Believe Out Loud Director James Rowe Says Goodbye

by James Rowe

I started working at Believe Out Loud almost five years ago. Before that time, I had no idea that there were places to turn to talk about the intersection of being LGBTQ and Christian, other than to talk about it from the harmful narrative that had been forced upon most of us for far too long.

In the 90’s, I was lucky enough to find two books, Our Tribe by Rev. Nancy Wilson and my all-time favorite, The Word Is Out by Rev. Chris Glaser. Both books allowed me to see, for the first time, the true beauty of our diverse rainbow community through the eyes of God. I never would have imagined that almost 20 years later, I would have the honor to meet and work with these two pioneers in the LGBTQ Christian movement.

Both books inspired me to not only embrace my love for God—I also felt inspired to do more. 

But at the time, I didn’t know what to do, or even where to turn. I grew up Catholic, but turning to the Catholic Church didn’t feel like an option, and unfortunately I never felt fully connected to most of the other Christian denominations I explored. So for the most part my faith was only personal, I didn’t talk about it much and kept my beliefs between me and my creator, quiet.

But all that began to change the first time I saw the Believe Out Loud rainbow cross. It triggered something inside that I still can’t put into words, but I knew I found something special. I finally felt for the first time not just the permission to believe—but the permission to believe, OUT LOUD!

That didn’t happen overnight of course. It took several months of publishing and sharing other people’s stories at Believe Out Loud before I realized I needed to take action myself.

So I jumped in. 

I decided to go back to the church that I not only felt most a part of but the church that I thought could use some serious help, the Catholic Church! I began my journey back to the Catholic Church by writing my first blog, Why Can’t This Mister Be A Sister, a story about my desire as a little boy to become a nun.

For the first time, an experience from my childhood that I had always associated with embarrassment and shame became one of the proudest moments of my young life.

From there, everything changed. I met an amazing nun named Sister Jeannine Gramick who continues to inspire me each and every day with such a heart full of grace and a commitment to LGBTQ justice, I am certain that when our church finally gets it right, LGBTQ Catholics decades from now will be celebrating her elevation to sainthood. She’s THAT special!

I’ve even been blessed to celebrate a real Catholic mass in front of Stonewall. 

On more than one occasion, I’ve gathered with my fellow LGBTQ Catholics during Pride month for the annual Catholic mass. Not to mention, I’m able to attend mass on Sundays at several Catholic Churches that welcome and affirm me and my LGBTQ siblings as the beloved children of God that we are.

I have been forever changed by the power of our rainbow cross and everything that it stands for, which has made my decision to move on to the next chapter of my life so bittersweet. My time as the director at Believe Out Loud will come to an end on September 15th, but my love for this work will continue long after I leave.

So thank you: to all of our bloggers who have shared their stories, to our partners who work every day to open more church doors to our community, to the clergy and congregations who stood up for LGBTQ people long before and after it actually became “Christian” to do so, to the Believe Out Loud team that I’ve worked with both past and present—Sung, Joseph, Gwen, Alison, Tim, Chrissy, and Reese. And I can’t forget our 200,000 plus fans on Facebook—you continue to remind me that no matter how old I get, there is still so much more for me to learn.

You all have empowered me more than you’ll ever know.

And from the bottom of my very gay and very Catholic heart—thank YOU for helping me Believe Out Loud!


James Rowe

Believe Out Loud staff pictured above: Chrissy Etienne, Reese Rathjen, James Rowe, and Alison Amyx

Comments (10)

Jeff Mummert

Thank you, James, for your
Thank you, James, for your leadership and dedication to the mission of Believe Out Loud over the past five years. Best wishes for a bright future ahead of you!

Marilyn Paarlberg, Executive Director, Room for All

James, you will be in my
James, you will be in my heart and my prayers. Your contributions to the ecumenical WCPL group (Welcoming Church Program Leaders) have been precious and so very valuable. I, and we, will miss you. We wish you a bright future with all of God’s blessings and boundless love.

Jacqui Lewis

James, it was such a joy to
James, it was such a joy to collaborate with you! I send you with my blessings for a life filled with love, and activism, and joy. May God bless you and keep you and make her face to shine upon you and give you peace.

Jacqui, with love

Robert Preston

Thank you, James. Best of
Thank you, James. Best of luck to you in your new endeavors.

Danita Branam

James as a staunch believer
James as a staunch believer in the power of believing, i am so pleased that the role you said ” yes I can” for has been as rewarding to you, as you have been for Believe Out Loud. I wish you more door openings to discover even more of what “you can”. Peace and full sails my friend.

Beth Ellor

Believe Out Loud is a force
Believe Out Loud is a force to be reckoned with, and I thank you for everything you’ve done to make it so.
That you now thrive in the Roman Catholic Church that caused you such distress is a testament to your faith and to how far the movement has brought us! Thank you!
Beth Ellor

Barbara Costigan

James, you will be missed!
James, you will be missed! Your work has always reflected your great integrity. Best of luck in your future work!

Winston Sweeting

Thank your leadership. Best
Thank your leadership. Best of wishes.

Shari Brink

James, it’s been a pleasure
James, it’s been a pleasure to work with you, both from my role at Marble Church and now, more recently, here at Blanton-Peale Institute & Counseling Center. I couldn’t hope for a more committed, more passionate, more kind partner in the work. Peace and blessings to you!

Solomon Managing Trustee-Transgender Legal Rights Trust

Really we all all felt sad to

Really we all all felt sad to know that our beloved the most respected pr.James Row is leaving after having his 5 years of esteemed service.We are praying for him and the family that is attached with hi,We can’t forget the help that he done while he was in the tenure. We are praying for his good health and the long life.Amen.

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