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.

1,463 thoughts on “Just Because He Breathes

  1. Ann Nikitas

    I really have no words to say as no one but Jesus can fully understand what you have gone through. God does love you, and He asks us to do the same. We love and He does the rest. Receive His forgiveness and forgive yourselves, let His love wash over you.

    Reply
  2. Chris

    Linda,
    I came across your story on Facebook in which you talked about all the negative comments you had received in relation to your original story about your son. Your story about Ryan touched and broke my heart at the same time. I am very sad and sorry for your loss. As a gay man, I know exactly how your son felt when he realized he was gay and I faced many of the same obstacles and confusion. I commend the fact that though you made him aware of where you stand and believe in regard to religious values, you always made Ryan aware of how much you loved him. I believe you addressed the issue of him being gay the only way you knew how and believed was right at the time. I know people out there really believe that people can change from gay to straight, but it’s simply not possible. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope other families in similar situations see this and learn from it. If you saved or change at least one life for the better. It was worth it.

    Reply
      1. Tara

        Dear Linda,

        Thank you so much for sharing your story. I stumbled across your articles on Facebook through a NOH8 Campaign post. I know that you are changing lives and saving lives, and I also know that your son is so proud of you and that he felt your love before he left and still feels in now, on the other side. I’m sure you get so many of these comments, but I just had to add a little more to the light. Your story has touched me so deeply tonight that I have cried three times listening to your speeches and reading your blog entries. As a member of the LGBTQ community who also has a gay younger brother who came out at 14, I can’t tell you how incredibly touched I am that you are sharing your love actively in so many ways. I think it must be hard, and I am so sorry you are experiencing backlash. Please know that at times it is hard to forgive the rejection experienced by Christianity as a collective to us in the LGBTQ community as equal children of God, and many react by lashing out at individuals associated with the Christianity. Once again, thank you for being a light in the world.

        Tara

        Reply
        1. Linda Robertson Post author

          Tara, thank YOU. I know, deeply within me, that the hate that comes from the LGBTQ community is because of PAIN. I don’t struggle at all with being angry at them, or even in understanding their rage. I just have a hard time reading them, because I already have such deep remorse, and I fear that their words have truth (thank God for a good therapist!).
          Honestly, if our story ever gets heard in the conservative Christian community (and we hope it does), the hate that may come from the far right will be harder for me to understand and to not be frustrated/angry with. But we are praying for the strength and courage to face that, if the time comes. Much love to you, Tara, and your brother…your kindness is so very appreciated.

    1. Anonymous

      Linda,

      I am so sorry for your loss. I am sorry too that you have had to endure unkind, hateful words from others. I find it hard to accept that people can be so cruel. I respect the courage that it took you to learn from your mistakes and hear God’s words in a new way as you tried to rebuild your relationship with Ryan. God is forgiveness and hope and love. What you do in your life is between you and your God. I have no doubt that God and Ryan have forgiven you. I know the impossible part will always be forgiving yourself. I will pray that you and your family may find some kind of peace in your lives as God leads you there.

      Reply
  3. Julie

    Dear Linda,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was surrounded by hate massacrading as loving Christians for my whole life so reading your story I can truly see the love you have for your children.
    Many parents do not get the ten extra months you had with Ryan when he came back. Many parents don’t want them back. Many children don’t make it back. You were lucky to have each other and have that extra time. I say lucky and it sounds wrong to me but in fact it could have been so much worse.
    Your story beautifully illustrates the love you have to give and shows the world that not everyone who speaks about The Bible does so to mask the hatred they have for any LGBT. Your story will hopefully show people that there are good Christians out there who really are trying.
    In closing, thank you again for sharing your story and remember, no one is perfect. Life doesn’t come with a rewind button, but the future hasn’t been played out so it can still be changed and you’ve done such a wonderful job the story.

    Reply
  4. Marguerite Taylor

    Hi Linda and Rob
    As I write this tears fall from my eyes as I imagine the pain that you and your family feel and I am so incredibly deeply sorry for you loss. And I am so truly disgust with the people who have comdemned you and disrespected you. These so called Christians do NOT know my God who is love and who says judge not lest ye be judge. I respect you so much for being honest, kind loving parents who loved their child enough to simply apologize and admit to making mistakes. I was blessed with great parents who has always loved me and accepted all of me which happens to be a bisexual woman who is in a relationship with a woman. I was raised in a southern Baptist home so I am familiar with Christian teachings and as an adult I realized that my God made me in his imagine just like Ryan and God makes no mistakes. I need you to know that I thank you for being sooo brave and honest in this journey and I pray that you find peace in knowing that Ryan knew you loved him and that you are some of the best parents anyone especially a member of the LGBT community could ask for. Know that we appreciate you. I wish you and your family blessings, mercy and peace in Jesus name.
    Your Truly
    Marguerite

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    There is a very old saying the road to hell is paved with good intentions but since I no longer believe there is a hell other then the one we make here on earth I can only offer my deepest condolences to both of you.
    I don’t think either of you ever intended to hurt your beloved son but so many have been wrapped in this shroud of religious indoctrinations handed down from generation to generation we sometimes fail to see the that love is love no matter who it is we love it is all the same even Jesus said of all these things keep true but love your neighbour as you love yourself and I take this to mean love all openly and without hesitation weather it is a stranger or a family member regardless.
    You see so many religious wars and people willing to go to any length killing, maiming, and sometimes worse just to prove there religion is right but what could be more right then love itself.
    I hope you can by opening your painful and endlessly deep loss open the eyes of other parents to just say I love you and I want you to be safe and keep them that way by worrying more about them then pleasing a God that you can not touch or see instead of a child you can.

