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Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America Paperback – April 1, 1995

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 347 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (April 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452273811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452273818
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This is the account of a deeply religious man's coming to terms with his gayness and the impact that process had on his life. A former ghostwriter for Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, and other religious-right personalities, White offers a compelling story; gay readers raised in a fundamentalist Christian environment will find themselves saying, "That happened to me." Yet the book's subtitle is somewhat misleading. This is not really so much about being gay and Christian in America as it is the story of one individual's struggles. To describe what it means to be gay and Christian is truly a difficult task; perhaps there is no one concrete definition. Recommended for public, academic, and theological libraries and gay/lesbian resource centers.
Lee Arnold, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

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. Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

That is what Dr. White does in his book "Stranger At The Gate: To Be Gay And Christian In America".
Mel tells his story poignantly and has made a sincere effort to tell it in a way that will offer hope and healing to others.
anita1956@aol.com (christianlesbians.com)
I think it would be helpful to straight people (especially in church) who are trying to understand a loved one who is gay.
William A. West

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 129 people found the following review helpful By E. Jones on September 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
It seems that some of the readers haven't actually READ the book, just saw what it dealt with and did some reflex Leviticus quoting.

If you are a Christian struggling to come to term with your sexuality, read this book. If you are GLBTQ and want insight into the lives of what your sisters and brothers embroiled in fundamentalism are up against, read this book.

If you're a minister in a conservative church, read this book. If you're a thoughtful Christian who adamently believes that homosexuality is a sin, read this book.

Why? Because understanding each other is important, no matter where you're at. Hearing the actual stories and struggles of another may shake your convictions a little bit, but it's something that should be done.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Daniel B. Clendenin on January 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
When the teenage son of one of my best friends (a pastor) announced he was gay, I knew I had to read Mel White's book. Today, White is one of the most important activists in the gay Christian community. How he came to that place is a fascinating story. Mel White hailed from two generations of stalwart Christians, and his entire life was lovingly and gladly given to their fundamentalist cause. Instead of using his scholarship to attend Stanford, he went to a Bible College, and I suspect enthusiastically so, such was his Christian ardor. As a film maker and ghost writer, he served most all the best known names of conservative Christianity--Francis Schaeffer, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson (to whom he sent money for their ministry to gays), Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, D. James Kennedy, and WA Criswell. His two children attended Maranatha Christian High School. "But from the beginning, I had only same-sex desires and fantasies. I didn't plan it. I didn't choose it. I didn't desire it. And no one forced it on me. I wasn't recruited, raped or abused. No one is to blame" (p. 29). That is to say, White did not have a voluntary preference to be gay. Rather, he had an entirely involuntary orientation to be gay, and he tried as vigorously as any human might struggle to sublimate and eradicate his homosexual orientation through counseling, therapy, electric shock treatments, endless prayer and exorcisms, and Valium. All of which, after about twenty five years of marriage, led to a near nervous breakdown. In a loving foreword, his wife of over two decades sets the table for her former husband's story. If you want a short, second hand account of Mel White's story, see the chapter on him in Philip Yancey's book What's So Amazing About Grace.
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60 of 69 people found the following review helpful By bensonj@nbnet.nb.ca on June 20, 1998
Format: Paperback
Mel White's book, Stranger at the Gate" is the first book which I have read on the struggle of the Christian homosexual with which I could identify. Our daughter has come out to us and we are constantly searching for resources to educate ourselves and help us to deal with the spiritual issue of homosexuality. Mel White comes across as a sincere Christian who tried to live his life according to his biblical upbringing which taught him that homosexuality was a sin. Mel shares his epic struggle to understand and interpret the scriptures which are so often quoted to "bash" homosexuals. The intensity of Mel White's beliefs add to his inner struggle and it is the intimate sharing of this struggle with the reader which gives the book its power.
This book is a must read for those who are trying to understand why a person is gay and in the process of educating yourself, you will come to realize the need for compassion and understanding rather than judgment and rejection.
I do not agree with all of Mel's statements 100% but I do believe in his tenent that a person can be christian and homosexual and live a meaningful life while making a positive contribution to the community.
We all need to extend our limits of compassion and erase the ignorance that rejects another's liefestyle simply because we do not understand it. There is still a lot that I do not understand, but I am continuing to learn through insightful, courageous writers like Mel White.
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
I first became aware of this book via Philip Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace", in which he devotes a chapter to his friendship with Mel and the issues arising from that. Since several close Christian friends of mine have, over the last few years, revealed their homosexual orientation to me I have taken deep interest in the issue of homosexuality and also of the attitude of the church towards gay men and women. You can probably well believe me when I say that it has been almost impossible to find any CHristian viewpoint on the matter that does not take one of the two most extreme views - either that all aspects of homosexuality and homosexual behaviour should be accepted and that the classic Biblical texts have just been misinterpreted - or that every homosexual is an evil harbringer of doom to our depraved generation! Where has the objectivity gone?!
Mel's story is by far the clearest and easiest to relate to of any that I have read from the "acceptance" side of the debate. I would strongly recommend that anyone with an honest desire to get to grips with the issue should read this book. It helped me to understand more fully the tremendous torment involved in growing up in a largely heterosexual world with a homosexual orientation - I identified with his struggles, since I have struggled with similar situations and issues in a heterosexual context. It is the first time that I have really been able to identify with and understand someone telling the story of their homosexuality. Even when speaking openly with my friends I found it difficult to understand their struggles properly.
I would also recommend "Straight and Narrow?" by Thomas E. Schmidt for a compassionate look at homosexuality and evangelical Christianity from a more scholarly viewpoint - although he refers the stories of a number of friends and acquaintances, which helps keep it from being too detached.
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