Life

She had a choice after her daughter came out. Her child or her church.

Pastor Susan Cottrell
Pastor Susan CottrellPhoto: Screenshot

When Susan Cottrell’s daughter came out as bisexual, she had a choice. An evangelical pastor, Cottrell could choose her church or her child.

Cottrell admits, she chose the church. Her religious beliefs taught that homosexuality is a sin.

But as time went by, she started to evolve on LGBTQ issues. After all, her daughter was still the same person she had loved since birth.

“I realized I was being asked to choose between the two most important parts of my life: my child and my church,” she said in a recent TED Talk. “I chose my child.”

She left her church and lost friends and family members with her decision, but she told the audience, “God was telling me to serve the gay community.” Now she and her husband, Rob, who is also a pastor, have started a new ministry.

FreedHearts focuses on healing rifts between parents and their LGBTQ children. They offer support services, trainings, perform same-sex weddings, and offer free hugs at pride parades.

By the end of her talk, she had the audience in tears.

“LGBTQ people come up to us and melt into our arms. Many have not had parental encouragement in years,” she said. “Real love accepts people as they are with room for who they may become.”

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