    Reply
  6. Cherie C.

    My Dear Linda, I am so sorry for your loss and your pain. Your courage and your love is so heartfelt in your blog that I just had to send you some words of encouragement. The work that you are doing now is so important and I hope others will follow your lead in realizing that love is the answer to healing. Bashing you, calling you names, spewing vile insults at you, will not bring your son back and people who do that should hang their head in shame. Especially the so called christians who hide behind the “Buybull” to support their hatred. Life is about learning from our mistakes, making changes in our lives so we don’t make the same mistakes again, and then sharing our experience, strength, and hope with others to help them along the way. You are doing all of those things and doing it with humility, compassion and love. Sending you love and a huge hug from a recovering addict named Cherie.

    Reply
  7. Deb

    Dear Linda I am so sorry for your loss. I have a son who is gay, yes it was not easy to hear those words. But I knew he was before he told me. I think mothers just notice those things that are different. I love my son. I know what helped me is that Jesus tells us not to judge anyone even our children but to love others as he loves us.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Amen…I am so with you, Deb. If you ever want to connect with a group of Christian moms who are committed to loving their LGBTQ kids just because they breathe, find me on FaceBook (Linda Mueller Robertson) and I’ll tell you more about it! Much love to you!

      Reply
  8. Toni Thordarson

    Hello Linda: what resources do you recommend that might prepare me to help guide the parents of gay children towards embracing their child for who he or she is? My son knows many young men whose parents have disowned them because of their sexual orientation. I would like to help these families in some way. What do you recommend?

    Thank you, Toni

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Toni, it kind of depends whether or not those families are rejecting their kids due to religious reasons, or other reasons…but I sure wish someone had come alongside me to simply listen and ASK QUESTIONS. Nobody ever asked me, “What are you really so afraid of?” If these families are believers, and they’d be willing to read, there is a list of resources at the bottom on my blog post “So what do you REALLY believe??” It isn’t at all exhaustive, but it might be a start.
      I am so touched that you want to make a difference, Toni! Thank you!!

      Reply
  9. MBee

    Dear Linda!
    I am so sorry about the people who have said some terrible things to you over the internet about you son…
    I cannot say much, but I would like to say thanks for writing the story!! I have had many people call me some horrible things! I have been trying to kill my self since I was ten years old… I am sad to say it did not happen, even all the times I have tried. Keep your son in your heart! That is all that is needed! Blessed Be!

    Reply
  10. worldxposure

    Linda,

    I have a teen age son that came out to me 3 weeks ago. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I wept as I read it. Thank you for reminding me what is most important.

    God bless you and your family,
    Angelia

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Angelia…your son is blessed to have you as his mom. If you ever have a need for a group of Christian moms with gay kids to connect with, let me know. Much love to you.

      Reply
  11. Alexander Myllyharju

    When reading your story, a passage in the bible came to my mind. And I’m not religious, at all. So this is unlike me.

    “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.…”
    – Matthew 5:10-11
    (I think, my bibal skills are not that good).

    I’m glad you came around when it came to your son, I’m glad you could reconcile your differences in time.
    It saddens me to know what happend, and I can honestly say that before going to bed to night, I’ll do something I have never done before, I’ll pray for your son, you, and the rest of your family.

    As you christians put it: May God be with you.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Wow, Alexander, your kindness touches me deeply. Thank you SO much for sharing those verses and even being willing to pray for us! The world needs more people like you.

      Reply
  12. Anonymous

    I read your story and it’s heartbreaking. I can only imagine the pain and guilt that will forever be a part of your life. You clearly made some mistakes, we all do, no one is perfect. I’m sorry your son had to struggle so greatly. I’m sorry he felt so much pain, depression, heartbreak, feelings of worthlessness and above all else, I’m sorry that you did not understand and accept him as he was instead of question him when he came out to you. That, in itself, had to have been so hard for him. I don’t blame you for his death. You made a mistake. We aren’t given instructions when our children are born on how to properly parent every situation that comes our way. It deeply saddens me that so many young children are not supported by the very people who brought them into this world. I do understand you did what you thought was right, at the time. But if you have so much faith in God, then you know He knew when Ryan was going to die the moment he was conceived. You are not to blame for his death. God knew just how long he was going to loan Ryan to you, to this world.
    Allow me to tell you my story. Raised in a strong Catholic family, church every Sunday was a requirement, not a choice. I believe in God. I love God. With God all things are possible, But as I grew into an adult, it wasn’t God that kept me from attending weekly Sunday services, it was the organized religious fanatics that kept me away. The ones who pass judgement on every one. The ones who break all 10 of the commandments Monday-Saturday but sit in the front row with their noses in the air on Sunday. The “holier than thou” holy rollers who have something negative to say about every thing and every one. When my church looked its nose down on birth control, surrogacy, same sex marriage, etc… that’s when I stopped going to church. God is everywhere. I can pray to Him, talk to Him, praise Him, honor Him and worship Him from my bathroom and he hears me just as if I was sitting in a pew in a church. I am a Christian, not always a good one, but I am not religious.
    I’ve never had to deal with same sex anything. Never have I personally known a gay man or woman. I never had any ill feelings towards the LGBT community, as a matter of fact, I love them. Their struggle to be who they are, pulls at my heart strings. On February 4 of this year, my 45th birthday, I received the most beautiful gift. Our youngest daughter, age 12, reluctantly told me she was gay. My first response to her was, “that’s all?” And I’ve celebrated her sexual orientation ever since. You see, it didn’t matter to me or her dad. She’s our daughter and if we don’t support her, who will? We live in a cruel, cruel world. The one place our daughter feels safe is with her family and we couldn’t fathom NOT accepting her for who she is, the way God, Himself, made her. She’s perfect. There is nothing wrong with her. What is wrong is the people who try to shame her, to try and shame us, who ridicule, harass, bully and spew so much hatred yet claim to be Christians. God loves ALL of his children. White/black, gay/straight, sinner/saint, etc…
    I can’t understand some of the stories I read of how parents have literally disowned their own children over their sexual orientation. Parents who have beat and thrown their kids out on the street. It’s heartbreaking. Yet they call themselves Christians. Shame on them. And shame on the haters who send you terrible hurtful messages. They are no better than you or I but are quick to pass judgement and pour salt in the wounds. You’ve suffered enough. You have to forgive yourself for the mistakes you may have made with your son. Thank you for sharing your story, as hard as it must have been. Thank you for getting the message out there. I always tell my daughter “never be afraid to show who you really are because as long as you are happy with yourself, no one else’s opinion matters”
    Take care. God bless.

