The project got a lot of, well, love. It was shared far and wide (thanks for that!). And I received lots of messages on my Facebook page about it.
But one message stood out, from a girl named Esther:
I asked if I could speak with her sister because she sounded awesome.
Esther put me in touch with Serena. Serena and I had a short email chat and then hopped onto Skype, where we discussed her faith, her beliefs, and how she dealt with the wide range of responses she received when she shared my post on Facebook.
She told me that she got a barrage of critical responses from a small minority of fellow Christians. People were emailing her and sending Facebook messages to her asking why she supported gay rights and whether she is gay herself. She even got phone calls at work about her "controversial views" from people trying to convince her to change her stance.
Serena was concerned: Was she going to be kicked out of her church? How should she respond?
She told me she responded to each message sent to her (she showed me the emails — she did so with tolerance and kindness).
But the best part of it all was when Serena reposted my link with a definitive statement to end the chaos.
Just read how ace her reply is:
Serena told me the head pastor of her church told her that discussion is a good thing because homosexuality isn't talked about much in her community and kept very "hush-hush" in her church. She explained that she wasn't angry about the reaction she got — in fact, she felt it "opened up dialogue ... it required people to express their opinion, but also to really listen to other opinions, too."
Serena helped shape the conversation about LGBT rights in a positive way and encouraged a dialogue even when she faced a backlash. Simply sharing a post (like mine) may not seem like a big thing to do, but Serena has proved that it can bring an important issue to the table that otherwise would have been ignored or misunderstood.
When I asked Serena if she'd share another Upworthy post that mirrored her views or supported LGBT rights, she replied, "absolutely."