Jen Hatmaker with her daughter Sydney

Jen Hatmaker has spoken for the first time about her daughter Sydney being gay in a special podcast for Pride month. 

The popular author shocked the evangelical community in 2016 when she called for full inclusion of the LGBT community in the church, prompting Lifeway to withdraw her books from its stores.

She has discussed her daughter’s homosexuality for the first time in a new episode of her “For the Love” podcast. 

Sydney, who is now at college, talked about her struggle to reconcile her faith and sexuality, and how she knew she was gay from the age of 12. 

Jen clarified that the podcast was not an “announcement” on her daughter’s sexuality because the family had already known about it for some time.

“It’s Pride month and if you’ve been around me for half a second you know that this is cause for a great celebration and incredibly meaningful to me and to my family,” she said. 

“This is just a special conversation.  So Sydney is gay and this is, like, a known fact in our family and has been.  This is not news, this is not new news, this is not an announcement. This has just been a part of our family and her life and her story. 

“But of course as you might imagine, I’m definitely careful about putting a couple of million eyeballs on any one of my kids, no matter what.”

Jen said she hadn’t publicly disclosed it before now because her daughter had a right to privacy and they had wanted to decide together when it was the right time to share it. 

“That time has come,” Jen said, adding that she was “not ashamed” of her daughter and that her sexuality was “not a secret” that she had to keep. 

“I’m just really proud of her,” she said. 

“Be kind to my girl today, internet,” she added.

Discussing her sexuality, Sydney said she became consciously aware of being gay in around sixth grade but on some level “always knew”. 

“That’s why the whole ‘coming out’ thing is kind of antiquated and will hopefully be over eventually as kids are just raised and able to have as much freedom to grow up and develop their sexuality,” Sydney said. 

She went on to say she remembered trying to make herself have crushes on boys and shared how she once pretended she wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend so that she could avoid dating boys at school. 

She said it was a “painful and confusing” time when she started to realise she was gay because she was “such a Jesus freak”.

“My first thought was like, oh shoot, am I going to go to hell? … And then my second thought was, what’s going to happen with my family,” Sydney said. 

“It’s hard looking back on this time and to look back on those journals because I was like 12 and 13, like fighting really hard for my own faith because I was really scared, and that time I didn’t have a single voice in my life telling me it was OK.” 

Sydney recalled one time feeling “destroyed” when she read a book by a pastor who went through the Bible verse by verse to show that being gay is a sin. 

After reading the whole book in a day, she had a “full meltdown” after feeling “in that moment like God didn’t love me”. 

She said her mum came in and found her broken on the floor, adding, “I just want pastors to know that’s what happens. Like, we hear you, we’re reading what you’re writing, we’re in your pews, we might be your kids and that’s what happens.”

Towards the end of the conversation, Jen said the only regret she had was that she and her husband didn’t embrace an affirming LGBT theology sooner because that left Sydney “alone and vulnerable and scared”.

“And I am so sorry and I am so sad,” she said. 

The full conversation can be listened to here.

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