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.

1,977 thoughts on “Just Because He Breathes

  1. n8tvtexan

    Dear Robertsons,
    I can somewhat identify with your sad, tragic story. My older brother was gay. I think my Mother just accepted him as he was. My siblings and me always knew but was no big deal for us. However, my father never could come to terms with it. As a result, they never in their lives had a relationship. My gay brother sat by his bed comforting him as he lay dying. Afterward, he was extremely sorrowful he had lost his Dad. He had the compassion to forgive our father for turning his back on him! I lost my brother in 2003 to the ravages of aids. I sat with him til his last breath. As I think back to the onset of that terrible disease, I can’t help but wonder how people were wishing that upon gay people. I miss my brother everyday. I know gay folks don’t choose that lifestyle, their preferences are established at birth. He once told me, “why on earth would I intentionally choose a lifestyle like mine”? I have no choice in the matter. For those that have never witnessed anyone being destroyed by aids. it’s not pretty or pleasant. It’s also an extremely painful way to die. I’m not a believer and find it ridiculous that any believer could think a “loving God” would subject anyone to aids because of who they are.
    My thoughts and sympathies are with you.

    Reply
    1. Betty Hamburg

      Being gay is not a lifestyle. As soon as ignorant people stop saying that, we will all be better off. What do you think gay people do that creates a different lifestyle? We pay mortgages, have bad bosses, have to get our tags renewed, get new glasses every year, make sure the kids have clothes, food, support and love. We have to brush our teeth and tie our shoes like everyone else. Please stop referring to being gay as a “lifestyle.” Christianity is a lifestyle, not sexual orientation. And you get to choose your religion. People don’t get to choose their sexual orientation.

      Reply
    2. Laurie

      I have had a secret for the last 9 months. My son, who is now a senior in high school told me last year, in tears …. that he is gay. He goes to a small Christian school and is class president this year. It rocked my whole world. My thinking has shifted…God is opening my eyes, my heart …. to this new reality. I am thankful to find a website like this….I’m not sure how to navigate through this but I know God will use it for His good. Who do you tell in a situation like this? I have 3 other sons as well, how does I share it with them? One of my best friends finally asked me…I could not lie. So….here I am, my heart hurts…I feel a little lost, scared…knowing this journey is a lifelong one. All I know is that I love my son and God loves him even more…. Thank you for sharing your story…I look forward to learning from you and all those who have walked before me.

      Reply
      1. Gwennaëlle

        Dear Laurie,
        I am nowhere where you’re at right now. I am not answering to you because I know better but because I hope that what I write can help you. Maybe just remembering that no mater what kind of relationship we’re talking about the only thing that is asked of us in the bible is to love.
        We are asked one simple thing: to love, without any condition or restriction. We are also asked to let God do the hard job of judging or condemning.
        As I have already wrote: I am absolutely not in the situation you’re in. I don’t share anything with you anything that would enable me to give you any advice that could help. I am 38 and I have a baby girl. I guess nothing in common with you. Yet the most important thing I have learned is that I am only required to love perfectly and this takes more that a life time to achieve.
        I hope this can help you to see a little clearer and to feel less at lost.
        I also hope that I did not make you feel like I am preaching to you. I was only trying to share with you my own battle that I was hoping could be of some help.

        Reply
      2. mikeinasheville

        Dear Laurie: First, let me say that you have raised one very brave young man. To come to you while a high schooler shows just how much your son believes in you in his life. Its sad but true that far too many teens do not enjoy a relationship with their parents of the truths of the heart. I can’t imagine that a high schooler, particularly a class president, hasn’t searched the web for a sense of community identifying as gay. He has heard many stories of kids being kicked out of their families, he has read stories somewhat similar to the Robertson’s horribly path to enlightenment. And yet he came to you. Well done; very well done parenting indeed.

        My hubby of 29 years comes from a Baptist fundamentalist family. He, with me very sadly supporting him as best I could, endured months of “God would prefer you dead than gay” remarks. That was a very dark space and time. With my very supporting family, particularly my dad, my Mike was a part of a loving family. That is also what started the thaw for my Mike and his parents. They were losing their son to another family that loved him as he is; that jealousy opened a desire to bring him back, knowing that meant including me too. Its been 3 decades now, and we are now older than his parents were when we met. They try, and mostly succeed, in creating a loving family. Where they fail, though, is that they isolate their relationship with Jesus outside their love of their son.

        And that is the warning/message I am sending you. The story of the Robertson’s is heartbreaking — if they had only been able to find in their personal relationship with Jesus the way of embracing their son before it was too late. Your challenge is to expand your relationship with Jesus that embraces your son as he is. Old Testamentalists are not authorities or prophets of the words of Jesus. Paul too fails to heed Jesus’ commandments of unconditional love.

        If being gay were actually a sin, “the worst sin of all” according to some current religious bigots, surely God would have listed that in the 10 Commandments; certainly Jesus would have counseled righteousness.

        Find the Jesus where being gay is being human; being gay is being a loving one. Then you will have both your son and Jesus in harmony in your life.

        Your remarks make me happy — a gay kid being supported by love.

        BTW, you do not identify your children by age with regard to sharing this information with your other sons. I know from trying to plan my own coming out that included telling parents and 4 brothers. My suggestion, ask your son how you can help. But, ultimately, he has to address this. Surely you have life experiences that can give guidance.

        Best wishes to you, your son, and your family. What a great way to start the week.

        Reply
      3. Anonymous

        Hi Laurie,
        I’m a mom of a gay son who came out to me his Junior year of high school as well. He didn’t want me to tell anyone. I totally understand what you are going through. Time will help. Surround yourself with true friends, read as much as you can. Know you are not alone. Know that your son is probably in pain as well. When you see your son going through the anguish he feels and perhaps his anger at God, asking why, why me God? Now you truly know and understand being gay is not a choice. My son even now that he is 21 and says, mom if they came out with a pill that would make me straight I would take it! I remind him he is perfect as he is. He finally told his brother who was 14 at the time. He was terrified his brother would hate him and not understand. When he told his brother, his brother said, Ya, I already knew that..so? He said you are my brother, you are my best friend, I love you and that has not changed. It was a moment of happy tears of relief. If there is anything I can help you with or if you just want to talk please email me. I found this site and the Robertson’s story through a guy who wrote a song and did a beautiful music video about a gay man having a crush on a straight friend. Reading their story I reminded myself everyday. I am so lucky to have my wonderful, awesome son to love and hug. I no longer have to remind myself or work at it. I have finally truly accepted him. Which was strange for me because I would be the one gay kids would come to for support. But my own son, shame on me for having to work on accepting him. It will become normal for you and you won’t even give it a second thought. As for his brothers or anyone, let him tell them in his own time. In the mean time just live your life I know it seems like you wear a bright red “G” now but it’s in your head. It’s nothing you have to discuss with anyone and it’s no ones business. But ask your son, if anyone has the nerve to ask that, can I be honest? If any friend balks at your honest response or says anything negative review your friendship or relationship with them. A true friend would say noting nasty and be supportive. Life is too short to try and please people who aren’t worth your time if they are ignorant toward your son or you. Best regards to you and really if there is anything please email.
        C. *hugs*

        Reply
  2. Beth

    I am so glad to find this blog. Although, I have gasped more than once at the cruelty of some of the responses. I wish I had found resources like this years ago when our son came out to us. I made mistakes and wish often that I would have done things differently. I chose to follow the advice of a Christian counselor even though my mother’s heart told me it wasn’t the best advice. Fortunately, our relationship with our son is better now than ever and he has forgiven us for mistakes we made. My husband is a pastor so perhaps you can imagine how that created another difficult dynamic. A year ago we chose to leave a church he had pastored for twenty five years because the elder board decided that they were going to tell a same sex couple that they could no longer be involved in ministry. We could not stand by and implicitly look like we were agreeing. It has been a year of grief because this was our community for so many years but our love for our son and what this would say to him was far more important. We no longer go to an evangelical church. I can’t listen to simplistic lines drawn in the sand anymore. We love worship so we found a church that is open and affirming to all people. The kind of church that many evangelicals would disparage, but I know the love of Jesus is alive and well in this church.
    I have so much I would like to share about my journey with God and with my son. I would like to follow your Facebook page.

    Reply
    1. Gryph

      It is good to hear you stood up with the couple and with your son. Thank you for seeing them as the people they are and not what everyone else thinks they should be.

      Reply
      1. Dedborah

        It doesn’t matter what people think about us; we are only to be concerned about what Yahweh (God) thinks. It is His opinion that matters. We were created by God; for God.

        Reply
    2. carolb12

      Hi Beth! My name is Beth too, and we have a 28 yr old gay son whom we love very much!! God has totally changed our hearts concerning this issue. We are still trying to find a church where we will feel comfortable. We grew up adn raised our children in the SBC. Tyou so much for sharing this beautiful story!

      Reply
    3. Vickie

      My husband and I are evangelical Christians. Our son told me he was gay in sept 2012. We have been struggling to find our way. I would very much like to follow your Facebook page and get connected with other believers in the same situation. Where do I start?

      Reply
      1. Linda Robertson Post author

        Vickie…my email to you bounced back. I will try it again…but please find me on FaceBook and friend me so we can connect! I am Linda Mueller Robertson there…and I’d love to tell you more about our private FB group for Christian moms of LGBT kids!

        Reply
      2. mikeinasheville

        Vicky: My hubby of 29 years parents are also evangelical Christians. They have struggled now for 3 decades, still stumbling their way. After a very difficult few years (“we wish you were dead rather than sin against Jesus’), they have become caring and loving, though with an inability to reconcile belief with acceptance. Though their relationship, including with me, is now probably much smoother and closer than most parents have with their adult children, it is missing unconditional love. Their love of their son does not embrace their love for Jesus; their joy in the love for Jesus excludes their child.

