Just Because He Breathes

Just Because He Breathes

June 1, 2009 – 2nd Day of 17 Days in Harborview

On the night of November 20, 2001, a conversation held over Instant Messenger changed our lives forever. Our twelve year old son messaged me in my office from the computer in his bedroom.

Ryan says: can i tell u something
Mom says: Yes I am listening
Ryan says: well i don’t know how to say this really but, well……, i can’t keep lying to you about myself. I have been hiding this for too long and i sorta have to tell u now. By now u probably have an idea of what i am about to say.
Ryan says: I am gay
Ryan says: i can’t believe i just told you
Mom says: Are you joking?
Ryan says: no
Ryan says: i thought you would understand because of uncle don
Mom says: of course I would
Mom says: but what makes you think you are?
Ryan says: i know i am
Ryan says: i don’t like hannah
Ryan says: it’s just a cover-up
Mom says: but that doesn’t make you gay…
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: but u don’t understand
Ryan says: i am gay
Mom says: tell me more
Ryan says: it’s just the way i am and it’s something i know
Ryan says: u r not a lesbian and u know that. it is the same thing
Mom says: what do you mean?
Ryan says: i am just gay
Ryan says: i am that
Mom says: I love you no matter what
Ryan says: i am white not black
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: i am a boy not a girl
Ryan says: i am attracted to boys not girls
Ryan says: u know that about yourself and i know this
Mom says: what about what God thinks about acting on these desires?
Ryan says: i know
Mom says: thank you for telling me
Ryan says: and i am very confused about that right now
Mom says: I love you more for being honest
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: thanx

We were completely shocked. Not that we didn’t know and love gay people – my only brother had come out to us several years before, and we adored him. But Ryan? He was unafraid of anything, tough as nails, and ALL boy. We had not seen this coming, and the emotion that overwhelmed us, kept us awake at night and, sadly, influenced all of our reactions over the next six years, was FEAR.

We said all the things that we thought loving Christian parents who believed the Bible – the Word of God – should say:

We love you. We will ALWAYS love you. And this is hard. REALLY hard. But we know what God says about this, and so you are going to have to make some really difficult choices.

We love you. We couldn’t love you more. But there are other men who have faced this same struggle, and God has worked in them to change their desires. We’ll get you their books…you can listen to their testimonies. And we will trust God with this.

We love you. We are so glad you are our son. But you are young, and your sexual orientation is still developing. The feelings you’ve had for other guys don’t make you gay. So please don’t tell anyone that you ARE gay. You don’t know who you are yet. Your identity is not that you are gay – it is that you are a child of God.

We love you. Nothing will change that. But if you are going to follow Jesus, holiness is your only option. You are going to have to choose to follow Jesus, no matter what. And since you know what the Bible says, and since you want to follow God, embracing your sexuality is NOT an option.

We thought we understood the magnitude of the sacrifice that we – and God – were asking for. And this sacrifice, we knew, would lead to the abundant life, perfect peace and eternal rewards. Ryan had always felt intensely drawn to spiritual things; He desired to please God above all else. So, for the first six years, he tried to choose Jesus. Like so many others before him, he pleaded with God to help him be attracted to girls. He memorized Scripture, met with his youth pastor weekly, enthusiastically participated in all the church youth group events and Bible Studies and got baptized. He read all the books that claimed to know where his gay feelings came from, dove into counseling to further discover the “why’s” of his unwanted attraction to other guys, worked through painful conflict resolution with my husband and I, and built strong friendships with other guys – straight guys – just like the reparative therapy experts advised. He even came out to his entire youth group, giving his testimony of how God had rescued him from the traps of the enemy, and sharing – by memory – verse after verse that God had used to draw Ryan to Himself.

But nothing changed. God didn’t answer his prayer – or ours – though we were all believing with faith that the God of the Universe – the God for whom NOTHING is impossible – could easily make Ryan straight. But He did not.

