While gay marriage has gained greater acceptance across American society, many churches and faith communities struggle to welcome openly gay parishioners.
It's a reality that Amber Cantorna knows firsthand, and the Colorado woman is coming to Charleston on Tuesday to talk about it.
Cantorna wrote "Refocusing My Family: Coming Out, Being Cast Out and Discovering the True Love of God," her personal story about growing up the daughter of an executive at Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group that has run campaigns against the LGBTQ community.
When she came out as gay at age 27, her family and church shunned her. She almost committed suicide.
Several years later, she has wed, found a new church home and works as a speaker, author and advocate for greater acceptance of the LGBTQ community in the church.
Chase Glenn, of the Charleston-based Alliance for Full Acceptance, said some Lowcountry churches are very accepting, such as the 11 faith communities cosponsoring Cantorna's talk. Others are not, and some fall in a spectrum in between.
"I would say off the cuff, in the general public, acceptance has increased to the point where the majority are accepting and believe there should be marriage equality,” he said. "Within faith groups, the percentage is much smaller in terms of those who are accepting."
"Listening to our community, we realized that a lot of people have a faith identity, but it’s been hard for them to reconcile or be part of a faith community that’s accepting of them and their LGBTQ identity,” he added.