        Clearly, you (hopefully your husband too) have rejected rejection. Now that that choice is done away, you, simply, have two choices ahead: conditional love or unconditional love. Most parent/child relationships are conditional love: you tolerate differences, judge by those differences, and hold back because of those differences (note: sexual orientation affects only +/- 5% of parents, but is only 1 of unlimited issues that raise rift between parents and children). That is the case between my Mike and his parents. I feel for him, as he witnessed firsthand the relationship I enjoyed with my dad. That was a relationship of unconditional love, a gift that words fail me to describe, but a depth of emotion I have cherished every day of my life.

        I wish for all children to experience true unconditional love, and in turn, pass that love on to their children.

        Finding your way to Jesus’ love that embraces your son is not going to be easy. None of Jesus’ teachings are easy, is that not why He was brought to Earth? The terrifically sad story told here by the Robinsons tells you what struggles exist: convention vs conviction vs Truth. It will take emotional work and stressful effort to look beyond and deeper than what you have believed your full lives. The let downs and judgments of others, though, will hardly meet the travails of Jesus. Let me suggest a visit with the Metropolitan Church of Christ; it is a ministry that serves the gay community. I am not suggesting you switch churches, but to seek out how they minister Jesus’ love with and among the gay community. Consider it an interdenominational journey to expand and grow your love of Jesus. For if you are truly a follower of Jesus, then you must journey until your devotion of His grace embraces your son with His love. Anything less fails at being unconditional, fails to bring Jesus’ grace to your heart, and fails Jesus and His sacrifice. I wish your son well and hope you find the grace of unconditional love for him as you would hold for Jesus. What a joyful day for you and your husband when you experience Jesus’ love embracing your son. Peace.

        Reply
  3. Gayle Beason Walker

    I am the mother of a gay son who we adopted at 3 months old. I have a truly great friend who is gay and he told me Michael was gay when he was 8 yrs, old. Michael finally told me himself and we have never had any problems except with his older brothers. They refuse to have Michael in any part of their lives.I pray to God to touch them but not there yet. I truly believe God loves everyone. We all sin daily. I had to stop going to church because I really can not believe God will send gays to hell. God is a loving God! I some times wonder if I am crazy because I do not judge people for what they are. I wish all parents of gay children would read all these comments and get a better understanding of the child they have raised.

    Reply
    1. scottstaiwan

      the child is a reflection of the parental teaching… if your other son’s are still being bullied into submission of the church then you need get to educating them from a mother’s perspective—

      Reply
    2. Dave

      You are correct. God loves everyone. The real sin here is judging others. The reason we are told not to judge others is because we are so bad at it. We never have the whole picture. Only God can be the one to know the whole circumstance and take things from there. We are to love everyone and unconditionally. That is more difficult than anything I can think of but the first two commandments are to love God and to love one another. If you are doing that, you are also following all other commandments. I was raised to believe that being gay was not part of God’s plan and that it was wrong, sinful and equivalent to murder. I think this is man’s interpretation (and as usual, a poor judgment). If being gay was not part of God’s plan than why is it found in so many different species? There are many things we do not understand and are part of God’s plan. Why are some people wealthy but evil? Why are there so many people who die young when they are so good? Why do people have to suffer? Why are there so many diseases and afflictions out there? There are things out there we just do not understand and yet are part of God’s plan. If we did not experience pain, would we really be able to fully understand joy? Although I do not believe being gay is a bad thing, it does create an opportunity for everyone to learn how to accept those who are different than ourselves. I feel that really loving another human being can NEVER be considered wrong. If you would only leave judgment to God and love one another, we could all live in a better world.

      Reply
  4. scottstaiwan

    I am sorry for the loss that you suffered and the issues that your son had to deal with in his life but most of all I am sorry that all this loss has been due to religion. It is sad that you could not walk with faith but instead fear..but fear of what? God or losing a judgmental community?

    The leaders of churches cite old texts and use their own interpretation to impose the beliefs of one, the pastor/preacher/ or other leader of the community. The power of the organisation is huge and to be shunned must be something to be feared owing to the amount of control it exerts over it’s members but when does that power become so strong that it leads parents to chose the organisation over their own children?

    Family first!

    Reply
  5. Del Shores

    Linda: My name is Del Shores. I admire you so much for using your story to help and save others. I’m a writer-director — I wrote Sordid Lives, wrote for Queer As Folk and have a new film of my play Southern Baptist Sissies that I would love to gift you. If you watch the trailers (links here) you will see that we share a similar message. I’m a Southern Baptist preacher’s son from Texas. Please email me at DelShores@me.com and I will send you a copy. Best to you! Del Shores
    TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo0k66jXVGI
    TRAILER #2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzVo72vBULQ
    FACEBOOK PAGE – http://www.facebook.com/southernbaptistsissies

    Reply
  6. burnsurvivors

    It’s really sad how religion can cause so much harm to the world. It controls people’s live and we don’t even know if it exists. I was a Catholic, and I’m so glad I turned my back on it. Religion is war. I could say many things on here, but I’ll bite my tongue.

    Reply
    1. Dave

      More evil and harm has been done in the name of religion than any other cause known to man (including war). It is sad that the one thing that should unite us in helping one another has been used to tear us apart and even kill one another. You really have to love God and his teaching and NOT the interpretations of people on earth who want to spin it into hatred, pain and death.

      Reply
    2. Remmie Wingate

      burnsurvivors- Religion is man made…Faith in Christ is NOT “religion!” Sorry you have experienced only ‘religiosity’ instead of a living, true relationship with Christ. “Religion’ does not by any means ‘control’ my life, nor many other Disciples of Christ that I know. I am quite sure those who despise God have wreaked much more Death and Destruction than even the “Religious!” Jesus Died to SAVE us…not to condemn us!! Homosexuality is not the rejection of the Gospel. However, the Bible is explicit; it is sin. God loves Sinners, but Saves them to CHANGE them, to the likeness of Christ. We are called to LOVE one another as HE loved us…therefore, speak the Truth, but in actions, always LOVE! As Divorce isn’t God’s BEST for Humanity, neither is being gay. We need to have more mercy/Grace towards each other.

      Reply
      1. mikeinasheville

        Remmie Wingate — My King James Bible is quite clear with its subtitle: “Translated out of the original tongues [Ancient Hebrew, Ancient Aramaic and Ancient Greek] with the former translations [Roman Catholic] diligently compared and revised.” With opening dedication from the translators and revisor to King James, it is clear — these are the words of man. Indeed, the Bible itself claims the only words written by the hand of God are the Ten Commandments. According to the Bible as authority, all the other words are the words of man. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, John and Luke confirm it: not once in their recountings of the words of Jesus are those parables and words identical. They vary here and there as these are the remembrances of the students, men, of the teachings of the teacher.

        In the words of Moses in the old Testament, and Paul in the New, there are a handful of verses condemning homosexuality.

        In the only words of God [Ten Commandments] and in the quoted words of Jesus [the Gospels], though, there is not a single reference, even a single comment, that homosexuality is a sin. Not one. NOT ONE. God goes into specific detail as to what are sins, the Ten Commandments are clear: killing is a sin, lying in a sin, adultery is a sin, dishonoring God is a sin, false prophecy is a sin, dishonor of parents, coveting the property of others, coveting a married woman, dishonoring the Sabbath. To claim that homosexuality is a sin in a sin: God did not say homosexuality was a sin; Jesus never said homosexuality is a sin. Who is any man, including Moses, to claim a sin in the name of God that God himself did not make claim? Who is anyone, including Paul, to claim a sin in the name of Jesus that Jesus did not claim?

        Love sinners as the teachings of Jesus teach, they need grace and love. But save those efforts for sinners; good students of Jesus’ grace and teachings know that two men who happen to love one another as married, or women, is not a sin. It is a gift of grace. Every gay kid from a Christian raised background will never live in graceful harmony with their parents until those parents embrace the true lessons of true grace.

        Whatever good intentions you think you are promoting with your tolerance of the sinner, are the intentions that pave the road to Hell. You are telling parents that they can never cherish their gay children and their futures in Jesus’ enlightenment. You deny that family the grace of Jesus to embrace them all as of family of love. You tarnish that shine with your false judgment that gay kids are sinners for sharing their love. No thanks; time for you too Remmie, to move further “up” in your journey of knowing Jesus. Don’t limit yourself by placing false limits on Jesus’ grace. Most important though, cease encouraging true followers of Jesus’ to condition love of gay kids as the love of the sinner.

        Reply
      2. Christian

        Remmie Wingate — Nowhere in the Bible are we told that homosexuality is wrong, or sinful. There are a few passages in the Old Testament that say some same-sex acts are wrong. An abomination. But we’re told that of adultery, lying, bearing false witness, and a whole host of other things. These laws were written for Hebrews who lived more than 2,000 years ago. As such, they must be viewed in their historical and cultural context. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look:

        “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.” (Leviticus 20:9)

        “For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death.” (Exodus 31:5)

        “If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.” (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

        I could go on, but hopefully you get the picture. We no longer believe that mouthy children or people who work on the Sabbath should be killed. Nor do we believe that a single woman who is raped should be forced to marry her rapist. It was a very different time back then. The ancients had no concept of gay people as they exist today.

        The Bible does not say that homosexuality is sinful. Nor does Jesus ever condemn it. In fact, He never mentions it. He does talk a great deal about love, and loving one another. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22: 37-40) Be blessed.

        Reply
        1. Subversive

          If Mrs Robertson, or SOMEONE who spews the type of ridiculous assertions that caused this poor boy’s death could ever answer the questions posed in this excellent comment, I would really like to hear it. Other things the bible forbids, just for reference.