Though our hearts may have been good (we truly thought what we were doing was loving), we did not even give Ryan a chance to wrestle with God, to figure out what HE believed God was telling him through scripture about his sexuality. We had believed firmly in giving each of our four children the space to question Christianity, to decide for themselves if they wanted to follow Jesus, to truly OWN their own faith. But we were too afraid to give Ryan that room when it came to his sexuality, for fear that he’d make the wrong choice.

Basically, we told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. We forced him to make a choice between God and being a sexual person. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime condemned to being alone. He would never have the chance to fall in love, have his first kiss, hold hands, share intimacy and companionship or experience romance.

And so, just before his 18th birthday, Ryan, depressed, suicidal, disillusioned and convinced that he would never be able to be loved by God, made a new choice. He decided to throw out his Bible and his faith at the same time, and to try searching for what he desperately wanted – peace – another way. And the way he chose to try first was drugs.

We had – unintentionally – taught Ryan to hate his sexuality. And since sexuality cannot be separated from the self, we had taught Ryan to hate himself. So as he began to use drugs, he did so with a recklessness and a lack of caution for his own safety that was alarming to everyone who knew him.

Suddenly our fear of Ryan someday having a boyfriend (a possibility that honestly terrified me) seemed trivial in contrast to our fear of Ryan’s death, especially in light of his recent rejection of Christianity, and his mounting anger at God.

Ryan started with weed and beer…but in six short months was using cocaine, crack and heroin. He was hooked from the beginning, and his self-loathing and rage at God only fueled his addiction. Shortly after, we lost contact with him. For the next year and a half we didn’t know where he was, or even if he was dead or alive. And during that horrific time, God had our full attention. We stopped praying for Ryan to become straight. We started praying for him to know that God loved him. We stopped praying for him never to have a boyfriend. We started praying that someday we might actually get to know his boyfriend. We even stopped praying for him to come home to us; we only wanted him to come home to God.

By the time our son called us, after 18 long months of silence, God had completely changed our perspective. Because Ryan had done some pretty terrible things while using drugs, the first thing he asked me was this:

Do you think you can ever forgive me? (I told him of course, he was already forgiven. He had ALWAYS been forgiven.)

Do you think you could ever love me again? (I told him that we had never stopped loving him, not for one second. We loved him then more than we had ever loved him.)

Do you think you could ever love me with a boyfriend? (Crying, I told him that we could love him with fifteen boyfriends. We just wanted him back in our lives. We just wanted to have a relationship with him again…AND with his boyfriend.)

And a new journey was begun. One of healing, restoration, open communication and grace. LOTS of grace. And God was present every step of the way, leading and guiding us, gently reminding us simply to love our son, and leave the rest up to Him.

Over the next ten months, we learned to truly love our son. Period. No buts. No conditions. Just because he breathes. We learned to love whoever our son loved. And it was easy. What I had been so afraid of became a blessing. The journey wasn’t without mistakes, but we had grace for each other, and the language of apology and forgiveness became a natural part of our relationship. As our son pursued recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, we pursued him. God taught us how to love him, to rejoice over him, to be proud of the man he was becoming. We were all healing…and most importantly, Ryan began to think that if WE could forgive him and love him, then maybe God could, too.

And then Ryan made the classic mistake of a recovering addict…he got back together with his old friends…his using friends. And one evening that was supposed to simply be a night at the movies turned out to be the first time he had shot up in ten months…and the last time. We got a phone call from a social worker at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle asking us to come identify our son – that he had arrived there in a coma, in critical condition. We spent 17 days at Harborview, during which time our whole family was able to surround and love on Ryan. We experienced miracle after miracle during that time, things that no doctor had any medical explanation for. God’s presence was TANGIBLE in Ryan’s room. But that is a long, sacred story that I’ll have to tell another time.

