White, Mel 1940-
White, Mel 1940-
Born 1940; married; wife's name Lyla (divorced); partner of Gary Nixon. Education: Warner Pacific College, B.A., 1962; University of Portland, M.A., 1963; Fuller Theological Seminary, Ph.D.; attended University of Southern California, University of California at Los Angeles, and Harvard University.
Mel White Productions, Los Angeles, CA, founder, beginning 1965; First Covenant Church, Pasadena, CA, senior pastor, beginning 1973; Cathedral of Hope Metropolitan Community Church, Dallas, TX, dean, beginning 1993; Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, national minister of justice, beginning 1995.
Soulforce (founder), 1998.
Rockefeller grant, for religious studies.
(With Howard Rutledge, Phyllis Rutledge, and Lyla White) In the Presence of Mine Enemies, 1965-1973: A Prisoner of War, illustrated by Gerald Coffee, Revell (Old Tappan, NJ), 1973.
(With Merrill Womach, Virginia Womach, and Lyla White) Tested by Fire, Revell (Old Tappan, NJ), 1976.
Lust: The Other Side of Love, Revell (Old Tappan, NJ), 1978.
(With Paul Scotchmer and Marguerite Shuster) Deceived, Spire Books (Old Tappan, NJ), 1979.
Margaret of Molokai, Word Books (Waco, TX), 1981.
Mike Douglas—When the Going Gets Tough (biography), Word Books (Waco, TX), 1982.
(With Marie Rothenberg) David, Revell (Old Tappan, NJ), 1985.
(With Tony Melendez) A Gift of Hope: The Tony Melendez Story, Harper & Row (San Francisco, CA), 1989.
Aquino (biography), Word (Dallas, TX), 1989.
Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1994.
"Pat Robertson—Preaching Politics," Biography, (teleplay), A&E Television Network, 1996.
Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right, J.P. Tarcher/Penguin (New York, NY), 2006.
David was adapted as a television movie, National Broadcasting Company, 1988; Stranger at the Gate was adapted as a sound recording, Simon & Schuster, 1994.
Mel White has had an eclectic career, starting with decades in Hollywood as a television and film producer under the blanket of Mel White Productions, which he founded in 1965. He is the author of numerous books on a number of subjects, including the best seller David, which recounts the true story of David Rothenberg, the boy who was burned by his father; a biography of talk-show host Mike Douglas, Mike Douglas—When the Going Gets Tough; and Aquino, a biography of the president of the Philippines. He also became an ordained minister and was an important leader in the rise of evangelical Christianity from the 1960s into the early 1990s, serving as a pastor for several California churches. Despite a long-term marriage and his involvement in the church, White was struggling with his homosexuality, and eventually, after years of torment, determined it was time to come out of the closet. He divorced and moved in with his partner, Gary Nixon. He went on to become a vocal advocate for acceptance of gay and lesbian lifestyles within the folds of Christianity. As part of his stance, White founded Soulforce, an organization based on the tenets of civil disobedience and inspired by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. White has taken on the Christian right, standing up to such leaders as Pat Robertson and demanding tolerance and acceptance and an end to violence and prejudicial behavior against homosexuals. White has spent time in jail due to his beliefs and has written several books that preach tolerance and address what he feels is part of the true nature of Christianity—acceptance despite sexual orientation.
In Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America, White offers readers the story of his early adult life as a closeted gay man, his struggles during the course of his career in Hollywood, his marriage to his former wife, Lyla White, his thoughts of suicide, and the extreme measures he took in an attempt to end his supposedly unnatural attraction to other men. The book includes his coming out and the way he has begun to look at Christianity and the structure of the church's teachings in relation to his own lifestyle. Bob Davies, in a review for Christianity Today, sympathized with White's difficulties, even if he did not condone his more extreme methods of protest. The critic remarked that the book "reveals the personal agony that can result from unloving attitudes—still all-too-common in some Christian circles—toward those who battle homosexual desires," concluding that "the church can do a much better job dealing with the issue of homosexuality without going down the path Mel White encourages us to take."
Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right offers an insider's view of Christian fundamentalist ideas. White uses his decades of church participation to illustrate just how negative and intolerant the beliefs are with regard to homosexuality and the gay and lesbian community. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews considered the book to be an "effective mobilization tool for those who share the author's mindset, but too narrow in its focus to garner much appeal to readers of other persuasions."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
White, Mel, Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1994.
Christian Century, January 18, 1995, Sally B. Geis, "A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society," review of Stranger at the Gate, p. 55.
Christianity Today, June 20, 1994, Bob Davies, review of Stranger at the Gate, p. 35.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2006, review of Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right, p. 777.
Library Journal, October 1, 2006, James A. Overbeck, review of Religion Gone Bad, p. 82.
National Review, June 27, 1994, William Murchison, review of Stranger at the Gate, p. 65.
Publishers Weekly, March 28, 1994, review of Stranger at the Gate, p. 78.
Harvard University Office of News and Public Affairs,http://www.hno.harvard.edu/ (May 23, 2007), Wendy McDowell, "White Makes Case for Gay Marriage."
Mel White Home Page,http://www.melwhite.org (May 23, 2007).
Oasis,http://www.oasismag.com/ (May 23, 2007), Jeff Walsh, "One Gay Man's Journey to Find God, and Himself."
Southern Poverty Law Center,http://www.splcenter.org/ (May 23, 2007), "A Thorn in Their Side."