Jim Swilley, a twice-married, father of four and pastor in Conyers, Georgia, announced to his congregation that he is gay this week as a reaction to the recent rash of suicides by gay teenagers suffering harassment. “As a father, thinking about your 16-, 17-year-old killing themselves, I thought somebody needed to say something,” an emotional Swilley told WSB-TV in Atlanta.
Swilley says he has known since he was a young boy that he is a homosexual and could not change, despite the ideas of many religious leaders. “I know that a lot of straight people think orientation is a choice,” he said. “I want to tell you that it certainly is not.” The pastor said his wife of 21 years knew from the start and urged him to go public when they divorced earlier this year.
“This man is sick and twisted,” said a commenter on one conservative religious blog. “I know all the hateful stuff that’s being written about me online,” said Swilley. “To think about saving a teenager, yeah, I’ll risk my reputation for that.”
Swilley said if there is a mass exodus from the church he founded, Church in the Now, he will start over.
[via The Daily What]