Mitchell Gold, a furniture executive in Taylorsville, believes religious teachings about homosexuality endanger children’s lives. He said so at a January meeting of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners after he was asked to speak about an unrelated county issue.
The outcry has been forceful.
At the board’s next meeting, the Rev. Jim Belcher suggested that LGBTQ people want to infiltrate high schools. “They can’t reproduce, so they’re wanting to recruit,” Belcher said, according to The Taylorsville Times.
Contacted by the Observer, Belcher described Gold as “a sodomite” who is trying to suppress other people’s freedom of speech. He wouldn’t elaborate unless the Observer reporter revealed her opinion about homosexuality.
Many people wrote the Taylorsville newspaper in support of Gold, one writer deriding bigotry as wrong, another thanking Gold for his participation in the lives of county residents. Others wrote in support of Belcher, one arguing that “gender and ethnicity are inherent traits,” another stating that these “sinful lifestyles” can be conquered.
“Mr. Mitchell Gold, you will not hold Alexander County hostage to promote your lifestyle nor will you force us ‘bigots’ to accept it,” one writer said.
In an interview with The Observer, Gold said he, too, was raised to believe homosexuality is a sin. He said he thought “God didn’t love me” and, as a teenager, he contemplated suicide.
Gold, now 65, credits a psychiatrist with saving his life. He said the doctor assured him that humans can’t change their sexual orientation.
Gold said he hopes to help save other lives. In 2005, he formed the nonprofit Faith in America to try to persuade religious institutions to stop teaching that homosexuality is a sin. He believes those teachings can cause extraordinary harm, pushing young LGBTQ people into depression and suicide.
“This is not about being anti-religion,” Gold said. “This is about being against religious thinkings that are harmful. We are talking about people’s lives.”