My Story

Growing up in conservative West Michigan, I watched lesbian and gay friends and family members struggle to be accepted and be treated equally. There are gains and losses in this fight every day, and it is vital for LGBT individuals and their straight allies to stand up and to pay attention.

03 February 2011

A Family Affair

My family is becoming known for our involvement with this issue in Holland, MI, and that is something I am extremely proud of.

It's hard to know where it started. I was raised in a pro gay rights family surrounded by a community where your church affiliation is the most important part of your identity. I guess it was inevitable, then, that we engage in the conversation now taking place all over Holland. The thing I'm most proud of is that in recent months, we've realized we are far from alone in our views.

For me personally, it started when I wrote this article:

As my mind has been opened up to these atrocities, my mouth has opened as well. I can never be quiet again. I will not stand by and watch as valuable members of our community are excluded and abused because of their sexuality.”

That is my current philosophy. We cannot be quiet.

The response for me personally was enormous. People approached me and asked me questions, I was sent dozens of letters and emails. People approached my family members, as the article in a way “outed” our family as well.

But that’s not where this ended.

The Holland Sentinel has always been a place for community banter. As much as I could criticize the Sentinel, I still read it now, from college, in it’s online form, and I was a columnist for the Opinion Page for three years. However, recently these ads were published in the newspaper.

Many accused the Holland Sentinel of profiting from bigotry. 

Again, I’m proud of my city. People wrote into the newspaper in huge numbers, and groups in Holland began working even harder for equality and acceptance.

(visit here for a full history of Holland is Ready, an organization I am extremely proud of:

My family has continued to be involved in the newspaper.

Now, it was my grandfather’s turn. My grandparents are well known in my Church and community, and my grandpa is a former pastor and an author. His article in the Holland Sentinel, published a few days ago, has again helped engage the community in dialogue.

His words are extremely moving. I highly recommend reading them. My grandpa put into words what many have been trying to for some time.

[A photo with me and my grandparents]

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