About Susan

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FreedHearts is a 501c3 nonprofit charitable organization based in Austin, TX. You can find out more about the organization and our programs by clicking here.

Susan Cottrell is the founder of FreedHearts. She is a speaker, an author, has been married for nearly 30 years and is the mother of five children including a queer daughter who came out in 2011 and another queer daughter who came out about a year later. She is a veteran discipler and a sage friend.

She is a loving Mom, and a fierce, relentless advocate and ally. FreedHearts is her fulltime ministry. She also served as the Vice President of PFLAG Austin, and has a Masters in Theological Studies from Austin Seminary.

Here is her full bio:

SUSAN COTTRELL is an international speaker whose TEDx talk, for a crowd of 5,000 at TedxMileHigh in Denver, has 1.6 million online views. OutSmart magazine calls her “The Mother of All MamaBears.” The Advocate dubs her “our favorite affirming matriarch.” She is a prominent voice for the LGBTQ+ community & their faith parents; allies; and others who are marginalized and in the midst of deconstructing from harmful, false, religious teachings. Susan has been featured on ABC’s 20/20, Nightline and Good Morning America, on NBC News Out, and as a contributor on the Our Bible app. She is a public theologian and through her nonprofit organization—FreedHearts.org—Susan challenges people to love as the foundation of their faith. She spent 20+ years in the nonaffirming Evangelical church, has a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and served as the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin. Her FreedHearts Blog and YouTube videos have millions of viewers; the top-rated FreedHearts Podcast has more than 100,000 downloads and is heard in nearly 150 countries; and her books “Mom, I’m Gay”—Loving Your LGBTQ Child and Strengthening Your Faith; True Colors: Celebrating the Truth and Beauty of the Real You; Radically Included: The Biblical Case for Radical Love and Inclusion; and Be the Love You Want to See in the World are critically acclaimed. She and her husband Rob have been married for 36 years and have five children, two of whom identify as queer, as well as one grandchild and another on the way.

“Susan has this fierce, loving, don’t mess with me, Mom vibe.”—Rev Ashley Harness, Auburn Seminary

“What impresses me about Susan is that she’s not someone who argues and strongarms people into seeing things her way. She’s someone who listens and cares for others really well. Her presence challenges Christians who reject our friends in the LGBTQ community to understand the love of God.”—Michael Hidalgo, Lead Pastor, Denver Community Church

For years I have taught the unconditional love and lavish grace – in books, retreats, and direct discipling. I especially love the LGBTQ+ community and their families, and I help them heal from the wounds of religion and disempowerment, and to know how much God loves them exactly as they are. Period.

My heart also remains with defeated and discouraged parents, helping them to experience and apply truth, and to come against the “toxix religion” of non-affirming Christianity – in their lives, marriages and parenting.

FreedHearts is about changing the conversation on love and inclusion.

On this blog, through posts, books, resources and lots of conversations, my desire is to show you the open door to freedom – to free hearts to love and be loved.

It is going to be a wonderful journey.

– Susan Cottrell, Founder, FreedHearts

Note: I will often use the word “gay” in posts and other areas of this website. My use of it refers to anyone who identifies themselves as LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer or Questioning). Though I certainly realize and respect the distinctions and differences, it was simply the word that quickly and easily communicates non-hetereosexual individuals, and is a common term to resonate with my average reader. I hope my love, acceptance, and affirmation for the LGBTQ+ community is always clear in everything I write.


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