Tulsa, OK —
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."
In 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 grandparents' funerals.
Roberta Potts, Randy Roberts Potts' mother, told the paper that she and her husband are "not homophobic."
"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."
"It Get's Better"
Randy Roberts Potts' "It Gets Better" video comes in the way of a letter he'd written to his deceased gay uncle. Potts' uncle, who was gay and took his own life at the age of 30.