When his son came out as gay, this pastor chose to preach love

Rev. Danny Cortez

Rev. Danny Cortez Erin Rook

No one expects coming out as gay to be easy when you’re the son of a preacher man. But this young man’s father not only accepted him, he put his career on the line to support his son and others like him in their congregation.

Drew Cortez came out to his dad, then the pastor of the New Heart Community Church in California, back in 2014. It was as a casual revelation, made during a routine ride to school.

“I was driving my son Drew to school, and he turned over to me and he says, ‘Dad, I’m gay,'” Rev. Danny Cortez told his congregation at the time. “I remember I just turned around and I hugged him so hard. And I said, ‘I love you so much, son.'”

The reverend knew that putting that love into action meant risking his position at the church, but he didn’t care. Instead, he felt inspired and empowered to deliver a message of love and acceptance to his congregation, no matter the consequences.

“And so when I was asked a question recently, ‘How does it feel to know that you might be terminated in a few weeks?'” he recalled in the sermon. “I said, ‘I’m at peace. I’m at peace because I know my heart has been enlarged.’ ”

Cortez recently talked to NPR’s Story Corps about the experience.

“That morning I came to church, my blood pressure was super high. I felt so much stress, and everyone was wondering what’s going on,” Cortez recalled. “But I remember as I was speaking, I felt empowered like I hadn’t felt in such a long time. I knew that what I was sharing that Sunday was important.”

Following the sermon, Cortez and some other members of the congregation split off from the Southern Baptist Conference to form an LGBT-inclusive, nondenominational church.

Watch the sermon below and listen to Cortez tell his story here.

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