HeartStrong Seeks Former Students of Conservative Religious Educational Institutions

Seattle, WA – The only organization in the world to reach GLBT former and current students of conservative religious educational institutions, HeartStrong, Inc., is seeking participants for its newly formed outreach project, HeartStrong Network.

"We are looking for everyone in our GLBT communities who has ever attended a conservative religious educational institution," says Marc Adams, executive director and cofounder of HeartStrong, Inc. "All of us who share this history must join hands so we can help to empower those who are still struggling to survive. Those of us who have survived these institutions and who have come to love ourselves in spite of what they tried to do to us, must come together."

"Students and alumni of any conservative religious school, college or university are asked to respond," Adams continues. "This includes Catholic, Mormon, Seventh Day Adventist, Jewish, Presbyterian, Baptist, Pentecostal…this means everyone!"

Those interested in participating in the HeartStrong Network project may register online at www.heartstrong.org

Adams, an out gay fundamentalist Baptist preacher’s son and former fundamentalist himself, knows personally the journey that many GLBT persons take when enrolled at conservative religious educational institutions. "I attended these types of schools from 5th grade through high school graduation and I attended Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University for more than 3 years," Adams reflects. "The harsh disciplinary and anti-homosexual environments in the schools I attended were not even close to representing the horrors that others have undergone at many of these schools, colleges and universities."

Adams and his partner of nearly twelve years, Todd Tuttle founded HeartStrong, Inc., in January of 1998. "We feel strongly that we were meant to begin this work of reaching out to struggling and suffering GLBT students at these schools," says Tuttle. "How could we turn our backs on the thousands of young people trapped emotionally and physically in these environments? We also believe that we can build a community of friends by gathering together the thousands and thousands of us who have this shared history."

"I remember watching many of my friends get expelled for homosexuality when I was a student," Adams injects, "Each time one of my was forced out, I feared that someone would discover me. I never showed them the love and compassion they so desperately needed."

It is those experiences and Adams and Tuttle’s discovery two years ago that no one was even attempting to focus on reaching students in these schools, that led them to form HeartStrong, Inc. It is now a national non-profit corporation based in Seattle.

Regional and national gatherings for those registered with the HeartStrong Network are being planned for the near future.

Adams and Tuttle have driven over 143,000 miles in the past two years, sharing their personal stories, raising awareness about HeartStrong, Inc., and doing outreach to students who are or have attended conservative religious educational institutions.

For more information about HeartStrong, Inc., visit their website at www.heartstrong.org

©1995-2000 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.