Julie Knauff

Ally

Raised in a fundamental Baptist home, church, and college, I knew all the ‘right’ answers and had heard all about the ‘gay agenda’ and exactly who wouldn’t be joining me in heaven. And having been divorced, I am familiar with how it feels to not measure up to fundamental standards. But then I met people in my life who were gay, causing me to challenge everything I believed on this subject. First was a co-worker several years back. When I asked if he planned to come out to his family, he asked me, “I don’t believe I have to announce this to my family. I mean, when did you come out as hetero to your family?”” That really made me stop and think about his reality versus my ‘training’ on the subject. Then there was an ex-in-law. And my fundamental family didn’t handle ourselves too well in that scenario. However, when my nephew, Matthew Glenn, came out to me in the spring of his senior year at Cedarville University, I really started looking differently at this issue. See, I don’t have kids. I have nieces and nephews whom I adore with all my heart. So hearing Matthew say he’s known since he was 6 years old that he was different, it caused more questions. How does a 6 year old make a lifestyle choice?

I met David Olsen and heard about Cedarville Out through Matthew. And as I met Matthew’s friends who had to hide their identity because they feared retribution at Cedarville, it triggered the protective aunt part of me. So I have partnered with Cedarville Out as a straight Ally.

Through this experience I have read and heard the struggles of those who have attempted since childhood to resolve the only attraction they’ve ever felt with what people have told them God thinks of them, fearing rejection from friends and family alike. As an aunt, I have absolutely no idea how a parent can reject and turn their back on their own child. No clue. I have been dumbfounded and heartbroken for these beautiful souls at the stories of hate, rejection, and ridicule they’ve experienced at the hands of their families. But thankfully I have also heard of those friends and family members who, in spite of their inability to fully understand, have opened their arms and hearts to these hurting humans.

Through my experience with Matthew, David, and the sweet people of Cedarville Out, I’ve come to understand that LGBTQ people did not choose their sexual preference–they were born that way. I also believe that all taxpaying, felony-free American citizens should have the same access to all the same human rights automatically granted heterosexual taxpaying, felony-free Americans. That is more from a ‘Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness’ standpoint than a religious one.

Regardless, I’m not here to debate theology because I don’t have all the answers. I’m only here to share my Ally story. As long as human beings suffer at the hands and words of homophobes, religious abusers, and those who fear what they do not understand, I will stand as a place of refuge, peace, and comfort to those who have been hurt or rejected. To all who need to hear it I say, “You are not alone.” To those who are afraid of the condemnation they might experience by coming out as a straight Ally, I say join us. Yes, you will experience conflict from your friends and family, and some will reject you. But it’s worth it if you are able to offer peace and comfort to those who need it most.

As my pastor said this weekend, “If you’re not gay, you have no idea what it’s like to be gay…We don’t need any more people on the judgment committee. We need people on the love committee. Does anyone want to join me on that committee?”