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“Out of Focus” Author Amber Cantorna-Wylde Comes Out to Sunnyvale

“I feel like I came alive the day that I came out,” said author Amber Cantorna-Wylde, speaking at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church Jan. 25 for the West Coast launch of her third book: Out of Focus, My Story of Sexuality, Shame and Toxic Evangelicalism.

“Coming out is such a risky, brave thing to do. It takes a lot of courage,” she said, responding to a question from the diverse audience of about 100. “If somebody is telling you they’re queer, believe them. Research says that it only takes one accepting adult to reduce suicide by 40% [in LGBTQ+ youth].”

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. among all 10 to 24-year-olds. The risk is higher for sexual- and gender-minority youth than for heteronormative youth.


“Just because we look happy on social media does not mean we’re doing well,” said Cantorna-Wylde, a Colorado resident whose family took away her house keys when she came out as gay in 2012.

Out of Focus is her coming-out memoir, coupled with cultural insights. When she reveals that she was raised in a family tied to Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian organization in Colorado, you realize the double meaning of her book title.

It was devastating to have both her biological family and her Focus on the Family community reject her when she came out. It took a lasting toll on her physical health.

Moved to “do something” with her story, Cantorna-Wylde became a voice for change. Over time, she “became passionate about dissolving shame, fostering self-acceptance, and generating messages of hope for LGBTQ+ people and their families, especially those from conservative faith backgrounds.”

Cantorna-Wylde was interviewed by Carol Heath, Director of Community Life at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church.

“It is important for those who are trying to learn what it means to be an ally and an advocate to the LGBTQ+ community, to actually listen and learn from queer voices,” said Heath. “Having Amber at our church meant that our congregation and the local community were able to hear someone’s story firsthand, which can have a profound impact on people’s empathy and understanding.”

Cantorna-Wylde suggested ways to support the queer community.

“Be a voice for queer people, so the queer person doesn’t have to be,” she said. “Show up in their lives—do things for and with them. Wear a [rainbow or pronoun] lapel pin.

“Finding an affirming community saved my life—having safe people to lean on,” continued Cantorna-Wylde.

View Cantorna-Wylde’s 60-minute Q & A book talk on the Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church website. Follow her on social media at @AmberCantornaWylde and learn about her work at

“Anytime we can get a glimpse into someone else’s life—what it would be like to be them, we learn more about how we affect the world around us and what we can do to be better Christians,” said attendee Ansel Misfeldt at the reception following the book talk.

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