More About the Author
The Rev. Dr. Mel White has been a Christian minister, author, and filmmaker all his adult life. Raised as an Evangelical Christian, taught that homosexuality was a sin, Mel fought to overcome his own homosexual orientation for decades in all ways available to him: prayer, psychotherapy, exorcism, electric shock, marriage and family.
That struggle and his halting, poignant steps to understand and accept his homosexuality, reconcile it with his Christian faith, and express his sexuality respectfully and responsibly, are described in his book Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America, published in 1994. His latest book, Religion Gone Bad: Hidden Dangers from the Christian Right (2006) tells the tragic true story of the war fundamentalists have been waging against gays and lesbians. (Re-released in 2010 as HOLY TERROR: Lies the Christian Rights Tells us to Deny Gay Equality).
In 1993, Mel White came out publicly when he was installed as dean at the Dallas Cathedral of Hope a Metropolitan Community Church (UFMCC). He announced during his first sermon, "I am gay. I am proud. And God loves me without reservation." In 1996, Mel was appointed Minister of Justice for the Metropolitan Community Church with more than 350 congregations across the U.S. and around the world.
Mel White founded Soulforce Inc. in 1998 with his partner, Gary Nixon. Mel was dismayed by the increasing confrontational tone on both sides the issue and the hateful words and actions that increased the divide. Inspired by the nonviolence movements of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., White developed a program based on their principles. These principles were called satyagraha or "soul force" by Gandhi, who based many of them on the teachings of Jesus. White adapted the "soul force" principles to guide his struggle to end the religion-based suffering of lesbian and gay people.
For the past 25 years, Mel has traveled across the country recruiting, training and mobilizing a new generation of "take it to the streets" activists. He has worked tirelessly to bring hope and healing to those impacted by injustice and to help cut off that injustice at its source.
During those years "on the front lines" Mel was harassed, threatened, arrested, tried and jailed. In 1997, the Rev. Dr. Mel White was awarded the ACLU's National Civil Liberties Award for his efforts to apply the "soul force" principles of Gandhi and King to the struggle for justice for sexual minorities.
With his experience in theology, communications and the media, White was uniquely qualified to start Soulforce. He did graduate work in communications and film at University of Southern California, received his doctorate at Fuller Theological Seminary and taught there for over a decade. During this time he also worked as a senior pastor in Pasadena, California.
Mel has produced, written, and directed 53 documentary films and television specials, focusing on stories that inspire and inform the struggle to be human. He is also an author; among his 16 books (nine bestsellers), he wrote about the Philippines' Ninoy and Corazon Aquino ("Aquino"), the Jonestown tragedy ("Deceived"), David Rothenberg, the child burned by his father ("David") and Bible stories not for children, ("Lust: The Other Side of Love.")
In addition, he ghost wrote for Fundamentalist Christian leaders including Billy Graham ("Approaching Hoofbeats"), Pat Robertson ("America's Date with Destiny"), Jim Bakker, and Jerry Falwell ("If I Should Die Before I Wake" and "Strength for the Journey").
In 2010, Mel retired from Soulforce and moved to Long Beach, California. Although Mel plans to spend the next ten years speaking and writing, he also plans to find a warm beach where ("at least occasionally") he can walk his dog Allie and meditate on these past fulfilling but frenetic years as a Christian leader and civil-rights activist.
You've seen Mel's story on:
60 Minutes, Larry King Live, PBS, NPR, Fresh Air, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, Dallas Morning News, Oregonian, Austin Statesmen,
and the Southern Poverty Law Center's "Intelligence Report"
BOOKS BY MEL WHITE
1. Religion Gone Bad: Hidden Dangers from the Christian Right (2007)
HOLY TERROR: Lies the Christian Right Tells Us to Deny Gay Equality (2010)
2. Stranger at the Gate: To be Gay and Christian in America (1994)
3. Compassionate Capitalist (1993)
4. Standing on the Promises: W.A. Criswell (1990)
5. Aquino: The Story of Ninoy and Cory Aquino (1989)
6. A Gift of Hope: Tony Melendez Story (1989)
7. Strength for the Journey: Jerry Falwell (1987)
8. If I Should Die Before I Wake (1986)
9. America's Dates with Destiny: Pat Robertson (1986)
10. David: The David Rothenberg Story (1985)
11. Approaching Hoofbeats (1983)
12. Mike Douglas: When the Going Gets Touch (1983)
13. Margaret of Molokai: Last Person to leave "Leper Island" (1981)
14. Deceived: The Jonestown Tragedy (1979)
15. Tested by Fire (1979)
16. Lust, the Other Side of Love: Bible Stories not for Children (1978)
17. In the Presence of My Enemies (1973)