Randy Roberts Potts, the grandson of
televangelist Oral Roberts, is talking for the first time about
coming out gay.
In a 30-minute sermon delivered Sunday
at Tulsa's All Souls Unitarian Church, Potts talked about his
experience as a gay man in an evangelical world.
He told parishioners that a closeted
life led his uncle Ronnie to commit suicide, and that he nearly
followed in his footsteps.
“I feel the burden of my uncle's
death each and every day,” Potts said. “I know I can't fix it,
but I almost relived his life in every way: marrying young, having
children, becoming a teacher, becoming suicidal. All because I was
never told his story, because his story as a gay man has been hushed
up. This system of mendacity, of bluffing, of pretending, of trying
to pray the gay away has already left one casualty in my family and
almost caused another.” (The video is embedded in the right panel
of this page.)
an interview with the Tulsa
World, Potts said he grew up in the Roberts family compound
just north of Oral Roberts University. He was close to his
grandmother, Evelyn Roberts, but rarely saw his famous grandfather.
While he knew from an early age that he
was attracted to men – and at 18 announced he was bisexual – it
wasn't until several years into his marriage to a college girlfriend
that he announced he was gay.
“I told my wife a few years later
that I had to leave, and we were divorced legally in June of 2006,”
Potts said. “I have been openly gay ever since.”
Potts was ostracized for his decision.
He was denied a seat in the family's seating section at his
Roberta Potts, Randy Roberts Potts'
mother, told the paper that she and her husband are “not
“We have no ill feelings toward
homosexual persons,” she said.
“But that doesn't mean we approve of
his conduct,” she added. “We do believe what the Bible says.”