I had the opportunity to meet Brad and learn about his story when I started volunteering at Urban Peak – a non-profit in Denver, CO that provides a full convergence of services for youth ages 15 – 24 who are experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. Brad is the Lead Education Specialist there and works with students who are working toward their GED or looking to enroll in higher education classes. After getting to know Brad – it was clear that Urban Peak was a perfect fit for him based on both his interests and his Chapter Be story.
Brad’s story is about how coming out as a gay man – who dates men – saved his life. Brad grew up in a religious cult and after leaving that went to work for Exodus International in Florida. Exodus International is an organization that believes you can “pray the gay away,” and while Brad was out to his family and friends he believed that it was something he could (and would) change about himself. He left Exodus to come to Denver and get his Masters in Divinity at Denver Seminary, and he took a job in an evangelical church after that.
Brad loved his role as a pastor, but yearned to push the boundaries a bit. He was eventually fired from his job at the church, and feeling as though he had nothing else to lose he decided to truly embrace being gay and no longer subscribe to the idea that he would change. This decision caused him to be ostracized from the community he had built around him, lose his home, and take a job at Starbucks. It was during this time that he became suicidal and hopeless.
This Chapter Be story is how Brad was thrown from a world he loved and had to figure out what he was going to do next. This very dark moment in his life, was actually the moment that saved him and allowed him to live his truth – and in doing so has opened new doors and experiences, and has allowed him to see a whole new future for himself. A future that will allow him to live his authentic life of being.
The 180° change that Brad has made over the last 2.5 years is pretty remarkable. What I admire most about him is how open he is to learn from other people’s experiences and grow from their stories. A good educator is one who is always learning – both from the world around him and from his students. Brad exemplifies this. Listen below to hear more about his Chapter Be story…
PoDCAST POints to Reference
[08:25] Brad’s experiences going to Washington, D.C. with Exodus International and witnessing that the “vast right wing conspiracy” does indeed exist.
[12:42] “It’s really difficult to come to grips with one’s self when you’re in a system where being honest will cost you everything.”
[15:45] How going from his job in the church with a volunteer staff to cleaning toilets at Starbucks was the best thing that ever happened to him: “I had to face myself and say, ‘Who am I as a human being when I am not doing all the things that I think ‘matter?'”
[20:20] How Brad believes that his religion is as much a part of his “self” as his sexuality is.
[25:05] The day that he realized he could start dreaming again about his future.
[34:40] How making a change in your life is really messy – you flounder, but it is worth it.
[41:30] On why he will never call himself an evangelical again.
[47:00] His advice to anyone who is in the same position he was in 2.5 years ago.
CHAPTER BE QUESTIONNAIRE…
What’s your favorite quote, story or fact to tell at a dinner or cocktail party?
I was raised in a cult OR I once hitch-hiked in Hawaii.
Worst work experience?
I once had to clean out two feet of sludge in the bottom of a reservoir that was an acre big. Alone. It was like a Dirty Jobs situation, and I found a couple fish skeletons.
What is your definition of success?
To make positive change in the world.
How do you tap into your creative energies – especially when you are feeling drained?
I go for walks. It’s the best way to get my brain moving.
How do you spend your time when you are procrastinating?
I love going to movies alone!
Ideal READING LIST – books that you would want on your Swiss Family Robinson deserted island?
- Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (for humor, and the only book I’ve read 5x)
- Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West edited by Daniel Ladinsky (poetry for meditation)
- Every book C.S. Lewis has ever written, but especially Mere Christianity.
Favorite song with “be” in the title?
Links & Resources…
Image by Chapter Be