          1. Eating Shellfish (Leviticus 11:10)
          2. Walking around with our heads uncovered or in torn clothing (Leviticus 10:6)
          3. Men shaving their beards (Leviticus 19:27)
          4. Eating fat (Leviticus 3:17)
          5. Braiding your hair or wearing ‘costly’ garments (Timothy 2:9)

          And soooo many ridiculous other things. I know some reasonable Christians, who understand that

          A: The words in the bible were written by MEN, fallable mistake-making men
          and
          B: Those words are over 2000 years old

          These Christians live a life that is far more aligned with the true message of the bible, in my opinion. That message being “love others around you” and “treat others how you would like to be treated”. If people could just follow those two rules, imagine the world we would live in. Choosing to ignore all the things that the bible says which are clearly ridiculous, while deciding to follow this one rule is the ultimate in hypocrisy, and belies an inability to think for yourself. Use your brain! Gah, just typing this out is making me so angry!

      3. Betty Hamburg

        Remmie, people use the word “religion” because we don’t know the exact faith of another. You can parse definitions all day, but in the end, all this damage is done through religious beliefs. Religion probably helps some people, but all I see is hate and judgement from it. I do believe Gandhi was right about Christianity “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are nothing like your Christ.” So get it together and stop projecting your prejudice onto your Christ and we’d probably all be better off.

        Reply
  7. Emmanuil

    Dear Robinsons , I am truly sorry for your lose of your sun! I am sure he is resting in peace!!!
    I want to share my personal story in this blog and I am very pleased to do so.
    I am 45 years old and I am gay.I come from Greece where the religion is Christian orthodox.When I was 16 I came out to my family.At the beginning it was difficult for my parents to accept but after some years when I was 24 I met a guy and we lived together for 17 years.We had a unique relationship although we did many mistakes but we always loved etcher other unconditionally.My family accepted our relationship and also his family.We were the “perfect couple”.
    Greek orthodox church doesn’t accept homosexuality so we didn’t go to church so often.I always belived in God but never talked with a preach.5 years ago some friends from work told us to go to another church where they have Bible study.We went with my boyfriend and really loved that place.The pastor with his wife and all the people there.Through the bible we learned to truly love and worship our God and most of all I learned how much God loves us.I was so Happy until one day I had a conversation with the wife of the pastor . To make the story short I broke up with my man because of the fear of sin (which actually I never had that before ) .I left our luxurious apartment.I went to stay in a very small apartment with no money.My ex boyfriend didn’t agree with my decision but he said if thats my choice he would understand.It was very painful to leave him after 17 years.I tried to cut all the bridges with all the gay friends and I was praying and beliving for 1.5 year that God will ” make” me straight and meet a woman and fall in love and make family. It was very hard eventhough there where times that I belived that God “saved” me and I thought I was very “Happy”.But I wasnt.I was suffering.
    After 1.5 year of hard praying and worshiping one morning I cried to God to show me if I do the right thing.And the same afternoon I read in the internet about the story of a gay man.That guy for 20 years was trying, and he didn’t finally succeeded to “turn ” into straight .And that day I found myself again.His story was the answer of God to return to my OWN sexual identity.
    I didn’t go back to my exboyfriend.I didn’t have the right.Now we are like brothers with him .He is my family anyway. We still love each other.He has a new boyfriend and I also met guy 4 months ago .
    We don’t go to that church anymore.
    Gays we are not perfect but neither straight are.We all do mistakes.So what…….
    I LOVE MY GOD AND I KNOW HE LOVES ME AND I WANT TO LOVE OTHERS LIKE MYSELF.
    GOD IS LOVE AND ONLY LOVE.
    PERIOD.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  8. Mumrah66

    I was raised in the church and turned my back on it many years ago, finding it very difficult to deal with the hypocrisy, but what ever gets you through your day is none of my business. I am so sorry for your son, and what he had to endure through his short life. You will surely have to live through the pain and guilt for the rest of your life, and for that I am so, so sorry, but thank you, thank you for bringing your story forward, maybe it will help other parents and children who are going through the same thing. My daughter came out to us when she was 12 years old, and I told her then and tell her now, I love you, your sexual orientation is none of my business. I have no right to agree or disagree with it, in the same way that no-one has the right to tell ME what to do. I do feel strongly that the Exodus church could not be more wrong in what they do. Even their founder admitted he was wrong.

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    Linda:

    Thank you for telling your story. I am a coach and saw the post about your blog on Queerty. I have a number of players who are gay and I am gay myself… though like your son, I am “all boy (man now)”. No one could ever tell if they didn’t know. It was a shock to my mentee/protégé/goalie that, when he came out to me, my response was “Yeah… so what? Me too”.

    Your son’s story is such an important one. I have a player now who is gay and who is constantly considering suicide… because his parents “just won’t understand”. My mentee has a friend who is gay who is afraid to go to the movies with his hockey teammates (read: without a girl) because his father “would figure it out and kill (him)”. These guys are 14, 15 and 16.

    It is so important that these guys have role models whom they can look up to. It is so important that they have support in deed, as well as in word. It is so important that they know that they are not “broken” or “lesser” or a disappointment to those who love them. Congratulations on your enlightenment. I am so sorry that the world lost a young man who could have made a difference. I am so sorry that you and his dad lost a son. That said, shout your story from the roof tops. Let the world know that “we are what we are”. Your son was spot on in that initial conversation via messenger with you.

    Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Its odd Linda – I don’t think we have to worry much about them and their peers. That generation seems to have it down. Not to say that they’ve reached full equality but my goalie gets his chops busted about the guys he’s interested in just like his straight teammates get grief about the girls in their lives. It’s a good sign. Really, it’s our generation that needs to see the light. It’s our generation who sees things differently. All of the pressure to conform comes from above. Keep telling your story. The next generation of kids will have parents who all “get it”.

        Reply
    1. Lesley Jett

      I am terribly sorry for your loss. I think that it is a wonderful blessing that you chose to share your story in the hopes that others will opening their hearts. After all, God is love. I am proud of you.

      Reply
  10. steve lockhart

    I am so happy you are sharing your family story to all that will listen. Keep up the good work. My story is much different, but I also struggled with my faith and family. It took ten years for my mom and I to work things out between us, but she opened her heart, kept true to her faith and learned to love her gay son and my partner. My mom and i went to pflag together and later as i started a spin off group for gay parents she volenteered to do the child care while our support group met. Mom passed away in 2006, but she left me with heart felt memories of just how deep love can be. She was a good Southern Baptist woman, and she wouldn’t mind saying she had a gay son.

    Reply
  11. freetoflyaround

    I am so sorry for your pain.
    I get it. I finally truly get it.

    I went through a similar situation with my children. They are grown now, and thankfully, I am able to watch God heal them from some if the mistakes I made during thier childhood.

    Because of the mistakes I made in causing them to feel that mine or Gods love was conditional, I spent months creating this 5 minute video about how God’s love is 100% unconditional to us. There is nothing that we can do to make God love us MORE.
    And there is nothing we can do to make God love us LESS.

    I cried buckets of tears while creating it.
    I needed to hear the message too (probably most of all)
    I get it now
    I keep thinking how you may want to use it to help others who reach out to you.
    Feel free.

    Here it is below:

    Reply
    1. survivorgirl007

      I was first introduced to Graham Cooke with this very sermon some years back. Thank you for posting it here with your powerful video. If we all had even a hint of how much God loves us, it would do away with our propensity to make life about “us vs. them.” Thank you.

      Reply
      1. Remmie Wingate

        Kept looking for the “repentance” message in this video….didn’t see it…. In order to saved, one must acknowledge the WORK of Salvation that Christ accomplished on the Cross…which we are unable to ever accomplish….and repent of our SIN!! Doesn’t mean one will become perfect or a paradigm of ‘righteousness”, however, God is HOLY, unlike we are. He does not Save us to leave us alone! He will CHANGE us through the Holy Spirit! We are LOVED! And because of that LOVE God will CHANGE us!! We are becoming more like our Saviour!! I don’t mean to dismiss this video, but I think people need to hear the WHOLE Gospel! Oh, and the fact that becoming a Christian does NOT mean a life of ease, and no difficulty etc.! In fact, it may mean far more conflict than one could ever imagine!! Yet, Peace that passes understanding!

        Reply
        1. Linda Robertson Post author

          Remmie…Perhaps you missed the point of our story. God didn’t change Ryan’s sexual orientation, despite Ryan’s faith and years of effort to do everything the evangelical conservative church suggested (and many still suggest). God did change US, by calling us to repentance of our lack of faith. God’s called us to trust HIM more and to know how big His love really is for His children…ALL of His children.

  12. barbiedee

    Thank you Robertsons. I am so happy to see the work you are doing to change the views of the Evangelical church on this most important subject. I am truly sorry that in the process of bringing about this change you lost your beloved son. I try to keep the mindset that our Lord made us all, it is not ours to judge but to accept, and for your to bring that message in a most powerful way is so heartening. I applaude you and your continued efforts. May God Bless you in spreading his word of acceptance.

    Reply
  13. triryche3

    What I am going to say isn’t meant to be mean or cruel but probably will be perceived that way. These questions aren’t just for you but ALL Christian parents who do this to children.

    1: How could you give that sort of ultimatum to a 12 year old?! He chooses Jesus thus destroying his life, or he lives as himself, losing his only known religion but more importantly his family. Worrying about being alone & maybe, in his mind, homeless? He trusted you to do the one thing in this I know Jesus DID talk about, give unconditional love. Which ironically you did give your brother. Didn’t your brother show you being gay was inherent?

    I am not religious now but gave myself a similar ultimatum, my family or who I am. I didn’t want to lose my family so I chose them. I became an addict as a security blanket & messed up my whole life pretty much guaranteeing a life of loneliness that I am still trying to fix. I am 44 & figured out I was gay at 8, so 36 years of pain & loneliness imposed on myself; needlessly as it turns out as my family accepted me unconditionally. Thankfully today it is a little easier for kids to come out. But parents need to know, most kids go through the praying, the trying to change, the agonizing FEAR of losing everything, parents, family, friends, before parents hear one single word from children about being gay!

    2. Why not stop the pain & suffering when it became apparent it wasn’t working?? Before the depression & suicidal thoughts?!

