Q&A: Texas author aims to open ‘The Door of the Heart’ with debut novel

Diana Finfrock Farrar, a native Texan, knows first-hand the importance of the freedom to marry. In 2010, she and her wife Charlotte married in Ontario, Canada, and now, as they continue to build their lives with their five children and three grandchildren in Texas, they are aware every day that their home state does not respect their marriage.

Diana has always been passionate about the freedom to marry and broader societal acceptance of LGBTQ people, and so last year, she channeled her energy and talents into publishing a book, her first novel, The Door of the Heart. The novel focuses on a married couple, Tammy and Ed, as they navigate the question of gay rights and negotiate their strong faith with their views on LGBT issues. 

Faith is also so important to Diana, who is an ordained deacon and elder in the Presbyterian Church USA, where she sings in the choir each Sunday service. Through her book, she hopes to educate readers on issues of why marriage matters – and why accepting all people, including LGBT people, is so important. Diana took some time to speak with Freedom to Marry and our campaign in Texas, Texas for Marriage, about her motivations for writing the book, and how it fits into the current landscape of the movement for equality in Texas.

Q: Tell us a bit about the book!

A: Although a work of fiction, it is based upon true stories and current events revolving around changes across the country with regard to gay rights. The main characters are Tammy & Ed Sloan, who suddenly find themselves on opposite sides of this hot button issue when their high school aged son is punished for bullying a fellow athlete who is gay.

The novel takes the reader through a re-education of homosexuality and of Christianity. Offering a generous look at the gay community through a Christian lens, The Door of the Heart interweaves multiple story lines that feature endearing characters, both gay and straight, each confronting the consequences of homophobia and demonstrating a need for the understanding and the embracing of the LGBT community, especially in the heart of Bible-belt reactionaryism.

Q: What motivated you to write this novel?

A: The Door of the Heart is my first novel and I didn't choose to write it. It chose me.

It has pained me to see Christianity, which has been my life-long foundation, being used as a weapon against the LGBT community instead of being used as a means of compassion and inclusion. The injustice and ugliness, fear-mongering and polarization all being legitimized by religious dogma brought me to a point of willingness to make a difference, but I just didn’t know how.

My decision to begin writing came in the form of a calling and The Door of the Heart was my response to that call which told me that I had a story to tell and that He expected me to tell it.

Q: How does your personal identity and your commitment to your wife Charlotte intersect with the themes expressed in your book?

A: The book is very much who I am and who Charlotte and I are together. We have experienced all the legal and societal benefits of marriages to men as well as the discrimination and injustices we have encountered being married to each other. We have lived both sides of legal marriage and can understand the need for equality unlike many others. As a matter of fact our “marriage story” is highlighted in chapters 8 and 9.

The Door of the Heart helps bring awareness, to both gay and straight alike, to the many forms of injustice that couples like Charlotte and I face every day. The novel also puts the personal issues that gay couples face in full view for all to see: the ugliness, the estrangement, the possibilities of eviction and being fired. No straight married couple can even imagine having this be a part of their daily lives.

I know that the relationship Charlotte and I share is loving, spiritual and fulfilling, and every time our marriage or our relationship with God is questioned or attacked by someone, it only creates in us a stronger desire to prove to them otherwise. And that is what The Door of the Heart does best - it brings gay issues home and introduces the reader to real people who are facing very real injustices across the country.

Q: What have you learned from your time writing this novel?

A: I could write another entire book in telling you what I learned during the process of writing this work. But perhaps the most important thing that I took from the process was remembering, not realizing, that those of us in the LGBT community didn’t always embrace our authentic selves right away. Many of us have taken half of our lives denying that part of ourselves that society doesn’t like. Others of us may have accepted our truths, but then remained in the closet for fear of the dangerous repercussions that living openly might bring.

That is why I believe it is imperative for those of us who desire change and compassion from reluctant conservatives to also be willing to have patience and extend compassion to them - those whose hearts we hope will one day change. Not all of us came into acceptance of ourselves overnight and I think it folly to expect others to do the same.

Q: What do you most hope readers take away from The Door of the Heart?

A: My biggest hope is that people will see the reality of the injustices society has placed in front of the LGBT community, and moreover, that by continuing to promote and support discriminatory laws and one-sided religious rights, their own ability to grow emotionally and spiritually is affected.

It is my hope that The Door of the Heart will encourage discussion, open hearts and empower the change we so desperately need when it comes to acceptance and equality.

I hope that The Door of the Heart will take the fear out of something that many do not understand, encourage its readers to think for themselves, identify injustice, and stir the apathetic from the comforts of complacency.

Q: It's been a big year for the freedom to marry in Texas - and we could see marriages between same-sex couples begin within weeks or months! How does this make you feel, and what are your hopes for the future, both personally and for your home state?

A: We already have a bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge for the day our marriage will be recognized in Texas! Personally, I look forward to being recognized as Charlotte’s legal spouse for health insurance benefits and the huge savings that will bring to us. And having Texas’ community property rights extended to us when our marriage is indeed recognized is yet another of the many ways that our lives will change when it is the law of the land.

It is our collective responsibility to help break down the narrow-minded walls of presupposition that many in the LGBTQ community face and replace them with bridges of understanding, and The Door of the Heart does exactly that by encouraging people to embrace change, not fear.

But in the meantime our champagne is already chilled. There will be much to celebrate when the bans come crashing down for good. We appreciate the efforts of the many who have tirelessly fought for our love and our marriage and as we wait for that much anticipated day of celebration.

Follow Diana on Facebook and Twitter, and visit the book's website here.