Justin Lee (activist)
Lee in 2010
|Education||Wake Forest University|
|Occupation||Nonprofit executive director, speaker, LGBT Christian activist.|
|Known for||Founding of Gay Christian Network|
Justin Lee is the founder of the Gay Christian Network (GCN), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides resources and support to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians. According to the GCN website, "We also work with churches and other Christian organizations to help educate the Christian community about sexual orientation issues from a Biblical standpoint." In August 2001, Lee founded GCN to "build a supportive community to support fellow gay Christians in their Christian walks." In an interview for CNN, Lee explained the purpose of the organization:
We're just trying to get people together who experience attraction to the same sex, however they have handled that, and who love Jesus and say, OK, you are welcome here, and then let's pray together and figure out where God wants us to take it.
He is also the director of a 2009 documentary, Through My Eyes, which explores the struggles of young gay Christians, and the author of the 2012 book Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate, published by Hachette Book Group.
Lee grew up in a conservative Christian home and continues to hold many of the same core doctrines. According to The New York Times, "Justin Lee believes that the Virgin birth was real, that there is a heaven and a hell, that salvation comes through Christ alone and that he... is an evangelical Christian."
As a teenager, Lee realized he was attracted to the same sex, but he did not identify himself as gay because he believed that would be a sin. Instead, he spent years fighting his attractions, praying for God to change them.
In 1996, Lee graduated from William G. Enloe High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. The following year, Lee posted his story online and heard from people all over the world who were similarly struggling with their faith and sexuality. This led him to be more outspoken on behalf of gay Christians and ultimately to launch The Gay Christian Network in 2001.
Lee does not believe it is a sin to be gay. He argues that "gay" means only "attracted to the same sex," and that condemning people for their unchosen attractions is contrary to Christian doctrine.
Instead, he argues that the real question is whether or not the Bible condemns gay sex, and therefore whether gay Christians can have monogamous relationships ("Side A") or are called to celibacy ("Side B"). Lee personally advocates for monogamous relationships and believes they can be reconciled with the Bible, but the organization he founded offers support to people on both sides.
Lee is also an advocate of waiting for a lifelong, monogamous commitment before having sex, which he describes as a personal choice. In an interview with OUT magazine, Lee said, "Sex is powerful and deserves to be treated with reverence.... [It] has the power to form a sacred bond between people. And it's a bond I want to form with the guy I'm going to spend the rest of my life with, not just some cute guy who danced with me in a club one night."
Lee currently serves as executive director of The Gay Christian Network. He is outspoken on issues pertaining to LGBT Christians and is widely known through his blog, weekly podcast, and YouTube videos.
He has publicly commented on the usefulness of online communities in helping minister to the gay Christian community:
"The Internet has made a huge difference in creating a movement [...]. What at first might have seemed a little fringe group is then able to gain momentum as people meet others and discover they’re not alone."
In 2006, Lee was a part of the "Gay-to-Straight Debate" on the Dr. Phil Show, where he argued against reparative therapy. He has also been a featured guest speaker at churches, colleges, and conferences on Christianity and homosexuality.
In response to the announcement that reparative therapy organization Exodus International would be closing in June 2013, Lee said, "As a Christian, I grew up believing groups like Exodus could make me straight. Even years after I realized that didn't work, I continued to hear from friends and family who pushed me to keep trying to change my orientation. Exodus's announcement today is the acknowledgement many of us have been waiting to hear for a long, long time."
Lee is also author of Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate, published by Jericho Books Reprint Edition in May 2013.
- Religion and homosexuality
- History of Christianity and homosexuality
- Queer Theology
- List of LGBT religious organizations
- "About GCN". GayChristian.net. Retrieved February 11, 2008.
- Transcript of 18 December 2006 episode of Anderson Cooper 360
- The Gay Christian Network. "GCN Radio transcript 29 February 2008" (website). The Gay Christian Network. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
- "IMDb listing: Through My Eyes". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 1 September 2009.
- "Jericho Books". Hachette Book Group. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
- Neela Banerjee, (December 12, 2006). "Gay and Evangelical, Seeking Paths of Acceptance". The New York Times. Retrieved February 11, 2008.
- Cohen, Todd (28 August 2009). "Accepting his sexuality, he now helps others". Triangle Business Journal. p. 12.
- Fairyington, Stephanie (February 2007). "Virgin Marys". OUT. pp. 46–49.
- Justin Lee. "Is "Gay Christian" an Oxymoron?" (website). Justin's World. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- Justin Lee. "Justin's View" (website). The Great Debate. The Gay Christian Network. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- Murphy, Tim (17 June 2008). "The Believers". The Advocate. pp. 52–58.
- Joe Crea, Gays left out of abstinence messages: Some choose to wait for "committed relationship", Washington Blade 16 July 2004
- The Gay Christian Network. "GCN Staff and Volunteers" (website). The Gay Christian Network. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- Justin Lee. "Crumbs from the Communion Table" (website). Retrieved 2013-05-13.
- The Gay Christian Network. "Gay Christian Internet Radio" (website). The Gay Christian Network. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- The Gay Christian Network. "Gay Christian Answers" (website). YouTube. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- Jeff McMillan, Gays, lesbians join the chastity movement, Associated Press, 31 May 2007
- Dr. Phil. "Dr. Phil Episode 601" (website). Dr. Phil. Retrieved 2008-02-11.
- Chuck Colbert, Progressive Christians see hope for gay marriage, InNewsweekly.com, 1 March 2007
- Hoffman, Jen. "Gay and Christian? Reconciling Sexuality and Religion". Hood Today. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- Cook, Margie. "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Awareness Month combines art, education, activism, entertainment". Northern Illinois University News. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- The Gay Christian Network. "Audio Lectures by Justin Lee". The Gay Christian Network. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- The Gay Christian Network. "Gay Christian Network Applauds Decision to Shut Down "Ex-Gay" Ministry". The Gay Christian Network. Retrieved 2013-08-13.