    Reply
  13. Renee Gordon

    Thank you for sharing your story of Ryan. It is so tragic. As a lesbian I can relate to Ryan’s anguish, although my family was pretty accepting of me when I came out. I am 46 years old, and in the back of my mind to this day I still hear the niggling refrain “you are going to go to Hell because you are gay.” I didn’t hear that from my family, but from my church. I have been to every denomination of church imaginable trying to find the love and peace that other “straight” people seem to have so easily. Finally, I just quit going to church. I do believe in God, as does my wife, but any talk of religion makes me nauseated because I have always felt inferior or damaged in some way because I am gay. I did a lot of things in my past that I am not proud of, and that I am amazed that I did not bear greater consequences for–but I have some modicum of peace now. I have been with my wife for 9 wonderful years, and I look forward to many more. We have guardianship of my 20 year old nephew who has Asperger’s and we try to teach him to be honest and to work hard. We do not smoke, drink, do drugs or party–we are as normal a family as many other straight families in the world. But most of the world believes we are damned because we dare to love each other and be faithful to each other as the Bible commands all spouses. We have been told by people that they can “love the sinner but hate the sin” And it make me angry. I have known how I felt since I was 2 years old when I told my mom then that when I grew up I would turn into a boy so I could date girls. At 2 yrs, I didn’t know that girls could date girls. I just knew that boys dated girls, and since I liked girls, I must have to become a boy to date girls when I got older. As I grew older, I realized that you can’t say those sorts of things out loud–it wreaks havoc in straight society. So I kept my mouth shut, played straight, and let my self loathing grow and grow. I have contemplated suicide many times, and prayed to God to make my feelings for girls go away. To no avail. There are still days that I don’t like myself very much, but I have come to the conclusion that God made me like this for a reason–He MADE me this way. I never would have chosen this for myself. I hope that society can take from your story what you intended, and that it can teach others to love their kids and be supportive and protect them as they should. To help them accept that their child is not flawed or inferior, but a child created by God for a purpose. You have my condolences for the loss of your son Ryan. Just know he is finally at peace and in a much better place.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Renee, thank you for sharing YOUR heartbreaking story…and it is truly heartbreaking. You and your wife sound like amazing people and amazing parents…I want people like you in my life. Thanks so much for your sympathy.

      Reply
  14. Elizabeth

    My heart is broken for you. And for you family. I am so sorry that you are being attacked for sharing your story. I hear the pain and regret and longing for your son. I am so sorry that this is the reality of your story. But I am so touched and amazed at your openness in sharing and in your desire to make a difference. I am sure that this is already helping so many young people. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for the hate and bitterness that is directed at you by many of the messages I have read. I was honestly shocked when I read about the negativity. I hope you will take this as another positive message. Thank you for loving and helping to teach others to love fully. I am so so so sorry for your loss. I am sure Ryan would be very proud of his parents now. Love from CA.
    E

    Reply
  15. Anonymous

    Linda-

    My name is Alfonso Martinez but everyone calls me Fonzo I’m 15 and I’m gay I’ve known since I was in the 4th grade due to the fact I liked my best friend unknown to the word “gay” and what It meant. I came out to my parents at the age of 13 on February 25th. My mom told me that I’m going to hell etc. as a 13 year old I took this to the heart and tried to commit suicide many times but I am a coward. My father disowns me and his side of the family. Both my parents make jokes that harm my self esteem every now and then. Due to this I’m convinced that I am worth nothing and will be nothing, that I’m ugly etc. I have so many scars on my arms high enough to where no one can see them. They are just my reminders now if the pain I wish to never feel again but they’re filled with it and the memories. I have so many that i can’t forget the pain.

    Linda, I already dislike you but not enough to call you names. You remind me so much of my parents but you are the nicer version as you can tell.
    ;I very much hate with a passion what you’ve done.
    I’m glad that you have learned but I’m very sorry that you had something so pressious to you taken away, to do so.
    I’m also sorry that you have to re-open your wound to help others not go through the pain. I am however happy that you are telling your story to help others

    YOU ARE SAVING LIVES

    It may not seem like it from everyone’s hateful words but you are

    You may already know this but I’m very sure your son does not hate you. I think he might be glad that your saving others

    Also in order to help others that are experiencing the early stages of this. Advise them of the after effects or ask them to watch “Prayers for Bobby” it will help them understand it’s a very strong emotional film

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Alfonso, you are so clearly an intelligent, caring, loving and insightful man…It breaks my heart that your parents don’t realize that. I am praying that YOU will come to realize that, and to believe and know deeply that you are LOVED by the God who created you perfectly.

