On Tuesday, ABC Good Morning America featured Bishop Jim Swilley who says he came out as a gay man to save the lives of teens across the country—maybe even his own children. On Atlanta’s WSB-TV, Bishop Swilley said, “As a father, you think about your 16 or 17 year old killing himself…” and choked up with tears. Bishop Swilley spoke to his congregation recently and said, “I know a lot of straight people think orientation is a choice. I want to tell you that it is not."
Bishop Swilley founded the Church of the Now 30 miles outside of Atlanta 25 years ago, and it now has thousands of members. He was married twice and has four children. With a ministry based on God accepting people as they are, he and his ex-wife, Debbie, decided that it was important to come out. Debbie knew about Swilley’s orientation from the beginning, but the couple kept their secret for 21 years. He said he would be willing to start over if too many members left his church. He said, “To think about saving a teenager, yeah I’ll risk my reputation for that.”
GLAAD reached out to Bishop Swilley and expressed support for his important decision and to offer GLAAD’s media training and support.