Though Ryan had suffered such severe brain damage that he had almost complete paralysis, the doctors told us that he could very well outlive us. But, unexpectedly, Ryan died on July 16, 2009. And we lost the ability to love our gay son…because we no longer had a gay son. What we had wished for…prayed for…hoped for…that we would NOT have a gay son, came true. But not at all in the way we used to envision.

Now, when I think back on the fear that governed all my reactions during those first six years after Ryan told us he was gay, I cringe as I realize how foolish I was. I was afraid of all the wrong things. And I grieve, not only for my oldest son, who I will miss every day for the rest of my life, but for the mistakes I made. I grieve for what could have been, had we been walking by FAITH instead of by FEAR. Now, whenever Rob and I join our gay friends for an evening, I think about how much I would love to be visiting with Ryan and his partner over dinner. But instead, we visit Ryan’s gravestone. We celebrate anniversaries: the would-have-been birthdays and the unforgettable day of his death. We wear orange – his color. We hoard memories: pictures, clothing he wore, handwritten notes, lists of things he loved, tokens of his passions, recollections of the funny songs he invented, his Curious George and baseball blankey, anything, really, that reminds us of our beautiful boy…for that is all we have left, and there will be no new memories.  We rejoice in our adult children, and in our growing family as they marry…but ache for the one of our “gang of four” who is missing. We mark life by the days BC (before coma) and AD (after death), because we are different people now; our life was irrevocably changed – in a million ways – by his death. We treasure friendships with others who “get it”…because they, too, have lost a child.

We weep. We seek Heaven for grace and mercy and redemption as we try – not to get better but to be better. And we pray that God can somehow use our story to help other parents learn to truly love their children. Just because they breathe.

Linda Diane Robertson
Originally posted on FaceBook on January 14, 2013 – Ryan’s would-have-been-24 birthday
An expanded, live version of this story, presented at the June 2013 Exodus International Conference can be seen here.

Note: If you’d like to see an example of the beautiful, gracious, loving soul who was the person of Ryan David Robertson, read the letter that he wrote to my husband, Ryan’s dad, on Father’s Day 2009, just 9 days before his accidental overdose. We’ve included a picture of the original letter, blown up into poster-size, which hangs in our bathroom to remind us of GRACE.

1,775 thoughts on “Just Because He Breathes

  1. Kim

    Dear Ray Shelton,
    Why would you knowingly waste our time with you hateful purging. Just to soothe yourself at this bloggers expense? When they are so willingly opening up this painful forum for exploration and revelation of the things that might help prevent what happened? Your slant is toward preventing hate? How hateful was your post?

    Reply
  2. Tammy Cariela

    It was in my bathroom, as I was getting ready for the day, that my 16 year old daughter told me she was gay. I can’t say that I handled it the way (in retrospect) that I wished I had. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth. First I dismissed it (I had had another daughter tell me this at one point in her life, it turned out to just be an attraction to that person, at that time — so you might forgive me that attitude), I told her that sexuality was flexible, and that we moderns are the first peoples to feel the need to definitively label things (and I still think that true, to a certain extent), I told her she was way to young to make such a decision, and I told her she was in rebellion to God (read her passages from scripture(cringe)). I told her, if it was true, she had had some time to reach that conclusion, and for me it was all new, so I was going to need time to process all of this. She cried, I cried. I stayed up that night and found for her websites from christian homosexuals that did a very good job of debating the issues, when I gave her the addys, she had no desire to look at them, at all. During the next week, I received emails from one of my daughter’s friends telling me how I should react — wrong. Then I received emails from the mother telling me what I should and should not feel, how I should and should not act — indescribably wrong (I was not very christian in what I told her to go do with herself. She literally knew next to nothing about me or my daughter).

    My daughter is now 21. She is a college student, and she lives with us. I don’t think we have a close relationship — I believe she may have something akin to asperberger’s, so her responses aren’t always what you would expect. We have what I call, an “unrequited love”. I tell her every time I see her that I love her, and hug her as frequently as I can catch her. I have met some of her girlfriends, and she has, for the most part, followed the rule of no hanky-panky in my house (her sisters all had the same rule with boys, so what’s fair for one is fair for all).