    Before coming out I went through weeks where I didn’t have a suicidal thought every day. I thought of the most painful ways to equal the pain I thought it would cause my family by having a gay man as a member. Drinking drain cleaner, bleach, toxic cleaners. My thoughts were because of religion. The last 35-40 years or so according to religion being gay is worse than being a murderer or rapist so…


    I am not against religion itself. I am against how people use religion to justify their own prejudices. If people followed everything, you would be property of your husband to be killed for a bunch of things out of your control, no shellfish, no mixed clothing materials etc. But people choose just a few lines out of thousands to obsess over, intensifying in the 70’s when gay people chose not to be stigmatized & treated like second class citizens.

    I am sorry for Ryan, his short life & untimely death. If I am honest I can’t say I am sorry for your loss as you caused his pain, suffering & ultimately his death. I am happy all of you got to live the relationships you were supposed to have if only for 10 months. I thank you for your story & trying to right the devastating wrong far too many churches are committing every second of every day.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Those are good questions and ones that Linda and Rob ask themselves daily. But what an INCREDIBLE GIFT that rather than lie low and protect themselves from hurtful comments that rip open the wounds over and over again, they instead speak out honestly about their mistakes in order to allow others to avoid the same errors. Thank you, dear Robertsons, for your courage.

      Reply
    2. Meredith Indermaur

      I understand the anger and pain behind your questions, and I’m grateful to read that your family has accepted you without conditions. Maybe think about how difficult it is for many others to release a firmly entrenched belief system that’s taken hold since before we even knew of a thing called a belief system. We’ve never not had it. It’s always been there and has been passed down from generation to generation. My son is gay, and he knew he was gay years before he let me in on it. In other words, he had time to process, and I had a split-second to respond when he came out. That’s the way it is for a lot of us parents, and many of us regret our initial responses as we try to come to terms with reality. The important thing is that the Robertsons have taken their rude awakening and employed it to try and wake up the rest of us before it’s too late. That is a GIFT. And it’s working, and that’s what matters now. Life dealt them a tragic blow, and rather than hang back in the shadows, they are living transparently so that others like me can benefit from the wisdom of their experience. They are living into the “so now what?” They have experienced death, and they are now sharing in resurrection for all of us.

      All the best to you, triryche3. God bless you.

      Reply
    3. triryche3

      After having had down time, I wanted to come back & tell the Robertson’s I am sorry for the tone of the first part of my last paragraph, that was way beyond what I started out to say. I am sorry, I didn’t mean to add to your pain.

      Reply
      1. Linda Robertson Post author

        triryche3, you are beyond forgiven! What a gracious man you are…especially because you have endured so many years of pain yourself. Huge hugs to you tonight, triryche3…!

        Reply
  14. Caleb

    Linda-

    I just recently came across your blog and could not refrain from saying something. I’m truly not even sure what to say, except that your story moves me very much. I am a 23 year old gay man, also living in the Seattle area. I do not regularly take part in the “good fight”, other than the occasional volunteer work and playing with the Seattle LGBT orchestra. I came out at 14 after a lifetime of knowing, while living in the deep south no less. My parents were not completely okay with it from the get-go, nor my peers. However, I am fortunate that it was very little of a struggle for me. Nearly nine years later, nobody even acknowledges my homosexuality – it just is. We are also fortunate to live in an area as open as this one, though it is sometimes easy to take that for granted. The good fight is spreading outwards, and I think people are coming around every day. All it takes is one person to change the world. You are living proof of that, because you are showing people the truth – a truth that you had to learn yourself. The good fight will never end, but with the help of people like you, I truly believe that it will get easier with time.

    I am very sorry for your loss, but I know that those words do not mean much in the midst of such a profound loss. Still, I feel obligated to say that I am sorry, because you have taken on such a huge responsibility and are reaching out to such a variety of people. Your story gives me hope, and though I am an agnostic, I do have faith in the good of people. Wherever your son is, I hope he sees what you have become and what the world will become.

    Reply
  15. Charlie

    You sound like amazing and wonderful people who made a terrible mistake and have to live with the consequences of your decision. I think every person should be able to relate to that in one way or another. Loss is a terrible thing that we all experience at some point. Making bad decisions is something we all do. It is hard to explain but I have this overwhelming wish to be able to build you a time machine so you could go back and undo what has been done. You deserve better. Ryan deserved better. You should be living the life that you were intended to have as a family. It isn’t possible to do that, but you are already a step ahead of those who never are able to make peace with their children, living or dead, and if you save one life by your efforts then at least your loss was not in vain. It will never change what was for you, but it will change the future of others, and for that I thank you.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      R,

      Without any reference to which part of the story/blog you are asking about, its hard to know what it is you are questioning. Nonetheless, your short comment is so sad. Life is a gift from God; it is your to be. There is only one commandment from Jesus, to treat others with the love care you too deserve “just because [you] breath”. Those are the true Christians, followers of Jesus’ words and deeds; there are many who care and offer help. Love yourself as Jesus would love you.

      Reply
    2. mikeinasheville

      R,

      Without any reference to which part of the story/blog you are asking about, its hard to know what it is you are questioning. Nonetheless, your short comment is so sad. Life is a gift from God; it is yours to be. There is only one commandment from Jesus, to treat others with the love care you too deserve “just because [you] breath”. Those are the true Christians, followers of Jesus’ words and deeds; there are many who care and offer help. Love yourself as Jesus would love you.

      Reply
  16. amielzbth

    Being born LGBTQ is NOT a lifestyle. I certainly do not call being born heterosexual a lifestyle. I don’t know any lesbian, gay, bi, transgendered or queer friend of mine who CHOSE to be what they were born as.

    I wrote this because I struggle with my own bigotry. So here goes:

    I can remember the day
    When someone first told me
    What I felt in my heart should be gone
    I remember the embarrassment
    The grief and the wondering
    As I questioned why God made me wrong
    I wonder if they know what they stole from me
    How they robbed me of the joy of my youth
    They forced me to wander in a dark place
    Full of pain that could not be soothed
    I finally found my way back to life
    As I learned what it means to be gay
    Whenever I feel those chains on my soul
    I break them and throw them away. (‘These Chains,’ Adams 1996, 216) (White & White, Jr., 2004)

    I was 14 years old when my uncle came out to me. We were sitting on the front steps of the house in South Richmond Hill. I was the one who asked him and he nodded and said “yes”. Then he asked me a question: “Does it bother you?” I smiled and told him that it could never bother me because he is and always will be my uncle and I gave him a hug.

    I am struggling with my own bigotry. This hate is a seed that has been growing within me through every article, experience, and story told from a friend struggling after he or she has come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. Through all the hate that people who are supposed to preach love are showing towards other human beings, I, myself, am becoming just as bigoted towards religious doctrine, dogma, and people who subscribe to the hate a 3000 year old book teaches. It bothers me so much that I am becoming this way, and every time I try to fight these horrible hateful feelings that I am so against, I feel it grow stronger within me every day. I can’t even walk into a church without wanting to vomit. That’s the honest truth. I can’t subscribe to any of it. When I hear people say “its Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve!” I want to scream in their face and tell them how ridiculous they sound. For every time I have heard someone say “if my child turns out gay I’m turning him or her out into the streets, or getting him/her therapy, or putting him/her in a camp that will set him/her straight”; I want to tell them they truly do not know what unconditional love really means. I think about Jennifer Gable who was a transgendered woman and struggled throughout her life to accept not only who she really was meant to be, but the fact that her own family couldn’t even accept her, let alone society. She was 32 years old when she passed away due to an aneurysm, and the same family who cast her out, buried her. Only instead of burying her as their daughter, Jennifer, they buried her as the man she was never meant to be, cut her hair, and put her in a suit. This burns me up inside and out and I just want to cry out WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THIS???? WHY WOULD ANYONE DESECRATE THE BODY OF THEIR OWN CHILD????? It hurts me, and as much as I want to NOT be bigoted towards a religion or religions that preach such hate, and the people who follow it, it is SO DAMN DIFFICULT when there are people who would do this to their own child’s body because of their own shame and lack of love and acceptance. I think about the young man who came out to his parents and recorded his coming out via his cell phone, and how his family rejected him, tried to beat him, and then kicked him out not even giving him a second thought. I want to yell at his parents for being so hateful and unloving toward their own son. I don’t even want to get into the idiots at the Westboro Baptist Church because the fact that I even mentioned their hateful group gives them some kind of credit.

    I have friends whom I’ve debated with and happen to love them as friends, but at the same time I am struggling with how they could believe in a God of love when there is so much hate attached to it in an old book. I often wonder what it would be like if their kids ended up gay, or lesbian, or bi, or transgendered. Would they be shamed for how they were born? Would they be forced to go to a camp or some therapy that will also try to shame them for being born the way they were? Would they be cast out by parents who are supposed to love them unconditionally? I have family members who are gay and quite frankly I love them. I accept them for who they are and how they were born. The very thought of their parents casting them out or shaming them because they were born gay would give me nightmares and I would have to stand against them and see that my family members were OK and know that I accepted them whole heartily. Luckily, they have family who accept them and love them unconditionally. When I think about the people of this world who have stayed in the closet for the sake of acceptance and fear of being hated by a God of love, and the people of the church they go to, I think of someone named Mel White. Mel White was born into a conservative Christian family in Florida. He wrote a book in 1995 entitled “The Stranger at the Gate” where he described his evangelical upbringing, his early years at a Christian College, and his experience at Fuller Seminary. The book then went on to describe his heterosexual marriage, as well as the tortured struggles of his homosexuality and how he tried to fight his natural desires for the same sex. It was a vicious cycle of “sin” and repentance, and though he was successful in repressing his sexual needs, they would just reappear again. Eventually Mel White came out of his closet, joined the MCC Ministry for a while, and then founded Soulforce which is an activist organization that advocates the traditional techniques used in public protest and civil disobedience to struggle for full LGBTQ inclusion in Christianity (White & White, Jr., 2004). I think about him because through all of the therapy, repentance and prayer, he knew who he was, and that his worst enemy was not accepting the fact that he was born gay. Through all of the “rehabilitation” he was still gay and eventually came out. He is not a bigot. He has been through so much and I can’t imagine the backlash he received when he finally did accept who he was and how God made him. Yet, he still believes in God and Christianity and fights for the LGBTQ inclusion in it. I wish I had his heart. Right now I’m so pissed at some Christians who believe that hate is God’s love that I want to burn my own Bible, and I have two of them.

