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:

289 responses to “Mail to Ryan…Our Beautiful Boy”

  1. I’ve been reading your blog because a friend posted it on facebook for others to read; I felt compelled to read it to see how sorry you were for all of your poor choices as parents. I’m sorry that Ryan has died, but not for the reasons you think. I’m sorry for Ryan because you are still the same parents he had when he was alive. You have not learned anything. The reason you have posted this is to tell the world what you would change if he were still alive; using religion and prayer to desperately seek some kind of spiritual healing. That’s where the issue is, you’ve only changed now because you want your son back. He was there, he left, came back, and overdosed. All the while your faith was still there, only you vowed to be better because you wanted something in return: personal happiness at the expense of meshing your belief system with who he had become. It never works, ever, end of story. I had parents just like you and Rob. Wanting me back in their lives after they had treated me so poorly and judged me in the name of organized religion. You guys are no different. My story is the same as Ryan’s, only I lived through the drugs, self loathing, and eventually found inner peace by removing my parents from my life. Your plight is just like all the other parents who claim they have changed after their gay children have either committed suicide or accidentally overdosed to heal their pain. Your story reads just like the millions of other stories that exist in the world. If you could not change when Ryan was alive, you sure the hell couldn’t change if you got a second chance. For Ryan, I’m elated he passed away, because he’s probably happier without you in his life more than with you. If a hell does exist, you and Rob will spend eternity there, and rightfully so. You pushed your son to his grave. Deal with it. You are the reason you have 3 children now instead of 4. You did this to a human you were supposed to love and protect. Your hands are dirty with Ryan’s blood. You are not forgiven. You never will be forgiven. You, your husband, and your religion murdered your son. You cannot not now ask to be forgiven. You are a murderer who perpetrated a a hate-crime. Have your religion, your prayer, your church. You are selfish and disgusting, asking for a second chance when you couldn’t get the first one right. The next time you fall asleep, know that Ryan is at peace and you are suffering because you murdered him.

    • Jason, I feel so misunderstood. Was it too painful for you to watch, and to read, our WHOLE story? We changed dramatically BEFORE Ryan’s death…our relationship with him as a gay man in the year before his death were the best months of ALL our lives. Please try not to judge us without knowing us…you wouldn’t want me to do that to you, would you?

      • Linda,

        I am so sorry you had to read something so hateful as Jason’s comment. I usually do not post on articles online but I am feel compelled to in this case. I am literally in tears reading your story and your husband’s letter. I am amazed at the journey your family has experienced and your selflessness in taking what you have learned and sharing it with others. I am a Christian and have always been just fine with those who are gay. However, I have seen first hand many I love experience heartache trying to reconcile their sexuality with their religion. You and your husband have so eloquently stated how those two things are not at odds. I commend you. I know it is not easy to stand for what you believe, especially people who hold Christian beliefs AND do not think it is a sin to be gay.

        I hope you are able take in the love of the strangers you touch and reject the hate and scorn others might send your way instead. Do not pay them heed, the world is full of strong emotions right now and a stranger’s opinion does not in any way reflect the actual love you and your family showed your beautiful son.


        • Linda,
          I don’t agree with James’ take and it’s clear to me that he’s hurting, but I was angry with you and with Rob while reading your story. Pretentious to say regardless, never having met you in person, but let me tell you briefly a story you’ve now probably heard 1,000 times. I’ve known I’m gay for 18 years, and now I’m 29. Only three weeks ago did I come out to my dad, and he was AMAZING about it. I’m a guy’s guy, have always naturally been masculine and otherwise a fantastic life, but as you now know, this type of stuff eats you from the inside. But 18 years…that’s literally a generation – forever in my mind, and what felt like an interminable hell that had my truth trapped between closed and arrogant minds and hearts and my own fear of being completely ostracized by friends and family. Lost years of love, lost years of togetherness and closeness, lost self. If I had told my parents what Ryan told you at 12, they would have had the exact same reaction, though probably slightly less religiously motivated. And had he told you at 29 and kept it within him rather than tell you, you probably would have reacted as amazingly as my own dad has now. You clearly have changed in wonderful ways since your son first came out, and that is so wonderful and life-giving to see you sharing your story and helping others to understand that sexuality does not make the man or the woman – grace and humanity make the person. I was angry with you while reading your story because it was that reaction – that exact reaction – that my parents would have had as well, that caused 18 years of dread, fear, pain and conflict inside of me. I’m stronger for it in some ways, but so much worse off in others. And I’m angry with past you and Rob, and past mom and dad of my own, for their bible-before-bread approach to understanding Christianity and Christ’s message, not recognizing that love, above all, is our job as human beings. But present you and Rob, and present mom and dad, are a shining example of what can be wonderful about acceptance and love – and how this love is what reveals grace even when we’re all so screwed up in our own unique ways. And the fact that I’m angry with past you and Rob, and past mom and dad, calls my own humanity and failings into the mix, because I know that’s not forgiving, loving or very grace-revealing of me at all – especially given my own failings, which of course have been more numerous than the stars. I’m so happy that you’re sharing your story with past you and Robs from around the world who are struggling with this reality as I type – it will make a world of difference.

