Mail to Ryan…Our Beautiful Boy

My husband, Rob, wrote this letter to Ryan as part of our expanded “Just Because He Breathes” presentation for Exodus International. The video below was shown in our presentation, after Rob read this: 

Dear Ryan,

I miss you so much. I don’t really know how heaven works because you might already know everything I’m about to say but just in case you don’t there’s some things I want you to know.  I love you so much and it hurts so bad that you were not here last weekend to celebrate Riley’s wedding with us. We all missed you so much. Riley and Abby left an empty place for you, and Lindsey was the only bridesmaid who walked unescorted down the aisle, because you should have been with her. Even though the day would have been difficult for you in some aspects, you would have been so proud of your brother. And I know that you would just ADORE Abby. Your handsome face and easy laugh would have made the day complete for me.

That said, I am not angry that you relapsed on that day In late June 2009. I know you did not intend to let things get out of hand like they did. In fact I would not be bitter or angry even if you had taken your life.  I have nothing but compassion and respect for how well and how long you battled your difficulties. Only now by reading your journals, do I more fully realize how much pain and difficulty you were facing. Whenever I feel like I need a good cry, all I have to do is to pull them out and it puts me in touch with the deep pain you were in…and how, as your earthly father, I let you down in many ways.

I am so very, very sorry for the things that I did to contribute to your despair. I so desperately wish that I had known back then what I do know now. I thought I was so right when you first came out to us. Little did I know how much I had to learn. Please forgive me for letting fear control my decisions and the way I responded to you, instead of faith. I should have trusted God, who loves you so much more – and better – than I do, and who never stopped chasing after you.

I so regret how slow I was to truly understand and love you without any conditions.

But you always had such grace for me. You were so patient with us while we learned what really mattered.

Thank you for trusting us with your deepest thoughts and fears and sharing so much of your experience as a gay teen, and a gay young adult, attempting to reconcile his faith with his sexuality. Thank you for all your letters and emails; the ones that made us laugh and the ones that made us cry. Your handwritten letters are priceless to me.

I so wish that I could introduce you to some of my dearest friends now, men and women who love Jesus with their whole hearts. They have helped me to understand that gay is not a deal breaker for God…that gay and Christian can co-exist, and that God isn’t wringing His hands over this issue. He is way bigger than this. I know that God did not reject or abandon you, or anyone else.

I wish I could take you to dinner tonight and tell you all the ways that your life…and even your death…blesses ours every day. We have learned so very much from you. God, through you, has opened up a whole new world for mom and I.

I wish we could make that snowboarding trip to Mount Baker that we had planned.

I wish you could see how we’re still using the zip line you designed. I will never forget the joy on your face as you concocted yet another way to creatively fly across our back yard.

I wish I could take you backpacking again, and that we could talk and talk and talk as we hiked.

I wish you were here to have backyard bonfires, and to come up with ever increasingly crazy ways to alarm our neighbors.

I wish you could call and tell me all about it when you met a guy you were interested in…and that I could meet him, too.

I wish that we could have a barbeque on your roof, with the view of the Space Needle that we loved so much.

I wish we could ride down the driveway together…one of us on my rip stick and one on my long board…and that we could teach each other new tricks as we laughed and crashed.

I wish you were here to help me hunt the raccoons that threaten to eat our Janie cat…I will NEVER forget the time you pegged that one 30 ft up in the tree in our front yard, and then 20 seconds later, got the second one on your first try.

I wish you could cook your specialty eggs in our kitchen, adding that fire sauce, while you sang funny songs and worship songs and whatever else came to mind. I miss your voice.

I wish you were here in the audience, sitting with Larissa and Cam and Lindsey and Grandma Pat and Uncle Ronny and Uncle Don and all our new friends from Biola Queers, who I know you would love so much.

I wish I could hold you again.

I love you, Ryan.

I miss you. Oh, how I miss you.

I am so very, very proud of you.

I am sorry for EVER wanting you to be anyone other than who God made you to be. I am so very sorry for all the things I said that caused you to feel that I would love you more if you were straight.

I know now that you were EXACTLY who God intended…and that you were BEAUTIFUL.

