Lonnie Frisbee struggled with homosexuality, but married a woman.
Sadly, there is a tragic element in Lonnie’s life, since he is no longer with us, succumbing to the ravages of the AIDS virus on March 12, 1993. Lonnie Frisbee was very much like Robert Duvall’s character in the movie The Apostle, a man who had the power to inspire others through to a dramatic God encounter, but one whose personal struggles ultimately got the best of him.
Frisbee was born and raised in Costa Mesa. His father ran off with a neighborhood woman when Lonnie was young. His brother claims Lonnie was molested by a baby sitter at age eight.
His mother eventually remarried a man with children of his own, but Lonnie did not get along with his stepfather or his blended family. He ran away from home at 15—the same year he and a buddy entered into the underground gay scene in Laguna Beach.
Like a lot of kids searching for meaning, Lonnie tried mysticism and the occult but found them unfulfilling. That led him to the Bible.
He migrated to San Francisco and soon met up with a merry band of hippie Christians.
One day, Frisbee decided he wanted to go back to Orange County, find a girl he knew and bring her back up to the Bay Area.
Like Lonnie, Connie Bremer had a troubled upbringing; to this day, she blames her mother for making her feel worthless. Bremer dabbled in drugs and prostitution to numb the pain. She appreciated that Lonnie made her feel special, wanted—although she says she never had romantic feelings toward him. They lived together for a year in a big house the hippie Christians shared in the Frisco suburb Novato, but she can’t remember ever so much as holding his hand. She does remember one oddball she talked to for four straight days: Charlie Manson.
Despite their lack of physical intimacy, Frisbee told everyone he was going to marry Bremer. She rejected him first. She was among the very few people who knew of Lonnie’s gay dalliances. Fuming at the rebuke, Frisbee stayed away from her. Bremer didn’t think “I could be loved,” but also did not want to feel rejection again, so she married Frisbee despite her misgivings.
Lonnie and Connie moved back to Orange County, and that fateful meeting with [Chuck] Smith came not long after. During his first testimony at Calvary, Frisbee mentioned he’d rejected the homosexual lifestyle. A star was born again.
As Lonnie’s star rose, Connie’s dimmed. She became lonelier than ever. She rarely saw her husband and felt like a slave. She was about ready to pack her bags when she confided in Smith. He told her that for someone with a gift like Frisbee’s, God must come first, the ministry second and his family third—and that she’d just have to deal with it. But when Frisbee informed Florida pastor Bob Mumford about his marital problems, Mumford told him Smith had it all wrong, that Frisbee needed to get his house in order. The leader of the Shepherding movement, a Pentecostal offshoot that holds a central authority figure should decide what is right and wrong for their flock, Mumford offered Frisbee a job—but only if he would spend his first year on sabbatical “knitting” his relationship with Bremer. Frisbee gave his year. Then he moved back to California. Alone.
The Calvary folks felt betrayed by Frisbee’s departure, and Smith had always had a problem with the whole Pentecostal thing. But he agreed over the phone to hire Frisbee back—in a reduced capacity. The former hippie preacher showed up to work looking totally different, with a styled haircut, a closely cropped beard and a three-piece suit. It didn’t work. Frisbee decided to move on.