          I have really no conclusion and no overriding point – I suppose only that Linda and Rob, although I don’t know you from Adam and Eve, I love you to death. Because you breath, because you’re human – and more immediately, because you shared this story and helped me and a few friends to process our own reality just a bit more. Thank you.

        • Nate, thank you for sharing so honestly and for telling me how angry you feel with us. I don’t blame you. I am angry with myself, too. More than I can say.

        • Linda – please don’t see my post only as about anger. Yes, that’s there, but I want you to take from it more a message of love, that you are amazing for confronting head-on the need to not banish diversity from the Church, and that you have come to an amazing place of the recognition of the grace of every human being – no matter how different – and seeing (and preaching) that there is a place for them, exactly as they are, at the table. That, I thank you for, and feel that much more strongly than the anger (an unjust sentiment, I recognize, but still real). In the long run, what you are doing will help myself and other gay men and women to live happier, fuller, and much more accepted lives – which I cannot thank you for enough. I hope you read to the end of my post to see that your message is teaching me to look past the anger – as you looked past your own son’s difficulties after he turned 18 – to be together in our broken humanness, and to love because that’s what each of us deserves. Anyways, just don’t want to leave you only with the message “I’m angry”; rather, I want to tell you more loudly “thank you!”. God bless.

        • Nate, you are SO dear. Yes, I read it all…but I wanted you to know that I heard your anger. That is ISN”T unjust. It is very, very real because of the unspeakable pain that you, and way too many like you, have gone through at the hands of an angry, fearful church. Yes, I hear your love…thank you SO much for supporting us as we try to allow our own regrets and mistakes to be used for good. It is one of the ways we can process our own grief and anger about those mistakes. God bless YOU, Nate!

      • Linda, My son died at age 15 twenty-three years ago. We were totally shocked & devastated. He took his life. I would like to believe it was an accident, but I can’t. We had no idea he was in such pain that he couldn’t see getting through it. We had no idea what the problem was and it about drove me crazy wondering why. Just this past year a classmate of his told me he was gay. If that is true I just wished he could have been honest with us. He and I had been close and did a lot of things together. I thought he knew he could tell us anything. I had told him as much. I believe I could have accepted whatever the problem was but he didn’t give us a chance. He was a great student. He even tutored other students. He went out with friends. He talk about the future. We had no idea. I love and miss him so much it hurts. Be glad you had that last year with your son before he died. I am glad for you but sad that you have to live with the loss. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. In the beginning I prayed to God that he would take me. When it didn’t happen I knew I had to go on living.

        • Sandy…I am so very, very sorry. Unfortunately, even though you would have loved him completely, our society hasn’t made it easy for LGBTQ kids..or any kids who don’t “fit in” perfectly. I grieve with you, my friend.

      • To Rob and Linda, I am so sorry for your loss. I know words cannot express the depth of the hole left in your heart. I was touched when I read your story. Please take pride in the fact that you were able to overcome the constraints of organized religion. You were able to accept your son and were given time with him that, now, is priceless. He knew you both loved him very much. You were right when you said no one on this earth is perfect. As parents we all make mistakes. It is when love prevails over our prejudices and fears that we have learned one of the lessons that we need to learn before we leave this earth. It is through love and faith in grace that your son will live on in your hearts and everyone’s heart that read your post.

      • Linda

        i am not sure where to start. i would like to take the time to thank you for your support.As a gay christian male myself, there is not a day that i do not question am i doing the Right thing.I question there thing because the people around who are suppose to support me let me know i need to choose between my religion or be my true self. a pastor once told me have i ever heard of a gay person who made it into haven. i would response by saying no but i hope to be the first. Please note every day that you tell your story you are helping someone like myself who have the same fight as Ryan did. You are going to come across some people who disagree with your view. Please know these are the same type of people we face, just leave them in your prayer and do not sweat them. I want to send a special thank to your husband. Time and time again it is always the mother who are by their gay child sides. It is very heart filly to see your husband express his truly feeling for his son without fear of other questioning his manhood. Please see that the lord is using your self and your son to touch and reach the life of many other. There are still a lot of us who have to continue our fight between religion and homosexuality. Someday we may want to kill our self other day the pain so much it nuns us. Please know your story has encourage me to fight another day. Thank you from a gay christian.

