Ann Poston, who has been with her partner for six years, is the director of communications for the United Church of Christ, which has its national headquarters in Cleveland. She has found comfort and support growing up with the church, which has been recognized for being a longtime supporter of the LGBT community and the first mainline Protestant denomination to ordain an openly gay minister. This year, UCC will be the first denomination in the history of the Gay Games to be a major sponsor since the event started in 1982.
In the early 2000s, the United Church of Christ started a campaign called "God is Still Speaking." They raised money to pull together these commercials and share this message of what we call "extravagant welcome," where we say no matter who you are or where you are in life's journey, you're welcome here.
It was really a brilliant campaign. It took this idea that there was a church, which was typically associated with this hateful messaging to anyone really considering a sexual orientation other than heterosexuality, and it paired it with this idea that you can have faith and all those other things that I was raised in. So, that stayed with me. It was those moments where God was still speaking to me in many ways because I didn't have to abandon my faith, tradition and my journey in discovering my sexual orientation personally.
My partner and I have been blessed. The reason for that is we led with a message of love. When we got together, we had no idea what the response would be from either side of the family or from her son. This was the first serious same-sex relationship that either of us had ever been in. For us to choose love was this acceptance of the notion that we were choosing to embrace who we were and to embrace each other. With the absence of any legal document there, with the absence of anything other than just faith and love, we were making the choice and it was absolutely the best choice I've ever made.
We now have a toddler son. The greatest lesson that we've taught my older son and that we will continue to teach my youngest is the importance of authenticity to self and to others. That is where true happiness is rooted. We talk about how if we hadn't taken a risk — not knowing that the prevailing opinion in this country now is that same-sex marriage is supported societally — we would have missed one of our greatest gifts in life.
I'm not sure where society will be when our son is coming-of-age, but kids will be cruel. The toughest lesson will be that even in the face of adversity or, God forbid, bullying, that the authenticity of who he is, who his family is, and the lesson that he's been taught to do unto others is never compromised. — as told to James Bigley II