    People ask me why it matters so much. Why am I so passionate about LGBTQ rights? I remember someone at the job in the city once telling me years ago “why does it matter to you? Are you gay?” I told her I wasn’t, and she basically said “then how does it affect you?” It affects me because I know what it’s like to be told not to be with my husband because he isn’t Christian, and I am not Jewish. It matters to me because I know what it is like to be discriminated against by people who do not wish to accept my marriage to my husband because I’m not Jewish and am basically treated with not one ounce of respect by some if not most of the family. It matters to me because I’m sick and tired of people telling people who they should love, when it comes to consenting adults. I’m tired of people thinking that marriage equality will ruin the sanctity of their own heterosexual marriage. Honey, if someone else’s marriage is ruining your marriage you have bigger problems and it has nothing to do with two men or two women getting married.

    The truth is I have no clue how to NOT hate these teachings. I see what they do to people. I see them hurting, committing suicide, or never speaking to their families again because their families refuse to speak to them anymore. I remember going to an LGBTQ event a year ago and trying to sell bingo tickets. One of the men at the bar bought five of them and we talked for a little bit. He told me his story and how his mother no longer speaks to him after he came out. They were close, and now they weren’t anymore. He said he has accepted it, but I saw his eyes begin to glisten. All I could think was “this is someone’s child, and his own mother has turned him away”. I gave him a huge hug and kissed him on the cheek and told him he was a beautiful person and that if anything, I accept him as such and he smiled. So I ask again: how is this God’s love, and how am I not going to feel animosity towards certain Christians or religious groups who use their beliefs as a reason to hate people who do not believe as they do or who are not born the way they are? I don’t know how to do that. I’m trying, but I don’t know how to do it.

    There is one person who helped me regain a little faith in humanity and some Christians, and that is Timothy Kurek who is the author of “The Cross in the Closet”. He was raised in a conservative Christian family. An experience he had with a friend of his who had just come out as Lesbian changed him, and he decided to do something so crazy that it was wonderful. He decided to pretend to be gay for a year to experience what it was like to live that life and see what the LGBTQ community goes through. He dealt with a lot of discrimination, even from his own church. At the same time he befriended so many people and was able to see just how human and loving the LGBTQ community really was. They were more accepting towards the Christians who hated them than the Christians were to them. When I read “The Cross in the Closet” I was inspired. This is a man who did something so huge that it practically shook the earth in my opinion. He went into his own hetero closet and basically had to keep his own hetero desires down so that no one would find him out. He began to understand that the closet does, indeed, kill. I wish I could give him the biggest hug in the world just for putting himself through that for the sake of people who have suffered through the closet pretending to be something they were not for the sake of social and religious acceptance.

    Through all of this I wish I had the courage to love those who hate others because of how they were born. That really does take a lot of courage, and I have no clue how to gain that without punching some of them in the face. So for now I will probably continue to get angry, argue and debate against those who are for hating the LGBTQ community. I will continue to march in pride and rally against the conservatives who want to end marriage equality to save the “sanctity of their own marriages”. In the end I guess that is all I can really do…

    Reference
    White, D., & White, Jr., K. O. (2004). Queer Christian confessions: spiritual autobiographies of Gay Christians. Culture and Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 5(2), 203-217. doi:10.1080/143830042000225439

    Reply
  17. Anonymous

    I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I am to learn of this blog. My youngest son had the courage to come out to me at 18. Although it was no surprise, I think I always knew he was gay, it still filled me with many emotions. Fear, disbelief and if I can be completely honest, maybe a bit disappointed . I am most ashamed of that emotion. Both my son’s were raised Catholic and both have no real relationship with God. This frightened me for many years and I have shared that with them. My husband, not the father of the boys, always loved and accepted my kids as his and accepted my son’s sexuality. I took great comfort in that. My husband recently discovered a new church, Southern Baptist. I understand their stance on homosexuality and it is a concern. He has become engulfed in this church and I am resistant because of my son. I attended one service in fairness and just my fortune the sermon was on judgement. The pastor preached we cannot judge because those who dont follow the word of God are already judged. I kept thinking that the God I know and love would never judge my son based on his sexuality, I just cannot and will not believe that. God loves unconditionally, doesn’t he? So now my husband is slipping away from me little by little and more and more I am resentful. I believe in Jesus with all my heart. I can only believe all of us are judged on how we led our lives and not on who we loved. I won’t turn my back on my son and I can’t be part of a church that judges him even though they preach to not judge. I am frightened, lost and very confused,. Funny thing is my husband left an article for me about you, your husband and your son. I think he is just as confused but won’t let me in on it. Thank you for listening and for sharing. God blesses us with the wonderful gifts called children, he must want us to love them regardless and unconditionally. I love my children and certainly love my gay son. His sexuality makes him who he is and for that I am blessed.

    Reply
    1. mikeinasheville

      Anonymous,

      What a lucky parent your son has in you. There is no reason for God’s existence except to create; through you, you have created your son. How can that be not exactly perfect? Some are born left-handed, some athletic, some with medical conditions, some gay. But each and every one is born perfect.

      I don’t know if you will succeed in reconciling your love for your son with your husbands new found church/beliefs. Certainly, though, you cannot succeed without telling him how you feel. Your short comment says it all “my husband is slipping away from me little by little….” As hard as it is going to be, you must share that with him; it will be ever more difficult not to.

      Southern Baptists are most peculiar — more than half have divorced and remarried and over two-thirds have adulterous affairs. The Ten Commandments, and even Jesus have much to say about that. If homosexuality was as evil as Southern Baptists preach, wouldn’t an all-knowing God have included it in His Commandments? Would Jesus address it at least once? Yet it is relegated to verses that include bans on eating shellfish, weaving multiple fibers, treatment of slaves, and cut hair. And not one comment from Jesus himself. My thought is that those who make such foolish condemnations about offenses not covered in the Commandments and not spoken of by Jesus, are hiding their own greater sins from public view. They so insult the God they claim to love that they will somehow fool Him.

      I surely hope your husband will surprise you and grow his human character to truly achieve Jesus’ calling to love another, faults and all, as you would have them love you.

      Best wishes.

      Reply
  18. Jamie

    Dear Ms. Robertson,
    Thank you for sharing Ryan’s story. I am sorry for your loss and your pain. I grew up in a strict, Christian home. I knew I was gay in high school but I could never have come out because of my fear. When I was outed to my mom, she did not speak to me for two and a half months. She no longer talks to me as often as she used to and she does not accept my partner. Recently she was visiting her brother and wanted to spend time with me. I offered her the opportunity to stay in our home. She declined, stating it would be too uncomfortable for her. If I wanted to visit her, I had to do so in her hotel room. The conditional love and loss of our once close relationship hurts my heart. But I do not hate my mom, nor do I want others to hate her and I am sorry for the hate you are receiving. I have remained true to my faith, even though it has been difficult at times. I remember Jesus’ two commandments in the New Testament and try to live by them as much as possible. And this for the people who are commenting inappropriately, as I am sure you are familiar with them, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself. For those who feel the need to judge you, they are treading on very dangerous ground, Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge lest you yourself be judged.” The chapter goes on to remind individuals that the measure they choose to judge others by will be the measure in which God judges them. No thank you. I will leave the judging up to God. I will pray for your healing.
    Sincerely, J.

    Reply
    1. Brad Tilford

      Jamie: I too do not want to see Mrs. Robertson suffer anymore than she already has. Your message about love is the answer. The LBGT community is constantly having to defend themselves from hatred. We have been judged to the point of feeling less than human. Don’t forget Mrs. Robertson also judged her son in the name of a “God”. It is not our nature to judge, but it is in our nature to defend our rights as human beings, and to not be treated like filthy animals.

      Reply
  19. Simone P

    I have tears in my eyes reading this page. I just want to say that you sound like absolutely amazing parents. Thank you for sharing his story. I can’t believe how hard it would be for you.

    Reply
  20. Joe35

    This is not about religion, this is about how drugs are destroying people’s lives. Instead of judging christians this should be a campaign against drugs. What killed this young man were drugs and nothing else. Those parents should understand that they did their best and is not in their hands if their son was doing right or wrong. That’s why they should forgive themselves and help others to don’t take bad choices like doing drugs cuz they can kill anybody no matter their race, sex, culture, age, etc

    Reply
    1. mikeinasheville

      Sorry Joe35, you are simply wrong. If you want to create a blog about the how drugs destroy people’s lives, do so. While it is a subject well covered, the more the better.

      But the Roberstons, in their own words, know they did NOT do their best. They now know that their best should have been the unbridled commandment of Jesus to unconditionally love their son. They, in their own words and admissions, failed their son and failed Jesus. The Robertsons are not seeking forgiveness from you, or me, or their blog followers. They are driven by an everlasting pain to embrace their God, their love of Jesus, by bringing focus to their fellow Christians to hold true to the truth of Jesus. If their actions save just one child, save just one set of parents, from the hell they suffer, what a wonderful gift they give. Clearly they suffer from the reminder of their failing, yet they march on. That is a true upholder of the light Jesus brought. I am not a Christian, yet I highly respect the Robertsons for their conversion to a higher Christian calling.

      Reply
      1. Linda Robertson Post author

        Mike…this description of our journey, and the calling we feel called to, is dead one. I just read it out loud to Rob, and we both feel deeply understood. Thank you so much for being part of the conversation here; you add richly to it every time you comment. I am grateful for you today, my friend.