    So that’s the story, in a nutshell. I decided that instead of praying to God to change her sexuality, that I would pray for her salvation and growth in the Lord. If changing her sexuality was an outcome or not of that, so be it — but my main concern was for her salvation. She, for her part, is not a Christian. She seems to be involved with new-age thinking (tarot is a fascination for her). I still pray for her to accept the Lord. I don’t discuss her private life with her at all, nor do I preach. I pray. On the other hand, I do pray at dinner, and I listen to christian programs with her in the house (if they mention homosexuality, they get turned off). I told her that my faith is as essential to me as air, so she will have to accept me as I accept her. She had been baptized at about 14 — I had not forced her to be, she had approached me on the issue, so I am hoping that the seed is still there.

    The difficulty of all of this is for me. Ever since accepting that news, I have felt, in some small way, that I am walking on ground being actively shaken by an earthquake. Why me is the biggest question. I do not have adequacy for this, not at all. My faith is reminiscient of that famous poster of the cat hanging by one claw on a wire. In all fairness, it is not just this issue, but this issue has played a big part. I really can’t talk to anyone openly or honestly about all of this — my mother once told me I could not be a christian and her daughter, so she’s out — and her step-dad (although he loves me up one side and down another) is far more conservative than I, so that can be frustrating. We have moved so often, that I don’t have a home church, with a group of people who know me and my family. Could I have a suggestion of a safe place to discuss with people who are Christians who accept the Bible as divinely inspired (I cannot handle people who treat the bible like a cafeteria line, “I’ll have a little of this..no, I don’t like that..an extra portion of that”), but who are people devoted to God and also to their children?

    Reply
  3. Edward

    For those of you who use the Bible to judge homosexuals:
    Most of the verses you refer to were not in the Bible before 1946
    I know many of you read the Bible literally and claim to follow every word.
    Well I believe that the letter of the law kills and the spirit gives life.
    If you are truly Christian then you will have an open mind so I suggest you watch a movie titled A Fish Out of Water and the look up a young gentle man by the name of Michael Vines.
    Jesus told us the greatest comandment is to Love God. The second to love one another.
    Edward

    Reply
  4. Robynne Hartshorne

    Linda, I read your story and while I am truly sorry for your loss of your son, I don’t understand why you would try to make him rehabilitate from who he was at the age of 12, when kids are so vulnerable at that age, who need so much support for the physical and mental changes they go through during these formative years. Why would you make him choose between his sexuality and God. He must of felt so alone. I too have sons and they are not gay but I too had the thought when they were babies, ” what if they turn out gay”? and you know what the answer that came from my heart, was, “what if they turned out to be a murderer or something worse? Being gay is not a choice in life, you don’t wake up one morning and think ” I think I will be gay today, because there are so many narrow minded people who still hate gay people”, so why would you declare yourself to be something that is still not fully accepted and even ridiculed in the world. If my sons had turned out gay I would have loved them unconditionally. The other thing I don’t understand is why you would chose your faith over your child. Religion is a concept that as yet no one has actually proven to be true , and is so intertwined with paganism and commercial rituals that is so removed from the actual bible it is hardly believable now. Now you may think me an atheist, I am not I believe that Jesus did come to the earth, I believe that we simply did not evolve, and I believe in spirituality, apart from that not much more. I see all the wars and hatred of mankind based on religion and don’t understand why innocent people die because of this. It is good that you now travel the country and speak on behalf of the gay community, but I have to wonder is that because you need to ease your guilt for your actions towards your son??, or do you truly believe, that gay people have as much right to live the way they want to, especially as this goes against your faith. I don’t ask these questions to hurt you, and I imagine you have asked yourself the same things, however I also don’t believe that people change their strong views over night either. I wonder why when you son was alive could you not imagine him with a partner whom he loved and loved him back , and simply be happy for him. You say that your brother is gay , would this not then make it easier to accept your son being gay ?, or was it because you were afraid of what your friends would say? I feel sorry for you that you have to visit your sons grave instead of his home, it is a terrible thing to lose a child. I truly hope that your pain will ease someday, and in delivering your talks this will help in some way.
    My mother died 6 years ago and she was such a wise woman who accepted her kids for who they were and she had a saying that is never truer, ” Enjoy life and live life to the fullest, because your a long time dead”. I wonder if you might upload a video of one of your talks I would be interested in the message you deliver

