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Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America
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Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  660 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Until Christmans Eve 1991, Mel White was regarded by the leaders of the religious right as one of their most talented and productive supporters. He penned the speeches of Ollie North. He was a ghostwriter for Jerry Falwell, worked with Jim Bakker, flew in Pat Robertson's private jet, walked sandy beaches with Billy Graham. What these men didn't know was that Mel White—evan ...more
Paperback, 347 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by Plume (first published 1994)
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Mimi Lindborg Jove
May 18, 2011 Mimi Lindborg Jove rated it it was amazing
For any Christian who struggles with the issue of homosexuality (especially if he/she wonders if people are born gay, or choose to be gay)...this book will help. Mel White grew up in a Strict Baptist home and knew he was different from a very young age. He fought it every way he knew how; prayer, confession, good deeds, penance, and electro-shock treatment. His final "fight" was his long term marriage. His ex-wife writes a moving forward in the book and they are today close friends. As someone w ...more
L.A. Witt
Jul 24, 2014 L.A. Witt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book in two sittings. It's...amazing. And heartbreaking. And should be required reading for anyone who's ever had to struggle with reconciling religion + homosexuality, regardless of where you stand on the issue. It's an excruciatingly honest account of someone who tried desperately to live as a straight man, but realized he couldn't change this aspect of himself. Also, massive kudos to the guy's now-ex-wife for being mature, loving and just generally amazing through the multi-decade ...more
Mel White has done amazing things for the LGBT community when it comes to faith justice. This book and his involvement in the MCC sort of "started it all" for him. He has now moved into the territory of civil disobedience with the aim of achieving equal rights for the LGBT community by founding "Soulforce." I have nothing but respect for him and his work.
Sep 05, 2010 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very important book chronicling the life of a devout Christian who did everything he could to pray away the gay, but it just didn't work dammit... because the whole notion of "changing" one's sexual orientation is as ridiculous as forcing a leftie to become right-handed. The driver behind this foolish quest is the rhetoric of the religious right, doing what they do best: profiteering by reinforcing deeply held prejudices with selected bible quotes, gross exaggerations and outright lies about t ...more
Dave Swavely
Jun 18, 2013 Dave Swavely rated it liked it
I read this book recently as a part of a thoroughgoing attempt to understand the experience of Christians who identify themselves as gay, so I can be a better pastor and friend to people like that. I'm reading two books by men who believe that God made them gay and that lifestyle is compatible with Christianity (this one and Torn by Justin Lee) and two books by men who have always had same-sex attraction but don't believe they should act on it (Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill and Out of a Far ...more
May 26, 2007 Jonathan rated it liked it
Mel White has quite the life story: A former ghost writer for the likes of Jerry Falwell and other conservative Christian honchos, he was married with two children and then came out as a gay man when in his 40s. This account starts with his childhood (as it should) and works up from there to his activism in the present. He is a good writer, but unfortunately this memoir sometimes gets bogged down in self-involvement. He really didn't need to delineate all of his relational-sexual exploits for th ...more
Maegan Roper
May 21, 2008 Maegan Roper rated it it was ok
I wasn't quite sure how I felt about his view on the subject of homosexulaity & Christianity. It definately was eye- opening to learn the difficulties that most proclaimed Christians endure when discovering that they're attracted to the same sex, then trying to evaluate what that means for them spiritually. I do have a great deal of respect for the author and his boldness to share his story. If you're struggling with this subject, no matter what your sexual orienation, I encourage you to dee ...more
Nov 26, 2009 Melanie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Evangelical Christians, and others
Recommended to Melanie by: MSW program
I found reading this intensely powerful. It made me feel immense sorrow for the religiously-based beliefs I have held in the past about homosexuality and shock at the things I never knew about the people behind the people who encouraged and fostered these beliefs. Mel White's story is a powerful testimony for greater inclusion and love in the evangelical church for gays and lesbians.
Tim April
Sep 01, 2016 Tim April rated it it was amazing
This book is one of the ways Holly and I learned a lot and is one of the reasons our marriage is stronger now. It really opened our eyes to the reality that God creates us Straight, Gay, Bi, or Trans and that we can be the men/women that He created us to be and still love God and be loved by God and spend an eternity with our Lord and Savior.
Pablo  Rodriguez
Jun 12, 2008 Pablo Rodriguez rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life. Mel White's struggle with being gay and Christian helped set me on a journey to reconcile my faith and sexual orientation. A fascinating biography.
Brenda Eckels Burrows, aMGC
Sep 23, 2015 Brenda Eckels Burrows, aMGC rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: high school and above
Recommended to Brenda by: Bishop David Dismas, aka my Spiritual Advisor
Published at Convergent Streams Magazine Vol. 3 #4
Cydne B
May 18, 2017 Cydne B rated it liked it
I struggled to read this book because of the author's own admission, "I know I'm beginning to sound like a scratched record, caught in one groove, playing the same old track over and over again." But, I finished the book because I could relate to White's claim that "Looking back, I can see that God was there, all the time, in the midst of my suffering, leading me...".
Mar 15, 2010 Alise rated it liked it
Recommended to Alise by: Tina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 15, 2016 Lana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, spirituality, own, lgbt
I first read this book many years ago, and it has held up over time. In fact, it's probably close to time to read it again. Mel's story was the first I heard that made gay plus Christian=okay make sense. I will never forget parts of it, but I do like to read it every so often because he told the truth the whole way through. I personally believe that it is Truth with a capital T, but I know all these years later, some disagree with my belief.

