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Bruce Stores

Biography

Bruce Stores, gay Christian Scientist leader and historian, was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  He attended Christian Science Sunday School from a young age. When he was nine, his father was transferred to Washington, D.C. and the family settled in nearby Arlington, Virginia, where Bruce lived until he began college.

Bruce attended Wesley College in Dover, Delaware for two years and received an A.A. degree. Then went to Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts where he received B.S. and M.Ed. degrees in humanities.  He did not know what to do in his life after graduation, so he joined the Peace Corps. He was assigned to rural Guatemala where he did community development projects, youth work, and taught English in a junior high school.  He met his first boyfriend there which, at the time, was a very secret affair.

Later he got a job with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and was sent to Vietnam at the height of the war to work with refugees who had lost their homes in the conflict.  This first required a six-month training program that was held in Hawaii. There he met his future wife.

Back in the United States, he found a job as youth director for the Vineland, New Jersey YMCA. After three years he changed jobs to be the branch director at the Midland, Texas YMCA .  He subsequently got a job with Bell Helicopter in pre-revolution Iran as recreation coordinator for American families.  After returning to the United States, he divorced his wife and settled in Seattle, Washington.  They have one son, David Bruce Stores.

Bruce came out of the closet in January 1980 at age 40. He initially struggled with finding out how to get involved with the gay community.  Bars and discos seemed intimidating. He hadn't even learned how to cruise other men. One day he recalled reading from a book about a church called Metropolitan something or other.  So, he got out the Yellow Pages and found MCC. He phoned the pastor and got involved in that church community. That helped him to get involved and know other gay people. Through MCC he learned of other gay organizations, activities and the local gay newspaper, Seattle Gay News (SGN).  One day, while perusing the gay newspaper, he saw a help wanted ad for reporters for SGN.  He called the newspaper and was told to come to a meeting next Friday afternoon. He expected there would be a crowd of people there also applying for the reporter position. As it turned out, he was the only one applying for the job...so he got it.

The reporter job at SGN opened a big world for him as he was required to report on many LGBT activities and see many groups in action. Soon, his reporting was narrowed down to dealing with gay political and religious groups.  This he enjoyed immensely.  

The office at SGN was a place of noisy and constant chatter. But an overwhelming silence prevailed every mid-afternoon for a considerable time.  This was following the daily visit from the postman whose delivery included many gay publications from around the country.  SGN had a trade agreement with LGBT publications throughout the United States and a few from other lands. As there was no service of national news such as the Associated Press, gay periodicals depended on each other to obtain news from around the country. During one of these quiet periods, Bruce was devouring The Advocate, a weekly newspaper from Los Angeles that would later become a national magazine. He read everything in the magazine, including the classified section.  That day he spotted a notice about a group in Los Angeles called "Emergence."  "We're Christian Scientists," the ad read.  

Bruce's reaction to the ad was a quiet, self-contained anger.  He had stopped going to the Christian Science Church after he came out, because his Church took a decisive position against sexual orientations that were not heterosexual.  "One cannot have it both ways," he thought.  "If you accept Christian Science, you must accept the homophobia," he felt. Otherwise one should leave the Church. Nevertheless, he was curious and wrote to the Emergence group, asking for more information.

The Emergence group responded with information about its activities.  Through the Los Angeles group, he learned that a similar group had formed in New York City.  A major difference was that the NYC group was founded by Christian Scientists who were also gay activists. The dominant person in the New York group was a leading gay activist. Craig Rodwell was present all five nights of the Stonewall riots and had opened the first gay bookstore outside San Francisco.  His positions on activism were radical for that period. It was Craig's idea to stage the first-ever gay pride march and asked gay organizations in other cities to do the same. Craig was also a Christian Scientist who lamented against the homophobia of the Church he loved.  His answer to that was to have the gay Christian Scientists that he knew to write a pamphlet designed to show how homophobia was against the teachings of Jesus and Christian Science founder, Mary Baker Eddy. The New York group decided to print thousands of their pamphlet and take them to the Church's headquarters in Boston. They would pass them out to the thousands who had gathered from around the world to attend the denomination's annual meeting.   Details of this event and other demonstrations are described in Bruce's book, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE: Its Encounter with Lesbian/Gay America.

During this time, Bruce met another gay Christian Scientist at MCC. Together they decided to form a support group for LGBT Christian Scientists in Seattle. They placed an ad in SGN. The ad was answered by several men and the group took off. During this time Christian Science periodicals came out against gays using nasty, pejorative words to describe them. This infuriated many gay Christian Scientists.  It seemed that discrimination was serving as a glue helping to hold the groups together.  The national group came out with a monthly magazine that would refute the discriminating untruths about gays that were perpetuated by the Church. Bruce became an active writer for Emerge! magazine.  One of the problems that confronted Bruce was finding new topics to write about.  One day--during a national Emergence conference--Bruce overheard a veteran Emergence member talking with a newcomer to the annual gathering. He was explaining what had happened in the past.  He related to the new member stories about the gay demonstrations at the Mother Church's annual meetings. This became an aha! moment for Bruce. He would write historical stories for Emerge! magazine--accounts of the history of Emergence.  This worked well.

In time Bruce had written a large collection of historical stories for Emerge! This was when the idea of using the historical information as the basis for a book emerged in Bruce's thought. A book would, however, require a lot more information than he had so far collected.  So he began interviewing persons that played a role in some of the major events in Emergence's history.  Those being interviewed were extremely cooperative in giving much detail from what they knew.  It took a long time for this information to come together as a book.  The first edition of CHRISTIAN SCIENCE: Its Encounter with Lesbian/Gay America, a book of 248 pages, came out in December 2004.

Following the book's publication, Bruce couldn't help but begin rewriting that first edition.  He worked on it for a while, then did not touch the project, sometimes for years at a time.  This happened over and over.  Eventually he came to give the new document nearly all his time. He kept at it until the final document of 598 pages was sent to the publisher.  The second edition came out on March 1st, 2024.  Bruce has also written two other books: THE ISTHMUS:  Stories of Mexico's Past 1495 to 1995;  and NILO & DEMETRIUS:  Brothers in Classical Greece.

(This biographical statement was written by Bruce Stores.)

Biography Date: March 12, 2024

Additional Resources

More information about Bruce Stores can be found in the "About the Author" pages of CHRISTIAN SCIENCE: Its Encounter with Lesbian/Gay America.

Bruce was interviewed about his book on the CBS Radio program People of Distinction with Benjie Cole:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45YPKvQf6qk

Tags

Christian Science (officially Church of Christ, Scientist) | Activist (religious institutions) | Author/editor | Archives/Library/History Activism | Seattle | Washington | Rodwell, Craig | Stores, Bruce

Citation

“Bruce Stores | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed May 30, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/bruce-stores.

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