      Reply
  16. Doreen

    Dearest Linda – Yesterday I read your family’s story and I wept. Today I read the follow-up and wept some more. I am in awe of your courage. Your truth is so hard, and your grief is palpable, and yet you are out here transforming lives and healing others through your own loss and pain. Jesus has already stretched out His arms to forgive you; I pray that you can forgive yourselves. Peace be upon you, and God bless your ministry.

    Reply
  17. RedBeardNOLA

    I’m a 57 year old gay man. I have to say, unfortunately, that this leave me cold. I mean no harm or disrespect for what your feeling and going through but it rings hollow. People know right from wrong, just from injustice, tolerance from intolerance, love from hate, humanity from inhumanity without having to turn to the religion to figure it out. You knew for the very beginning that your actions and words were wrong, unjust, intolerant, hateful, inhumane and hurtful but, that didn’t stop you. Only death and the guilt associated with death stopped you and that’s sad. Oh, what a life he may have had, maybe he was the answer to cancer or Ebola, maybe he would have been a counselor, a dancer, an artist, a professor or maybe he might just have been a great guy with a big heart, maybe he would have loved and cared for you in your old age. What we do know, is that we will never know because he was snatched from us lessening his pain and suffering. Man’s inhumanity toward man is appalling. And, I for one, have to believe that if there is a God that that God intended to plant seeds of goodness and hope in each one of us and, that we are held accountable for those seeds to ensure that the fruits of our labor spawn goodness and hope for the ages. You didn’t bear bad fruit, you rejected and discarded the fruit you were entrusted with and denied the rest of us the privilege of experiencing his humanity. Now, your asking for a second chance and probably a book deal…

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      RedBeardNOLA, I feel misunderstood. I am NOT asking for a second chance. I don’t get one. Ryan is dead, and he isn’t coming back.
      We haven’t made one penny from sharing our story…ask anyone who knows us. Ask all the LGBTQ people who fill our living room every Wednesday night. The ONLY thing that motivates us is the possibility of saving other teenagers from the same tragedy…Saving other families from having to bury their child.
      You are right, Ryan might have done AMAZING things…he was brilliant. And funny, clever, determined and oh, so gracious and tender. And we won’t know what he might have been or done…that is our pain to bear.
      But you are wrong about us knowing the whole time that our actions were “wrong, unjust, intolerant, hateful, inhumane and hurtful”…call us stupid, but we thought that what we had been taught all of our lives was true. We believed that we were doing the best thing for Ryan because we were protecting him. Were we horribly wrong? YES. But we didn’t know it then. And not ONE person who knew about our situation ever questioned the way we were handling it, in fact, quite the opposite.
      Unfortunately, there are churches all over this country where the pastors are still teaching the exact same theology that led to our wrong actions. THAT is why we are speaking out. It won’t bring Ryan back, make up for our mistakes or get me a book deal, but it might save others.
      I wish you well.

      Reply
      1. th1rt33n

        How can you say, as a mother, that you didn’t know that rejecting your child’s true identity wasn’t wrong all along? That telling him by both word and action that his sexuality was abnormal and wrong and a violation of God’s will wasn’t wrong? How could you ever put the myths you’d been taught as a child above your love for your child and your moral obligation as a parent? And how in the world do you presume to know the will of god when you’re reading the words of men in a history book and interpreting it yourself or allowing someone to do that for you? If you believe in your god and that this god makes no mistakes, how could you ever question the way your son was created? I’m dreadfully sorry that your son is dead – I can’t imagine the horror of such a thing, or of the guilt that must haunt your every moment, as you clearly identify with the responsibility for his self-loathing and the path he chose for his life while drowning in that hopelessness. You son only ever needed what every child needs – to be loved unconditionally and accepted for who they are. He trusted you enough to reach out to you and you shut him down and crushed a budding spirit of honesty and integrity. I’m with RedBeardNOLA on this one – we all know the difference between right and wrong, hatred and intolerance and only your son’s disappearance stopped the cycle of violence in your family. It’s too late, now, and the story, although touching, does ring hollow.

        Reply
        1. Linda Robertson Post author

          I am sorry you see it that way, though I respect your point of view.
          We didn’t ever tell him that his sexuality was abnormal or wrong…but we did tell him that “acting” on his orientation was not in line with God’s word. Was that wrong, in retrospect? YES. But at the time, we didn’t think so, and neither did anyone else in our large community of Christians. If you did not grow up in a similar community, I don’t think you could understand.
          If Ryan were here, he’d tell you what he told me every single day of the last ten months of his life, that he thought we were the best parents in the world, and that he KNEW we loved him. You may not agree, but Ryan did know that our motives were always love, even though our actions were severely misguided.
          Thanks for chiming in here…I wish you the best.

        2. Tara

          We are all doing the best we can every day with the knowledge we have at that time. We all make mistakes. Adults, whether parents or not, do not have manuals on how to deal with everything in life. Linda, I know that you acted as best you knew how at the time. I love you, God loves you, your son loves you. Stay strong through the difficult blog posts or other mail received. Your Light is shining, don’t let it go out. Every day I wonder HOW can my LGBTQ friends that are Christian go to a church every day that condemns them, however slightly? Your message may change the face of every single congregation in the US, the world. You have no idea how far your message can go. Keep going with it, I know God is supporting your message always. Those who respond negatively are also still learning. Imagine, one day they may think back and say “Wow. Did I really say that to her? I didn’t understand.” Because that is what we are hear to do anyway. Understand and love one another and ourselves, and for some people it is a loooong lesson. They were led to your story for a reason, so please take heart from that.

