An Interview with Marc Adams
isn't so much that Marc Adams doesn't do interviews, its more like he doesn't
seek them out. Nine years have passed since the release of Marc Adams' first
gay-themed book, The Preacher's Son. In reality, TPS is his autobiography.
At least as much of an autobiography that can be written by someone writing
about their life from age 3 to 23. Now, Marc Adams has released two new
books simultaneously. LoveLife, a new poetry book, is chock full of the
artful compositions which flow from his ever-evolving pen (er, keyboard).
The second book, (lost)Found is the most significant book Marc
Adams has published since The Preacher's Son.
(lost)Found is a kind of follow-up to The Preacher's Son.
Many things have transpired in his life since being 23 and (lost)Found
chronicles a good portion of that journey.
Marc Adams gave me a couple hours of his time to talk about (lost)Found
and where his life has brought him since 1996.
Rod Gambassi: It's been almost nine years since The
Preacher's Son was published. Where have you been?
Marc Adams: I've been almost everywhere! I've been
very busy with HeartStrong, the non profit I helped found in 1998. I have
also published five poetry books and co-authored another book titled,
Do's & Don'ts of Dealing with the Religious Right.
RG: So you've been busy.
Marc Adams: VERY busy. Oh, we also rescued two long-haired
Chihuahuas, Goofy and Rufus, from the Seattle animal shelter.
RG: The new book is titled, (lost)Found. Tell
me about it.
Marc Adams: Well, I really wanted to convey the process
of my journey as I escaped from fundamentalist Baptist Christianity and
coming out to my family. I touched on both of those subjects very lightly
at the end of The Preacher's Son but I wanted to spend some time
sharing more about the process I went through.
RG: Was it a personal need or because people asked
you to do it.
Marc Adams: Probably both. More so because people asked
me to do it. I started writing this book in September of 2001. I initially
had finished it at the end of 2003. But at the beginning of 2004 right
as it was ready to go to press, my grandmother died. I had already included
a lot about her in the original manuscript of the book but when she passed
away, I felt that I needed to include some more, so I pulled the book.
I then added and rewrote some chapters and then it was complete.
RG: You grandmother was the only person in your biological
family who showed true unconditional love. You talk about this in your
presentations at colleges and universities.
Marc Adams: Yes, she was a perfect example of what
groups like PFLAG are all about. She was related to me by blood and also
by love. A substantial portion of this book is about her and the relationship
that developed with her after I came out.
RG: Do you really think most non-religious people are
interested in hearing a story about escaping fundamentalist Baptist Christianity?
Marc Adams: Well, after doing about 2000 presentations
over the past nine years to all different types of audiences, I have learned
a lot. One thing I have learned is that while some people think they could
care less about this process, usually about halfway through my sharing,
they are completely intrigued. I think it all has to do with how it is
presented. And, I believe people should know. There are hundreds of thousands
of people who have gone through or are going through the same process.
How can you help someone's journey become easier if you can't relate to
them in some way?
RG: So why the title, (lost)Found?
Marc Adams: I really feel like I have gone from being
very, very lost to being found. When you go through the upbringing that
I went through and then walk away, it is very hard to not feel lost. In
fact, you know you are a journey to personal peace but you feel very empty.
I think I felt more lost once I walked away than when I was part of it
all. But then things change. As I learned more about self-acceptance and
I learned more about real familial love...through my grandmother's example...I
started feeling alive. To the point where I definitely feel found...by
myself and others.
RG: You've mixed poetry in with your non-fiction writing
in this book. What lead to that?
Marc Adams: I don't really think it's poetry. Before
each chapter I have written several lines starting with, I believe...,
I wish..., I think..., I'm afraid..., and I know... It was just another
method of me sharing some of my perspectives. My poetry tends to be much
more romantic than what is written before each chapter in (lost)Found.
RG: Speaking of poetry, you have simultaneously published
a new poetry book, LoveLife, with (lost)Found.
Marc Adams: YES! I am very excited about that also.
It is a collection of some work from the past couple years and I wanted
it to be published separately but at the same time at (lost)Found
because I think it goes right along with the theme of everything.
RG: Back to (lost)Found. For the first time,
you put on paper your spiritual journey and where you are with that. Was
that hard to do?
Marc Adams: Definitely. Aside from the chapter about
my grandmother's passing, writing about my spiritual journey was agonizing.
RG: How could that be agonizing?
Marc Adams: Since I started doing my work with HeartStrong
and especially since I started doing presentations at colleges/universities,
etc., I have always been asked questions about my spiritual journey. I
have been stunned at the number of people in the gay community and elsewhere
who have been so judgmental to me because I have moved to a different
place in my spiritual journey than they would like me to be. I think it's
hard for some people to understand the concept of moving forward or evolving
in this aspect of life. I definitely feel I have evolved and my journey
has taken me places that I never would have imagined. And overall I feel
very peaceful about my life now, especially in this area.
RG: So where are you? What church do you go to?
Marc Adams: I think I'm going to leave that to be discovered
by those who take the time to read about my journey in (lost)Found.
It has been a very important process to me and I don't want to trivialize
that process in a short answer in an interview.
RG: It seems that your spiritual journey has become
Marc Adams: It has.
RG: Is this something you embarked on alone?
Marc Adams: I guess so. I didn't really go through
my own process with anyone else. And, I guess that's why it's so personal
and why it's such a big part of (lost)Found. I guess in hindsight
the process to get where I am today was quite painful. During the process,
however, all I felt was the need to evolve and more forward with my life
and journey. That's why it's down on paper. No one should feel alone when
they are escaping fundamentalist Christianity.
RG: Tell me more about the dogs.
Marc Adams: Goofy and Rufus are long-haired Chihuahuas.