You were, and will always be, my beautiful, beautiful boy…

We showed this video to accompany the letter during our presentation:

267 thoughts on “Mail to Ryan…Our Beautiful Boy

  1. bobby reyes

    i know this is really late but late at night i had been reading through Huffingtonpost and found this blog and it brought tears to my eyes. It tells me that the love of your child is something to not be taken for granted. And i thank you for sharing that, it must have been rather difficult.

    Years ago when i was 16, i told both my parents that i am gay and felt really nervous about it. I had agonized how i would start and how i would respond if it was not my desired response. i practiced in front of the mirror and looked at myself in the eye and pretty much summoned my courage to do it. I had told my parents during Thanksgiving, i figured this way we would have family coming over and i can tell them prior so that they cannot “throw me out” or yell at me. i had packed clothes just in case they threw me out.

    I can see my mom setting the table for thanksgiving so i walked up to her. My dad was in the living room watching television and reading the paper. I stood there not sure how to start, even with all that practice. But, my mom looked at me and said, “Why are you just standing there?” So i just let it fall out my mouth like water saying, “Mom, i am gay.” She just froze there, like a statue. She stared right at me and then said, “Tell your father.” She gave me no reaction that i could read and i was really terrified to tell my father.

    You see, my father is a proud member of the NRA, he calls himself a “moderate republican” and a “conservative democrat” and i remember hearing him making fun of gay people on many occasions so you can understand my hesitation. I sat down next to him and said that i had something important to tell him. He put the paper down and gave me this look like he expected me to start but i just froze…So i summoned that courage that had brought up to the mirror and said, feeling that lump in your throat feeling, “Dad, you know i never had a girlfriend, right?” His yes just examined me like he thought i had a girlfriend now, “Well, there is a reason for that…You..See…i am gay.”

    At that moment i felt the world spin around me, almost like i expected the worst right now. My dad just smiled at me with tears in his eyes and said, “You are my son, and you will always be. I just want you to be happy but, know that your life will be very difficult and i am afraid alot of evil people out there will try to hurt you.” And like magic that was how i came out to my parents.

    In the years that followed, i grew closer to my parents by telling them who their son is. My mom talks to me about the guys i have dated in the past (as i wont introduce anyone to my mom unless they were truly special.) My dad had always asked me to hurry up and get a good boyfriend and it felt like me coming out was something that i did not need to be afraid of. My life had changed for the better.

    The only regret i have now is that i never introduced any of my boyfriends to my dad and never will. He died in july 16, 2008 and he will never get the chance to meet the guy i decide to marry. But, i hold my head up high as he gave me what i have always wanted, to be closer to him.

    I needed to share that with you because you shared something that i perceive as sacred.

    Reply
    1. T

      Bobby, your story made my heart sing. What special bond you and your dad had. I am the parent of a gay son and have known for 3 years that he is gay. While he was home for Christmas I asked him if he was dating anyone. He seemed delighted that I asked and we had a wonderful conversation. It’s really the first time we have had such a discussion and we were more joyful and light hearted and once again close. I don’t know why I waited so long. Your story brought home the fact that you can’t really be close if you can’t share your life and dreams, and who you love. I would not have wanted to leave this earth with him thinking I wasn’t interested in his life. You know your dad loved you so much, and clearly let you know by his interest in all aspects of your life and he is rejoicing in heaven knowing you found someone special to marry. My husband told my son the same thing, that he is his son and he loves him no matter what. I hope and pray that one day they will be able to have open conversations about boyfriends and such, before it’s too late. My husband leaves the room and won’t discuss it even with me at this time. You are so blessed that your parents were totally accepting from the beginning.

      Reply
    2. Lucky Dad

      Thank you for posting this story and for helping so many other parents of gay children appreciate the special gift of life, without conditions. My story has a happy ending, but reading yours makes me understand how close I came to losing my beautiful boy. Just like the pictures of your Ryan, our son was sparkling with unbridled enthusiasm for life until he entered his teens. Then he became brooding, glassy-eyed, and isolated. The things that had once given him joy could not lift his spirits. He fell into depression and was uncommunicative about his problems. Despite counseling he fell deeper into despair and got into drugs. Many nights we worried about whether we would see his face the next morning. Then, over the recent holidays something happened that brought him to a crossroad. Thankfully he made the courageous choice to open his soul to his mom and me. Despite his fears of our “conservativeness,” we were overjoyed that he had chosen to trust us and ask us back into his life. It now brings tears to our eyes to see the sparkle back in his. He talks about his dreams and we ask him about a friend he has met. We are the lucky ones.

