Celebr8ing The NOH8 Campaign

The Journey From Anti-Gay Activism To Being Healed Of An Estranged Heart

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On May 9th, I got up early and went to Target to find a plain white t-shirt. As boring as shopping for a plain white t-shirt sounds, I was nervous browsing through the various displays. My mind was full of thoughts about going to get my photo taken at NOH8 campaign’s Orlando photo shoot. This would be a symbolic culmination of ending years of estrangement; estrangement from myself, my heart, and a community I truly love.

Ben and his husband TJ.

Ben and his husband TJ.

The Importance Of People Like Ben

My friend Ben Patrick Johnson and I started following each other online somewhere in the midst of the ongoing Prop8 battle. I am sure I caught wind of who he is (a respected activist within the LGBT community) and just started following him online. One friend said, “You only follow that Ben guy because he’s always naked and HOT!” Well, to be clear, Ben is only sometimes naked, but most of the time only halfway naked. And well, even clothed he … maybe I should stop there. In response to this friend, at the time, I said “OH Noooo… he’s just an interesting person who does the gay activist thing in a different way; a way that will actually work to their benefit.”

The very first time I messaged Ben, it was some weird little greeting. I loved his response. It’s still my favorite response from a gay activist ever. With a very gracious intro he went on to say something along the lines of, “I have nothing but antipathy for what you are doing at Exodus and what Exodus stands for.” He then of course, being him, ended the message graciously.

Being a word person, I can’t tell you how happy I was because he used the word antipathy to begin with, and ecstatic he used it correctly! Wasn’t so fun to be a part of the receiving end of Ben’s “antipathy” but this is indicative of why I am drawn to follow his life online. He is fair, purposeful, eloquent, and thoughtful. He contributes to the overall discussion instead of consuming and regurgitating it as infotainment activism.

Plus, you get all that AND he is allergic to wearing shirts. He also has a handsome husband, TJ, that just adds to the mix another level of approachability. I like these guys a lot.

Last year, I interviewed Ben for a book I was working on (shelved until after my memoir book proposal is done). It will be included in a compilation of stories about love, relationships, life….that kind of stuff. During that time, we talked a lot about Prop 8. After hearing his heart my own was stirred up with deep emotion as years of questioning turned into my change of heart about marriage equality and being open to that possibility for myself.

Happy Mother’s Day!

To My Mom, Cynthia, and Amira!

This is me with my Mom and brother. I am the older kid with the dirty blond hair. That adorable kid with the dark brown hair is my brother Jimmy. And, of course that is my beautiful Mom, Pat.

This is me with my Mom and brother. I am the older kid with the dirty blond hair. That adorable kid with the dark brown hair is my brother Jimmy. And, of course that is my beautiful Mom, Pat.

Just a quick shout out to all the Mom’s, Happy Mother’s day! Thank you very much for who you are and all the love, sacrifice, security, selflessness, protection and wisdom you lovingly bless your children with.

I want to especially recognize my soul sister Amira, who is fantastic. The joy I feel when you share about your three little Lagerstrom’s… SO happy for you. You are an amazing Mother. To Cynthia, so happy and grateful for you and the *wonderful* job you have done with Alexa, Isa, and Sophia. You are a hero in my book.

And of course there is my Mom who is so amazing. She went through so much in this life and there simply aren’t enough words to describe my love and respect for her. Plus, any ounce of smarts, gorgeousness, common sense, and all things wonderful that I might have (emphasis on “might” ;))…had to have come from her. Love you Mom!

Randy.Today Random Bits (including the gay ones) for May 9th, 2015

A little bit of gay this; a little bit of gay that... and your online robot brain...

Hello friends! I haven’t been posting here much because I have settled into my new job (started last November) and then there was that whole coming out thing back in January… huge life transitions to say the least. I haven’t really had the energy to write out long(er) posts. That is going to change because there is a lot on my heart and mind. It’s time to get back to regular posting. Here goes…

In Case You Missed it the first 43 Times I Said It, I’m Gay… So Very Gay, Just As Gay As Gay Can Be Gay… My SuperHero Power Is ‘The Gay’… I Am SuperGay

Speaking of being gay, because I am you know, I have emphasized it a lot on social media. Since coming out, with emphasis over the past month, several conservative friends decided to start reminding me that, “…You are more than your gay identity.” Some attempted to be gracious about it, but some were outright “your sinning against God, your friends and yourself by emphasizing that all the time.”

