A Christian Dispute

When it first began, The Rick and Bubba Show was a harmless morning radio show about two Alabama bubbas and the funny stories they told. However, since the death of Rick Burgess’ son several years ago and the election of President Obama, it has become a show about conservative politics and even more conservative religious views. Here are two stories from al.com:

Brandi Burgess, bisexual daughter of Rick & Bubba host: ‘I am praying for my father’

By Brandi Burgess, daughter of Rick Burgess of Rick & Bubba, and an actress and activist living in Philadelphia

I have always believed stories carry healing powers. Bible legends of heroes and outcasts. Fables with neatly packaged morals. That friend at every gathering who lit up the room with fantastical tales, the one who left my sides hurting and my eyes streaming and made me think, “my god this is my life, it is so ridiculous and wonderful.”

My first memories are of me sitting under my father’s radio desk, listening to him talk. Rick Burgess has built an entire career sharing the stories of his life. He has amassed an incredible following, because he speaks his truth. People love him. People hate him. His boldness has always inspired me.

As I grew older I became a prominent character in his stories. I was the exuberant softball player whose passion got her thrown out of games, the angsty teen late to church, the young woman in Israel almost traded in marriage for 40 camels. I was a punch line, a glittering prop, a cartoon.

Then – in his eyes — I failed him.

Gone were the stories of my boyfriends being taken down “to the hunting room” before first dates. I was erased. Recently, I’ve returned, cast as the prodigal daughter.

The story my father tells is one of a lost lamb, covered in shame. In his public musings, he speaks of my sin. Without my consent, he uses me as a cautionary tale.

For the past three years, my father and I have been debating God’s stance on homosexuality. It started with my Instagram post at a Pride parade: a picture of a mother holding a sign saying “I love my gay son.” I got a text demanding its removal: “How dare you compromise my platform!?”, “Remember who you represent.”, “Are you a gay?”

I have been praying, researching and meditating on the many emails, sermons and verses my dad has sent me. I always come back to the same conclusion. Love is love.

I shared this with him. “I love you. I’m sorry. I still love God.” I promised to be discrete.

This led to a constant barrage of shame. “You think you’re so mod, so special. But you’re nothing. You’re typical.”

I blocked everyone in my family from my social media because it was “killing my grandmother.” I grew silent. I mourned my family. I believed I was selfish, a fraud.

I visited home this summer. I wasn’t allowed too close to my siblings, for fear of infecting them with my queerness.

My stepmother took me out to lunch. She told me about a recent vacation with my father. “He couldn’t go in the water. You know he has panic attacks around water ever since your brother drowned.”

Why didn’t I know that? Why couldn’t my father let me hold him, tell me his fear. I would have given him rest, said, “Me too, dad. When I babysit, I have to tell the parents that I can’t take them to the pool. I know exactly how you feel.”

As I was pondering this, Sherri asked me “are you seeing anyone?” I took a deep breath, and held on to hope. The Greek word for hope means “cord.” My dad taught me that.

“Yes. I am. I am deeply in love. It is….not with a man.” I had my speech ready, about fluidity, non-binary queerness, Lin-Manuel Miranda quotes, etc.

“No. You choose this or you choose us. After all your father’s done for you, how could you do this to him?”

I was whisked away to the Rick and Bubba office. Dad was waiting, bible in hand.

I believe that my father’s actions were intended as love. I believe he can’t know how powerfully he hurt me.

My story is not that of all queer people from an evangelical home. I have the privilege of now belonging to a safe community. Yet, I let my father’s message of shame define me. I hated my body, sabotaged relationships, believed I was unworthy of love.

So now, I am writing to the young women who feel like they don’t belong in their bodies, to the boys who want to kiss boys, and those on the spectrum between:

Perhaps you have heard my father on the radio and it makes you want to go to sleep and never wake up.

I love you. Your worth is untouchable. Find a good friend. Invest in therapy. Dance in the middle of the night and hold yourself accountable to the life you’ve always wanted. At the root of all this hate speech is fear. This is not your fear to carry. Release it.

I am redeemed. I have surrendered to the beautiful mystery of God’s love, have witnessed its vast complexity.

My partner whispers to me as I fall asleep: “Your worth is intrinsic, your beauty immeasurable.” Their love is divine, it is of God. I know this in my bones.

I am telling you this because I can no longer avoid my own eyes in the mirror.

I am praying for my father. I am holding onto hope and it is outstretched toward him. Perhaps he will take hold. Perhaps we will find we were holding the same cord.

Here is an article about her father’s very unchristian response:

Rick & Bubba’s Rick Burgess speaks about his bisexual daughter

Rick Burgess of the Rick & Bubba Show was asked this week to comment on his daughter’s choice to speak out about her bisexuality. He declined, saying “God has given me my own platform in which to clearly state my views on this issue that is impacting our society and the church.”

He and his wife, Sherri, addressed the issue on the radio show this morning.

The comments were largely focused on scripture, and Rick said he hopes his daughter, Brandi Burgess, finds her way back home to God. He said he and Sherri have “taken on the role of the father of the Prodigal Son.”

To Brandi, he said: “I told you before and I’ll say it again you’re my daughter and I will always love you. But I love you enough to tell you the truth. I’m not going to come up with some version of love that really isn’t love at all, that pats you on the back to justify you all the way to hell.”

He said Brandi is misguided.

“This has become a new version of Christianity which is not biblical in any way shape or form,” he said. “Sadly our daughter and others have bought into this new hippie version of Jesus.”

“Quit making up a version of God which is your own – which is idolatry,” he said

Sherri Burgess, Brandi’s stepmother, said she didn’t believe Brandi when she initially said she was bisexual.

“I just didn’t believe it but over time she’s convinced me she really does feel this way,” she said. “This is not a battle between Rick and me and our daughter. It’s a battle between good and evil, the Bible versus the world, God versus the world.”

On Brandi’s comments about her own journey, Rick said “we now release you to that journey and we pray and we hope that it brings you back to repentance.”

Sherri said she advised Brandi not to live according to human passions, but according to God’s will.

“I don’t care if you’re happy. I don’t care if you’re healthy. I care about your eternal salvation,” she said.

“I know there are people out there who really struggle with this and it is hard. But Jesus is there not only to forgive you but to cleanse you of all unrighteousness.”

Rick said “We love her with all our heart and we love her enough to tell her the truth, but in this article instead of declaring the Lord Lord, she’s declared herself Lord.”

He asked people to be kind.

“I would just say again I know how these things can get ugly because Bubba and I have been in the crosshairs … Let’s see if we can stay away from that, please. It may upset you. You may be offended. You may say this is disrespectful, and certainly we’ve gone through those feelings ourselves. But please just understand she’s lost. She’s just got scales on her eyes and she needs those to fall.”

Rick forgets that Jesus condemned divorce, while never condemning homosexuality. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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