Dan Savage got so sick of people coming up to him after talks and TV appearances informing him that not all Christians were bigots and against full equality of LGBT people that he came up with a word for them -- "NALTS" -- for "Not All Like That."
Part of the gay sex columnist and author's frustration was that he wanted these Christians, who were so eager to tell him about their enlightened stance, to focus their efforts on telling that to the Christian leaders who were condemning gay people and telling it to LGBT people, especially young Christians, who need to hear that not all Christians are... well, "like that."
Now some Christians have taken Savage's challenge -- and even adopted his title. Christian blogger John Shore and Wayne Besen, from Truth Wins Out, with the blessing and support of Savage, have launched NALT, The Not All Christians Are Like That Project. Based on the format of the "It Gets Better" campaign, the website launched on September 4th as a platform for Christians who want to send a direct message of welcome and acceptance to the LGBT community.
Savage told The Huffington Post that he thought the videos were really important. "The It Gets Better Campaign brought LGBT kids who were struggling a message of support. This series of videos will be great for young LGBT kids coming out to their Christians families who can direct their parents to NALT." Savage went on to say that the NALT campaign can also have a political message in that anti-gay Christians appear to speak for all Christians when they condemn gay people. "I know that isn't true. My mom was a Christian," Savage says. "Go tell Tony Perkins that he is the one lying. This is an opportunity to harness social media and mass activism online"
On its first day, NALT already had several dozen videos recorded by Christians who represent a range of traditions and geographies. Pentecostals, Methodists, Episcopalians, Baptists and Evangelicals offered their testimonies both about their Christian faith and how that faith moves them towards welcoming LGBT people. Most of the videos so far seem to be recorded by straight allies.
In one moving video, an African-American pastor named Ray McKinnon tells the story of how he condemned a gay person when he sixteen and a leader in the a youth group, and how much his hurtful words haunt him to this day. He ends his video with a strong message:
Let me say clearly to you, being a homosexual is not a sin. Hear me today, friend, you are loved, you are lovely and you are lovable. Don't hear folks who want you to think that God hates you, God loves you. I love you. God bless you. We're not all like that.
In another video, Lisa Salazar, a transgender Christian woman, records her video at a conference for transgender pastoral care. As she walks along a path, she tells the story of her own faith journey as a transgender person and how the Bible and prayer actually helped her in her transition. She offers her story to give hope to other transgender Christians, saying that in the five years since she transitioned she has grown even closer to God.
The NALT platform allows Christians to upload their own videos of acceptance. Savage offers his own encouragement and admonition to record a video at the end of his own: "Make a Not All Like That Video. If you don't take that step, speak up, then know that your silence allows the Tony Perkins and Pat Robertsons to speak for you and to continue to do real harm not just to LGBT young people but to Christianity itself."
So far John Shore is happy with the response that the NALT Project is getting:
We hope that as people find out that the site is there to tell the world that they are Christian and gay affirming that they will add their voices to this choir. For years people have been saying what a shame it is that we have no platform to share this message and now we do and shame on us if we don't use it.