        Reply
        1. mikeinasheville

          Linda,

          Your mission is one that raises so much emotion in me. My family moved from Indiana to SF Bay Area when I was in junior high. I went to Berkeley and lived there 10 years and another 16 in San Francisco. AIDS took a terrible toll on so many of my friends; kids should not be burying other kids. In none of the stories of my friends, nor any I heard about friends of friends, were stories of grace of love from a parent to their dying child. Not one.

          In my case, had it come to that, mine would have been the unique story. My dad, in particular, would have been by my side during that journey. When I met my Mike, now 29 years ago, it was my dad who made me self-aware I had met someone special. I had met my Mike on a Friday; the following Monday, during a simple chitchat, my dad looked at me, made a wry smile, and announced, “you met someone, haven’t you?” Later in the day when I was heading back to my apartment, he said “well I want to met the young man who has so obviously smitten you; he must be special.” My parents had met the few guys a had dated in college and after, but he had never said anything like this before. I remember thinking while driving home “he [my day] is right, this one is special and I am smitten.”

          With the friends I lost, I suffered and still suffer such sympathy pain of the emotional pain they suffered while enduring the physical pain of a lethal disease. And I cursed every so-called Christian parent who abandoned their child’s love, who spewed Bible verse from afar, and even worse, while attending and feeding them.

          ****
          When I came across your blog, I was hoping you were being true to your story. That brightens me, and, reading the posts of parents who have and are in the process of enlightening themselves to their higher calling, brings my happiness for the child saved from the pain of abandonment. In earlier comments, I have said I believe in a God that is greater than the religions of man; nonetheless, I respect those who hold true to the truth of their religion. What a better world we would live in if believers believed the words of love spoken by Jesus, spoken by Muhammad, and those who reminded their followers of the Golden Rule.

          I so much want you to succeed in helping those parents help themselves and lift their relationships with their children, worthy of the God they worship. That fits my belief in God in perfect harmony. Keep marching on.

        2. MARIE

          LINDA – WHEN I READ YOUR POST AND SEE THE PICTURE OF YOU WITH YOUR SON AT THE HOSPITAL I GET CHILLS ALL OVER AND TEARS IN MY EYES. I KNOW EXACTLY HOW HARD IT WAS TO ACCEPT. I TOO AT FIRST BATTLED WITH OUR FAITH BUT NEVER ONCE WAVERED FROM LOVING OUR SON UNCONDITIONALLY. I READ A BOOK TITLED “SOMEONE I LOVE IS GAY” WRITTEN BY A MOTHER. IT STATES THERE IS A FINE LINE BETWEEN APPROVAL AND ACCEPTANCE. OVER THE COURSE OF FIVE YEARS I FEEL OUR CHURCH HAS BASICALLY PURPOSELY NOT SUPPORTED US IN OUR ACCEPTANCE OF OUR SON. A FRIEND WHO LIVES NEAR OUR CHURCH CALLED ME AND SAID THREE WORDS WERE POSTED ON THE CHURCH’S SIGN NEAR THE ROAD “IT’S NOT NORMAL”———
          THIS AGAIN BRINGS ME TO THE BELIEF AS I STATED IN MY POST YESTERDAY, THAT AS OPPOSED TO JUDGING WRONGLY, CHURCHES AND THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH NEED TO LOVE “UNCONDITIONALLY” AND TO EMBRACE OTHERS AS THE BIBLE CALLS EVERYONE TO DO………………BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER-DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU-THE LIST CAN GO ON FOREVER.
          I APPLAUDE YOU IN YOUR EFFORTS TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE SO QUICK TO TAKE THE ROAD OF FAITH AND DISOWN THEIR CHILDREN OR FAMILY MEMBER.
          A YOUNG MAN I WORKED WITH IS GAY – HIS FATHER A DEACON – MOM PLAYED CHURCH PIANO – THEY DISOWNED HIM. HE WAS HOMELESS AND LIVING IN HIS CAR AND TRYING TO WORK JUST TO EAT. I CALLED HIS PARENTS AND AFTER SPEAKING TO THEM ABOUT HOW WE SHOULD LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY AND TO EMBRACE ONE ANOTHER THEY ALLOWED HIM TO COME HOME <3 THEY NOW ALLOW HIM TO BRING HIS "BOYFRIEND" OVER. I FEEL DEEPLY IF THEY HAD NOT ALLOWED HIM TO COME HOME, HE TOO MAY HAVE ENDED UP DEAD.
          AS TO "MICHAEL" WHO POSTED NOT TO TALK ABOUT RELIGION BEING THE ISSUE AND TRYING TO MAKE IT ABOUT THE DRUGS………….IT IS A MIXTURE OF BOTH. HOWEVER, HE IS MISSING THE POINT THAT YOU, OTHERS AND I ARE NOT BASHING RELIGION, WE ARE SIMPLY SAYING "CHRISTIANS, AS WELL AS NON-CHRISTIANS, SHOULD HELP SUPPORT THOSE IN THIS SITUATION. BECAUSE DOING ANYTHING OPPOSITE OF SUPPORTING CAUSES THE SITUATION TO BECOME MUCH WORSE. MY LOVE TO YOU AS A MOM WHO KNOWS YOUR HEART <3 MARIE

    2. Remmie Wingate

      Joe, Adding drugs to the mix of rejection/feelings of not being worthwhile, is a deadly combination. This is a tragedy on so many levels. My heart goes out to the parents!! And their son! I don’t know what their relationship is with Christ or the heart of their son! But I know they need prayers!!

      Reply
  21. MARIE

    I THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS SITE WITH EVERYONE & MY PRAYER IS ALL PARENTS, RELATIVES, FRIENDS, ETC STOP AND THINK HOW HORRIBLE IT IS FOR A GAY PERSON TO COME OUT. THEY LIVE IN A WORLD OF IMMEDIATE “UN-ACCEPTANCE”, “CRITICISM” AND UN-WARRANTED CRITICISM FROM SO-CALLED “CHRISTIANS” AND NON-CHRISTIANS ALIKE WHO NEED TO KEEP THEIR OPINIONS TO THEMSELVES . WITH THAT SAID, I AM A PROUD PARENT OF A 26 YEAR OLD GAY SON!!!
    WE ARE LIKE YOUR STORY – WE WOULD RATHER HAVE A RESPECTABLE GAY SON THAN A DEAD GAY SON!! <3
    I HAVE POSTED ON FACEBOOK AND WRITTEN OTHER ARTICLES THAT IF "CHURCHES" TODAY WOULD REACH OUT TO THE GAY/LESBIAN COMMUNITY AND EMBRACE THEM AS HUMAN BEINGS AND NOT TREATED AS IF THEY HAVE A "DISEASE" AND PUT INTO THIS "OH MY GOD" CATEGORY, WE WOULD HAVE A BETTER WORLD IN WHICH FOR THEM TO LIVE IN. TAKE WHAT YOU READ IN THE BIBLE AND LEARN FROM IT TO NOT "JUDGE" AND TURN YOUR VIEWS INTO POSITIVENESS THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY HELP MAKE LIVING IN THIS WORLD A BETTER PLACE!!!
    GAYNESS IS NOT A "DISEASE" – MY SON HAS THE SAME BEATING HEART AS ANYONE ELSE AND WAS CREATED IN MY WOMB BY A GOD WHO LOVES "UNCONDITIONALLY" A WOMAN IN MY CHURCH CAME UP TO ME AFTER I HAD GONE FORWARD ASKING FOR PRAYER/SUPPORT AND SAID "DON'T WORRY HONEY, WE HAVE ONE OF THOSE IN OUR FAMILY TOO!!" EXCUSE ME????? "ONE OF THOSE" SORRY, BUT MY SON HAS A NAME!!!!
    I PRAY THAT SOMEHOW THIS POST MAY BRING SOME SOLACE TO ANYONE WHO READS IT.
    THANK YOU AGAIN, FOR SHARING YOUR STORY AND I AM SO SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS OF A WONDERFUL SON!! <3 MARIE

    Reply
  22. Brad

    Linda, first let me say how sorry I am that you lost your son. As I read your story I identify with almost all of it. I am a professor of theology at an evangelical university. My son grew up in the church, and his story looks so much like Ryan’s. Even their ages are the same. My son was born just a few weeks after Ryan. He left the church his senior year of high school, embraced his gay identity, and moved to New York, becoming part of the drug fueled young gay community there. He entered rehab in November of 2012 after moving back to Washington, and has done pretty well staying on the path of sobriety. But, my wife and I live with the daily reality, and I know you will understand this, that he is in recovery today, but tomorrow isn’t here yet. So we live in hope. My son and I are writing a book about our journey–the journey of an evangelical Christian dad and his agnostic gay son. It’s about how to stay close without giving up your convictions. I’m hoping it will be out next fall. My wife and I often find ourselves in a quiet room with a Christian parent whose child has come out to them and they don’t know what to do. God bless you in your sorrow and for your ministry to others. Perhaps we can connect face to face sometime. My wife and I would love that. Please feel free to contact us if you would like.

    Reply
  23. gary47290

    I’m sorry for your loss. However I must ask why you are at an Exodus conference without condeming their inherently anti-CHRIST focused “ministry”. This organization was inherently evil and anyone who continues to participate in anything they do is participating in an intrinsic evil.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Gary, we understand that Exodus (and its affiliate ministries) have done great harm to countless people, however, our own interactions with their staff have been nothing but respectful and edifying.
      When we were asked to share our story at their final conference, we made the decision to go with the help of dear and trusting LGBT friends and family, who encouraged us to go (and raised the money for our airfare). Though we, obviously, do not support efforts to change any one’s sexual orientation, we were glad to get the chance to share our own experience with ex-gay ideologies at their last annual gathering.

      Reply
  24. Veritas

    Thank you for making your story public. I hope it reaches many parents, Christian or not, and helps them face with grace a child who confides their truth.

