Carla Denise Nolan — “Pastor C.” to her parishioners — says reconciling the Apostolic theology she was raised and taught at Hood Theological Seminary with her sexual orientation was a process that took several years.
“I was actually serving in my home church in Charlotte, North Carolina when I heard the Lord speak to me and say, ‘You need to bring gay people back to me,’” she says. “I was shocked and afraid because I knew I would have to come out myself, which I didn’t do till 2006.”
Upon moving to the D.C. area seven years ago, Nolan took a few years off from ministry and worked solely as a pharmaceutical rep, which she still does. But then two years ago, she began Gathering International Worship Center (giwc.org), which meets at Kettering Elementary School (11000 Layton St., Upper Marlboro, Md.) and has about 50 people (she guesses about 90 percent are LGBT) on any given Sunday for its 11:45 a.m. services. She says although many D.C. churches may be welcoming to gays, she sensed a need for a pro-gay, non-denominational church in Prince George’s County.
Nolan and her wife, Angelica Nolan-Brooks, live in Indian Head, Md. She enjoys writing, watching movies and going to the beach in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out for eight years and the hardest person to tell was my mother. She’s a highly religious person and to have to face the homophobic rhetoric that has been taught over the years was tough. But, her love for me superseded all the negativity. She loves me and my wife; we all have come a long way but love brought us through.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I have many but the one that most comes to mind is Bishop Yvette Flunder. She came out and expressed the importance of being your true self when it wasn’t popular in the religious community. She has stood toe to toe with LGBT religious oppressors and for that I’m grateful and encouraged.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
When my wife and I like to wind down we go to Gazuza. The sushi is awesome!
Describe your dream wedding.
My dream wedding was on 9-10-11 when I married my wife, Angelica. She’s my best friend and my greatest supporter. We were married at the Embassy Suites Convention Center in D.C. surrounded by our family and friends, which made our day super special.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Our youth is the one area where I know I’m called to empower. We have an awesome generation coming up behind us that we must protect, encourage and support them.
What historical outcome would you change?
I would make it legal for LGBT persons to be married wherever they may be. Laws against love and acceptance should be, and hopefully will be, non-existent in our future.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Legalizing gay marriage.
On what do you insist?
Equal opportunity for everyone.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“Today, allow God to upgrade your vision! As you move forward in faith I pray you will develop the ability to see beyond where you are! You’re due an upgrade! #Liveforward”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Absolutely nothing! That discovery would find no place in my life because that would definitely alter my purpose and destiny. I love who I am and what I do as a pastor.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe there is a God who loves and cares for all people. And I believe in faith that can change and transform your present reality.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep pushing for equality, love and peace. Remember to place high value and importance on your spiritual grounding whatever that may be.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My wife. I love her with all my being.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That we are sinners and that we have no place in a productive relationship with God.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Imagine Me & You.” I love Piper Perabo.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Shaking hands; we should hug more.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That I could be loved and accepted for being gay. I wish I would’ve known more out spiritual role models to help make the way a little easier.
The city is electric, on fire and highly accepting to all cultures, people and personal theologies.