When I think about my dad, I think about his gentle and easy smile … his work-worn hands … the ever-present twinkle in his dark brown eyes. When I think about my dad, I think about the stories he would tell me as I sat tucked inside his strong arms on lazy Sunday afternoons in Tennessee … the tunes he would whistle as he tilled the ground in his beloved vegetable garden … the hymns he would sing as he worked in the small room that held his vast array of tools.
When I think about my dad, I think about the times he placed cool cloths on my head when I was sick … the basketball goal he crafted for me from metal and wood … the countless late-night softball games he attended after he had worked all day at the railroad.
When I think about my dad, I think about love … unconditional, total, complete, pure, fathomless love. When I think about my dad, I think about how very blessed and lucky I was to have been raised by a man of such honor and integrity … a man of such wisdom and kindness … a man of such patience and love. Not everyone has that kind of dad, you know … not everyone has that kind of dad at all.
I had the distinct honor of meeting Nate Phelps last spring … a gentleman whose courage and bravery is truly humbling to me … a gentleman who possesses an inner strength that can only come from overcoming extreme adversity … a gentleman whose heart beats with a pure and steadfast desire to tear down the walls of hate and discrimination and build in their place pillars of love and acceptance for all people. He is kind and gentle and humble and caring and compassionate and honorable and loyal and trustworthy … and he is my friend. He inspires me to be a better person … encourages me to persevere through the darkest nights … sees the me I hope to one day become. In some ways, he and I are very different, but in other ways, we are so very much the same.
Some of you may not like or agree with some of his beliefs, and that’s okay. Some of you will stand and cheer because his story rings true within your hearts as well, and that’s okay, too. We don’t all have to be alike or agree on all the issues … we can be different, and we can disagree. When all is said and done, what’s most important is that we love and respect each other … different or alike, in agreement or not, tall or short, rich or poor, gay or straight, black or white, chubby or skinny … what’s most important is that we love and respect each other.
Movie & Kickstarter Campaign
When my son Brad called me a little over a year ago to tell me about his idea to make a feature documentary about Nate, a man he had never met, when he asked me to help him find a way to reach him, I did what my son asked but I never thought the man would reply. Though I wanted it to happen for Brad, I didn’t think we stood a chance of meeting the man, much less getting him to agree to let us document his life on film. But he watched the short video, Ears Wide Open?, that tells my own story and said he wanted to meet us. We met with him. We told him we’d like to tell his story. He said yes.
We’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to hopefully raise the funds we need to complete the film. We’d love it if you’d watch the trailer and read the information on our page. We’d also love it if you can help us out by making a donation and sharing the link with everyone you know. Oh, and by the way, Nate’s father was Fred Phelps … the former pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Fred’s hatred for people in the LGBT community has garnered international attention down through the years, and that legacy of hate remains today. Nate left home when he was 18, and he now travels and speaks for the cause of gay rights. We have the awesome opportunity to help share his message of love and acceptance to the world, and we would love to have you join with us on our big adventure!