    My sincere prayer, as the the information surrounding Ryan’s tragic end and SSM debate rages on, it helps many more than harms.

    As more parents become better informed, they are able to accept and nurture their gay teens offering guidance in place of ridicule. As more gay teens become self aware, fewer and fewer will suffer the stigma as those before them and confidence will take the place of depression and despair.

    I personally look forward to the day when ALL gay kids, Christian or not, see themselves just as worthy of productive, meaningful, love filled lives.

    Common sense, common decency, fairness seem like an extraordinarily simple moral imperative. Saving the lives of our most vulnerable gay teens is a moral necessity.

    Reply
  25. Anonymous

    Robertsons, I personally want to thank you for your courage for sharing this story with us. I know it’s not easy to do it. I’m deaf, using sign language as my first language. I’m gay christian, wanting to share the story of mine. I was saved by Jesus when I was 17 years old (44 years old now) and was led to believe that homosexuality was a most grievous sin. I struggled to overcome it and prayed a lot to remove it… It didn’t change anything a bit. I falsely believed that I was ex-gay because I didn’t approve the homosexuality practice, yet I went to SF regularly, surfing around the gay bars on Castro Street on and having some one-night stands. Afterward, I felt so shameful and full of guilt which it led me into more repentant prayers which didn’t help anything, but aggressively increase the vicious cycles of self-hatred. Sadly, it led me into the extremely decision of becoming an Independent Fundamentalist Baptisit for ten years, becoming Associate Pastor. I married a deaf woman who loves Lord Jesus, bearing a deaf son. My wife’s aware of my past history of homosexuality, but I deceived myself by telling her that I’m an ex-gay, no longer practicing homosexuality. But my wife sensed that I’m very different than other guys she went with before me. After the three years of our marriage, I finally told her about my inner feeling’s still same. Of course, it hit my wife hard for a while, however, she accepted and continued to love me. She’s very supportive and encouraged me to accept my homosexuality. Now our marriage is over 16 years. My wife became a very LBGT activist. However, I continue to experience the angisuhed mental because I still believed that the Lord Jesus didn’t accept me and expected me to continue overcoming against my flesh, period. True enough, one day I almost lost my mental due to the continual torments of self-hatred. I begged Him repeatedly to remove my homosexuality struggles, but my prayers still went unanswered which made me more and more anger against God. My wife witnessed my mental breakdown and told me to stop and accept that God already accepted who I am. It suddenly hit me into realizing that the whole of the time was that I lived in fear, not love. Fear itself almost killed me! I decided to do some homeworks on the Bible and Homosexuality and was horrified to learn that the verses were misinterpreted, out of context and manipulated by religionsits. I decided to come out of the closet last year and was surprised to see some of my christian friends showing their true colors by their shunning, separating and falsely labelling me without any honest dialogue. I realized I spent the whole time to please the Christians, needing their approvals by denying my homosexuality and fitting into their worlds. I more and more understood what Jesus talked about True Fruits and Thorns. I now can identify true and false Christians through their words and actions based on true love or fear. Most of the religionsits were driven by fear, not love. Now I am in much freedom and peace than the whole of my life, no kidding. Now I feel burdened for other suffering gay people.. My wife and I research on the gay ministry in the hope of one day we can be able to minister gay people. I want to applaud you for your brave to share your story. I believe this will help a lot of people understand what we all go through. I’m very sorry that you both lost a beautiful son… However, I believe one day you both and your son will reconcile again. God bless you.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Anonymous, thank you so much for sharing your story! What a blessing it is to hear how God has helped you to deeply understand HIS love, in spite of how people misrepresent Him. You and your wife should join us at the Gay Christian Network Conference in Portland in January 2015…You’d be among FAMILY there. And we’d be honored to meet you!

      Reply
  26. M

    Thank you for following the commandments of Christ instead of part of the levitical code (for men not to have penetrative sex together) that Christ actually abolished.

    This gives me hope that all these traditions without biblical basis will be thrown out by god loving people.

    It may be an interesting Bible study to note that any other type of sex between men and lesbian relationships are never mentioned. People assume, but it isn’t actually in there.

    Reply
  27. Matthew

    Hi. I am the gay Christian son of a family much like yours was. It was because of that I waited until I was 26 to come out to my family. I tried to wait until God would fix me, and it turned out I needed to stop listening to others telling me how God viewed me. I so appreciate your telling the stories you have and for your advocacy work. I hope someday my mom will come around to be an affirming figure in my life and I am encouraged by hearing your story. Thank you for what you’re doing and please do not stop.

    Reply
  28. Dave

    Hello. Thank you seems so inadequate for what you are doing by sharing your journey – it is so important and it encouraged me today. I am a 46 year old father of eight children, soon to be ex-husband to a wife who loved me for 26 years and still does, an only child, a son, a Christian, and a gay man. This past September, I finally told me wife that I had suppressed my identity and sexuality and that I had finally realized it was no longer good for her, our precious kids, or me.
    I knew I was attracted to my gender early on and actually came out to my very religious family at 18. I abandoned my faith, was chastised, ran to an older man’s arms and had my heart broken by him and my parents. I met a woman a year later, my best friend, fell deeply in love, renewed my faith, pledged my vows and began a wonderful life…my homosexual desires never completely left but I suppressed.
    The connection of male friendship, companionship, and yes physical desire for a man was always missing and wanted.
    When I told my wife this past fall, we were in the car parked by a lake. She screamed to get out of the car and ran from me…I followed and fell on my knees in front of her and told her to “hit me, yell at me…anything”…that’s when I saw grace in action and human form…Her countenance changed and she reached her hand to mine and said, “I could never..I love you, come sit with me and we’ll talk”…. Our divorce will finalize in January 2015. She loves me and I love her and we’ll figure out this co-parenting thing! :)
    Two of my adult children do not speak to me, unless spoken to. They hate the divorce, they don’t understand me “being gay” and they certainly cannot reconcile it with what they were taught in church and yes even Mom and Dad. My former church either doesn’t speak to me or tells me I have “proven myself faithless”. The hatred that pushed me back in the closet almost 30 years ago has not changed as much as I had hoped.
    Suicide was not an option for me, only because I couldn’t figure out how to care for those I loved and I couldn’t leave them with that mess.
    I have a friend who “gets me” and we come from similar backgrounds and because of each other, we are now searching for God again and a church and way to understand our faith in light of who we were created to be – the journey is hard but it is better together.
    What you are doing here – shows that we are all on a journey. The REAL conversations and often RAW parts of life are how we know we are LIVING and FEELING and LOVING. May we stay mindful that we need Jesus and each other!

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Dave, bless you for sharing your sacred story here…I hope that many read it and are encouraged by your (and your ex-wife’s) love, courage and faith. I do so hope and pray that you will find a community of people who will “get you” and love you as you are, friend. I would love to meet you…come to the Gay Christian Network Conference in Portland in January! You will find so many people there who are willing to walk this journey with you…and with Christ as our guide.

      Reply
  29. Bill Papas

    Where should I begin? With the hypocrisy of christians who cherry pick the Bible? With the fact the Bible was written at a certain primitive age for some specific purposes? That there were other tollerant religions in the world (I m from Greece), before Christianity fiercly and violently persecuted them?
    With your ignorance and lack of knowledge? With the fact that most gay men are masculine and (male) homosexuality has nothing to do with femininity? ( if gay men are feminine, they find other gay men, so they become what? Lesbian couples? Makes no sense….not that it is bad for a man to actually be feminine, mind you…)
    With the fact that you had a perfectly normal child and forced it to go astray? That you are responsible for his death, in the name of an invisible being, created in the minds of “saints” and writers of an ancient , often illogical and “magical” era?
    That you are still clinging to your bigoted, man-made faith no matter what?
    I really don’t know….

    Reply
  30. seymourvegan

    Hope you realize you were twisting the bible to fit your worldviews then, and you are twisting the bible to fit your worldviews now. It is all fiction, and fiction that has caused your son and many others to die. Yet you still thank the imaginary man in the sky.

    Reply
  31. Betty Hamburg

    Linda, I have read your story here and on the Huffington Post. I really believe you love and loved your son. And we all make mistakes. I hear your defensiveness in the Huffington article, and it would be best to just drop it. Sometimes we have to “take it,” whatever “it” is because we caused it whether it was with malice or not. If you want your son’s life to have meaning and his death to be anything other than a horrible tragedy, STOP USING RELIGION TO JUDGE PEOPLE. Do your part for LGBTIQ people and help move the religious community to a place of acceptance and end the judgement that took your son’s life as well as the life of Leelah, the transgender girl whose parents wouldn’t allow it because their religion said no. Stand up to people like the Duggar family who dump money into towns where they don’t live to overturn civil rights laws that protect LGBTIQ people. If you need religion, remember that LOVE is the definition of Christianity and Jesus didn’t judge anyone at all. Do not use that religion as a basis for creating different classes of worth in other people. You don’t know what their reality is.

    I really hope you don’t suffer every day for the rest of your life. I have children, and I love them so much that I can try to imagine how you must feel. All I want is happy, productive, and safe children who live satisfying lives. We birthed them the way they are, and we need to accept them the way they are.

    I do not hate you. I am saddened that this has happened yet again – destroyed another family, ended another life, deprived someone of a wonderful partner/spouse that your son could have been. Please stand up for religious acceptance no matter who someone is. That is what will make a difference.

    I hope you find peace.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Betty…I am confused. I wasn’t defending myself on Huffington Post, just letting them know that if they hope I suffer for my mistakes, that they can be certain that their wish was granted.
      How am I using my “religion” to judge people? If I am, I’d truly like to know so that I can change. All the work that we do in regard to sharing our story is to help stand for up love for ALL people.
      Wishing you the best, Betty.

