Randy, Oral Roberts’ Gay Grandson, Says: ‘#ItGetsBetter…and It’s Complicated.’


Close-Up – by A. R. Ammons

Are all these stones


I said

and the mountain



but reluctant to

admit my praise could move it much


shook a little

and rained a windrow ring of stones

to show

that it was so


Stone felled I got

up addled with dust


and shook


without much consequence


Obviously I said it doesn’t pay

to get too

close up to



and the mountain friendless wept

and said

it couldn’t help


Re-Imagining Religion: “Falling In Love Will Not Send You to Hell.”

                          – Randy Roberts Potts

“All students are required to sign a pledge stating they will live according to the university’s honor code. Prohibited activities include lying, cursing, smoking, drinking, and a range of sexual acts including homosexual behavior and sex outside marriage.”

                                                                   – Excerpt, ORU Student Codes , Oral Roberts University

Wouldn’t you know it: every time the “gay agenda” is reexamined, the “master plan” appears to become more and more normal on the face of it. Because it is.

“The gay agenda” is “the human agenda:” we all want love. Hope. Home. Family. We all desire the same things.

Back in 2010, Oral Roberts’ out, gay grandson Randy Roberts Potts read a letter to his closeted gay Uncle Ronnie (Oral Roberts’ eldest son) and recorded a viral video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYa0wi4XzeI) to honor Ronnie’s life, as unfortunately, his uncle had already passed away when Randy was just a kid (in June of 1982).

Randy’s irrepressible spirit remains to alchemize life’s tests and turn them into life’s testimonies.

In the video, after 2:38 minutes of silence (during which time we see the handwritten letter for his uncle), Potts reads a revelatory poem entitled “Close-Up” written by A. R. Ammons. Then, Randy moves into his own compelling testimony about the strange magic behind growing up with a gay uncle (around whom Randy’s mom was most captivated), and how it affected Potts himself.

We witness Potts as he entreats Ronnie’s spirit (for healing? For explanations?), “When my mother spoke of you, a look of awe lit up her face. You were the one voice in her life that could inhabit multiple worlds at once…. You stood for everything she was afraid I would become: gay, intellectual, and godless. And yet nothing caused my mother’s face to light up like your memory. I was jealous, and I always hoped to be you.”

Randy recounts following in his uncle’s footsteps simply by following his heart, and reminisces about the tragedy of losing a loved one who took his own life because he felt he had no options. No hope. Because he felt that life would not and could not get better.

“I’ve seen pain and loss and sorrow,” Potts continues. “I would have held you in my arms had I been a man at the time…. but there’s no one holding you, because you’re holding on to no one. And now I’m here sharing the same destiny…. your path and mine are crossed. They intersect…in some ridiculous dance.”

With a tonality not unlike Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight,” Potts brings us into present day. Yes, he is angry, but we can somehow see the light at the end of the tunnel, the burning hot flames of passion for living forever aglow in Randy’s heart. We somehow feel his uncle lives in some kind of virtual second life, through Randy.

Another “Gay Agenda,” Another Pleasant Valley Sunday.

Oral Roberts was the first and one of the biggest of the televangelists. He brought the Pentecostal faith to mainstream America, he started a self-named university, and of course lived a rich life through his relentless please for money from his followers. His grandson Randy Roberts Potts grew up with him…steeped in that really sheltered, Far Right Christian world. Now he’s following a calling like his grandfather, but with an unexpected message.”

Reporter Page Hopkins for MSNBC

In sharing his story with MSNBC, Potts did indeed reveal he’d felt suicidal too—coming out was unthinkable to him. Having married a woman and raising three children with her, Potts’ coming out narrative is a common one that always feels mysterious and new during the discovery process. He told Hopkins, “Honestly, I thought I was just a really good christian that I just didn’t sexualize women.”

Though Potts’ closeted gay uncle passed away when Randy was just a boy, as he unfolded the discoveries about Ronnie’s life, they paralleled discoveries of his own.

It is now Randy’s life mission to reach back across the table and minister tolerance and inclusiveness to evangelicals themselves. Potts informed Page Hopkins that he’s doing so non-publicly, holding confidential meetings with religious leaders and consulting with them regarding family cohesion, suicide prevention and myriad other positive effects of practicing religious tolerance.

In one of the most romantic and courageous activism campaigns out there, Potts and his partner are now conducting what they call an ongoing “performance project designed for conservative towns with visuals of domestic gay life.” Potts is setting up storefronts from town to town , choosing to put his normal day-in day-out familial relationships on display, in a performance art piece called—what else…

“…The Gay Agenda.



