An event proclaiming freedom of all kinds of sexual identity issues is set to occur this weekend in Washington, D.C., spearheaded by a man who identified as a gay and transgender for approximately 15 years. Several former LGBTQ speakers from a variety of backgrounds will be sharing their stories of how they encountered the living God.
Jeffrey McCall is the main organizer of what is being called The Freedom March, and in an interview with The Christian Post Wednesday, explained that despite constant talk in society about the perils of gay "conversion therapy," the March is centered on how the Holy Spirit has transformed the lives of countless people and their journeys of newness of life in Christ. And, he argued, a great shift in how things are done in the modern Church is currently underway, particularly as it relates to how Christians minister to the LGBTQ community.
McCall, 30, is from Franklin Springs, Georgia. He lived and identified as a homosexual man from ages 15 to 27, and as a transgender woman named "Scarlet" from ages 27 to 29.
The Freedom March will showcase the stories of people who lived and identified as lesbians, gay men, bisexual, transgender, and queer — including two survivors of the June 2016 Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando — for many years but now have found a new life in Jesus Christ.
McCall first got the idea to do the event last fall and obtained the permit earlier this year, feeling called to do it in the nation's capital. The Freedom March will be held at the National Sylvan Theater near the Washington monument on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.
The Christian Post spoke with McCall as he was traveling north from Georgia for this weekend's event, and below is a lightly edited transcript of the interview.
CP: You identified and lived for many years in a life you say you now reject. How did this 180 degree turn in coming to follow Jesus happen, particularly this change of ideas about who you are?
McCall: Well, it's funny to say but for years I actually listened to Jentezen Franklin (pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia) even when I was living as Scarlet. Just when I would hear this man's words I would just feel a conviction from the Holy Spirit that my life in homosexuality — I was very promiscuous, I'd even prostituted my body — the Holy Spirit was showing me that there was so much more for me.
CP: What drew you to Pastor Jentezen Franklin in particular?
McCall: I had gone to his church when I was in Georgia for a time while in undergrad. I was living as a homosexual at that point, wasn't living as Scarlet yet. I was drinking, doing drugs, prescription pills — I was addicted. But I felt the Holy Spirit there at his church. I just felt something there. It wasn't so much because it was a church building, it was just the gathering of the church members there, you know. I just felt the presence of God. It just kept drawing me back to Him. I did grow up in church. But when I was living as Scarlet I was not going to go to a church building. I knew a lot about how church people can be sometimes. But Jentezen Franklin was easy to access because he was all over YouTube and TV so I could catch him online and hear him preach.
I had one night where I had been out partying, and I came home and started crying on my bed in March of 2016. And that was the night I said "Lord, I know people really live for you. Not just go to church on Sunday, but they really live for you. They have a relationship with you."
And I said, through tears: "God, will I ever have a relationship with you?"
And all of a sudden my thoughts in my mind and everything was just interrupted. And I heard the Lord say: "Yes, you will live for me."
It was a couple of months after that, it took months, but that's when [in June later that year] I threw everything away in my life that was related to being 'Scarlet.' All the hair, makeup, jewelry, clothes, shoes, everything. I just threw my life as I knew it away. It was an encounter with the Lord.
CP: Were you attempting to transition with a synthetic hormone regimen or looking to have sex reassignment surgery?
McCall: I was not on hormones but I was seeing a psychologist and a psychiatrist. I had a psychiatrist diagnose me with gender dysphoria. He was telling me that you need of couple of professional gender dysphoria diagnoses before you can have surgeries. He was the first one to do so. And the way we were talking I was leaning more toward surgeries on my body. I didn't want to take hormones.
CP: What is the Freedom March all about, particularly as it pertains to those who have once lived and identified as LBGTQ such as yourself?
McCall: The Freedom March is about the transformation power of the Holy Spirit. This is not about 'conversion therapy.' This is about what the Holy Spirit can do and what God wants to do in this country right now. There is a spiritual shifting and He is wanting to do some things quite differently before they have ever been done.