      Reply
      1. Linda Robertson Post author

        WOW!! What a beautiful, WONDERFUL end to your story!! If your wife would like to join a private, online FaceBook group for Moms who love Jesus and who love their LGBTQ child, have her friend me on FaceBook (Linda Mueller Robertson) and send me a short note to ask me to add her. It is an AMAZING group of safe, wonderful women!

        Reply
  2. Anonymous

    I have a friend I wish to God would just accept her gay daughter. This girl grew up with my daughter, and I could see in elementary school that she was probably gay. Her mom is so worried about the acceptance of her own parents that she constantly pushes her daughter to date boys and pretend that gay doesn’t exist. My deepest fear is that one day this girl will stop seeing herself of worthy of the love I know she deserves. Thank you for your honest post and shining a light on your “mistakes”. You may save 10 more kids from that same fate. And don’t beat yourselves up too much, God was the only perfect father. Period. The rest of us exist only in between our flaws…

    Reply
    1. kim lane

      There is some research being done! I am not gay, but I know people who are. I was relieved to find out in a class I took at college that there is something different in their brain. It showed a brain of straight people and gay people and they were different. Also they are suspecting of a horomone difference too. God is bigger than our ignorance. God is love. Religion is ruining people’s understanding of who he really is. I think that is why God said he will judge the church. Not in a bad way, I know he is going to straighten things out because he is just. Heaven is going to be so beautiful. The parents were only doing what society socialized them to do. That is what religion is really.

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    This story is incredibly touching and humbling. I am so heartbroken for the pain your family had to go through. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Although my children are only ten and seven, I always tell them that I will love them no matter how their life unfolds. We have talked about what being gay means and they understand it as best they can. I told them that they fall in love with whomever they are meant to fall in love with; male or female. I hope that if either of them come out one day that they feel as comfortable in doing so as your son did. I’m sorry for how your son’s story ended. Unfortunately, suicide is not new to the gay community. I hope that you can find peace with the memories you have of him. Just remember that we do the best we can as parents with the information we have at the time. It tears me up to read your husband’s letter when he expresses that he wished he only knew the depth of your son’s pain at the time. You did the best you could, and I think that your son knows that now as he rejoices among the angels.

    Reply
  5. deb

    Thanks for sharing this story. My son is gay and battling some big demons right now. He had planned to take his life on November 8, 2013 but I got him to rehab on the 4th. (There are some legal issues too.) I have been trying to be very supportive of his sexuality, but sometimes struggle with my religion on this. Thanks for reminding me that God knows there hearts and that they are good people. My son also was born on Jan. 14 but a few years earlier. There is so much I would love to say but the words won’t come. I’m sending love and prayers your way and again thanks for sharing…

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Deb…I am praying for you AND your son. Please find me on FaceBook (Linda Mueller Robertson) if you’d like to join our private online group for Christian moms who love their LGBTQ children…I think the women would be an incredible support to you. MANY of us have kids who have attempted suicide, and a few who have succeeded. And all of us have had to work through how to reconcile our own faith – what we’ve been taught – with the reality of having a gay child.
      So thankful your son will be with you this year for his birthday on January 14th!!!

      Reply
  6. revwetzel

    as a minister and a gay man your story and your sons story is very dear to my heart. i came out my sister in october 2012 my mom dec 6th 2012 and the rest of the world besides my brother and father on dec 10th 2012. i told my brother and father half way through 2013. i am now 19 years old. i am a minister. and i am with the man god had set for me to be with. the guy i am with had a hard time when he came out to his father. thus leading to him being homeless cause his father had kicked him out. i thank god every day for allowing him to still be on this planet and allowing him to be strong and make it through the tough times. i wish the same had been for your son. so as i lay here in bed about to go to sleep. i will make sure to make mettle note to say a extra prayer for your son and your family. love yall and god bless

    sincerely, Rev Zachary wetzel

    Reply
  7. Ange Leary

    I hate religion. It really has so little purpose and this proves it. I thought nobody could tell a person how to love their child but apparently religion does. It tells you to only completely love your child if they are a certain way. That is wrong. And this post will be blocked because it shows disapproval of religion. That is wrong too and shows how it CONTROLS people. Religious people are never free.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Ange, I see no reason not to approve this comment – you weren’t vulgar or rude…you were just honest. Thanks for that.
      For me, I think it was the evangelical sub-culture that told us “how” to love (or actually not love) our child…but it was GOD who showed us what real love is. And for that, I will be eternally thankful.

