NOT! Free to speak them in a constitutional sense? YES. Welcome to them? NO

  • DR

    Michael in your experience, how likely are people like this pastor willing to change?

  • DR

    I wonder what those who watched Jesus flip tables in his Father’s House thought as they witnessed it? Must everything be done with the thought of how someone else might perceive it?

    I ask because we place so much responsibility on those who are courageous enough to speak out boldly and angrily at things that deserve our boldness and our anger. Is the responsibility for “receiving the message” solely on the person providing the message? Where is our responsibility as Christians – as human beings – to set aside the discomfort we might feel at one’s tone or emotion and receive it? It’s like we excuse those who want to decide the merit of something exclusively on how comfortable it makes them feel when hearing it. It’s so weird to me that we enable grown men and women in this way.

    Mike can’t teach this pastor a thing, that’s magical thinking. Mike can be himself in Truth – this pastor ultimately decides how open his mind and heart are to Mike or to anyone. We ultimately choose who we give authority to and if tone is our primary filter? Then people are missing a lot of truth and that’s their – our – choice.

  • DR

    I want to copy this comment and plaster it everywhere.

  • Diana A.

    Thank you Nicole. It helps me to be reminded of that.

  • Ellen

    I don’t know if it helps, but I can say that I have witnessed a similar massive change on someone’s part – my ex husband was raised in a similar church (they refuse to join the southern baptist convention because they feel it is too liberal) and, after a lot of experience, my ex husband came to believe that it was, after all, possible for women to have jobs as important as “even a minister” without in any way being sinful. He also went from about as far from supporting gay rights as you can imagine to shrugging his shoulders and leaning on the line “as long as they don’t make a pass at me…” while voting in favor of gay marriage.

    Look, I didn’t say he was perfect, or that his attitude towards women or homosexuality came to full “liberal” fruition, but give the man SOME credit – through prayer and thoughtful living and observation, he has become someone a little closer to Christ as I understand him.

  • jan Banan

    [comment deleted because it was moronic vomit]

  • DR

    LOL. I love me a good troll.

  • What this story tells me is that as a society we seem to have reached a tipping point on this issue. It may be some years off yet but for the first time I’m thinking that societal acceptance of LGBT individuals is GOING to happen. I’m glad 🙂

  • mike moore

    now Gordon, you know how I fiuckin’ hate profanity.

  • carlsan

    I see Equality on the horizon. The momentum is there!

  • Candy

    Don’t believe this at all. I have been a member of BBC Frank has never spoken out against gay. He stays away from anything political. He’s afraid to offend and lose the cash flow coming onto the church and into his pocket.

  • Believe it, people. Candy, you are wrong.

    Candy, how can you be naive? Pastor Bruce, shrewd guy that he is, does not stand in front of the congregation and denounce gay people, and he is all the more dangerous for precisely that reason.

    He wraps the word “love” around hate and expects us to buy into it.

    BBC is part of the Southern Baptist Convention, and all your tithing ensures plenty of money will flow back to the SBC, which is virulently anti-gay.

    The denomination backed Amendment One here in NC. Nationwide, the SBC has fought anti-bullying legislation, because, god forbid, we wouldn’t want a nice Christian bully to get in trouble for beating up a gay kid, would we?

    As recently as this month, Richard Land, an SBC leader, stated, “I know that the dirty little secret that nobody wants to talk about is that a high percentage of adult male homosexuals in America were sexually molested when they were children. … Anybody who’s a counselor…will tell you that.” This has been debunked over and over again by professional organizations and by the LBGT community, but SBC doesn’t let facts get in the way.

    I could keep going, but Google for yourself.

    Bruce Frank is a front-man. He talk pretty, you give $, a chunk of which goes to the SBC to do their dirty work. If he is the nice guy people claim, then he wouldn’t be fronting for such an evil organization.

  • jozie

    well, i never liked the guy much (brucefrank) and the bbc club for various reasons…see “remnant of truth” “was it meant to be this way” website…but the word of God does not lie…i do not condone his approach which is elitist arrogant and prideful but that does not negate what the word of God say’s about homosexuality or any sin for that matter (this not being some special sin) and we cannot change what a Holy God has deemed an abomination and un-righteous practice!

  • jozie

    With all do respect, your theology is a little off. The sin of stealing a pencil is not at the same level of two men ramming each other. Sorry to be so descriptive but i think it’s needed to visually see the impact it has and the degree of insults being hurled at a holy and righteous God by act word and deed, who clearly made a way for salvation thru his only son Christ Jesus. This could not have been accomplished thru Homosexuality. God designed marriage to be between a Man and a Women and all the argument in the world will not change this. Homosexuality is an abomination to God because without the marriage design, it would not have been possible for Christ to come or to be born. Homosexuality does not produce procreation. All sin in Gods eyes is wrong but that does not mean they are all categorized the same and it is God who will Judge and will pass ruling and sentencing, Not Bruce!. Best advice I could give is to start reading the bible and see for yourself what God says’ about it and who He is. Many people, believers and unbelievers alike, have God all wrong in many ways..so learn the attributes of God before making a ruling yourself about God and people.. I rebuke the likes of people like Bruce..they don’t know how to love without some form of motive being attached. They are greedy Pharisees who oppress the body with legalism. Bruce needs to stop drawing a paycheck, living in an upper-scale neighborhood and get a job like the rest of us. I could go on and on about the going’s-on within churches like this. Non are preaching repentance or the gospel of grace and mercy and forgiveness, it’s all about law. But what i can tell you is Christ loves you and he proved it by dying. He stretched out his arms and said, it’s for you too, the homosexual, the thief, the liar, the murderer…his death is for all. The gift of eternal life is there for your taking. If more fake fraudulent Pastors of our day would preach the love and grace of our awesome God to the sinner and how God loves them desperately in despite of their sin, our churches would be filled to over-brimming and one would come to realize that what we thought we wanted or desired in this life we don’t desire anymore after all…for all things here will burn in the end…This is what God is in the business of doing, changing hearts…Pastor Bruce could have told of this kind of love while being pressed at the table..but instead all He thought about was himself and not the blood of Christ which he is commissioned to do…he blew an awesome opportunity to share the love of Christ by focusing on himself..most likely his reputation, his job, his entitlements might be in jeopardy…along with his brothers standing as a politician…to love is to love everyone, even our homosexual community…all Christians are not haters…we do however love the word of God, which is truth. Blessings

  • JWinter777