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Foreword by Jody Huckaby
May 31, 2006

Foreword

by Jody Michael Huckaby
Executive Director, PFLAG

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 and gay.

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 country.

Jody Michael Huckaby
Executive Director of PFLAG
www.pflag.org


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