When His Son Came Out As Gay, This Pastor Delivered A Sermon Of Support Danny Cortez, once a Southern Baptist minister, did do more than accept his gay son: He decided to talk to his congregation about homosexuality, even though it ultimately meant his leaving the church.
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When His Son Came Out As Gay, This Pastor Delivered A Sermon Of Support

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When His Son Came Out As Gay, This Pastor Delivered A Sermon Of Support

When His Son Came Out As Gay, This Pastor Delivered A Sermon Of Support

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Time now to check in with StoryCorps OutLoud, recording conversations about LGBTQ life across America. Today, a father's change of heart and a sermon that reshaped a church. Danny Cortez is a pastor. When his teenage son Drew came out in 2014, Danny supported him and decided to talk to his Southern Baptist congregation about homosexuality, even though it could mean getting kicked out of the church. Danny and Drew remembered that Sunday for StoryCorps.

DANNY CORTEZ: That morning, I came to church, and my blood pressure was super high. I felt so much stress, and everyone was wondering, what's going on?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DANNY CORTEZ: I recently revealed to the elders that I have changed my stance on homosexuality.

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DANNY CORTEZ: I was driving my son Drew to school. And he turned over to me and he says, Dad, I'm gay. I remember, I just turned around and I hugged him so hard. I said, I love you so much, son.

What was going through your mind when I was giving my sermon?

DREW CORTEZ: I felt vulnerable, and I just remember thinking, what's going to happen after this? This is our life now.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DANNY CORTEZ: And so when I was asked the question recently, how does it feel to know that you might be terminated in a few weeks, I said, I am at peace. I'm at peace because I know my heart has been enlarged.

When I sat down, I felt like this weight had just been lifted out of me and people knew where we stood. At the same time, I know, Drew, your struggle has been even more difficult than mine. Did you ever feel like you were the problem?

DREW CORTEZ: All the time (laughter).

DANNY CORTEZ: What stands out to you?

DREW CORTEZ: Probably my name and the word abomination used in the same sentence.

DANNY CORTEZ: As a father, it was so difficult to hear that because we felt like they didn't know our son. And so there's part of me that says, yes, I want to love people who disagree with us, but the other part of me now is asking, how can I do it in a way that honors you?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DANNY CORTEZ: I know that whatever happens, compassion is giving me clarity. It's giving me clarity in my purpose. And I pray that our church would survive this.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: That's Danny Cortez and his son Drew at StoryCorps in Cypress, Calif. As a result of Danny's sermon, the congregation did split. Danny and other members went on to form an LGBT-inclusive non-denominational church. This conversation is archived at the Library of Congress and is featured on the StoryCorps podcast.

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