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

4.4 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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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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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 (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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