Looking back on Azariah Southworth's past year, it would be easy to say things have been difficult.

Southworth worked as a host of Remix TV, a Christian Music Video program, for a year and a half. Then, in April 2008 Southworthcame out, and found that he and his faith were put on trial.

He quickly became a hot topic as blogs and chat rooms once again began debating whether or not an individual can be both gay and Christian. He lost some of his closest friends and his job at Remix TV. His relationship with his family was further strained.

But, as Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (NIV) Southworth held tight to his conviction knowing that there is healing for the pain received from others.

He maintained the rights to the show, "Remix", a silver lining among skies filled with gloom. Then, a few months later, he was given the chance to break away from the infamy surrounding his situation when he was invited to join the Soulforce Q 2008 Equality Ride. Soulforce is a group organized to “fight for freedom for GLBT individuals from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.” The Equality Ride is a nationwide tour that work specifically with students and the academic environment by visiting 15 schools.

While it was a great opportunity for him to use his celebrity in a positive way as an openly gay Christian, The Equality Ride also presented a struggle.

“What I experienced on the Equality Ride from the Christian schools we visited often drove me to the point of walking away from everything that even appeared to be Christian,” Southworth said.

As the group traveled from school to school, they were greeted with numerous condemnations and at least one student was expelled just for speaking with them. But by the end of the tour, Southworth's faith had been strengthened through his walk with Christ, he said.

"I believe GLBT people who face oppression and spiritual violence have a great advantage when striving to obtain the wisdom and knowledge of who God is, but sadly so many of us give up because of hurt and offenses,” Southworth said.

Many times, people get focused on how they have been wronged by the Christian community and begin point fingers, Southworth said. That's why he chooses the high road and let's things run their course. Now, he's looking to the future with plans of filming a pilot for Remix TV in Los Angeles, Cali.

“It is important for us to be able to separate what humans do to us from what God does to us," Southworth said. "Too often, many of us are not able to get past the hurt done to us by Christians to the point that we can’t separate Christ’s followers from Christ. Instead, embrace your faith and pursue Christ with everything you have. Pursue Him by forgiving others, loving others, and giving to others.”

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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