Experiencing Grace: My Journey To Becoming An Ally

by Holli Long

On an August afternoon last fall, I sat in front of my computer screen with tears streaming down my face. Maybe you did as well. Plastered all over my Facebook wall were photos of so many proudly eating a chicken sandwich in the name of American values, many in the name of Jesus. I’m guessing you saw them, too.

As someone trying to find my place within the Christian faith, I believed firmly this was not my Christianity on display.

These posts did not represent my beliefs, and I thought surely there was a different message of Christianity we could proclaim that day. An e-mail conversation with a pastor later that night gave me hope. She mentioned the Reconciling Ministries Network.

It did not come as a shock to me that she was a member of this organization. I knew I belonged to a church where we were encouraged to ask the hard questions. I knew it was a safe place for me to sometimes struggle with my faith and even ask for guidance on something as controversial as chicken sandwiches. But, I was a bit surprised that there was a huge movement already in place within the church for inclusion, real inclusion (and not just the “love the sinner, hate the sin” kind).

I read all about this movement for reconciliation. I “liked” Reconciling Ministries Network on Facebook. I occasionally shared something uplifting and loving that came across my newsfeed. I went purple for Spirit Day. I started a difficult conversation with a friend (privately) who proclaimed (publicly) a different Christian view via the pulpit of Facebook.

I struggled. I read my Bible. I talked to my pastors. I craved more opportunities to talk to others who shared my convictions.

Finally, when I could no longer contain the stirrings within my heart, I wrote a letter to the editor about why my Christian family supports marriage equality. And with that letter, you could say I officially came out as an ally.

Of course, writing this letter was not something I did on a whim. I had a draft on my computer for over a month. I told my husband about it. When I read him a few bits and pieces and he wanted to hear more, I kept writing. When I told a few close friends about it, and when they didn’t dismiss it (or me) as completely crazy, I found the courage to keep revising. When I shared it with some like-minded members of my faith community and they told me to go for it, I finally hit “submit” to my local online paper with a silent prayer.

Please Lord, use these words you’ve placed upon my heart as you will. Let them reveal a glimmer of your love.

I was prepared for the backlash. I was prepared for cries of “heretic” and the comments telling me I need to read my Bible (or get one, for that matter).

You see, I grew up in small-town America. I grew up in a place where there were significantly more churches than coffee shops, but I don’t know that I ever felt welcome in any them. I grew up with different ideas of faith and God and love than what the church was sending me.

I grew up stubbornly believing that God’s love and grace was for all of us, even if we weren’t completely sure about how it all worked.

I grew up wanting to ask questions, dig deeper, and challenge what I was hearing about the exclusivity of faith. I still feel this way today. In fact, I feel more this way now than ever. For these reasons, I knew my “coming out” letter would not sit well with everyone, but I truly believed that with the support of family, friends, and many within my current faith community, I could handle the worst.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the outpouring of support and love that followed my letter. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of friends and family who found the courage to say, “I feel this way, too!” I certainly wasn’t prepared for the responses from some of my gay friends, which brought me to tears.

This time, my tears came from a place of hope. Could God really be using me in some way? Am I, too, welcome to be a part of The Church?

Recently, I sat in my adult Sunday School class while my pastor spoke about grace within the United Methodist tradition. She described how, in the midst of the grace that is always present for all of us, we often find ourselves in profound moments of justifying grace—moments of affirmation when we recognize that we, too, are loved. We, too, are welcomed.  We, too, are forgiven.

For me, my coming out as an LGBT ally has been inextricably intertwined with my experience of justifying grace.  

The irony of my situation is not lost on me. While my coming out as an ally has been so very humbling and faith-affirming, I know that for many, the experience of coming out is anything but. Most of all, I know this has to change.

This is why I feel so passionately about continuing to push myself to speak up. Even when it is uncomfortable. Even when I have doubts. Even when I’m sharing not necessarily with like-minded members of the faith, but with that same Facebook community which initially brought me to tears.

Above all else, I believe that this message and this experience of grace is for all.

And I want to help proclaim this Christian message.

Even me? Yes. And even you as well.

Photo via Holli Long

Comments (9)

Sarah WW

Fantastic. Really. I too am
Fantastic. Really. I too am a Christian ally. Great job! Really great job!!!


I didn’t know what to call
I didn’t know what to call myself. ALLY is perfect. Thanks for having the courage to “come out” annd to give us a name!!

vicki sawasky

Thank God for the faith and
Thank God for the faith and conviction of this lady and her family in supporting ALL of God’s children! I will stand strong in my beliefs that LGBT are not sinners, just brothers and sister in Christ whose life choice are just a bit different than mine, but we have too many common areas to let just one stand in the way of unity in Christ’s name!


This is a lovely post and I
This is a lovely post and I hope it is heard by many hearts who need the words to express how they long to stand by their LGBT sisters and brothers. For folks who are still searching, still working to become an ally I wrote a post back in January that might be of some help. I hope you don’t mind too much if I share it here.


Doris Cowan

I’ve been a supporter for
I’ve been a supporter for over 35 years – didn’t know about the term ‘ally’ – I like it!!! I am one!!!


This is exactly how my
This is exactly how my journey to becoming an ally was. The grace of Jesus Christ doesn’t hide in the dark, and nor should we. Allies should proudly affirm our LGBTQ brothers and sisters with the same love, respect, dignity, and worthiness that Christ has given all who call upon His name.



Lisa Kelson

I am a third year LGBT
I am a third year LGBT seminarian. I feel lead to help with this movement in my home town. Please email me I could use help from an allied.


Thank you for speaking up!
Thank you for speaking up! There are so many of us out there who are allies, but we don’t talk about it enough. I’ve been trying to push myself to be more vocal, as well, and your post is a really wonderful affirmation that this is what we inclusive Christians should be doing. Amen!

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