by Jody Michael Huckaby
The book you hold in your hand right now is nothing
short of a sacred journey. Some journeys create authentic change for the lives
they intersect. Lars Clausen is on one of those profound journeys.
When Lars Clausen walked into my Washington DC office,
dressed in road-worn yellow riding gear and pushing a three-foot wheel, I got a
quick lesson in looking beyond first impressions. Instead of the circus act I
might have expected, I was treated to the final day of his 1,000 mile tour and
many of the stories that you'll read here in Straight Into Gay America. I shared
in the questions of a straight man who longs for queer justice: Why does society
judge so much against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people, and
why do we listen so little to the everyday LGBT stories of love, care, and
commitment? Most importantly, I felt honored to be in the presence of a man who
yearns for fairness and justice for all people.
As the National Executive Director of PFLAG (Parents,
Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) I represent people who long for
justice and equality for their LGBT loved ones. As a brother with three gay
siblings, I know what many families experience in their own coming out journey.
As a gay man, I know what being different feels like and how it feels to be
ostracized simply for being who you are, particularly by religious institutions
and the leaders they anoint.
Lars Clausen's life is different from mine. He's a
straight man with two children. He has no known LGBT family members. And yet, he
found himself on the road for five weeks, exposed and vulnerable to every
passing car and person. He carried a single question to as many people as he
could, "What do you think of gay rights in this country today?"
Why would a straight man do this?
This book is gritty in its honesty, including intimate
details of Lars’ life. He shares how his life experiences led him to probing the
deep questions of what it means to be different. We see his efforts to
engage others in a dialogue for acceptance. As his journey unfolds you will
surely laugh. You will cry too. And you will meet the many people along the way
who helped to create Straight Into Gay America.
Straight Into Gay America is a partner for our personal
journeys. Lars’ vulnerability and his self-exploration draw us deeply into our
own questions and convictions.
Straight Into Gay America is a partner for the journey
toward LGBT equal rights. Our history is a slow and uncertain path toward
freedom, peace, and justice. Yet, no matter how many turns the road takes before
we arrive, I know that we will see the day of LGBT equal rights. Clausen's book
is a light for the journey ahead and a bridge across the divide between straight
From my view as the leader of PFLAG, I am constantly
astounded at the skills and compassion that I experience from so many
people. Moms and dads, family members and friends, each with his or her
own “coming out” story as they have grown to cope with, accept and finally
celebrate their LGBT loved ones. Each of these people has a story to share, and
I feel privileged to be privy to many of them.
Activist and teacher Parker J. Palmer speaks of our
lives having purpose, of each of us having a calling that must be discovered
deep within our being, if only we take the time to stop and listen. When we live
our life from the purpose for which we are born, we take an active role in
creating the world around us. In his book, Let Your Life Speak Palmer says that
“our complicity in world making is a source of awesome and sometimes painful
responsibility—and a source of profound hope for change. It is the ground of our
common call to leadership, the truth that makes leaders of us all.”
Lars Clausen reveals the painful and the awesome
throughout his stories. As a straight man and as an ordained minister, he probes
the lives of ordinary people. We know it is going to take far more than just
LGBT people to achieve true equality, just as it took many people of all races
to step up and join the fight for civil rights in the 1960’s. We are on the
brink of true equality in this country, and we need more people like Lars
Clausen to help make equality a reality for everyone.
Straight Into Gay America is more than just another book
about LGBT issues. It is a journey that inspires you to be your authentic self
and to live out your true purpose. If you are LGBT, I hope this book motivates
you to come out, to be all that you are, and to live in celebration of your
unique and genuine self. If you are straight, I hope that Straight Into Gay
America inspires you to join the fight for full equality for everyone in this
Jody Michael Huckaby
Executive Director of