FROM OUR NEWS PARTNERS AT NBC 15
A Madison church is out to prove that not all Christianity is against homosexuality.
Next month, Leroy Butler will visit St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church to address bullying, a topic that St. Dunstan's hopes is a game changer for the local community.
This comes after former Green Bay Packer LeRoy Butler was dis-invited to speak at another Wisconsin church, because of a pro-gay tweet. Butler's tweet was in support of pro-basketball player Jason Collins and his Collins' announcement that he's gay.
Collins recently became the first male professional athlete to admit he's gay. Like Collins, dealing with sexual identity was a struggle for Fred-Allen Self. Self came out as gay last year.
"I went through a very rough time and kind of became an emotional train wreck for a while” says Self.
He says that St. Dunstan's become his place of refuge.
"I found a church that I felt like i could belong to; a community that really didn't really care if I was gay, straight, whatever” Self tells NBC 15.
Much like Collins, Self admits, he waited years before publicly announcing his homosexuality.
"Looking back at it, I wish I could have come out then, but at the same time I’m really kind of glad that I didn't, because I'm not sure if I would have made it to be quite honest” he says.
Self says he was a constant target of bullying, but the worst abuse was self-inflicted.
"I didn't think it was OK and I didn't even believe it was OK to be gay for a long time” says Self.
Self hopes, next month, when Butler visits St. Dunstan's that the community walks away with a heightened tolerance for various backgrounds.
"You don't know someone else's story. Be careful of what you say, because you never know that that one off-handed remark from you might be the one thing to push them over the edge” he says.
Details on Butler's visit have yet to be finalized, but the church is currently raising money to pay for his visit.
The money will go to Butler's charity which promotes anti-bullying.
For more information and to donate, head to www.stdunstans.com
Former Packers player Leroy Butler stands by his tweet.
On Monday he tweeted, "Congrats to Jason Collins," after the NBC player announced he was gay.
Shortly after, Butler was told that a scheduled appearance he had at a Wisconsin church was cancelled. He was told the pastor no longer wanted Butler because of his support for Collins.
Butler says he was then told if he removed the tweet, apologized and asked god for forgiveness, he could appear. Butler declined the offer.
He doesn't reveal the name of the church.