Today’s GLBT History Month icon is minister and activist Mel White. Born July 26, 1940, White is an ordained minister turned activist who left his career as an adviser to prominent evangelists when he came out in the 1990s. Since then, White has endeavored to create visibility and acceptance for GLBT identifying Christians and GLBT causes as a whole.
From Equality Forum:
In 1962, White graduated from Warner Pacific College. He received a master’s degree in communications from the University of Portland and a Doctorate of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, where he was also a professor.
Early in his career, White served as a speechwriter for evangelical leaders Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. He married a woman with whom he had one son. When he realized he was attracted to men, he tried to “cure” his homosexuality with therapy and exorcism. Acknowledging that nothing could alter his sexual orientation, White attempted suicide.
White ultimately accepted his sexuality and amicably divorced his wife. In 1993, he publicly acknowledged that he was gay when he was named dean of the Dallas Cathedral of Hope of the Universal Fellowship at Metropolitan Community Churches. Two years later, he published “Stranger at the Gate,” a book that chronicles his struggles as a gay Christian.
In the early 1990s, White shifted his focus to GLBT advocacy, both within and outside of the church. In 1996, White led a two-week fast on the steps of Congress as the Senate considered and ultimately passed the Defense of Marriage Act. He moved the fast to the White House, where he was arrested. “How can we stand by in silent acceptance while the president and the Congress sacrifice lesbian and gay Americans for some ‘greater political good’?” he asked.
In 1998, White and his partner of more than 25 years, Gary Nixon, founded Soulforce, an organization whose mission is to “seek freedom from religious and political oppression” for GLBT people. Its name comes from “satyagraha,” a term meaning “soul force” used by Gandhi in to describe his civil rights struggle.
White is the author of nearly 20 books, including “Religion Gone Bad: Hidden Dangers from the Christian Right” (2009). His story is featured in “Friends of God” (2007), a documentary film about evangelical Christians.
In 2008, White and Nixon were legally married in California. In 2009, White and his son, Mike, were a team on the 14th season of “The Amazing Race.”
- Alston, Joshua. “The Amazing Race’s Mike and Mel White.” Newsweek. 7 Feb. 2009.
- Avery, Dan. “Grace Under Pressure.” Advocate. 10 Feb. 2009.
- McDowell, Wendy. “White makes case for gay marriage.” Harvard Gazette. 22 Apr. 2004.
- “Mel’s Bio.” Mel White. 28 May 2010.
- Parsons, Dana. “Mel’s Miracle: a Falwell Who Tolerates Gays.” The Los Angeles Times. 10 Nov. 1999.
- Schwartz, Deb. “The Odd Couple.” Salon.com. Oct. 1999.
Books by Mel White:
- Lust: The Other Side of Love (1978)
- Deceived (1979)
- Tested by Fire (1979)
- Margaret of Molokai (1981)
- Mike Douglas: When the Going Gets Tough (1983)
- Aquino (1989)
- Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America (1995)
- Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right (2006)
Videos of Mel White: