A conversation and a response about The Salvation Army’s anti-gay policies

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Yesterday I was happy to participate in a live web conversation via Google Plus Hangouts with the Huffington Post Live.  You can see that conversation here.  I also added the video directly to my blog here.

I was able to tell my story about what happened to me 30 years ago when I was in the 6th and 7th grade about how they excluded me from Sunday School with the other children by giving me Sunday School in a little room.  I also shared my story about what happened to me 25 years ago when I was homeless and in the Salvation Army homeless shelter and when I came out of the closet to one of the volunteers who told me to never ever speak of it because the church would kick me out of the shelter if they found out.

Today I got an email from the producer (I don’t know if she’s a producer, but happy promotion day to you lol) of the show asking for my permission to pass along my email address to a communications director for the Salvation Army who was concerned about what happened to me.  I gave my permission and it wasn’t too long before I got the email.  Here it is.

Dear Michel,

Thank you for providing your contact information. You shared some time last evening with Major George Hood on the web broadcast hosted by Huffington Post . We were concerned by your account of not receiving help from the organization.  We have made a commitment to review such circumstances. So we can research this incident and follow up as necessary, we were wondering if it would be possible for you to provide us with more details, including names of Salvation Army personnel involved, specific dates and locations surrounding the events.

We are sorry for any pain this may have caused you. Thank you for any information you can provide.

Thank you again and take care,

Jennifer

It was nice to receive an email from them wanting to resolve what had happened to me, but the wounds have healed and I have moved on with my life.  I only share my story because it happened and people sometimes need to hear the negative things that people went through in their lives, which is why I wrote my memoir.

I responded:

Dear Jennifer,

Although I did feel hurt and pain back then and over the years, the wounds have healed and I have moved on, but still thought it was helpful to share my story anyway.  

The incident that happened when I was a child happened 30 years ago.  I don’t have any names or addresses or any other information because I was just a child.  I was driven and I never paid any attention to where the church was.  So in that case I really cannot provide any information.  It happened so long ago that I’m sure those who were involved are either not living or aren’t with the church so the point is moot.

The second incident was with the Salvation Army in Simi Valley of which I again don’t have any names or dates except that it happened 25 years ago from January to May of 1988.  Again, the wounds have long since healed and I just wanted to share my story of what happened.

I don’t find it necessary to hold anyone responsible because I don’t want anyone to get into any trouble.

Susan who was also in that show needs more resolution than I do because her story was 2 years ago.  So I think if anyone should be helped it should be her and not me.

Thanks for your concern,

Michel McDonald

“Diary of a Gay Nerd: Life After Child Abuse, It Gets Better!”

She did respond again telling me that she was happy that the wounds have healed and that I have moved on.

One thing that irritated me in the show was Major Hood’s statement that gays are allowed in the church, as long as they NEVER HAVE SEX!!!  I wasn’t on there to argue with anyone or to cause a ruckus, and by the time I got to speak I had totally forgotten that he had said that.  Karel and I both had a reaction of laughter when he said that that was not seen in the show, and the reason we laughed is because it’s such a ridiculous thing for anyone to say.

You simply cannot tell someone that it is okay for them to go to their church as long as you don’t have sex.  That’s preposterous.  First of all, it’s none of the church’s business who is doing what behind closed doors, so telling someone they can’t have sex is just the dumbest thing ever.

So if you are gay and you go to their church and you tell them or they found out that you were sexually active, are they going to kick you out of the church?  Isn’t that still discrimination?  Yes it is!  So how can he say they don’t discriminate if they still kick you out for being sexually active?  Discrimination is still discrimination.

Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say about that.  I want to keep my blood pressure down.  I just wanted to do a follow up of the experience and to show the conversation I had with the Salvation Army.

The experience with the show on Huffington Post Live was awesome and I would do it again in a heartbeat if asked.

By the way, I won’t tell you not to donate money to them because they do help people.  But what I would like to suggest is that if you are a member of the LGBT community and you would like to make a donation, please make it to an organization that needs your money more than a church that probably gets billions of dollars every Christmas.  I donated 30% of my books profits to 3 charities (so they each got 10%) which are the Bakersfield Gay and Lesbian Center, who by the way is hanging on by a string, they need donations desperately, way more than the Salvation Army does.  The Bakersfield AIDS Project “Ricky’s Retreat” which is a hospice run by an amazing woman Audrey Chavez.  And PFLAG Bakersfield which I encourage everyone who is LGBT and/or friendly to join.  So if you can spare some money, please donate it to a charity that actually needs the money.

Thank you for reading.

My Live Hangout with The Huffington Post – Salvation Army

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I participated in a live web conversation on the Huffington Post website about my experiences with the Salvation Army as a child and as a teenager.  Check it out.

http://embed.live.huffingtonpost.com/HPLEmbedPlayer/?segmentId=50b409bcfe344457cb000096

Rights advocates are calling for shoppers to skip the Red Kettle donation buckets due to the organization’s view on homosexuality. Will this hurt the homeless?

Originally aired on December 18, 2012

Hosted by: 

GUESTS:

  • Karel Bouley (Long Beach, CA) Entertainer and Nationally Syndicated Talk Show Host @thekarelshow
  • Major George Hood Community Relations & Development Secretary, The Salvation Army @SalvationArmyUS
  • Michel McDonald (Bakersfield, CA) Author, Diary of A Gay Nerd @DiaryOfAGayNerd
  • Brad Dacus (Los Angeles, CA) President, Pacific Justice Institute @PacificJustice
  • Susan Sheehan (Glendale, AZ) Former Girlfriend Refused Helped From Salvation Army @LGBTQFFI