      Reply
  8. Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing your story. Hope it helps other parents; I am the mother of a gay son who died (natural causes) this year. I miss him so much.

    Reply
  9. andy

    I just wanted to first say that I appreciate you sharing your story. As a gay man, I have been very fortunate in that my life has been relatively normal and free of negativity, and I believe in your message, that you must live in faith, not fear. I have a loving Christian sister who has wholeheartedly supported me my entire life without compromising her love of God, but rather, because of her love of God and family.
    Linda, I wanted to recognize and thank you for the grace you have shown in the face of some overwhelmingly hateful and heart wrenching comments. Its very easy to shut down when faced with people who say these kinds of things to you, or worse, retaliate with similar comments. But you respond with love, with grace, and with understanding of their feelings (whether those feelings are positive or negative towards you) and I have to say, that is just beautiful. Your acceptance of anger at you, your acknowledgement of other peoples emotions toward your very charged story, and the love that you give back to them? Just lovely. It shows that you actually want people to learn from what you went through.Your experience was unbelievably life-changing, and no one knows that pain better than you, your family, and God. Bless you and your family, bless Ryan, and for what its worth, you and your family are in my heart today. <3

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Bless YOU, Andy. And thank God for your sister! I sure hope that I never stop learning from others…even people who hate me. Though I have to admit, I have such DEEP regrets for the mistakes we made with Ryan that I avoid the comments on Huffington Post…because I just can’t stop crying after reading them. It is far too easy to believe them. Much love to you, Andy!

      Reply
  10. Anna

    Hello Ms. Robertson, Thank you very much for your story. We too have a beautiful and wonderful son who told us he was gay when he turned 18 and is now 21 yrs. old. We also are Christians and have not handled things in a very positive way. We have changed our ways and repented and only want to love our son unconditionally. I have learned so much about loving people for who they are and I am very grateful for the wonderful lessons that our son has taught us. I would love to email you and personally since I feel that our sons are very similar. Your story is very heart wrenching and I cannot even express my grief for the loss of your wonderful son. I am truly sorry for your loss.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Anna – Friend me on FaceBook (Linda Mueller Robertson)…I would LOVE to have you join our private group of Christian moms who are on the journey of loving their LGBTQ child fully and without conditions!

      Reply
  11. Anonymous

    It doesn’t stop to amaze me that so called “Christians” have no idea that Jesus actually came here to teach us unconditional love. That includes Gay people.

    Reply
  12. Taffi

    I am crying to hard to type much but just wanted to say thank you for being brave enough to share your story and my heart breaks for your loss. I am so sorry.

    Reply
  13. frankmcmullan

    The battle for hearts and minds – one heart and one mind at a time – is an excruciatingly slow one. Yet it seems to be an essential part of the process for this next frontier in human rights being properly grappled with. So often in your heartbreaking story, I saw your struggle for the change you so badly needed that would make things right between you and Ryan and God – only the specific change you sought wasn’t the one that could do this. How can we get to a stage when good people like yourself and Mary Griffith, just trying to do your best for your family, can reach that critical point sooner?

    I do not know where you and your husband get your extraordinary courage from: I thank God that you have it. You pay such a high price, Linda, to be in the position you are in: I pray it is not too high. I bless you in the truly good work you are doing against such insuperable odds.

    I have an activist friend in Uganda right now who is terrified by the consequences of the anti-gay legislation recently passed in parliament – a law that is largely unenforcable but one that encourages all manner of human rights abuse at a personal level. As a society, Uganda has only barely begun the journey of winning hearts and minds, still believing children can be recruited into homosexuality; that it is imported from the West; that it is a choice; that it is unspeakably evil – aided and abetted by fundamentalist Evangelicals from the US. Parents in such countries are a million miles from being able to make the transition you have been able to make yet with such enormous difficulty. How many mothers have to give up their LGBTI children to disordered Christian and other religious beliefs before it is too much?

