Mother Leaves Evangelical Church After Telling Her To Disown Her Bisexual Daughter: ‘I Chose My Child’

In a powerful new TED talk, Susan Cottrell shared the difficult choice she made when her 20 year-old-daughter came out as bisexual, challenging her Evangelical church’s teachings that “being gay was somehow wrong.”

“One day the phone rang and everything changed,” Cottrell said in her speech.

Her daughter, Annie, called her from college and said, “Mom, I’ve got something to tell you. I’m attracted to girls. I think I’m bisexual. I prayed about it, Mom. I resisted, but it won’t go away.”



Cottrell admitted that her total acceptance for Annie didn’t come right away. After 20 years in an evangelical church, the mother of five said she “believed that being gay was somehow wrong.”

“Don’t give in. We’ll support you. How can I help?” Cottrell said to her daughter at the moment.

Cottrell, who regularly attended a Bible study class, was repeatedly told that “homosexuality is a sin and we can’t accept it.”

She knew she had a choice to make.

In a tearful moment onstage, Cottrell said, “I realized I was being asked to choose between the two most important parts of my life: my child and my church. I chose my child.”

The audience stood and applauded her.





After leaving the church and losing the support of half her family, Cottrell said she found her heart opened to a new mission: “God was telling me to serve the gay community.”

Cottrell and her husband, Rob, started the blog FreedHearts.org, which offers messages of love and hope to counter the hateful messages often spewed by those who claim to represent Jesus Christ.

“As pastors, Rob and I represent the voice of God, and it’s a voice of love,” she says.

The Cottrells have facilitated support groups, officiated same-sex weddings, and offered free mom and dad hugs at Pride parades.

“Real love,” she says, “accepts people as they are with room for who they may become.”