          Tara

  18. mk

    I love you for sharing this. I know how blessed I am to have had parents like you….who eventually loved more than they understood. I so wish they could have been grandparent’s to my beautiful boys and known how happy my life would be. Please be gentle with yourselves, you are already forgiven.

    Reply
  19. Eddie

    There were tears in my eyes as I finished reading your story on facebook. And they are still there. Jesus asked his father to “forgive them, for they know not what they do”, referring to his oppressors and I pray that at some point you can learn to forgive yourselves, for you, too, knew not what you did, until it was far too late. You know now, and you are doing what you can to make up for it. I truly believe that Ryan has forgiven you. Surely you deserve that forgiveness.

    Reply
  20. Ashley

    I am sure you are getting tons of responses lately ( i just read your reaction to them on huffingtonpost when it was shared by a friend on facebook) so I know maybe you won’t get to all of them. But I wanted to pass on my thoughts, and i hope that if you get a chance to read them you may see the peace in my words.

    I’m 30 years old and have no children, so I can’t relate with losing a child. But the concept of being a non-hetero individual within a construct that says my orientation is a crime against God, I can relate with. Like you, I’ve been able to understand that the true message of Christ isn’t one of intolerance and exclusion but of unconditional love; and like you, I’ve had to accept that there are things about me which don’t fit with what mainstream Christians see as an ideal candidate for Heaven.

    What I can relate with more, though, is the element of your story that I read in your response to the criticisms. It is a very long story to say the least, but I spent years of my life engaged to marry the most popular guy in a small town who ended up breaking it off, and killing himself after I wouldn’t get back together with him. I lost friends because so many people blamed me. I internalized their accusations and, as much as the rational part of me said “No, it isn’t my fault,” my role in his death was and is undeniable. I was the last to speak with him on the phone moments before he pulled the trigger, and I was the last to see him.

    I am not at peace with it. I, like you, live with regret every day because of the part I played in his death.

    There are literally millions of things I could have said and done differently that would have prevented his death, and in the two years since it happened I go through them in my mind every day. But hindsight, like after-the-fact gossip, is 20/20. I worked with what I had and I failed. And the most heartbreaking part of your story is that you seem to still feel responsible for Ryan’s death when I truly believe that you aren’t.

    Again, I’ve never had or lost a child so I know that I just can’t relate with what you’re going through. And I don’t want to come off as though I’m marginalizing it, or making a false comparison. I know that my experience in losing my ex is in no way the same as you losing your child, because what you went through must be so much more intense and beyond my imagination. But the element of it that I believe to be similar is the blame.

    It is a fact that my refusal to get back together with my ex influenced his depression. Just like it may be a fact that your attitude toward your son’s homosexuality influenced his addiction. But in the end, suicidal thoughts and addictions aren’t what kill people. The act of suicide, and the act of using drugs, are what kill people. For a person who is in a state of depression or addiction, NOT taking these actions, I know, seems impossible to them. But what I have come to understand is that while such things have many influences, the individual makes the final decision themselves. To blame ourselves for their actions is unreasonable. I blame myself for my own actions, but I didn’t pull the trigger. And addiction (as i’m sure you know) is layers upon layers of complexity beyond having a singular cause to pinpoint.

    The police chief who arrived on scene when I found my ex’s body (who was also my boss at the time) pulled me aside, looked me in the eye and said “You know that nothing you would have done would have changed this. It may have put it off for a day or a week, but this was the decision he made and he was going to make it regardless.” Those words (paraphrased) have stuck with me. And I hope that even if as you’re reading this now you’re thinking “This girl has NO IDEA,” maybe the police chief’s words might stick with you.

    Romans 8:28 – (not verbatim) we know that in all things God works together for the good of those who serve him. Ryan is no longer on this planet in the physical sense, but in spite of that he is still being used for God’s greater purposes. I am sure your story has helped countless parents and children who have been through similar trials. Your unflinching honesty and humility about your past indiscretions, and your actions of love and acceptance afterward, are what make you truly incredible. I hope and pray that as you mourn your son and deal with the regrets of your past decisions, you may come to a place where, in spite of what critics on the outside may say, you can realize that you are not to blame for his death.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Ashley, wow…I can’t imagine what YOU have gone through. What a horrible tragedy.
      I agree…we aren’t directly to blame. But we played a HUGE part in the reason he decided to start using. And for us, this is one way that God has allowed good things to come out of our horrific mistakes…we see the teenagers who have been saved through our story as redemption. It doesn’t make what we did okay, but it gives us hope that God can use all of our mistakes and screw-ups for good.
      Much love to you, Ashley…And I never thought “This girl has NO IDEA.” Not for a minute.

      Reply
  21. nellers

    Linda ~ be kind to yourself, because you are human, and as humans we make mistakes. That doesn’t mean you deserve or should endure the hatred and loathing of others. What I see in you is a woman who has grown, who went through the process of learning to love completely – and did so with elegance and humility. I am so sorry for this unimaginable loss that you, and, all of us, really, have suffered. Your son was a bright light in the world, but please know that his light still shines in you. Forgive yourself, please. With love, Nellie M.

