Gay-rights author to talk in Darrington

Lars Clausen is a married father of two. He has a master of divinity degree from a Lutheran seminary. He holds a place in the Guinness World Records for the longest unicycle tour, 9,136 miles.

With all of that, his passion these days is for something else altogether. He isn’t gay, but Clausen is a staunch gay-rights activist.

The facets of his life come together in “Straight into Gay America: My Unicycle Journey for Equal Rights.” In his book, the Chelan man chronicles a 1,000-mile unicycle ride he took last year. His aim wasn’t to set a record.

He rode from Vermont, the first state to recognize civil unions, to Lynchburg, Va., home of the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s evangelical Liberty University.

Along the way, Clausen met gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. His book tells their stories, and explains his own evolution on an issue that fiercely divides some families, churches and political rivals.

“Hearing people’s stories, I saw they have lives precisely like the lives of anybody else,” said Clausen, who is 45.

Tonight, Clausen will talk about his book and his views in a program at the Darrington Library. The event starts at 6:30 p.m.


When I saw the “Straight into Gay America” event in a calendar item e-mailed from Darrington, I wondered how Clausen’s message would be received there. Had I unfairly stereotyped a place with a proud history as a logging town?


“I think this is a very open community. We’ve discussed other sensitive topics,” said Linda McPherson, branch manager of the Darrington Library, part of the Sno-Isle Regional Library System.

“Darrington has such a diverse group of people. The community has changed,” said McPherson, 62. “I grew up here. Leaving Darrington for the University of Washington, I was never coming back.” And yet, she’s been back in her hometown more than 30 years.

A book group member, George Winters, brought Clausen to the library’s attention. “George’s wife unicycles a lot,” McPherson said. The group also read Clausen’s first book, “One Wheel – Many Spokes.”

Clausen, who lives in Chelan with his wife, Anne, and children Kai, 10, and KariAnna, 13, said he rarely hears anything negative about his views. “I don’t rate high enough to get a protest group,” he quipped.

“Occasionally, I get people with very different viewpoints. Typically, people who come to see me are incredibly thankful to have me talking about these things,” Clausen said.

“One of the things I learned from the ride is that almost everybody believes in equal rights. It’s a core principle. This is about equal rights, not special rights,” he said.

His zeal for gay rights dates to his time at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif. He was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and was a pastor and in campus ministry in Alaska and Michigan from 1993 to 2000.

“In the seminary, I realized I had the capacity to follow certain rules,” he said. “I realized I had a way in – a marriage certificate.” While he admires pastors who remain in the church and seek change, he is no longer a church leader.

“My spot is more at the edge,” he said. “Religiously, everybody was taught that we are to love one another. However progressive or conservative churches are, that’s the common ground.

“The difference is, some of us think rules need to be judged by whether they help us love each other. Others believe that love has to be judged by whether or not it conforms to the rules,” Clausen said.

“Most of us know people who are gay or lesbian,” he added. “And we love that person.”

That’s true for me. It’s true for Vice President Dick Cheney. No doubt it’s true in Darrington, too.

Last summer, the Darrington book group hosted John Vaillant, author of “The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed.” McPherson describes Vaillant as “a logger turned environmentalist.”

“We had 30 to 40 people there, environmentalists and loggers,” McPherson said. “That was probably a more controversial issue.”

Columnist Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460 or

Author in Darrington

Lars Clausen, author of “Straight into Gay America,” will show scenes of his 1,000-mile unicycle ride and discuss his advocacy for gay rights in a free program at 6:30 tonight at the Darrington Library, 1005 Cascade St. The talk is funded by Darrington Friends of the Library. For more information, call 360-436-1600.

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