We found them at the animal shelter in Seattle. We initially just went
to the shelter to check things out and if we did find a small dog, perhaps
we could consider adopting. But then, they were there together and now
they are here together. They are very weird, loving dogs. They are both
seniors and have very few teeth. But they have definitely changed the
spectrum of my life. As we travel around the country, they also are a
great addition to my presentation.
RG: How are things with HeartStrong?
Most people reading this don't know about your involvement with this organization.
Marc Adams: Well, then, I will start at the beginning.
Three of us founded HeartStrong over eight years ago. It is a national
non profit organization. After The Preacher's Son came out, I
started getting emails and letter from people saying they couldn't believe
that someone was out in public talking about what it was like to be gay,
go through religious schools and what those schools have the freedom to
do to GLBT students. The people writing to me were themselves students
at religious schools looking for someone who could speak their language
to help them in their journey to self-acceptance.
RG: Did you do that? Look for someone to help you when
you were going through it?
Marc Adams: Yes, right when I left Liberty University
(Jerry Falwell's university). But I couldn't find anyone who I felt could
speak my language and really understand what I was going through. So,
when these students started contacting me, I realized that I had a responsibility
to turn around and face the burning building I had escaped from and go
back. I felt that I needed to go back and rescue as many people as I could.
RG: Why do GLBT students at religious schools need
to be rescued?
Marc Adams: In our country and most other countries
around the world, it is legal for religious schools to persecute GLBT
students attending their schools. That persecution involves everything
from expulsions to reparative therapy to electroshock therapy and public
outings. It's horrific.
RG: And HeartStrong provides support?
Marc Adams: Yes. Most of the students we help are in
crisis situations where they are being expelled, punished, outed or worse.
Our goal is to provide support for these students and make sure that they
choose life both emotionally and physically.
RG: Is it working?
Marc Adams: YES! In eight years we have helped more
than 860 students from these schools. That's a big number for us since
we are an all volunteer organization with limited resources. But it is
also a small number because there are hundreds of thousands of more who
need to hear our message.
is the website for the non profit right?
Marc Adams: Yes, there is a lot of information there
about the work and people can find out more information as well as make
tax deductible donations there.
RG: Your title with HeartStrong?
Marc Adams: Volunteer Executive Director. No one gets
paid to do this work. We still are unable to get in enough money each
year to reach our budgets.
RG: So HeartStrong needs financial help.
Marc Adams: Most definitely.
RG: I want to go back and talk some more about your
family. You've written quite a bit about them in (lost)Found.
Marc Adams: You mean my biological family?
RG: Yes, those people.
Marc Adams: I like to make a clear distinction.
RG: Anyone who has read The Preacher's Son
knows the deal with your biological family. At least your parents and
sisters. The question now is, almost ten years later, what's going on
in that part of your life.
Marc Adams: It never ceases to amaze me how optimistic
some people are thinking that people like my parents will change on this
issue. I do an insane number of speaking engagements every year and I
am continuously asked about this.
RG: Why do you think people are interested?
Marc Adams: I think because everyone loves a happy
ending and because it is hard for truly loving people to understand how
parents can discard their children and other family members.
RG: So what is you relationship like with your family
Marc Adams: My relationship with my biological parents
is the same as it was when I was 5. There just isn't one. There never
was a loving parent/child relationship. I remember when I was fourteen,
my sisters and I had a small conversation about whether or not we felt
our parents really loved us. Compared to neighbor kids and their relationships
with their parents, our just didn't measure up. Of course, we dismissed
those other relationships because those families weren't "Christian" like
we were. But I always felt like there was something off balance. I now
know that because of my parent's religious beliefs and their dedication
to them, that they are not able to truly love themselves so they cannot
truly love each other or their kids.
RG: That's a strong statement.
Marc Adams: Yes, it is. But I learned all of that during
my self-acceptance process. I refer to that time in my life as 'Leaving
Jerry Falwell.' Although that process had very little to do with him,
his philosophy or his church and schools, he represents a way of closed
circuit thinking to which I submitted. When I left my parent's home and
church at 16, I moved right into Jerry Falwell's university and church
and so I substituted my fundamentalist Christianity with neo-evangelical
RG: Not sure I knew there was a difference.
Marc Adams: There is! Most people don't know the difference.
There are a lot of similarities. But as I left both aspects of that religion
behind me, I was also able to understand my parent's predicament. They
could either love me unconditionally as their son or they could view my
coming out as a challenge of their faith from God and adhere to their
religious beliefs which come from the Bible and choose to separate from
me in order to show me their love.
RG: So we're talking about two difference definitions
of the word love.
Marc Adams: Exactly. And as someone who used to operate
under that same definition of love I understand where my biological parents
are with this. It is very sad that they are trapped in the cult-like environment
they are in, but it is their choice. Religion is a choice.
RG: Are you angry?
Marc Adams: About what?
RG: Most people would just assume that you are angry
at your biological family, religion, maybe God.
Marc Adams: I know a lot of people who are angry like
that but I've never felt that. I mean, in the past there were some spontaneous
moments of anger which I think are typical. But there hasn't been an ongoing
feeling of wrath. I think I've just been able to accept my past and move
forward with my life. I could either allow my history to run my life or
I could keep it as my history and let my heart run my life. Life is much
more peaceful if you listen to your heart.
RG: Anything else you would like readers to know about
you or (lostFound?
Marc Adams: Just that I am happy. This book is a coming
out of sorts. Especially since I wrote so much about my spirituality and
spiritual journey. This book is about many things in my past and I am
ready to move forward. I think (lost)Found and LoveLife
are stepping stones for that. Perhaps they will be stepping stones for
Learn more about
Marc Adams and his books at www.meetmarcadams.com.
If you would like Marc Adams to speak at your meetings, conferences or
other gatherings, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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