    Reply
  5. Marawder

    I’m 25 and up until now I have gotten pretty used to hearing about young LGBT kids suffering silently in the pews and sometimes killing themselves because of religious homophobia.
    But then I saw actual photos of your son lying in a hospital bed with a breathing tube. It’s been a while since I haven’t felt so distraught and broken down.
    What an unbearable tragedy, a handsome young man in the prime of his life, in pain and crying out for help…he could have had a bright future ahead of him, if only his parents would have been more empathetic, more accepting.

    Rob and Linda Robertson, to me, you are no less than murderers.
    You deserve to feel the pain & void that you have inflicted onto others, onto your own flesh and blood!

    P.S. Your god is DEAD! He died along with your son and thousands of other victims of religious persecution.

    Reply
      1. Cris

        Don’t blame yourselves Linda. The Church controls and exploits you and all the little people like you. I hope you have left to find you own happiness and to do the good your son should have.

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    1. John

      Marawder – someday when our society accepts diversity as normal, parents will not be put in such a situation. Unless you have been there, don’t judge. In fact and even if you have, don’t judge. Love is the only answer. Only love will save anyone. This is what Jesus taught which is vastly different than much of the christian church. That is so sad and it is costing lives. I guess nothing changes ha?

      Reply
  6. apopesocal

    My heart goes out to you and to all the parents and kids who have to deal with same sex attraction and remain a family. I am a father of four straight sons who was unable and did not know enough to come out until my sons were mostly grown, my youngest was in his senior year of High School. I was an evangelical pastor who always taught my congregation and my family to be open as much as I could but it did not help much when I came out and divorced in 1999. We had married when I was 17 and she was 18 because we “had” to . I thought my inability to like sex was just a defect and that if I worked on it, I would get better and I would be “normal”. I had no context for understanding what it meant to be gay nor did I want to be gay. I fought it tooth and nail, including reparative therapy and “Exodus” type groups and went to counseling. I finally started seeing counselors who understood exactly what was going on with me and with us as a couple and took us to the point that I knew we had to divorce. Some things are way worse than divorce and I began to see some of those things manifest in my marriage and family life.
    Now, I try to help parents love their kids no matter what and help kids love their parents no matter what.
    Matthew Vines book does an excellent job of helping Christians see that the six or so passages in Scripture do not address two loving, committed, consenting adults. One can be straight and Christian just as one can be gay and Christian. God is bigger than humans think (Exodus 33:19) God shows mercy and compassion upon whomever He chooses. Humans have no say or vote in this, even though we often act as if we do. Gay people go to heaven just as straight people do and should be welcomed at church with no question about their sex lives…just as straight people are welcomed without intrusive questions by humans. It is God’s business to sort sheep from goats, and Jesus never mentioned same sex attraction as a reason not to follow him! Jesus and the New Testament writers are very clear, there are two commandments that exceed (are greater than) all the others. 1. Love God above all else 2. Love one another and treat other people the way you would wish to be treated. In doing this, everything else falls into place. If Christians are not following these two greatest commandments in the way they treat gay people,, they are not following Jesus, but have deviated from the narrow path and strayed on to the broad path that can lead to destruction. Jesus gave us a “new commandment, Love one another”. There are few instances in which the Church has failed this prime directive of Jesus than in the way many Christians have treated gay people. So start with doing what is clearly taught and then read Matthew Vines fine scholarly exegesis and scriptural work about the very sparse passages that seem to mention same sex behaviors (not one of them mentions orientation) and remember that the word “homosexual did not appear in an English (mis) translation of the Bible until 1946. The word homosexual does not appear in any of the original languages of the Bible, not Greek, Hebrew not Aramaic, so it shouldn’t appear in English and modern translators are (properly) removing it. Pagan practices involving same sex and different sex acts are condemned in the passages cited. None condemn same sex attraction (aka being gay) or address the issue. It is unwise to step in and condemn when God’s first and foremost tendency is compassion and mercy. It should be ours as well. Thanks!