Obviously I do not agree that I am sinning against anyone for being focussed on something that is a big issue for me now. Even though I was “out” before becoming a Christian at the age of 24, I was a mess in all kinds of not healthy ways. But after spending over two decades in the church closet, and coming out again this past January 12th. I am now coming into a season where I feel completely unhindered to be who I am, do what is true to my character and “calling,” and say what is fully on my heart.

A former mentor said while chuckling, “You definitely have the gift of provocation.” Even when I am not trying to provoke people it seems to come naturally. I never want to offend for the sake of offending people. However, I am not responsible for other people being offended by simply stating and living out the truth of my life. In other words, people being offended and uncomfortable with who I am (and where I am at) is their responsibility…not mine. I reject the sin accusation and refuse to bear a burden that is not mine to carry.

To be clear, some of these folks are good friends. They love me. I love them. I know I am more than being gay but that does not mean I have to downplay or disclaim being gay at any time for any reason.

I will be writing, a lot, about life within this context. I am looking forward to the future.

Now For Something That Had Nothing To Do With Being Gay… I think. The Grid: Your Online Robot Brain Is Thinking About Your Next Website

One of the reasons I haven’t been posting here lately is that I was holding out for the launch of TheGrid.io. It is a new artificial intelligence website development platform that may very well be the “next big thing.” I never say stuff like that on the web anymore but this looks and feels different. I signed up a couple of months ago to be a “Founding Member.”  From The Grid website:

This is not another do-it-yourself website builder. The Grid harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to take everything you throw at it – videos, images, text, urls and more – and automatically shape them into a custom website unique to you. As your needs grow, it evolves with you, effortlessly adapting to your needs. Want to add e-commerce? Social feeds? A different layout? The Grid just takes care of it. This is not a website builder. This is your personal AI web developer…

In fact I am founding member #19,782 and I am very excited about this service. It is supposed to launch late spring. If you would like to be a part of the next generation of web development (and an elegant/easy website) I will get a $32 credit for each Founding Member that signs up using my referral link (click here.)

All of that said, it isn’t released yet :). So I will blog here until it is and until I can figure out how to migrate this site to The Grid.

k… that’s it for this post. Have a great day.


“Fighting Hate, Teaching Tolerance, Seeking Justice” – Visiting With The SPLC

SPLC group shot

This trip happened a few weeks ago. I had written about this on my Facebook page but wanted to embed it here on the blog too. Memorable, inspiring.

His Love Destroyed My Closet


Truly, a very large number of people have supported and encouraged me since coming out. Former Exodus leaders, even some who are still in that type of ministry, have been a big (and sometimes surprising) blessing. Of course my close friends at Grace Church have been fantastic. They truly are safe people who have proven once again they are trustworthy and some of the most loving people I have ever met. Plus, there has been a large outpouring of love and forgiveness from the gay community. I am deeply grateful.

It’s been overwhelming (in a good way) and I plan to blog more about that in time. There have been plenty of really good experiences to process.Today however, I want to discuss some of the negative messages I have gotten the past couple of weeks. These messages repeatedly remind me of “the closet” that is a metaphor for the oppression and stigma that gay people have suffered for far too long.

A Tribute To Michael

I love and miss you Michael...

Two years ago today one of the best friends a man could have, Michael P, passed away by his own hand. When it happened, his family, our mutual friends, all of us were shocked and completely devastated. I remember crying for what seemed like forever.

Initially, I desperately held on to a dream I had shortly after his passing that completely reframed the situation. In it, Michael came to me, held my hand, and we sat on a bench. He was radiant and he sang the most beautiful otherworldly song. I believe our Heavenly Father allowed that to happen so that I would remember the beautiful Michael and not let the tragedy of suicide define him in my mind. Holding his strong hand, hearing his amazing song. It was so clear, so vivid, and beautiful.

For the longest time it was hard to get past the mourning to remember all the good without sobbing my eyes out. This past year that began to change. Now I can remember and enjoy memories of Michael without being lost in the sadness. With 23 years worth of wonderful memories, I have more than the dream to bring to mind and focus on.

Michael and I dated for a few months at the beginning of our 23 year friendship but quickly realized we were better as friends than as a dating couple. I say that only because it reveals how much I trusted him, completely. He was an amazing man. He was always respectful, tender-hearted, attentive, and quick to help. He and our little crew taught me many life-giving principles including unconditional love. I honestly think it was with them that I first heard those two words ever used together as well as experience it first-hand.

Michael was also a magnificent blend of wisdom and hilarity. He would say something so profound and then just so… irreverent! I will *never* forget his great laugh. Makes me chuckle as I type this.

