January 13, 2017
Philadelphians might not be familiar with the "Rick & Bubba Show," but the show is wildly popular in the South, where the morning radio program is syndicated on stations everywhere from Texas to Tennessee. Rick Burgess, who co-hosts the show that's based out of Birmingham, Alabama, is known for his big voice and humorous takes but also for his conservative and Evangelical Christian viewpoints, which he espouses on the show.
In 2015, before same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, Burgess' comments about an Alabama court decision that lifted a ban on gay marriages in the state went viral. Burgess said that Christian judges should refuse to sign same-sex marriage licenses.
If you are a probate judge in my state and you claim to follow Christ. Make a stand and refuse to sign same sex marriage licenses— rick burgess (@bigvox) February 4, 2015
This would seem to put Burgess at odds with his daughter Brandi Burgess, 27, who currently lives in Philadelphia. Brandi is bisexual, and she recently spoke to AL.com columnist John Archibald about her relationship with her father.
Brandi, an actor who used to do segments for the show, told Archibald that her and her father love each other. But her principles and his principles are at odds, and she felt the need to "speak up" and tell her story.
It is not so much about Rick or her family or their admonitions for her to repent. She says over and over that her father has never done anything that wasn't - in his eyes - rooted in love and concern, both for her and for the God he believes in. He has merely lived his life as he has preached his beliefs on and off the show.
But that doesn't mean it hasn't been painful to hear that people like her are bound for hell, that she - as she has been told by her father - has been corrupted by the world and is living a lie.
Brandi's could be the story of thousands of LGBTQ men and women born to evangelical families. It's one of guilt and shame and a kind of eventual courage. The only difference is the platform of her father.
"I've been used as an example of sin and cast in the role of the modern day prodigal daughter," she said. "I have had evangelicals show up at my door unannounced, begging for me to repent. I have had strangers writing my names on stones in Jerusalem."
Archibald wrote that Rick declined to comment for the story and said instead he would respond on his show. Rick doesn't condemn Brandi on the show but has mentioned her "in generalities" on the show's website, according to Archibald.
Brandi said that she is choosing to speak out so that other LGBTQ youth who feel scared or apologetic because of messages they hear growing up, as she did, know they're not alone:
"I cannot hear another story of someone dying or getting beat up or killing themselves without sharing my voice," she said. "Without saying I did all I could to fight in the name of love."