Last year the LoveWon Out traveling conference came to Boston to reassure anti-gay Bostonians that homosexuals could reorient to heterosexuality and that their efforts to deny their gay neighbor the same privileges they enjoy are morally justified.

Many gay Bostonians, and others who do not subscribe to a dogma of castigation, objected outside. Loudly.

Sam Gloyd took another approach. He went inside and listened. And what he heard was a “hateful message that’s masked in love”. He found it traumatizing.

So Gloyd organized an alternative. Last weekend a couple of hundred people came together for a Bible-based conference which was affirming of gay people. The forum was moderated by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley, a former ex-gay, who jointly wrote the book The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships.

Most of the forum was devoted to passages that the authors say treat homosexuals and heterosexuals equally. In the Old Testament, claim the authors, Ruth’s covenant with Naomi, which includes the memorable phrase, “Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live,” actually refers to a committed same-sex relationship. They also offered a different interpretation of a story that appears in both Matthew and Luke, in which a centurion asks Jesus to heal a man who is typically identified — misidentified, says Miner — as the centurion’s servant.

“That story’s often preached about in straight churches,” said Miner, but “nobody bothers to mention that the Greek word used to describe the sick man is the word used in the ancient world to describe your same-sex partner.”

Another forum is planned next year.

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