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    1. Roger

      Linda – if you feel that the Word does not oppose homosexuality in any way – you must not have studied it that well. I have attended many lectures by Evangelical scholars who know that God does love the homosexual, but also judges all for their sinful nature and the Word does talk against homosexuality.

      Reply
      1. Linda Robertson Post author

        Roger – there are many Christian scholars who don’t think God condemns same-sex relationships. Check out James Brownson, the New Testament theologian who wrote Bible, Gender, Sexuality.

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        1. Roger

          First Linda – I am sorry for your loss – really am. There are also 2 kinds of ‘christian’ scholar – those that are Christian(saved by the blood of Christ) and those that attend a so-called ‘christian church where the Gospel is not even preached. I will ck this guy.

        1. Paul

          Jesus walked amongst the religious scholars, sat in lectures of the smartest minds of the time, that supposedly walked closest to God and the religious laws.. and he was despised because ‘they’ didnt recognise Him.
          He chose to share the gospel truth of love, faith and hope with the non religious leaders and impacted a world because he loved us so much that it cost him everything, so we may have life.
          You whom condemn know not God & know no peace, you are the evil ones… the religious bigots. You have no patience, kindness or no goodness. Love is never rude or selfish. It does not take offence and is not resentful. You know not what you speak of, you certainly dont know God.

  7. Lincoln

    Your son did not have a drug overdose because you taught him not to engage in homosexual sin. Your son made some bad choices. He may have experienced some pain in his struggle against sin and decided to rebel. I don’t know if you made mistakes as parents. You probably did like the rest of us. Teaching your son not to fall into sexual sin wasn’t one of them.

    But please don’t contaminate other children, tempting them to stumble, by trying to influence churches to accept sexual sin as normal. I know you’ve suffered pain, but that is no reason to embrace sin and error. We are to love people, but love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices with the truth. We are to love people by helping them be reconciled to God and walk in a way that pleases Him. This life is short and we will all be judged by God.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      I agree, Lincoln, this life is short…and we will all stand before our loving God. And when we do, He’ll ask us if we shared what He taught us through Ryan’s life and death, and I want to be able to say YES.

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    2. Michael

      Your ignorance astounds me. You do not choose to be gay, you are born that way. I am a 56 year old gay man, and I have been gay all my life. I was never interested in girls EVER!! Why, because that is how I am wired. Some people are born black, some people are born white, some people are born straight and others are born gay. Your uneducated and ignoramuses attitudes are responsible for the promotion of this medieval garbage that causes parents to do horrible things to their children and ultimately commit suicide. How many gay conversion therapy deaths is this now? Are you aware that it has been discredited by the American Physciatric Association? Did you choose to be straight or are you a closet gay hiding behind the bible? Was that a choice that you could make? America, the Christian nation, yeah right!

      Reply
  8. Cris

    To anyone who feels different: Churches, and religion in general, will never accept. They WILL lie to you! It’s better to say your peace and leave and live your own good life.

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    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Cris – it sounds like you’ve had a horrible experience with churches. Many won’t ever accept the marginalized and oppressed, but we have a lot of churches in the Seattle area who do, and we are so thankful.

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    2. John

      Unfortunately, you are correct. We had been involved in an evangelical church for years and had to leave after much frustration.

