Randy Roberts Potts was just 7 years old when he realized something was wrong.
Potts, the grandson of famed televangelist Oral Roberts, remembered being told at a young age that homosexuality was a deadly sin.
"I always knew I was different," he said. "I knew I was attracted to men and that it was wrong as far as my family was concerned."
Potts, whose "It Gets Better" video made national headlines last year, spoke in Chicago July 30 at Bishop Carlton Pearson's Inclusion Conference, held at the Sheraton Hotel. The four-day conference was intended to embrace LGBT people into faith, rather than reject them.
Pearson started preaching under Roberts' guidance but stepped away from the late Roberts' anti-gay teachings seven years ago. He has since befriended Potts.
Potts' message on July 30 was one of self-acceptance for LGBT people of all faiths. It's a message he said he didn't get as a young person.
"I kept wishing, 'What if these things had been around when I was in high school?'" he said of his "It Gets Better" video, which chronicles his coming-out story, which contrasts that of his uncle's.
Potts' uncle, Ronald Roberts, took his own life in 1982 after struggling to reconcile his homosexuality with his religious upbringing.
Potts said that seeing news headlines about LGBT youth suicides last year and thinking about his uncle's death inspired him to put his story into an "It Gets Better" video, despite his fears.
"I literally had several panic attacks the week I put that video on YouTube," he said.
According to Potts, he has since corresponded with many young people who are ashamed of being gay. He wants young people accept and embrace their sexuality, not just tolerate it.
He said that trying to tolerate his sexuality without embracing it made him miserable, and drove him to drink in order to justify acting on his desires.
"Things can only get better when we decide to shake off these feelings of remorse and shame," he said. "We are not disgusting. We are not a sexual perversion."
Potts said his family does not support his message. He said his mother called him last fall and left a message on his answering machine, telling him that his homosexuality was disgusting. He, however, has his own pulpit these days in the form of his video, e-mails with young people and speaking engagements.
If the grandson of Oral Roberts has come to embrace being gay, he also learned to embrace a family name that once embarrassed him. Potts said that his grandfather bribed his mother to make his middle name "Roberts," in hopes that Potts would carry on his name.
"Now I am proud to use the name that he worked so hard to give to me… to tell people that it is okay to be gay," Potts said.