Weekly Message for
Sunday, May 19, 2002
Science which I refer to as the "Religion of Jesus," is about
gaining greater understanding of Life and letting go of the old ideas,
beliefs and concepts that hold our minds in bondage. Prosperity
(answered prayer) is one with a mind that is free! I
have been asked, as a minister, to sign petitions that seek to condemn
or restrict the freedom of gay and lesbian people or to prevent the
media in addressing related issues. This I will never do and I
assure you, that both Jesus and Dr. Ernest Holmes, the Founder of
Religious Science, would agree with me on this one. I have
counseled many people concerning this issue, mothers, fathers, siblings
and grandparents. Dr.
Holmes stated, "Love points the Way..." and
the Master Teacher
Jesus stated, "Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself."
We must eliminate from our minds all judgment and condemnation. We
do this through understanding the Law of Love as stated by Jesus.
Jesus taught consciousness but the world, by and large, has not gained
this understanding. The Bible is a book that details the evolution
of consciousness in man from that of fear to Love. "With all
thy getting, get understanding.. 1 John 4:8 -
He who does not love does not know God; for God is love."
I offer the following
story from the Des Moines Register Newspaper from Des Moines, Iowa,
located in the Midwest United States. This
story is a demonstration of Truth and Love In Action!
THE STUDENT WHO WOULDN'T BE silent
from the Des Moines Register
By MARY CHALLENDER
Register Staff Writer
Gilbert, Ia. - Jerryn Johnston tells
his story with the wary air of someone who knows no matter how carefully
he chooses his words, someone will be upset.
This isn't because the slight, focused, fair-haired young man is
planning to criticize anyone or insult their mothers or attack them in
It's because he, Jerryn Johnston, 18-year-old senior at Gilbert High
School, will ONCE AGAIN be in the media, drawing attention to his
Not because of any award he's won, which would be cool, or a play he's
in, which would be even cooler, but just because he's gay (which at
Gilbert and most other Iowa high schools is not a cool thing to be at
Johnston knows many people - some of whom even like him - wish he'd just
SHUT UP about the whole gay thing until after graduation, then go away
to college somewhere.
Only he can't.
If the past months at Gilbert taught him anything - months that began
with having his tires repeatedly flattened and ended with him becoming a
hero to many gay teens - it's that he's not the shutting-up kind.
He didn't ask for this, Johnston wants you to know.
No teen-age boy wakes up one day and wishes he were gay.
Deal with it, Johnston says.
He's had to.
The first time someone
asked him the question, Johnston was in the sixth or seventh grade and
attending a basketball camp at Iowa State University.
Long past his "girls have cooties" stage, he was beginning to
pass notes with his first girlfriends.
At the camp, two older boys approached him.
"Are you homosexual?" they asked.
Johnston looked at the boys, trying to figure out the proper answer
without knowing what the word meant.
"Yes," he said, bravely hazarding a guess.
As the boys erupted in laughter, Johnston quickly changed his answer to
They laughed even harder.
It wasn't that Johnston was trying to
hide anything. It's just that there weren't any openly gay adults or
teachers around Gilbert he could look at and conclude, "I'm like
In eighth grade, Johnston began to go through puberty. Like his friends,
he struggled with a cracking voice, pimply skin and a suddenly acute
Only his self-consciousness was around other guys. It wasn't so much
that he was physically attracted to other boys. It was mental.
"With girls, I liked them for friends and everything, but there
wasn't anything more," he said. "Looking back, I remember some
(male) friends I had, I didn't know it at the time, but I was more
attracted to them than just a friend felt like."
He denied it, of course, especially to himself. He surreptitiously
browsed through books on sexual orientation - checking them out wasn't
even a consideration - at the Ames Public Library, hoping to find
evidence that what he was feeling was "normal." He discovered
chat rooms for gay teens on the Internet.
The summer after eighth grade, Johnston
attended a camp in Iowa City and met a girl. He hated himself. She liked
him. They started dating.****
"The feeling I had wasn't necessarily attraction to her,"
Johnston said. "I was more in love with the fact that someone cared
He finally decided to break the news that he was gay in a letter. It
took him a few weeks to write it. He said he still wanted to be friends
and he "hoped she wouldn't cry or anything."
Johnston never heard from her again. She was the first person he told he
The second was his mom, Sue Ellen Tuttle, a communications specialist
for the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at Iowa State
University. Johnston didn't come right out and tell her so much as draw
her a road map.
He was logged onto a gay Internet chat room one day when his mom needed
to use the computer. Before, Johnston said, he'd carefully closed out of
every site he'd visited. This time he didn't.
"I'd reached the point I didn't care anymore," he said.
Later that day, Tuttle approached her 14-year-old son.
"Is there something you want to talk to me about?" she asked.
The two had a long conversation, with Johnston pouring out the feelings,
fears and questions he'd been holding inside for months.
"It was stressful and a relief all at the same time," he said.
"It was weird having any talk like that with your parents and then
adding that twist to it made it even more so."
Looking back nearly four years later, Tuttle said the details of that
day don't jump out in her mind like you might expect.
"I guess I don't even remember being surprised. Was I?" she
asked her son.
She does remember one part of the talk. Her son told her it really
bothered him when everyone assumed he was straight. It felt as if he
were deliberately lying by not telling the truth.
Sexual orientation is not something you need to share publicly, Tuttle
told her son, trying to protect him.
"I was afraid of what life would be like for him in a little town
like Gilbert," Tuttle said. "He had to educate me that he was
doing the right thing for himself."
Johnston began telling his friends, one by one. By the time he was a
sophomore, the news had spread around the school.
A friend, fellow Gilbert High senior Christine Wilson, 18, remembers how
shocked she was when Johnston confirmed the rumors for her.
