Last summer, after giving a speech in a Tulsa church, Randy made a side trip with Keaton to Oral Roberts University, his former backyard. "I don't have a family home to return to," he says, "and I wanted to show Keaton my family heritage." Specifically, he wanted to show him the 200-foot-tall Prayer Tower at the center of campus—a futuristic glass-and-steel needle with a giant disc and spindle in its center, to approximate the cross, and a gas flame burning constantly at its tip. It was there, in 1987, when Randy was 12, that Oral held a vigil after announcing, in his most audacious fund-raising scheme, that unless he raised $8 million, God would "call me home." Arriving with Keaton, Randy was certain he would be denied entrance; an article about him and his gay activism had appeared in a Tulsa paper that morning. Roaming the campus—describing to Keaton the royal thrill he'd experienced as a boy when the key in his pocket could open every door, when he'd explore all the secret entrances his grandfather had commissioned in order to slip in and out of buildings unnoticed—he kept his gaze trained downward, afraid of being recognized and ejected, fearful of that awkward, ridiculous moment when he'd be told he wasn't welcome anymore in the last remaining piece of his grandfather's great empire. "And all because I'm gay," he says. "Not for any other reason. For that single reason. It just seems—silly is the right word. It's a lot of fuss for not really much. It's sad to lose the entire community you grew up in just because you fell in love with a guy." But on that day, the undergrad manning the entrance to the tower glanced at his ID and, without hesitation, waved him back home into his grandfather's kingdom.
Oral was never a major presence in Randy's early life. "It's safe to say I couldn't stand him as a kid," he says. "The few times he did talk to me, it was to order me around." But Oral's legacy has grown larger and larger in his mind since he came out. With his three children, he visited Oral in 2009, several months before the family patriarch died at the age of 91. Oral knew Randy was gay but was welcoming anyway, signing a copy of his latest book for the great-grandchildren and giving each of them a $20 bill. At the end of the hour-long visit, the old preacher clasped Randy's hands and uttered his characteristic tagline: "Son, something good is going to happen to you!"
Two years later, after one of Randy's church appearances, he noticed a man in his sixties lingering at the back of a line of well-wishers, dropping in and out of the line. "I had to go to the restroom," he says, "and when I came out he was waiting for me." The man said he'd faithfully mailed his allowance to Oral Roberts' ministry when he was 6. Randy laughed. And then, he says, the man "just started bawling and wrapped his arms around me and said, 'Thank you for openly saying you're gay.' I tried to talk to him, I wanted to ask if he was gay, but he just continued to cry and then kind of ran away. It's an amazing thing that I know is a lot bigger than me. I'm just the guy who's Oral Roberts' gay grandson, and I don't even think it matters what I say a lot of the time. It's just the fact that I'm up there, gay and open about it and saying it's okay—it's just this huge release." When he's asked whether he sees any parallels between his healing work and that of his grandfather, he says it's a comparison he resisted for a while. But still, he says, in moments like this one, he can't help but think: "Wow. This is what Oral did."