In the summer of 2014, GLAAD (The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) published an in-depth interview with me. (Read the 3 part series). I had just published a book detailing my journey out of political right-wing Christianity.
GLAAD wanted to know more about my experiences working as a policy analyst for the notoriously anti-LGBT political organization Family Research Council founded by Focus on the Family’s Dr. James Dobson. GLAAD also wanted to hear stories about my time as director of women’s ministry for the now-defunct Exodus International, the well-known organization established to change people from gay to straight.
I answered all their questions with deep consideration and candor. I saw this interview as my one chance to reveal the heart of my experiences to the world, and allow them to peak behind the curtain at the inner workings of the Christian political right and its motivations.
The day the interview was published, I received a message on Facebook from a woman I had never met. The message read: “YOU LIVE IN RENO? So do I. I would love to meet you. I hike in Thomas Creek Canyon every day. Let me know. Kathy Baldock.”
Anyone who has ever visited northern Nevada knows it is a stunningly beautiful, mostly rural, area. No one who influences the national discourse on LGBT rights, or anti-LGBT rights, lives here. Right? After all, it isn’t D.C., New York, L.A., or San Francisco.
I agreed to hike with Kathy, but, being a cautious person, I Googled her first. I had received plentiful feedback on my interview with GLAAD, mostly positive, but also a fair amount of negative comments. I couldn’t be too careful. I found a YouTube video of Kathy being escorted out of a local church, yelling, “Don’t touch me!” A feeling of dread came over me. I thought, she’s bold and brash like that woman on Dance Moms.
When I met Kathy the next day, she greeted me with a warm smile and a huge hug. Within minutes, she had dispelled all my fears that she would be confrontational and accusatory about my past association with the Christian right. As we hiked through the magnificent eastern Sierra foothills, we talked about the mindset of those opposed to LGBT rights, the tactics used to rally moderate and conservative Christians, and how relationships bring enlightenment, compassion and empathy. We finished our hike and stood by our cars talking until it was too dark to see.
Over the next several months, Kathy and I hiked together frequently, forming a strong friendship built on mutual respect and appreciation. We spoke about the history of LGBT people and the struggle for an accurate portrayal of their experiences and their personhood. We spoke about the political landscape and what factors brought us this to point as a nation. We spoke about how conservative leaders didn’t care about gay people until they could use them as an enemy to be defeated that would rally Christians to the polls. The conversations were scintillating.
Kathy and I commented many times how wonderful it would be if others could join us in these conversations. But few people are available to hike with us in the eastern Sierra.
Instead, we decided the next best thing would be to start a podcast, so others could enjoy the fun we have together discussing the issues of the day, and what we can do to educate people on a history that is largely unknown, and how we can further human rights.
We are pleased to announce Sisters of Thunder, a weekly podcast featuring Kathy Baldock and me (Yvette Schneider), as we discuss issues related to LGBT history, faith, psychology, sociology, medicine, and social issues.
Please join us!