"He'd just been to a dance at Ames High, and he had girls all over
him," she said. "He wasn't the type of gay you'd notice."
Although he may have
been the only openly gay student, Johnston wasn't exactly an outsider at
Gilbert High School.
He was Frederic in "The Pirates of Penzance" and George Gibbs
in "Our Town." He won All-State honors in choir and speech. He
played soccer, piano and tenor sax. He took college classes at Iowa
State, went to Spain with his Spanish 3 class and worked as a cashier at
"I like so many things it's hard to choose," he said. "I
like to challenge myself."
Which is how Johnston found himself on the high school wrestling team
last December, a month after the season had started, even though he'd
never wrestled before.
He started thinking about signing up, he
said, when the wrestling coach spoke at Pep Fest, asking boys to go out
to fill some of the open weight classes on the team.
Because he was openly gay, Johnston knew his wrestling might be a
sensitive subject, so he ran it by classmates. They were supportive, if
more than a little skeptical he'd actually follow through with it.
"My friends had a bet going on," Johnston said. "One was
that I'd never even go to a practice, one was I'd last a few days and
one was that I would last a week."
Johnston gutted it out the whole season. Most of his matches ended in a
pin, he deadpanned. Some of them were even by him.
It was just a few days after Johnston announced he was going out for
wrestling that he walked out of school and found his first flat tire.
Four days later, he had another. Bad luck, he thought.
Then, the day he was supposed to start wrestling practice, he discovered
three more tires punctured while driving to his final at Iowa State in
Calculus 2. This time, Johnston and his mother reported the incidents to
the school and the Story County sheriff's department.
When January passed with no further harassment, Johnston and his mother
began to think the vandalism had been an aberration. After all, Johnston
had been open about his sexual orientation for nearly three years.
Except for students using the word "gay" to describe
everything from unwanted homework assignments to unfashionable clothes,
he'd never been bothered.
Still, Johnston couldn't relax. Every time he got in his car, he first
checked and double-checked his tires. Every time his car hit a bump, he
It wasn't as if Johnston needed anything else to occupy his mind.
Between juggling three classes at Iowa State, preparing for the state
speech contest and worrying about his upcoming audition with the theater
department at New York University, he had more than enough stress in his
Then came the first week of February.****
Johnston had been hearing a rattling sound from the front of his car but
didn't know what it was. Finally, he pinpointed the problem. Someone had
loosened all the lug nuts on his left front tire.
"That was the week I broke down," Johnston said quietly.
Two days after the lug nut incident, Johnston was
spotted by a friend of the family walking down the center line of U.S.
Highway 69 north of Ames between the cars. It was about 5 or 6 p.m. and
traffic was heavy. Johnston was crying.
"I knew I didn't want to die; I just felt trapped," Johnston
said. "I felt powerless these things were happening to me and I
couldn't stop them."
He ended up at Mary Greeley Medical Center for a few days. It helped to
get away from everything, he said, to have a chance to breathe without
worrying about deadlines or appointments or wondering who wanted to hurt
His breakdown came with a price. He missed tryouts for the spring play,
had to drop a class at Iowa State and missed the speech competition. He
also canceled his audition at New York University although he plans to
reapply in a few years.
After Johnston's trip to the hospital, his mother went to school
administration and demanded changes be made. She pushed for the district
to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy.
"It's not a guarantee, but it does set the tone," she said.
The issue went before the school board April 8. At the meeting, Johnston
made a passionate plea for the policy change - it ultimately was voted
down - even reading aloud a card from his boyfriend. It marked the first
time he'd spoken out publicly about his sexual orientation and he wasn't
sure what to expect.
Much to Johnston's surprise, the response was all positive. People
called, wrote and e-mailed him from New York, Washington, California and
Texas. Shoppers at Cub Foods stopped in his line to tell him they
thought he was doing a good thing. Older gay teens called him a hero for
speaking out while still in high school.
Johnston says part of his confidence came from knowing his mom, dad, two
older sisters and his friends were in his corner. He advises other teens
thinking of speaking out to make sure they have a strong support system.
"You shouldn't let people make you be afraid
of being who you are," he said. "Be the best person you can
be, and hopefully you'll have several people behind you 100
Only a few weeks of
class remain for Johnston and the other 77 or so members of the Gilbert
High School Class of 2002.
Johnston says he'll leave Gilbert with more good memories than bad.
"I love my school," he said earnestly. "This issue just
needs to be addressed."
All the evidence suggests that Gilbert is already changing.
In the May issue of the Gilbert Community Schools newsletter, which goes
out to every family in the district, Superintendent Doug Williams issued
a strongly worded statement reiterating the district's commitment to
providing a learning environment "free of any form of harassment or
The district also held diversity training sessions for students last
week and is hoping to start a diversity club.
Perhaps the biggest step forward was the Gilbert prom. Johnston went
with his boyfriend. As far as his mom could tell, they were treated like
just another couple. Johnston even won a car stereo at the after-prom
Next fall, Johnston plans to attend the University of Iowa and major in
music or theater or both. The spotlight will fade from both him and
Gilbert, but the issue of how gay teens are treated in Iowa high schools
is unlikely to go away.
According to a 1999 survey in Massachusetts, about 5 percent of high
school students consider themselves gay, lesbian or bisexual. Studies
show this newest generation of gays and lesbians are coming out at
younger and younger ages, with the average between 14 and 16.
"Even though a lot of these changes may not affect me personally,
it will make it better for people down the road," Johnston said.
His mother looked at him.
"I think it does affect you
personally," she said. "You were able to make a
Each of us can make
a difference in the collective consciousness as we turn to Love and away
from Its opposite. The Universe is Calling us.... are we
listening? Yes, we are!
So It Is!
Letting Love use me
in Its own Good Way,