      Reply
  32. Andrew

    I cannot believe what I have just read. Although I am truly sorry about your loss, the fact is that your religious beliefs caused it. What a world we live in when a quote written by men 2000 years ago causes parents to act like this. Your son had one life and it was ruined by your intolerance of homosexuality. I would be amazed if you followed all the other ‘rules’ from the old testament. Truly disgusting.

    Reply
    1. mikeinasheville

      Andrew, I am NOT by any means defending the Robertsons. As a gay man, I find their conduct with their living son appalling. BUT, that is the purpose of this Blog: the Robertsons are reliving this hell they created in order to help other families avoid the same fate. They are clear in their message that they failed not only their son, also the teachings of he who is their Savior.

      If there is no “up” for making the world a better place for LGBT, if we do not allow people to grow, then the fate of their son a always repeated. Every day with taking on this project, the Robertsons willingly suffer their sin against their son, but also grow in their beliefs. If their new beliefs help just one kid relief from the fate of their son, that is a success. With the many posts here, there are many cases for hope. That cannot and should not relieve them of their conscious, but it does make the world a better place. Born from the “truly disgusting” yes, but up is a hope for others.

      Reply
  33. Maria

    I am sitting here crying. Crying for your loss. Crying because of your kindness for sharing your story with the rest of the world. You do not know me but today you saved my life. I am 42 years old and have been a lesbian all my life. I have also always believed in God.. Im a new christian however and the people I am learning from keep telling me I am going to go to hell because of who I choose to love in this life. I am currently in a 12 year long relationship with the most kind, caring woman I have ever met. I have never questioned Gods love for me until these Christian folk kept telling me He cannot love me because the Bible says so. I had decided to end my life a few days ago and was working on my plan. God led me to you and your story today. Through your story, God is reminding me of what I already knew, this was NOT a choice, I was born this way, and He loves me. I thought I was worse than the devil, a sinner beyond repair and that death by my own hand was the only answer and thank you again for helping me realize that God does not make mistakes! Your sister in Christ Maria

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Maria! Thank God that you did not carry through with your plan! You are clearly a wonderful woman, in love with another wonderful woman! Please know that even though some Christians still hang on to those old, fearful ways of thinking, there are millions of Christ-followers who do not! Please check out GayChristian.net – it is an amazing community of believers, my friend! You’ll find so many great people who, like you, love the Lord and desire to follow His as LGBT Christians. I’d love to stay in touch with you, Maria…if want to. Find me on FaceBook (Linda Mueller Robertson) so we can! I am thanking God for you, Maria, my new friend and sister in Christ.

      Reply
    2. mikeinasheville

      Dear Maria, To me, your post cries out loudly for help. Your words, you are 42, have always been a spiritualist/deist (believer in God), and are in a 12 year loving relationship with the most kind and caring woman you’ve met. Yet you chose to convert to a Christian denomination that assaults you for being you and insults the actual words of Jesus? So much so are the assaults and insults, you seriously contemplated committing a sin of the highest magnitude (self-murder). I cannot understand this. I cannot grasp how you worked on a suicide plan while having the most caring and kind partner there to help you. I cannot figure out why you would subject yourself to this abuse when there are many Christian denominations that offer support and affirmation of Jesus’ true message of love.

      By coming to this Blog and making your post, you are taking first steps to break from your self-imposed abuse. Please, Maria, please seek the help of a therapist or clergy from a supportive church (Metropolitan Community Church is one). There is a cause that brought such ugliness into what you say was your happy life. This ugliness must be discovered so it came be “exorcised” from you life and soul. You need that help and deserve that help. Take your love of Jesus to be with you on your side, and journey forward. My wishes for you.

      Reply
      1. Maria

        Dear mikeinnashville,

        Thank you for your kind words.

        Although this has truly been my greatest struggle, my God/lesbian issue, it has been kinda a rough year and I stand behind my words in telling the Robertons that their story saved my life. I did not know going in, when I meet these particular Christians that my sexuality would be a big deal to them nor that it would become such a fight within my own soul. But it did, and it was. It is not anymore and I have been free of that weight since I found and have been talking to my friends here. Nothing happens in Gods world by mistake. My love for my partner of 12 years remains as strong as ever for she was supportive every day of my struggle and even knew I was fighting being suicidal.

        Im glad you “cannot understand this” because maybe you have never felt that horrible soul crushing worthlessness that come with suicidal ideations. I pray you never do. Im glad you “cannot figure out” why I would subject myself to this abuse from Christians because in all truths it was only a few people and I didnt know any better till just now and I take comfort that you sir will not make the mistakes I did.

        Thank you for your positive words. If I could let you see behind the scenes you would see how God choreographed an amazing friendship out of all of this. Thank you for caring about someone you dont know, enough to write to me. God bless you….your sister in christ Maria

        Reply
  34. Kathy McReynolds

    Hello Linda, thanks so much for sharing your story. We are evangelical Christians and we have an 18 year old son that I have known since he was in preschool that he was going to have questions about his sexuality. I am a Bible professor at a Christian university and hold a high level position in a Christian parachurch organization. To make a very long story short, I found out yesterday through his Facebook status that he was in relationship with a guy and now identifies as bisexual. I am not a friend on his Facebook, but someone alerted me to his status. Well, that was awkward! I would love to join your Facebook in order to connect with others you find themselves in a similar situation. Thanks for doing this…

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Kathy…I would love to “talk” more…please friend me on Facebook so I can get you added! I am Linda Mueller Robertson there…and we’d love for you to join our group!

      Reply
  35. Kyle

    Hi Linda,

    Your story touched me deeply. I am a 30 year old bisexual who struggled immensely to come to terms with my sexuality, despite being only spiritual (not religious) and having supportive parents (which I came to find out years after college). Even without having to reconcile a religious conflict, I contemplated suicide several times in college – I recall the pain, anguish, and torture that haunted me. I would lay in bed at night crying, listening to Elton John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” and “I Want Love” (even though I now know the latter song doesn’t relate specifically to same sex couples) over and over again, which was the only form of comfort I could find at the time. I would think to myself “how can someone so immensely talented with such beautiful and emotional/moving music succeed as a gay man (young and unwise, I thought sexuality could actually define a person)? If he can do it, maybe..just maybe I can as a bisexual.” Despite the short-term relief Elton John’s music provided me, I never could go through with a suicide since I knew how much it would hurt my mom and my parents.

    Although I’ve since come to terms with my sexuality, I write to you today because I felt an immediate spiritual connection to Ryan after seeing a slide show of pictures that you and your husband put together during a presentation that I found on YouTube. I was interested in listening to your story because it gave me hope of increased understanding and compassion towards the LGBT community. I must confess that I am very critical of certain religions as I do feel that it is the biggest obstacle to obtaining LGBT equality and compassion; having said that, it warms my heart to know you are an ally now and that you are in a unique position to hopefully bring even more people on board as allies.

    While emotionally tough to watch, I was okay throughout most of your presentation until the slide show. I completely lost it and started crying uncontrollably when the slide show started. It was as if Ryan and I had already known each other for years (even though I live on the East coast). As you have stated, he was an active, masculine, an outdoors-type who didn’t possess stereotypical traits of a gay man. I am the same way. As soon as I saw the more recent pictures of him, I immediately felt his pain, his grief, his challenges. It was as if his pain was my pain too. I wanted to hug him, to comfort him, to laugh with him, to cry with him, to go skiing/snowboarding with him, to go on an adventure with him. It was a very deep spiritual connection based on mere pictures. Not only did I feel connected through soul to him, I lost it so hard emotionally because I’ve been through what he went through and I also realized that I could have very, very easily loved and cared for Ryan, as I know you and so many other people did. Thank you for what you are doing, it is incredibly important work. The first ski run I have this year, I will be thinking about Ryan and I know I will spiritually connect with him once again – his soul is alive and it is very well.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Kyle…this comment was incredibly moving for me, and timely, because Wednesday is Ryan’s birthday…he should have been 26. Thank you for watching his slide show…that means the world to me. We need to watch it again…it always allows me to cry healing tears. I miss him so very much. Bless you, Kyle, for your kindness…I appreciate you so very much. You have given me comfort, strength and encouragement.

      Reply
      1. Kyle

        Linda, I’m so happy to hear that you found my comments moving. I honestly had no idea that Wednesday would have been Ryan’s birthday. On a whim, I decided to check in and read some of the newer comments posted here, as it continues to give me hope to see so much progression on this topic – oftentimes from people that I would have (self-admittedly) “written off” as seemingly hopeless for the cause only even a short time ago.

        I’m also so glad I checked back here, as I know I will be thinking about Ryan tomorrow now; he will surely be in my thoughts and I know I will feel his soul and his spirit once again, I just know I will. I also know that if I watch the slide show again tonight, I will need an ENTIRE box of Kleenex! It’s also so heartwarming to have connected with you Linda – you also have given me comfort, strength, and encouragement through your (I can’t emphasize these two adjectives enough – “Incredibly Important!!!”) work! May God bless you and your family Linda.

        Reply
        1. Kyle

          So much LOVE right back to you and your family Linda! I will surely keep in touch. Happy birthday Ryan, sending so much love your way today… <3

  36. joannforsberg

    Ryan,

    Bless you today on your birthday.

    The love your family have for you has now changed the world one “ripple to another” across this earth.

    The kiss seen around the world… Stands as a symbol of undying truth.

    Of who you were and are today… Teaching moms, dads, others; especially the church we shall stand together hand in hand and sing a new song of each worth.

    Bless you all for allowing us to hear your honesty as life is messy and we all enter it as imperfect beings.

    Continually learning on this path called life.

    Thank you for telling your story.

    Happy Birthday Ryan! Beyond a doubt I know you can hear us.

    Quaker Grandmother, mother of a gay son whom is deeply beloved by his family and friends.

    Reply
  37. 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
  38. 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
  39. Anonymous

    God bless……what you are doing is a very wonderful thing for other families experiencing unacceptance. In reading your messages, here is a site you might find some peace in using for yourselves. Please take the time to check it out. Theeventual.com

    Reply

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