James Schwartz was raised in an Amish community in Michigan. In a segment on HuffPost Live, he shared his struggle to fit into this group when he realized he was gay.
"If an Amish youth comes out to his parents and says 'I'm gay', then they really don't have any choice," he said. "They're going to have to leave. Unless they choose, of course, to stay in the closet."
James eventually made the decision to leave his first home. "Going to my first gay club, I sort of felt for the first time that sense of community, and others that were like me," he shared. "They really gave me the courage and strength to decide to live life for me instead of making a lot of other Amish people happy."
Schwartz joined host Nancy Redd to discuss growing up in homophobic communities along with Nate Phelps, LGBT and anti-abuse advocate and son of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, Bob Pardon, Executive Director of Meadowhaven, a long-term recovery center for survivors of high-control organizations, and Libby Jane, who grew up a member of the Vision Forum/Quiverfull movement.
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