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  9. A mum.

    I’m not Christian. I do not believe in your god. I do however respect your beliefs and your right to believe in them. But Linda and Ryan, I AM a mother. My heart breaks for you and your family, I can’t imagine how devastating it must be to have lost a child and I know for certain that no matter what anyone said I would blame myself, so I won’t even begin to try to ease that guilt.
    Your son has left a beautiful legacy, and that is simply understanding and empathy in a place where before there was none. That is an enourmous thing.
    You might like to look at that as a gift from god. I personally look at it as a gift from your very own child, the gift of the beauty that was simply him (and I mean your son, not Him!). Your message will now pass on to many other families and hopefully help to prevent further deaths or even do something as simple as help some parents show their love and acceptance in an even better way.
    And to the people spreading ignorance, hate, and bile… I’m going to be indelicate now. SHUT YOUR MOUTHS. How DARE you take a stab at people who very clearly and obviously are despairing the loss of something so precious as their baby boy. I don’t care if he was an adult, as a mum I know that my boys will ALWAYS be my babies. I nestled their heartbeats below my own for nine months before they even drew their first breath. A child is a piece of your heart that you allow to walk on the earth outside of your own body and to lose that child is to lose a part of your soul.
    Whether you think they’re at fault or not, have a little compassion.

    Reply
  10. David

    Greeting Robertsons, from Australia. Recently your story was published on one of our major news websites.. Congratlations, your religious views had your own son killed.. Your not the first people to be reasponsable from their own child’s death and your wont be the last… You just need to unstandard your religion is the Ultimate reason your son is dead and I suggest your find a new one.. Try atheism, we love everyone… Ps: jesues didn’t speak to you, get of the crack.

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  11. Joe Aust

    I just read your story on an Australian news website. It is truly heart breaking. As a gay male with a very catholic mother I understand the how parents can be torn between what religion has told them and the truth of reality. My mother chose not to take forward with our relationship her prior convictions on homosexuality taught by the church and our relationship has been stronger ever since. It is totally unfortunate what has happened to you and your family though on a positive the work you are now doing is probably going to save so many lives! That is something for you both to be proud of. Fight the good fight. Fight for acceptance, equality and breaking down the prejudices, not only for the LGBTI community but for everyone who is perceived differently.

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  12. Mark

    I am a parent with a Christian faith and I love my children no matter what or who they are and know God will the same . It wasn’t the religion or drugs that killed your son it was your torture of your own son that killed him your faith has nothing to do with it , it was your extreme views in your tiny fucked up minds its people like you that should have no part in religion you disgust me I just hope God forgives you oh and one more thing God didn’t speak to you it was your crazy stupid minds voices in your head it is you that needs help . RIP RYAN

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  13. Resh

    Linda, bless you and your husband.

    We are all magnificently human & making mistakes is a part of our simple beauty… as is the ability to learn, grow and develop our soul.

    Your bravery in coming forward and “out” so to speak, acknowledging your journey honours your beautiful boy who is surely watching you with pride & joy.

    I pray Gods healing hands hold you, guide you & protect you until it is time for you to all meet again.

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  14. j;

    This was such a touching and sad story. It made me cry because I too am the mother of a gay son, who didn’t come out to us until he was 24 yeas old. I struggled with it for six months or more, but decided that I couldn’t just throw him away because he wasn’t what I wanted him to be. Later, after a friend told me that my son had attempted suicide once, I decided that I had made the right decision. He is now in a long term relationship with the love of his life and we love his partner like he were our own son. Testimonials like this really help in dealing with this issue.

    Reply
  15. YeVonne Morris

    I learned my 20 yr old so was gay recently. He was raised in a Baptist church. Both my boys went through AWANA…. *which I taught and directed for many years* I have since stopped beacuse the Pastor and his wife, whom we love greatly, does not agree with our chiice. I will love my Son no matter what and we will accept his boyfriend and allow him in our house. I am not saying it isn’t a struggle. I love my Lord, I love His word and I love my son. Nothing will ever change that. I just can’t go where my boys aren’t excepted. So hard to jnow what God says and know how happy my son finally is.