    Reply
  22. S.

    I read your story, and I am so sorry for your loss. You have been through such a journey, and it sounds like you are really trying to atone for what you feel you did wrong by communicating that story for others to learn from. Thank you for sharing, I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

    Reply
  23. Julie Raasch

    Linda, I am so very sorry for your heart breaking loss and the cruelty of some people. I’m also a mother. We do the very best that we can when we raise our children. As my husband says, they don’t come with an instruction manual. All that we can do is pray to God to guide us to make the right decisions . It’s always easy to judge someone when you’re standing on the outside preaching. God is the ONLY one who knows what’s in our hearts and the only one to judge. I hope that God fills your heart with peace. Again, I’m so sorry for your pain and send you a big hug. Your picture broke my heart.

    Reply
  24. Chris

    Hi, I’ve visited this sight unexpected, never heard before about Your story, just clicked by mistake a link on my friend wall. Because I’m gay myself, I’ve started to read and couldn’t stop until the last word, soaking deep into the story and applying it to myself. I’m 25 years old, educated to degree level, speaking fluent 3 languages (English is my second) and grown as a type of person which I always wanted to be, not being ashamed of myself. Beside everything which I’ve mentioned before, my family still doesn’t know that I’m gay and I’ve never had a boyfriend even I’m in my mid twenties and being seen as a handsome.
    I’m not a very religious myself, I know how important for my parents is God and church. Even I don’t understand when my parents says: “Church comes before the family” (how something can be more important than flesh of your flesh), I respect their feelings. Because of that I’ve never told them about my sexuality, being afraid of rejection.
    Withouth having the support for my sexuality, I’ve never tried to explore it, never tried and learned how to date, flirt and be with someone. Fear ripped me out of this part of teenage and further life. I feel violently fooled, growing as a person emotionally disabled. As an independent adult I’m still holding myself back by my lack of knowledge and experience in that matter.
    I don’t need anyones approval to be who I am, but somewhere inside I feel that my parents support would give me a drive to create a relationship with someone, for which I’m desperate to have.
    I wouldn’t be able to be grateful enough if You would share with me Your opinion about my case. As a person who is close to God, who experienced that much, You could clear the chaos in my head. This is my email adress:

    krzysztof.zubrzycki@gmail.com

    If You read this and feel like making me a favor, please contact with me by above email adress.

    Kind Regards

    Reply
  25. Kevin K.

    Thank you for sharing your family’s story. As a Christian man, who happens to be the gay son of a Baptist Minister, I can see from your son’s perspective. Thank YOU for sharing your perspective, as I wished my own parents had done given a chance to do so… People NEVER stop to think about a parent’s perspective. Look at parent’s similar dynamics of Self-Blame…. all the ‘should’ve, could’ve, would’ve’ thoughts. It is called human emotions. Plain and simple. Though my own parents still do not completely understand me, they have continually loved me regardless and have ‘had my back’ evwn after my own ten year breakup. Thank you for sharing how we ALL make choices but, later, God reveals His diamond from a different prism…. light… and understand. I would be honored for you to be my mother, despite what you already read in previous postings. You’ll have to debate that with my mom though! :) In closing, I am sure you are honoring the memory/legacy of your son as any loving mother does….. Heck, you opened your family and heart online! God bless you. To all who may disagree, God bless you too!

    Reply
  26. John Reinis

    I was immediately touched as a gay man upon reading this story, but that feeling has turned into something else. The overwhelming feeling I have now is of confusion over why you didn’t turn your back on the one thing that caused you to treat your son the way that you did; your religion.

    I’d like to point out a few things it has done (religion), mainly in this country alone:
    It was used to justify the use and mistreatment of slaves; it was used to rob the Native Americans of their gold, their land, and ultimately, their lives; it’s been used to control what women can do with their bodies. And speaking of women; how can you be a part of something that treats women as inferior to men? If that question weren’t true we’d have female pope’s, you wouldn’t hear a Justice of the Peace say, “I intoduce to you Mr. and Mrs. _____”, as if the woman is now a property of the man. What is that whole thing with Lot and his daughters? Disturbing to say the least.

    I guess my point is that you can still be good people and that doesn’t have to mean a religion has to be attached.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      John, I couldn’t agree more…the things that you pointed out were ALL done with the support of religious institutions. It is horrifying. And of course you can be a good person without religion or faith…you are so right.
      We have turned our backs on the conservative, fundamentalist religion that we were raised with. We now follow Jesus, and have faith in God as our hope…but we don’t think we have the corner on truth. But for us, God has been real and faithful and has seen us through so very much.

      Reply
  27. rosieroon60

    I read this, and the article about the people sending you horrible words, with tears. My brother, who is now 60, is gay. He has been with his partner for 34 years, and recently married — legally! Knowing and loving him made it easier for me when my daughter came out to me as bi/gay. I adore her, and she knows she is fully accepted by all who know and love her. My fears are the people who hate and discriminate.

    I am also a Christian, and at one time (but not now), very fundamentalist. I had to come to terms with my brother’s sexual orientation, and in doing so have found more grace and joy from Jesus than I ever thought possible. My brother and his partner are also Christians — they LIVE the way Jesus wants us to live — with love, always love. I’ve never known better men, other than my Dad.

    Please forgive yourself. Don’t listen to the hate, from either side. Ryan knew you loved him simply because he breathed. He knew; he knows. Bless you.
    Linda

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Linda – I would love for you to join our private group of Christian moms with LGBTQ children on FaceBook…I think you would find it really encouraging. Find me on FaceBook (Linda Mueller Robertson) so I can tell you more about it! Your words here are a blessing to me…thank you!