    My prayer is that your husband’s message that gay is not a deal breaker for God reaches far and wide.

    Reply
  14. Alana Mallen

    Hi,
    There is so much to say.Ryan had to feel safe to tell you at 12.Maybe he was ready to go through his life honestly.He was very brave.
    As a person who is in recovery I think it is important to point out that
    one’s sexuality is natural.Addictions are medical issues.You know that Ryan did not die from your actions.Gay or straight addiction does not care.
    Ryan had the perfect parents.We need to be clear Alcoholism and Drug Addiction are fatal diseases never cured but sometimes in remission.Al Anon may be helpful to your family as this happened to all
    of the family. Love

    Reply
  15. Growing With God

    I cant help but think, that if only the good die young, I must have a long, long way to go. First, Mrs. Robertson…thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so sorry for your family’s loss. I have never attempted to write anything like this before, so forgive me. I have known I was gay since I was about 13, and I was always somewhat of a loner. My father and step-mother were both police officers and very devout Christians. I was raised strict Southern Baptist, in the bible belt of Texas. I have known my parents view-point on this matter since I was a child. (I’m an abomination, a sinner, and destined for hell). I too, at a very young age, became an addict. I would use anything from cough medicine to heroin to dull the hatred I had for myself, and like most, tried to cover my tracks with meaningless relationships. Nothing worked. In 2010, I had to have my first heart surgery, and in 2012, I had to have a second surgery. I lost my job of 5 years because, all the trips to the hospital, was taking too much time from his schedule. That’s what he told me.(and in this state, if you are a privately owned company, with less than 15 employees…you can fire someone for any reason you choose). About 3 weeks later, after ending a four year relationship with my last girlfriend, all the years of running had finally come to a head. I went home after a night of heavy drinking, and took a handful of pills. I was tired of running from myself, and couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone my secret. When I woke up in the hospital, I was furious that I was alive. There was a police officer, a counselor, my doctor, and my roommate. The doctor said my alcohol level was at .25, and I had taken enough Xanax and Flexareal to kill myself several times over. I was slipping into a drug and alcohol induced coma, that I would not have woke up from. After a LONG discussion with the hospital staff, I had convinced them it was all an accident, to avoid being held for a mental evaluation. After another day of observation, they sent me home, where my roommate wanted to know what had happened. He was the one that had found me and called for help. He was a “new Christian”, and we had been roommates for a while, and seemed like a really great guy. So I decided to tell him. Up to this point, I had never spoken about it out loud. I was asked to move out. I had lost my job, and my home in less than a month. I spent the next 8 months living in my car on a Walmart parking lot, looking for a new job. I had no family within 3000 miles, and because I had spent so much time at work, I had no social life. I was ready to do it right this time. Although I had to sell everything that wouldn’t fit in my car, I still had my pistol. I remember thinking about my mother, my Dad, and my brother. How much different their lives could be without the train-wreck that I had become. Instead, I decided to reach out one more time. I reached out to a former co-worker that I knew was gay. I honestly believe I am still here because of him. He sat me down, and had a long talk with me. He let me know that I had to accept myself. It was eating me alive from the inside out. I HAD to quit running. I started hanging around him and his friends, and found some of the most incredible people I have ever known. I was lucky. Not everyone has that chance. Mrs. Robertson, I believe your family’s testimony can truly help! I don’t believe I will ever come out to my parents, but by accepting myself for who I am, and understanding that this is how God made me, is a first step. I am still learning, and growing, but hearing stories like yours gives me hope that one day, all the senseless deaths of the kids today, will end. Your family’s story should be an example to all, and is truly the change I hope to see in this world! ” For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHO SO EVER believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. There is no doubt in my mind, you will all see Ryan again. God Bless You All!….and Thank You again!

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Growing With God…Your story brought tears to my eyes…then filled my heart with JOY. I am SO thankful that you told that friend before you took your life, and that He has helped you to see how much you are loved by Jesus!! What an enormous gift you are – and will be – as you tell YOUR story to help others!! May God bless you richly, my friend!!

      Reply
      1. Growing With God

        Mr. and Mrs. Robertson….your are truly a blessing. You have enough love in your heart….I can feel it a world away. Thank You!

        Reply

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