Search
  • have81

Member Pick: Lou Anne Smoot


Lou Anne Smoot

Tyler, Texas

How have you been involved with Soulforce (e.g. following on social media, providing feedback on surveys, actions, trainings, programs, etc.)? Why does Soulforce's work resonate with you?

I knew as a young teenager that I was "different," and discovered that difference at age 17 when my Baylor roommate and I fell in love with each other. My parents let me know this was sinful and an unacceptable way for me to live my life.

I followed their admonitions, married, and stayed (unhappily) married for 37 years. When I was 60 years of age, a member of the Baptist Sunday School class that I taught told me the God loves gays and that we should, too. Her words of acceptance changed my life and four months later I asked for a divorce. I had never read anything about homosexuality for fear someone would figure out I was gay if they saw me reading that kind of literature. So I was quite ignorant of this subject. After I asked for a divorce, I headed to the public library and checked out "Stranger at the Gate." This was the first book I read on the subject of homosexuality--and I was 61 at that time. This was in 2000. I cried all the way through it and discovered there are other people who have suffered in much the same way I suffered. It was an enlightening book. I have been a supporter of Mel White and Soulforce ever since. I then located the Soulforce website and read everything on it, completing the non-violence training. In June, 2002, I flew from Tyler, TX to St. Louis where I met Mel White and participated in the silent vigil at the Southern Baptist Convention. I held up a "Stop Spiritual Violence" sign for hours on a blisteringly hot day and wore a shirt that said "Southern Baptist Teachings Kill God's Gay Children." Having been Southern Baptist all of my life, this was quite a moment for me. My partner of over 14 years participated with me in my second silent vigil at the Methodist annual conference in Fort Worth in 2008. Then when the Equality Riders were in our area in March, 2012, my partner and I organized a welcome for them--news conference, evening meal, homes for everyone to stay in, then a send-off the next morning. We think Soulforce is doing a fantastic job.

What moment of Soulforce interaction or participation rises to the surface of your mind? Why is that moment memorable, instructive, moving, or meaningful for you? What lessons might others draw from your experience? I recall the hot day of the silent vigil in St. Louis and picture several Southern Baptist men bringing to each of us a container of crushed ice. That was so welcome! I told myself that's an example of good Baptists, not the ones who grouped together and loudly sang hymns as they walked by us, making a show of ignoring us. I also recall in St. Louis when we gathered in a church for our training prior to the silent vigil. Participants who wanted to share their stories were given that opportunity. I always hated speaking in public, but felt I needed to share my story--which I did in a very shaky, tearful voice. That was my first public sharing. I now travel the country sharing my story with PFLAG groups, churches, psychology classes, and whoever else welcomes my coming out story. www.louannesmoot.com

Tell us a little about yourself. Do you engage in local activism? What issues are you most passionate about and why? How do you spend your free time or your most quality time? In 2010 I was awarded the Project TAG (Tyler Area Gays) Activist of the Year award. I've come a long way from the St. Louis event. I have even become courageous in the sharing of my story in print. A Pair of Docs Publishing out of Boiling Spring, NC publishes books of "Theology for the Open Hearted." They published my book in June, 2013, and I'm having a wonderful time sharing its message with others. However, we live in a very, very conservative area and even though my partner and I remain members of the First Baptist Church, no one wants to read my book. I've practically twisted arms to get about 4 church members (out of 300 to 400) to read my book. I offered a copy to our church library, but I was told it was "inappropriate" and it was placed in the pastor's study. I can't get a book club to invite me to speak--only the Unitarian Fellowship where I was royally received. I was on the founding board of Project TAG (Tyler Area Gays) and served on the board for six years, just recently resigning. I am quite active in East Texas PFLAG, serving in various offices, including president, secretary, and treasurer. I have been one of the backbones of this group since 2000, when I attended my first meeting on April 10 (where I met my partner, Brenda). My most passionate issue is the sharing of my story. I love the feedback from those who have purchased copies of my book, "A Christian Coming Out, A Journal of the Darkest Period in My Life." One fellow took my book with him to the golf course to give it to a Southern Baptist golf buddy. My printer called me up to say that its message of how to treat each other makes it a book everyone should read. An acquaintance of mine from the early '60's just recently purchased 10 copies to give to her Social Justice Council in her Lutheran church in Florida. Anyway, I'm having the time of my life! My partner and I traveled for six weeks last year in our little R-Pod camper. During that time I spoke to numerous PFLAG groups and churches. We both enjoy traveling and we live about 10 minutes from my only daughter and her young family, so we are often called upon to babysit. We were thrilled yesterday when her 3-year-old was excited to see us, saying "Granmoth, Gran" for Grandmother and Granny. My daughter never had any problems with my being gay, and her children won't either.

What are your hopes, intentions, schemes, and dreams for the future of Soulforce activism and/or the LGBTQI movement at large? I haven't remained as active in Soulforce as I should have, other than our welcoming the Equality Riders several years ago in Tyler. I know that eventually churches will welcome gays, but that's still a long way off, so there's much to do. I'm well aware of the thinking of those Christians, and especially of many (but not all) Baptists, who are entrenched in their prejudice. About ten years ago I carried on a correspondence with a fellow I dated at Baylor. He now volunteers with Focus on the Family. We had quite a sharing of beliefs/prejudice. It's truly amazing how I couldn't sway him whatsoever. Yes, there's much to do, and Soulforce is on the right track by tackling the hurtful teachings of churches and denominations.

How have you been involved with Soulforce (e.g. following on social media, providing feedback on surveys, actions, trainings, programs, etc.)? Why does Soulforce's work resonate with you?

I knew as a young teenager that I was "different," and discovered that difference at age 17 when my Baylor roommate and I fell in love with each other. My parents let me know this was sinful and an unacceptable way for me to live my life.

37 views

Soulforce works to end the political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people through relentless nonviolent resistance.

  • Facebook Clean
  • Twitter Clean
  • YouTube Clean
  • Instagram Clean

© Copyright Soulforce 2019  |  Soulforce P.O. Box 2499, Abilene, TX 79604  |  hello@soulforce.org  |  Tel: 1-800-810-9143 

 

Soulforce is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. EIN 33-0782888