Marc Adams grew up in a household where Jerry Falwell was considered a liberal, but this preacher’s son is now on a two-person crusade to expose discrimination against lesbian and gay youth in this country’s fundamentalist schools and try to help the victims.
“I must speak for the gay and lesbian youth whose lives are being damaged, ruined and sometimes ended by religious educational institutions that expel them for suspicion of homosexual activity,” Adams said. “They have no voice and in many cases wind up like me, believing that there is a righteous punishment for being gay.”
Adams has written a book called The Preacher’s Son — available on Amazon — which he calls “224 pages Jerry Falwell doesn’t want you to read.” In it, he talks about being raised as the son of a fundamentalist Baptist preacher and about struggling with his sexual orientation from a young age. He tells of the abuses he suffered in the name of God at the hands of his parents and his college.
Adams’ parents ruled the house by what they believed was God’s law. The family owned a TV, but the children were only allowed to watch certain programs. His parents would not even let the children watch all of televangelist Jerry Falwell’s “Old Time Gospel Hour.” The music was fine, but Falwell, who most consider as ultra-conservative, preached sermons that Adams’ parents considered too liberal.
“In my parents’ house, we were to keep ourselves from being contaminated by the rest of the world,” Adams said. “That meant depriving ourselves anything considered worldly.”
Some episodes of Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, Grizzly Adams and Wild Kingdom were about the only other acceptable programs.
“Questioning the authority of the Bible or the authority of our parents was rebellion,” he said. “We were often reminded how the Bible gave approval for parents to stone rebellious children.”
When Adams was 3 years old, his father was carrying him past some equipment used to pave streets. Adams reached out, touched the grease, then wiped it on his father’s clothes. Adams said he saw the intense anger in his father’s eyes as his father dropped him on the ground. Two years later, Adams his father spinning him violently by the ankles until his mother stopped it.
Remember, Adams’ father was a preacher.
By high school, Adams was so desperate to escape his oppressive family that he entered an accelerated program and graduated a year early. At age 16, he was off to Liberty Bible College, Jerry Falwell’s school.
Since Adams wanted to major in television and advertising, his parents said they couldn’t support him. (That field was too worldly.) But he went anyway. While it was an improvement over his home situation, he saw friends and acquaintances forced to leave because they were suspected or known to be gay. Discrimination was everywhere at what would become Liberty University.
Adams knew his story needed to be told, so with his partner he created Window Books and published The Preacher’s Son. Now, using the book (and a book of poetry Adams has written) to raise money and as a tool to create interest, they travel the country speaking to whoever will listen about discrimination against lesbian and gay youth at religious schools.
The crusades that shaped America’s early history were often by groups of people intent on bringing Christianity to the often already spiritual Native Americans. Adams and his partner, a group of two, are now trying to help show the truth about life to gay and lesbian youth who have been the victims of lies from a religion that persecutes them.
“All across the United States, teenagers are being kicked out of their schools and universities,” Adams said. In many cases, he said, the students are given the choice of entering a counseling program to “cure” them of their homosexuality and staying in school or calling their parents and coming out. He calls this harassment of gay students a “hate crime.”
“They have to go home and face their parents and their siblings and friends,” he said. “I have seen the humiliation, fear and loss of self-worth in the eyes of these kids – my friends. I have wept the tears for those who felt there was no room for them in this life.”
But now, with the help of the groups he encounters along his trek around the country, he is sending a copy of his brochure about “hate crimes” at religious educational institutions entitled “What About Love?” to every religious school in the country. The envelopes are hand-addressed and he encourages those to whom he speaks to take a few envelopes, add postage, and mail them.
Little by little, his crusade is making a difference.
“For several months now, I’ve been in contact with current gay students at Liberty University,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe how relieved they are to know they aren’t the only ones.”
“An entirely new world of life and opportunity is now in their vision.”