      Reply
  28. Tracy

    It is life affirming to me, as a gay man, that you have found a way to reconcile your faith and your son. It really is about faith, not religion. Religion is man made and controlled. Faith, is believing in God. Believing that nothing you face in this world can take away the faith you have in the creator. As we are all made in his image, it cannot be a mistake, that someone is not “God like”. There is reason for everything we experience in our earthly lives. God set forth challenges to us. To be who he meant for us to be. I believe I’m here to teach the message that Jesus taught. Tolerance, love and respect. We all have a responsibility to teach about faith. Not religion. As we see every day now, so called religious leaders are preaching words that are not in Gods word or Jesus’ teachings. It will take all of us to move faith to the forefront of the discussions. My faith is strong. It is thanks to my parents love and understanding. Their decision to love their children as God asked them to do and seek answers that brought them comfort and understanding, was the beginning of my journey to understand that my faith in God, and my sexual orientation are what my task are. Learning how to reconcile that God does not make mistakes, and there is true reason for my existence. I’m his child, and sent to deliver the message of love, faith and most importantly, that tolerance of others does not mean going against ones faith. It only strengthens the faith I have in my savior and for mankind. One day he will return, and I hope I met the task he set before me.

    Reply
  29. Tom Hallman

    Dear Rob and Linda
    First of all, I am now 60.My name is Tom. It took me almost 45 years to accept myself and I still have difficulties. Below is a little piece of my story.
    It took me several minutes to regain my composure after reading and then watching the video. Oh God, I have to stop again. I didn’t think anything could have affected me as much as this has. We grow up and for whatever reason and believe me when I tell you we just don’t know the reason, we know that we are different. We can’t explain it nor can anyone take away the pain we feel because of it. We try to conceal it from every one. It affects our daily activity, school work, even our sleep habits. For some we wet the bed for long periods maybe until we’re 10 or 12, For me, I knew from the time I was 8 or 9 that I was different. I didn’t like the same things as other kids. While they were all so busy being “Daddy’s Little Men”, I enjoyed simple things. I didn’t like hunting, or any of that macho stuff. Fishing was OK but only to a point. When I was 13, while all the boys were getting ready for the St Valentine’s Dance at school, I stayed home wondering what it would be like to have a “Boyfriend” and go to a dance with him. I too kept this bottled up inside. When you’re raised in a strict Italian Roman Catholic Family, there’s definitely no place for this. My mother, God love her was the epitome of the “Italian Mother’s Guilt Trip. Such comments as; “what did I ever do to deserve such a Cross to Bear or. It’s OK, rip out my heart, I only stayed up with you night after night when you had Pneumonia were among the many when she would bug me about going out with girls. I really think deep down in his heart, Dad knew the truth. He’d tell mom things like, “Leave him alone, stop bugging him about it. Maybe he doesn’t want to hang out with them.” By the time I was 18, I still wasn’t involved with a girl. Back in those days we were allowed to drink alcohol at 18, so I found myself drinking more and more. My dad owned a Chain Link Fence Company and I used to work it during the week but on the weekends I’d be at my favorite place, Chester Lounge in AC. Yes it was a “Gay Bar” One Friday after I had finished installing a job, I was taking a shower to get ready to go out after dinner. Dad had come in from picking up a new truck and answered the phone. I hadn’t heard it because of the shower. He caught me as I was going into my room to get dressed and said that we had an estimate to do. I complained but he said it wasn’t that far and besides he wanted me to drive the new truck he has gotten me. So as we headed out, I asked him where we were going and he said, “Chester Lounge in AC”. My heart sank. I knew the owner very well. I used to help him by Bar-backing and learning how to tend Bar. No we were never involved but he liked me. Anyway when we arrived I hurried inside and gave AJ the heads up which he went along with. As we were finishing drawing up the contract, who comes in but my “Friend”, covers my eyes and plants a kiss on me. Dad didn’t miss one bit of the action. I expected him to get in the truck and leave me there. I went to hand him the keys and all he said was, “I don’t get you. I buy you a new truck so you’re more comfortable driving to and from jobs and you don’t like it. I said that’s not it at all. I thought you’d be mad at me. The ride home was quiet for about 15 minutes, then he said let’s stop and have a coffee. In the diner we sat , He looked at me for a long minute and said. “Lin, I may not understand what’s going on or what you’re going through or even what you are about. But, I love you anyway. Just don’t say anything to your mother, she’ll kill you or throw you out or both. He also said she might kill him for not telling her. I assured him that I had no intentions of saying anything to Mom. I called AJ later and said I wanted to stay home. After mom had gone to bed I hugged Dad and thanked him. I remember he always said; “Please be careful, don’t get hurt”. To keep the peace, I met this girl, we married and had 2 children, a boy and a girl. It’s a miracle we had any children at all because I was such a novice. Anyway she knew about me and we had decided that when they were old enough we’d go our own separate ways. In 2000, I was having Thanksgiving at my apartment, my son who was 21 at the time, & my daughter who was 17, mother-in-law and my then, “Friend” were all there. My daughter comes into the kitchen and says “Dad, I need to talk to you, I asked her what about and she proceeds to tell me, She saw a small Pride Flag in my China Cabinet and I always referred to my “Friend as Uncle Wayne” She asked me straight out, “Are you Gay, Dad”? I asked her if it would bother her if I was and she said, “No not at all. But I’ll tell you one thing dad, “If Uncle Wayne hurts you in any way I’m going after him. It was like a giant weight was lifted off my shoulders. Then my son hits me with the same thing, only he asks if I was happy with Wayne or if Wayne was being a Butt towards me. I think my son would have thrown him out of the apartment if he thought Wayne was hurting me. He never really like Wayne. My Mother-in Law totally floored me. I thought she would flip out on me. She very softly put her hands on my face, I expected her to slap me but she said. I don’t care what you are, You are and will always be my Favorite Son-in-Law. She had 2 other Str8 son-in-laws she said she couldn’t stand. She said this to me, “My daughter doesn’t know a good thing when she gets it, You were the best thing to come into her life”. Through all of this I wish I could have been honest with Mom and had her acceptance. I went through such depression I stared using Xanax and drinking. I had attempted suicide 3 times. Once was on top of a 6 story parking Garage, and the other 2 times was a drug and alcohol OD. Once my Alcohol level was .29 with Xanax once was with alcohol poisoning. I don’t remember anything until 3 days later when I was admitted into Crisis Center. I know I was on the “Librium Shuffle for 10 days with that and then in group therapy for 2 more weeks. The fact that you were able to Love Ryan unconditionally is so beautiful. This has taken me almost 3 hours to write. I will keep you and Ryan in my prayers. To all the “Critics and Self Appointed Judges” preface what you preach and look to the Chapter versus that read #1. Let any among you who is free from sin cast the first stone, and one by one all the villagers dropped their rocks and stones and went home. #2 The greatest of these Commands I give you, Love one another as I have Loved you, that I gave my only begotten Son so that you shall not Perish but will have new and everlasting Life.
    Tom.
    PS; Do not sit in contemplation of what others think. Your actions and what you are doing to change the attitudes of others is what is important. I know how hard it was for you to hear those words uttered from Ryan’s lips; “Mom, I don’t quite how to tell you this but. . . . I’m Gay. It took a lot of courage for Ryan and it’s taking an enormous amount of Courage for you to speak out. Weather you did or you didn’t have sharp words, no one really fully understands the pains you felt. No parents wants their child to grow up in part of a society that is so hated and abused. The thought that your child may become the victim of “Gay Bashing or Left on a Fence Post, beaten up, naked and left to die [Matthew Shepherd] would send chills of fear running up and down any parent’s spine. Let’s not forget AIDS. Watching your child slowly, and agonizingly deteriorating from this horrible disease. Right wrong or indifferent, you are sending a very important message. God doesn’t create garbage. I honestly believe that this is God’s test to see “Who will grow to Love One Another as He has Loved Us. Let’s face it we are all Sinners. Let anyone among us who is completely free from Sin cast the first stone. I believe with all my heat and Soul that anyone who sit’s in Judgment of others is already sinning therefore they are not Free from Sin. I believe that God Loves us all. “Unconditionally.”

