When Autumn told me that she would be having her gender affirmation surgery in Lake Oswego, Oregon, I was both delighted and a little nervous. I was delighted because this meant that I could be present as a supportive friend on the day of the surgery, what with Lake Oswego being only a 3-4 hour drive from my home in Seattle, Washington.
But I was nervous because Pastor Gary Randall is a Clackamas County voter and taxpayer and his anti-LGBT organizations are headquartered in Lake Oswego. Randall is a retired televangelist who meddles constantly in Washington state politics in an attempt to undermine equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. He asserts that trans people are the victims of “gender confusion” and misgenders the trans individuals he writes about.
So I had to ask myself, if Randall is at all representative of Lake Oswego, will we be safe and at ease there?
My first drive through town assured me that Gary Randall’s dark views about LGBT people are not symptomatic of Lake Oswego. Lake Oswego United Church of Christ (Congregational) is so dedicated to diversity that they had “Honoring Diversity” carved into their sign. And while the sign for the Beit Haverim congregation wasn’t as explicit in words, the rainbow Star of David speaks volumes.
Since returning home I’ve learned from The Community of Welcoming Congregations website that there is at least one more LGBT-positive church in little Lake Oswego, and over 100 others around Oregon.
Had I not learned of Gary Randall from his meddling in Washington state politics, I’d never have guessed by a visit to Lake Oswego that such an individual lives there. I’m sure a few others in town agree with his anti-LGBT views because there are biased people everywhere. But the message I received very clearly, from the presence of Autumn’s doctor to the church signs on main streets, was that Gary Randall is not representative of Lake Oswego.