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Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America

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Few issues divide our country more dangerously today than does the question of homosexuality and the conflict between the concept of family values and the individual rights of gays and lesbians. Families are divided, careers are ruined, lives are lost - all in the struggle between beliefs founded in tradition and those based on personal freedom. Spearheading the fight against the increasingly vocal homosexual community are the leaders of the so-called "religious right," men and women who denounce gays and ...
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Overview

Few issues divide our country more dangerously today than does the question of homosexuality and the conflict between the concept of family values and the individual rights of gays and lesbians. Families are divided, careers are ruined, lives are lost - all in the struggle between beliefs founded in tradition and those based on personal freedom. Spearheading the fight against the increasingly vocal homosexual community are the leaders of the so-called "religious right," men and women who denounce gays and lesbians from their pulpits and encourage their followers to enact laws against them. Perhaps no one is better qualified to write about these issues and the conflicts they engender than Mel White. He was born into a conservative Christian home and educated in conservative Christian schools and churches. He met his wife there, and together they raised their children to believe in God and to follow a Christian lifestyle. He worked within the church as a filmmaker and writer, and eventually became a ghostwriter of books, autobiographies, and speeches for such noted figures in the religious right as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Billy Graham. But all that time Mel White had a secret. He was gay. In this remarkable book, Mel White looks at his own life in the church and details the struggles he went through to deny and overcome his own natural sexual desires. And in ways sure to anger many of the people he used to know best, he provides a firsthand look at the teachings and workings of the religious right today, showing how they use their power first to politicize their followers and then, using these politics, to spearhead fund-raising efforts. Most specifically, he examines the methods they use to create a campaign of hate and fear against homosexuals. It is a deeply personal story of torment and triumph, as well as a frightening examination of the anti-homosexual tactics of the religious right and a prophetic look at where they might lead our nation. Both aut
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
White, a former ghostwriter for such prominent Christian conservatives as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Oliver North, details in this melodramatic, sentimental but absorbing autobiography his own troubling, yet ultimately empowering acknowledgement of his homosexuality. White's account of his futile attempts to deny or ``cure'' his desires--through life as a husband and father, through prayer and self-denial, even through shock therapy--is affecting if overdrawn; more interesting is his success in finally reconciling his faith with his sexuality. Such a reconciliation rested in part upon White's recognition that only through distorting the Bible can one find prohibitions against homosexuality there. That White himself, while still closeted and struggling, worked for those most responsible for perpetuating such disinformation is one of the more pungent ironies in the book; it is startling to read that Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell's agitprop denunciation of ``perverts'' purportedly overrode his nobler impulses towards tolerance and compassion. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (Apr.)
Library Journal
This autobiography, read by the author, carries a vital, heartfelt message of topical significance as it portrays a fascinating personal odyssey. For decades the author strove to follow the creed of his conservative Christian family, church, and community. Although he married, had children, and ghostwrote for the Christian right (i.e., the reverends Falwell, Robertson, Graham, Baker; Oliver North; and others), he was gay. He tried every "cure": prayer, self-denial, shock therapy, and analysis but couldn't deny his God-given nature. Now dean of Dallas Cathedral of Hope, the world's largest gay church, he examines the religious right for which he worked. Gays have replaced Communists as the right's scapegoat for fundraising. He's witnessed the consequence: an immense toll of suicides, violence, and self-hatred among gays. The eloquent, spiritual life story of torment and triumph narrated by White and introduced by his wife appeals to all who need to understand identity crises. A successful publicity tour has placed Stranger at the Gate in the national spotlight. Recommended for most public libraries.-James Dudley, Copiague, N.Y.
Ray Olson
There are plenty of clergymen's coming-out stories (most by Anglican priests) and plenty of gay replies to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and other antigay Christian evangelists, but on both counts, this is the one everybody's been waiting for. Raised in the same mold as those religious-right leaders, White was their colleague and collaborator. He ghostwrote two books for Falwell (including Mr. Moral Majority's "autobiography"), one for Robertson, and speeches for nonclerical gay-baiter Ollie North and the less problematic Billy Graham. Before the ghosting, White pursued a hectically successful career as an evangelical filmmaker, conference and retreat organizer, and occasional preacher. All the while, he, a married man with two children, struggled with homosexuality, which he says he felt from his earliest awareness of sexual consciousness. He lasted 25 years as a committed family man before he and long-suffering wife Lyla agreed he had to come out completely and divorced. Although decidedly egotistical (we especially wish White would say more about his heroic wife), this autobiography is moving, inspirational, and not a little spectacular--which makes it all the more readable.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671884079
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 3/1/1994
  • Pages: 320

Meet the Author

Mel White is a writer, filmmaker, and former ghostwriter of books, authobiographies, and speeches for Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker, and Oliver North. He is the author of such inspirational bestsellers as In the Presence of Mine Enemies and Tested by Fire. Presently, Dr. White serves as the National Minister of Justice for the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches from his position as Dean of Dallas's Cathedral of Hope (M.C.C.), the largest gay and lesbian church in the world. He and his partner, Gary Nixon, live in Dallas, Texas.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Chapter One: In the Beginning - The Ghost of Silence
Chapter Two: Adolescence - The Ghost of Fear
Chapter Three: High School - The Ghost of Loneliness
Chapter Four: College - The Ghost of False Hope
Chapter Five: 1962-64, Learning to Tell the Truth
Chapter Six: 1964-70, Learning About Friendship
Chapter Seven: 1970-80, Taking the First Steps Toward Integrity
Chapter Eight: 1980-81, Facing Reality
Chapter Nine: 1981, Surviving Infatuation and Isolation
Chapter Ten: 1982-83, "It's Going to Be All Right, Dad!"
Chapter Eleven: 1984-90, Giving Up the Ghost!
Chapter Twelve: 1990-91, One Last Year of Silence
Chapter Thirteen: 1991-93, A Ghost No More!
Chapter Fourteen: 1993-94, Time for Doing Justice!
Appendix: Six Letters to the Religious Right
Author's Notes, References, and Resources

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Customer Reviews

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