He also had an astonishing intellect/analytical side. I have no doubt that after meeting Jesus and checking in with the Archangels, one of Michael’s first appointments was to meet CS Lewis and the Apostle Paul at the Pearly Gates Coffee Shop. I imagined he had a list of topics to talk about and ideas they might want to consider :).

::: enjoying that picture in my mind :::

So, now the water-works start. The tears are coming from a loving place, a warm and grateful heart.

I love you Michael. I miss you so much my friend. I choose to celebrate your memory and continue to learn from you through our memories. I take comfort knowing the Lord has already wiped every one of your tears away and I look forward to hearing your laugh ring out in heaven.

…And you better save me a spot at the Pearly Gates Coffee Shop!

1381826_10151703408487734_841618918_nToday I am making a modest contribution to the Trevor Project in honor of Michael P. I am also going to make this a monthly pledge of support as well. From their website, “The Trevor Project was founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.”

Please join me in supporting The Trevor Project with a one time gift or signing up for their easy to use automatic recurring monthly support option. Thank you.

Man In The Mirror Moments & The Question Of Forgiveness

Friends, today Ben Patrick Johnson graciously accepted my invitation to write a guest blog post. I extended the invite with full confidence that he would be honest, clear, and civil. I asked him if he would be willing to write about my coming out and what he felt were the issues that this might represent. I didn’t suggest what those issues would be, and trusted him to write from his heart. His post below is the result and completely unedited. Thank you so much for writing this Ben. – Randy

There are moments in life when we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see. In a blush of painful self-honesty, we realize we’ve been making choices that are not in the best interest of ourselves or those around us. We may have hurt others with our actions; we have almost certainly hurt ourselves.

A friend of mine once said, “Some people just travel the road to hell. Me, I bought property.” I, for one, have certainly bought property on this road. I’ve made foolish and cowardly choices. I’ve taken shortcuts, moral and practical. I’ve lied. I’ve been an enabler for bad behavior of friends and family, feeding (and funding) folly in the hope they would love me more.

I am flawed.

We are flawed.

So what we do when we have these mirror moments? Do we sit with the discomfort then take steps to improve our behavior? Or do we look away, distract ourselves with a drink or a toke or chocolate cake, go on a shopping spree, gamble, or jump out of an airplane? Most often, it seems, we jump to self-soothing, distraction and denial. But every once in a while we find courage to face our own shortcomings and poor choices, and make material changes in our lives as a result of this self-reflection.

Thank You For Your Feedback

My post about being gay has generated more emails, comments, and messages then I can respond to in a timely manner. I will try to respond as soon as I can either directly or through follow-up blog posts. For those of you who have sent along encouragement, support, and honest heartfelt rebukes :)… I am grateful. I do read everything that comes in and appreciate the time you have taken to contact me. Your feedback is incredibly important. Thanks again, and have a great day.

A Peaceful Disclosure – I Am Gay

peaceful disclosure

I have read many stories of people who have “come out again” or accepted they are gay after some time in the ex-gay world. Many of their stories are compelling and well-written. But, sometimes I wish they would get to the point right off the bat. Just say it and then tell the story. So that is what I am going to do: I am gay.

Now take a deep breath (talking to myself here), and here is more of the story for those interested.

What Led To This Post?

The past six or so years have presented an opportunity to question my beliefs and evaluate my experiences without an idealized agenda. Then in 2011, as a result of all the turmoil that erupted at Exodus International (my former employer from 2002 to 2013), I began to dig deep and ask hard questions. Who am I? What do I make of my journey to date? How does God view me, my state of being? I questioned/pondered/re-examined all this and more again. Then in January of 2013, a man named Michael, someone I dated for a little while 24 years ago committed suicide. We remained good friends up until his death. His death was shocking and I still mourn his passing. Michael had several difficult issues contributing to his suicide, and I know he also struggled with his faith and sexuality. His death shook me to my core and made all the questions I had been asking even more stark, consequential, and pressing. After being laid off from Exodus International (as a part of closing it down) in August of 2013, I began to have the personal space to think things through without distraction or filters.

Parallel to all this was a deepening and expanded understanding of God’s grace. These factors get more specific and complicated, but I think that the above describes the gist of how I began to come to the conclusions that I present in this post. I could have written this post last summer but was discouraged by some feedback I received. Regardless, I needed to pray and think it through a little while longer. Now is the time to do this. There is more about my motivations later in this post, too.