    Reply
  30. Beverly

    Dear Linda, I am so sad to hear of your loss and the accompanying guilt you have over your non-acceptance of Ryan when you first learned he was gay. I am the parent of a Gay man and 3 straight daughters. My son divulged himself to me when he was in High School. His Dad and I had divorced when he was 8 but the Dad stayed in the same general location as us. I immediatly went to PFLAG and his Dad said he just “wasn’t ready for that”. Now our son is 46 and a successful business man and in a committed relationship with his partner for the past 6 years. He is a wonderful uncle to my 3 grandsons and a wonderful son to me. I attend a Congregational Church in my community which has an “Open and Affirming” precept. It has been a wonderful additon to my life. I sing in the choir and volunteer with youth in our community. It seems that his Dad has come around to a certain degree as he and his new wife attend all our family get togethers and we are all respectfull to each other. I like to think that our cooperation as a divorced couple has made the acceptance of my son and his partner easier for all of us. Blessings and prayers to you and all your family as you deal with this terrible loss. I agree with one of the responders to you, that Ryan is aware of your grief and has forgiven you and will watch over you and your other family members forwever. . Another mother, From Colorado

    Reply
  31. Anonymous

    It is amazing to me how a community that is fighting for equality and acceptance cand spread such hate to this family that is teaching of acceptance from a tragic experience in their lives. I as a 40 year old gay man who just came out to his parents last year thank you for telling your story so other parents and Christians can learn acceptance and tolerance. May God be with you and your family and keep you strong to keep telling your story so that others may learn.

    Reply
  32. Alison

    I am not religious so I will never pretend to understand your relationship with god but I do admire it greatly.
    I do not believe anyone should criticize your parenting, you have done the best you could do in that time, with that knowledge.
    Stay strong, even through the hateful messages. I cannot imagine the excruciating pain of losing someone so close and so dear, my heart goes out to you and your family. I do hope that better days may lie ahead. x

    Reply
  33. Denise

    I just learned of your story and I am in tears. I feel that you and your husband are perfect examples of what life on this earth is all about. We are here to learn and grow and how could we do that if we didn’t’ make mistakes? What matters is that we learn from them and you have both done just that. The world needs more people like you. I am straight and I do not have children but your story has still taught me so much about what love is. God bless you and your family and thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  34. Linda

    Thank you for sharing. I came out late and reading this brought tears.
    I’m so sorry for your loss. I know Ryan is proud of his family. It takes a great deal of courage to open your soul up to strangers. The tremendous positive dominoe effect this will have on other gay youth and parents is an amazing legacy. Sending prayers and hugs.

    Reply

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