An email I received Friday from Terrie D. Johnson of Kansas City:
Dear Mr. Rothaus:
My name is Terrie Johnson, and I am employed as the senior editor at a nationally recognized advertising agency in Kansas City. I’m also a published author, an awarded public speaker, and I write a daily blog with a large readership base. Those things describe what I do, but they do not tell you who I am. I’m a daughter, a sister, a mother, a grandmother and a friend. I am all of those. And I am gay.
I was raised in a conservative Southern Baptist Church in Tennessee, and I had spent a lifetime living in hiding and hating myself because of my sexual orientation. Last year, I was on the verge of committing suicide because I felt as though I could no longer live with the lie. Through a series of events that took place, however, I eventually came out to a friend and then told my adult children and other family. I’ve lost many friends and a few family members since my admission, all of my speaking engagements in Christian venues booked through 2015 cancelled, and the church where I had been an actively involved member for over 20 years told me I was no longer welcome there. But for the first time in my life, I am being honest with myself and with those who matter most to me.
Earlier this year, I teamed up with a young award-winning filmmaker (whose most recent full-length documentary is premiering in film festivals across the country during 2013) to create the short 3-minute video “Ears Wide Open?” as a Public Service Announcement for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The exclusively nonprofit film, produced by Evincery Films, delivers a poignant message of love and acceptance. It has been featured by several publications and online venues, was the impetus for a recent column by Steven Petrow in The New York Times, is being shown in community youth centers and churches across the country, shared by people such as an executive producer of It Gets Better and a board member of the NOH8 campaign, is currently part of a special presentation for several Midwestern universities, and is posted in the Favorite Videos section of the NSPL’s YouTube channel. We’ve received hundreds of messages from people who have been touched by the video and the hope that it offers.
The purpose of my note is to request your help in spreading the message by sharing the video. That’s all, just share the video ... our sole motivation in creating it is to reach out to others who are struggling. Together, we can spread the word that life is worth living and that it’s okay to be who you are. At the end of the day, if the video reaches just one person and causes them to choose to live and to understand that it really does get better … well … that’s what I would call an awesome day indeed.
Thank you for being a voice for change and for giving consideration to helping us reach out to those who are hurting. Together, we CAN make a difference.