Marilyn Bowens (Courtesy of Marilyn Bowens/ABC News)
Marilyn Bowens (Courtesy of Marilyn Bowens/ABC News)

Marilyn Bowens, a professor of law-turned-Christian minister, recalls how hard it was to celebrate the holidays with her large African-American family. As she reflects on it, she has seasonal advice for the parents of gay children: "Give your son or daughter what Jesus will give him or her for Christmas (and every other day) — unconditional love. Just be like Jesus. He is, after all, the one whose birth we celebrate."

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Read her story from ABC News:

"My mom would host a big family gathering with my sister, nieces and nephews — everyone," said Bowens, now 56 and living in New Haven, Conn. "She always wanted me to come home with my children, but not invite my partner to come."

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Bowens is a lesbian, coming out well into adulthood after a heterosexual marriage that produced two boys, now age 20 and 27.

Today, she ministers to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and challenges the church in her new book, "Ready to Answer: Why 'Homophobic Church' is an Oxymoron."

"It was very tough," she said. "We were actively involved in our church and other traditions like inviting a few people who didn't have families. It was a full house."

She says the social divide is "mute" now — her mother died last year and her father, who finally reconciled her sexual orientation with his faith, died in 1995.

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But as an evangelical Christian and a lesbian, the memory still stings and Bowens asks why Christianity and what she calls the "accusers" turn a back on those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Read more at ABC News.

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