Family praying
Photo: Polka Dot/Thinkstock
In Jackson, Mississippi, Ceara Sturgis has grown up with her classmates for the past 12 years. Day in day out, she was a well-liked, self-described "tomboy," an academically gifted student to be sure. Yet, when her senior picture and any mention of her went missing from the yearbook, it became clear she'd been removed because of her status as an out lesbian. Big deal? To many, the answer is yes.

How would you feel if someone you love told you he or she was gay? How would your view evolve in that moment or over time? Could it change? Why would it change?

"Don't tramp on my rights," my brother Robert recently told me at my nephew Ian's wedding in Oregon. Robert was commenting on gay people who want marriage rights. Somehow, it had become all about him, rather than about them. I asked how letting gays marry would infringe on his rights? "I love the sinner," he said. "The thief, the alcoholic, the adulterer, the homosexual need God's restoration, not our approval." He is a believer that the "gay can be prayed away," and that it is, bottom line, a defect caused by the devil.

This yearbook deletion goes to the heart of the larger issue: how, as a nation, we're split on this notion of sexual identity and tolerance. We are still split as a nation on what we believe, though it's more evenly divided today than ever. It's one part belief, another part feeling.

Gallup released its annual findings on sexuality that tell how we have changed. As of a couple weeks ago, more than 50 percent of Americans now accept gay relationships. What's more, 78 percent of Americans now believe gay Americans should be allowed to serve in the military, while 48 percent believe gay Americans should have the right to marry.

These are the facts. How are the feelings? How does this conversation make you feel?

Brad shares his personal experience of growing up gay