Reach out to Randy @randyrpotts and connect with ORU Out, ORU LGBTQ alumni and ombudsmen) at http://oru-out.tumblr.com.

To watch Potts’ It Gets Better video in its entirety, please click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYa0wi4XzeI

Have you got time to sit and pray a while? Check out Randy Roberts Potts – Re-Imagining Religion Series at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uYWf2WfPH8. During his ministerial speech in this video, Potts reveals that his brother is also gay and his family still ostracizes them both.


And for more information about suicide prevention and LGBTQIA resources and support, please visit the It Gets Better Project at http://www.itgetsbetter.org.






What’s The Velvet Rage? Dr. Alan Downs, Ph.D., on Healing Shame

Are You Keeping Shame & Anger In The Closet? Find Ways to Break Free

 “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

                                                                                                       – RuPaul

On Sexual and Shame-Based Trauma

Gay men take much too much heat for being natural, normal sexual human beings.

Here’s what that imbalance looks like: in this world, if straight men are oversexed, then gay men have to be hyper-sexual. If straight women want sexual fulfillment and gay men want it too, we have to call it something else—anything else.

LGBTQ men are relegated to sex-focused ghettos of conquest, topping and bottoming, butch-dominant, straight-acting, femme-repressive, “sassy gay best friend (neuter),” performative (sexy, funny drag queens only) and over-blown sexual expression, or the back alley of regret (“He’s so hot! I wish he were straight!” Rather than, “He’s so hot.” Period.).

Of course sexuality isn’t just about sex, yet this is where much of our self-expression comes to the fore in queer culture.

Clinical psychologist and author Dr. Alan Downs is all too familiar with this. “I grew up in a very religious household,” Downs told Oprah on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

“I thought if I met the right woman and married her, [I] would change. … ‘The Velvet Rage’ is about the anger that develops when you have something inside yourself that you have to hide.”

Many gay men and male-identified LGBTQ guys go through depression after coming out. Even if you’ve been out since you could remember, mental health issues spring up: shame, anger, fear and depression are essentially kissing cousins.

These ideas are messy to think about, but so necessary to wrestle to the ground and ultimately, to conquer. We don’t hear about sloughing off the intricacies of anger or free-floating fear. So, feeling blocked or frustrated, folks turn to drugs, additive behavior, at-risk sexual activity, and a general lack of self-care.

Common Sense Solutions

“I was very close to my ex-wife,” Dr. Downs went on. “She was my best friend. I just confused that with, ‘This is going to make me straight.'”

As a licensed clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience,  Dr. Downs’ California-based private practice addresses LGBT issues head-on. In his book“ The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World,”  Downs  tends to the psyches of gay men, exposing the soft underbelly of pain, shame, and vulnerabilities that we  barely take the time to examine.

Because he also shares anecdotal findings (that of his friends, himself and his clients), the book has raised eyebrows and a bit of controversy while continuing to rank high on GLBT bestseller lists.  It took a long time for Downs to come out, and he approaches the idea of coming out or being out in a realistic manner, ensuring the reader that he is at-choice in terms of his timetable, methodology, reasoning, and making the decision to do it.

Check out these select passages from the book:

“The inevitable byproduct of growing up gay in a straight world continues to be the internalization of shame, a shame gay men may strive to obscure with a facade of beauty, creativity, or material success.”

“Today’s gay man enjoys unprecedented, hard-won social acceptance. Despite this victory, however, serious problems still exist. Substance abuse, depression, suicide, and sex addiction among gay men are at an all-time high, causing many to ask, ‘Are we really better off?’”

“Shame starts in childhood,” Dr. Downs writes, parsing out the healing process into three stages:

1) Becoming overwhelmed with shame, staying in denial by “splitting” or leading double lives (avoidant behavior, leading to identity crisis).

2) Becoming overwhelmed with a sense that “who you are is wrong.” (Not what you are doing, but who you are as a person.) Addictive, self-destructive or chronically depressed psychological issues arise, and the breakdown becomes more obvious.

3) Becoming whole. In this resolution stage, we open up to the possibility of embracing joy, fully.

Something you’d like to learn more about? For more information, visit: http://www.alandowns.com.

No man is an island: these concepts speak to lesbians and queer culture in general, too. What’s the hardest thing you’ve experienced and overcome after you came out?