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James Melville White (born 1940) is a gay American clergyman and author. White was a behind-the-scenes member of the Evangelical Protestant movement during the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, writing speeches and ghostwriting books for televangelists such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Billy Graham. After years of writing for the religious right, he came out of the closet, announcing his homosexuality in 1994.
In 1962, White graduated from Warner Pacific College. That same year, White married his wife Lyla. They had two children, one of whom is the comedian, actor, and screenwriter Mike White. After their marriage, Mel White admitted to his wife that he had always been attracted to men. He embarked on a long process of attempted "cures" for his homosexuality, including psychotherapy, prayer, Electroconvulsive therapy, and exorcism. None of these techniques changed his homosexuality, and after he attempted suicide, he and Lyla agreed to an amicable divorce.
In 1984, White began dating Gary Nixon. As of 2007, they are still together, both as a couple and as the leaders of a gay rights organization called Soulforce. They currently reside in Lynchburg, Virginia.
In 1994, White wrote his autobiography, Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay And Christian In America, which detailed his former career in the Religious Right and his struggle coming to terms with being gay. His former wife wrote the foreword to this book - indicative of the good relations between them.
In 1997, White was awarded the ACLU's National Civil Liberties Award for his efforts to apply the "soul force" principles of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. to the struggle for justice for sexual minorities.
After receiving his masters degree in communications from the University of Portland, White did graduate work in communications and film at University of Southern California, UCLA, and Harvard. He received his doctorate in religious studies from, and was a professor for over a decade at, Fuller Theological Seminary. During this time he also worked as an evangelical pastor. After coming out, White transferred his clergy credentials to the gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church.
He produced, wrote, and directed 53 documentary films and television specials on spirituality. He is also an author; among his 16 books (nine bestsellers), he wrote about the Philippines' Ninoy and Corazon Aquino (Aquino), the Jonestown tragedy (Deceived), David Rothenberg, a child burned by his father (David), Lust the Other Side of Love, and talk-show host/producer Mike Douglas (When the Going Gets Tough.)
In addition, he ghost-wrote several books for fellow evangelicals, including Billy Graham (Approaching Hoofbeats), Pat Robertson (America's Date with Destiny), and Jerry Falwell (Strength for the Journey and If I Should Die Before I Wake). In all those writings, however, he never wrote against homosexuality. White began coming out privately and gradually during the same period that the Religious Right stepped up its anti-gay rhetoric. Since 1993, he has devoted himself full-time to minister to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people, working on their behalf in the media, in the political process, and with fellow religious leaders.
Books under his own name
|This article is based on a GNU FDL LGBT Wikia article: White Mel White||LGBT|