I wonder if it will always be this way. The world has
This is a remarkable book, and I wish it was required reading for ministers, their congregations, and anyone who continues to believe that being gay is a choice. For twenty-five years, Mel White tried his level best to live as a straight man, loyal husband, loving father, and impassioned speechwriter for the evangelical Christian right. If there was a therapy to squash his homosexual impulses--prayer, counseling, electric shock, exorcism--he tried it, sometimes more than once.

Although the book i
Jun 06, 2013 Jonathan rated it liked it
The auto-biography of Mel White, a conservative evangelical Christian who fought for 30 years to get rid of his homosexual impulses, before deciding that homosexuality was his God-given identity.

This is the first book I've ever read by a gay Christian. Understanding his perspective is invaluable to me. Especially the early years of how his feelings expressed themselves and the internal battle he fought gave me a better understanding of what gay Christians go through. The fact that Mel White was
Sep 26, 2008 Belenen rated it liked it
Shelves: lent-or-lost
The story of a person who tried to please God and the people ze loved and admired by hiding part of zirself, until ze realized that not only did God love all of zir, but ze had a responsibility to speak out against the injustice done to LGBT people, especially by Christians. In places it was quite gripping, but overall, too repetitive and disorganized. I think it suffered from trying to be two things at once -- an honest, in-depth autobiography, and an explanation of how fundamentalists have irr ...more
May 27, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
this book really shows the agony Christians go through when they're raising fundamentalist homes that teach them that they are inherently evil and beyond God's love. White struggled with feelings of inadequacy and what can only be described as spiritual torture because he believed his natural desires were evil. he went through ex-gay programs, counseling, even electroshock therapy, all in a vain attempt to make himself straight.It was very sad reading about his journey. However, at times, I got ...more
Nov 19, 2012 Shawn rated it it was amazing
A highly recommended and must read for any pastor, priest, minister or other clergy and lay people alike. I personally know Mel White and have heard him preach. He is one of the finest preachers and prophets of our generation. Speaking boldly and bravely for the rights of God's gay, lesbian, bi and transgendered children both in the world at large and in the church. There are no strangers in God's family and the unity of Christ's church cannot be based on the exclusion of any of God's children. ...more
May 28, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it
Moving autobiography...some of the political material is now dated but it's still eye opening to see how far we've come in less than two decades. I admire his forthrightness about his struggles and failures attempting to keep his marriage together. It took guts to write this. I would say that while I feel I know Mel White very well after reading this, the other primary characters in the story-his wife, his children, even his partner Gary are still strangers. I don't really have a grasp on why Ly ...more
Oct 15, 2011 Johnny rated it it was amazing
Very powerful and moving book. While some parts were a little tedious or repetitive, those parts rarely went on for more than a paragraph, let alone a page; most of the story was engaging and easy to relate to. It's an inspiring account of White's struggle to find out who he was and what he believed -- a struggle many people, young and old, find themselves in today. Regardless of one's religious beliefs, I think that this is a very important read in this day and age; hopefully, this book can ope ...more
Nov 08, 2008 Kristin rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
If you are gay and were raised in an evangelical Christian home, this book needs to be on your shelf. As Mel described his thoughts and feelings during his journey of coming to terms with who he is, I frequently found myself nodding along in complete understanding. This book reminded me that so many of us, who have suffered for years because of the many messages we heard growing up from our churches, our families, and members of the Religious Right, share very similar stories.

Perhaps, by readin
Sep 02, 2015 Doni rated it liked it
Good insight into the struggles of a gay Christian pastor in the 1980s/1990s. However, while I understand he was trying to make a point, I did feel that it was a bit repetitive at times. It gave the impression that he was trying to convince people (and maybe himself), when I think just firmly stating his beliefs and the experiences which led to his self-revelation would have already been compelling enough. Kudos for his courage in any case.
Jun 07, 2013 Anna rated it liked it
Heartbreaking.....yet another read in my journey to love and understand those different from me. This book was brutally honest at the depths of despair that happen in the life of a person who feels unloved even by God. Powerful book, even if I don't necessarily come to the same conclusion he does. I am struck by his calm commitment to helping others who may be struggling with what he did for so many years.
Ken Yliniemi
Jan 19, 2016 Ken Yliniemi rated it really liked it
This is a great book on the story of Mel White a conservative Christian who was gay and came out with a profile of his struggle and life in dealing with reconciling the two in his life; on to become one of the great leaders in the push for an understanding and inclusion of gays and lesbians in traditional conservative and evangelical institutions through his non profit Soulforce.
Apr 18, 2016 Peggy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One man's harrowing story of being turned away from a faith that is supposed to teaches inclusivity, only to find acceptance of himself through a direct understanding between himself and his God. This is a book that would challenge the most anti-gay person in the world to understand what the words "walk a mile in my shoes" really means. Judge not, lest ye be judged, friend.
Aug 25, 2012 Jimmy rated it really liked it
Mel White's memoirs are thoughtful and poignant. Sometimes, White ventures into the realm of the dramatic with his narrative, but his story is important reading in the 21st century's hot-button issue of LGBT rights.
Nov 27, 2012 Veronica rated it really liked it
Wonderful book - really made me think about what it means to be gay and growing up in America. Or, at least, doing that in the late 50's/60's. I am hopeful that todays youth will have a very different, and much more healthy environment in which to grow up.
Cath Martin
Aug 31, 2015 Cath Martin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: purchased
Helpful in understanding the struggles of accepting one's self as a beloved and beautifully created child of God, and how the place that is called to love and embrace all of God's beloved, can reject, shame and isolate people all out of fear and self-righteousness.
Nov 04, 2015 Lydia rated it really liked it
I think this is an eye-opening book of what the LGBT community faces at the hands of the "church". I may not agree with every word, but I think the sentiment is very real and this book is worth reading.
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