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  16. sam

    U guys are the most beautiful parents. I am so touched by this story. I know you both had real love for your child. I wish Ryan was still here

    Reply
  17. bobbie

    Faith isn’t the problem here. Sometimes it is hard for us to accept others for who they are and what they are. Why all the councelling etc at 12? As for being a Christain, it is an individual choice and it is between yourself and God no one else!!! Sin is sin no matter how big or small it is. We must try to let God be the judge and not take it upon ourselves to do, yes, it can be very hard not to judge at times.
    One of my Christain friends have told me that she to is gay, but she chooses to serve God and not serve the flesh. Jesus said “Take up thy cross, deny thyself and follow me” She trully does that and is a great spiritual friend to me, just standing true. not giving in to the flesh. Beautiful picture, a great sacrifice of the flesh, to put God first in her life.
    Others have been separated/divorced and remain single. If they were to remarry they would be commiting adultery, they too are willing to “take up thy cross, deny thyself and follow me” I know a couple that both were previously married & divorced, they met and got married and then they heard the Gospel and knew in their hearts that by staying married they were commiting adultery, so they separated and live on opposite sides of the town, yet here they are still today, standing true. What a sacrifice to put God first instead of the flesh with all its desires, which will only end at the grave.
    Just one real battle for me, which may not be a battle for others, I do not like long hair, but it speaks of long hair is a womans glory/head covering. (also says if this is going to cause trouble/conflict with others there is no such thing) I struggle with it, love to cut it off but I do know it is what God would like.
    God has never said that he would not send trails and tribulations our way, In another post mentions the wars/etc, these things are not of God, but of self, greed, need to control others, etc, etc all to do with human nature/flesh and the devil, yes, the devil too has many powers to hinder those who choose to follow Jesus and serve God. We need to be proved to be able to come forth as gold. God will see the effort and the sacrifice to serve Him, but the reward for it will come later, not in this life.
    What is sin? Anything that is not right with God – what is our spirit, our attitude like? Serving the flesh, A list of sins are in Galatians 5:19-21, there are others. We will always have a fight going on inside of us one for the flesh and one for the spirit, the one that wins is the one that we are feeding. There is never a right time for a wrong spirit
    We have got the ten commendmants, many illistration in the Bibe to live by. We need to follow Jesus only, he is the plumbline that we should be lining ourselves up to, not anyone or thing else. Sin can be overcome by repentance and love and forgiveness.
    Again it is an individual thing to serve God, become a Christain, it does not and should not really involve anyone else.
    I also like to think of the two men of the cross with Jesus, one ridiculed Jesus but the other rebuked this man and asked for forgiveness and he was going with Jesus on the other side of this life. None of us know what is in others hearts at the last breathe taken, like to think there are many repentent souls at this time, just like this man.
    Sympathy and lots of love with the loss of your son not just at this time but for the rest of your lives. The pain never goes away but it slowly lessens. If any help, I like reading and thinking and of Job, who lost everything and he’s spirit never stopped putting God first. It has been a great help to me this last twelve months.

    Reply
  18. John Smith

    You two are the biggest idiots ever. You deserve it. Your son doesn’t. So you choose to believe some old book, written by people (not “God”), rather than love your son. You should suffer forever.

    Reply
  19. Jon mison

    I would like to suggest that the idea that only ‘a small percentage’ making it to their forties is entirely false. What an ignorant and small person you are. Do not use the word ‘love’, because your not using it right

    Reply
  20. apopesocal

    Health? I don’t know any of my LGBT friends who are less healthy than my straight friends… Several of my gay friends are surgeons, doctors nurses, and other health care workers and most are in better shape than my straight friends. Most of us are in our mid -40’s into our healthy and vigorous 70’s

    Reply

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