        • And YOUR story has brought us to tears. Thank you so much for sharing, and for telling us how it has been for you. Thanks, too, for letting us know how hearing Rob’s heart has been healing for you. That was so encouraging! Bless you, my friend!

      • Jason obviously can’t read or comprehend what it is he’s reading or he needs to make peace with his own circumstances. Every story is different but the same, parents only wanting what they think is best and a lost kid trying to figure it out. You all were on that path to figuring it out together but sometimes god has other plans. May all of your souls rest in peace and thank you for sharing your families story.

      • I watched the video you posted, read the beautiful letter written by his dad and my heart genuinely went out to you both . My story is perhaps not as dramatic with regards to drug abuse but I was brought up in a loving Christian home with both parents sincere in their love and protection of me. As strong Christians the topic of homosexuality was always taboo just as was alcoholism and any of the other “vices”.
        I too pleaded with God to free me from being gay; I even went so far as to get married and have a daughter. The marriage lasted for 11 years until I could no longer keep up the facade. My dad and I were able to speak of the gay issue in great detail just before he died from cancer. He was able to embrace me and tell me without doubt how proud he was of me and that he really loved me. It was a wonderful healing time. My mom still refuses to discuss the gay topic and I respect her need for avoidance. We have developed a good understanding and communicate regularly. However I am sad that she does not know my partner and share in the joy I have found since coming out as a gay Christian man. My daughter is totally comfortable with having a a gay dad.

        So thank you so much for sharing your story and giving hope and encouragement to those of us for who being gay is normal!

        With my love,

    • I pray that your heart is softened and you find the love of our Lord and Savior. Only then will you be able to let go of your hate and find the inner peace you claim to have. God Bless You!!!

    • This is not at all what they meant or are saying. When you have a hardened heart it is a literal blind spot to see how sorry someone can be and how being 100% honest is required. The words by both parents show a pain of what if’s. You can insert the gay with a drug addict who is straight. Or someone who is wild. The sexuality itself is directed to all. Even straight people would get the same reaction. The thing is so the added burden of feeling like what you are doing is wrong is a heavy burden he lived with. My father died of a overdose I found diary entries from him which are the same without that added part. He did get lost and he did go back to drugs for one last time. I have also lost my child due to a chronic illness. What they say is truly how a parent feels. When you lose a child you lose a piece of yourself. You have people who either totally push it on someone else or they say what was my part in this. My daughter was a child but I hold the same regrets the same sense I mad mistakes and could never love her how God does. Their whole entire letter and message is this: We are not a title, we are not our choices, we are not our mistakes, we are no label we are ALL God’s children who He loves with a pureness we will never understand. As someone’s sexuality should not be up for earthly judgement someone who has condemned should not be condemned but be shown what love truly is. When you judge no matter if you were wronged you have now become the same as the accuser. No one can understand the pain of losing a child unless you have lost one. Even if you live a life of not finding what loving your kids means you are left with a blackened heart of bitterness and anger. Their revelation is a blessing from God their son being able to love Jesus still is also a blessing. That is something that you either feel or you don’t when you do nothing what we know will ever compare. Please remember the hate you say you were shown is what you are feeding into others direct or indirectly. As painful as it feels to you is what you are now slicing those with. This is one of those things people say they wouldn’t wish on their worst enemy. I am condemned for different reasons. For believing in Jesus but with the same attacks , the same lynch mob mentality it is not a good feeling which is why when someone is being put down I try to advocate for them because no one wants to advocate but most are quick to spew hate. To Ryan’s family. Thank you for sharing. I know sharing came with the knowledge some will attack. You opened wounds which I know are always fresh. My daughter has been gone for nine months I realize how hard this must have been to share with complete strangers. This is truly a testimony.

    • Wow…Jason such anger. I first want to make this clear, I am not this sites Linda. I am just following this story. A posted before and I think a few people confused me …. I am not even a Christian, or go to church….for many years I have been angry at God. I am a therapist and this I do know…
      Your work and healing process is incomplete…
      You haven’t learned to forgive….
      truely forgive those who have hurt you…
      Not that those who crushed you deserve it, no.
      Forgive them because you deserve it!
      When we forgive, it is us who benefit from it…
      the best description I can come up with is grace….you will be filled with a sense of pure, holy grace! and somewhere through the process you’ll come to realize we all make mistakes, profound mistakes that has the power to crush another even when we felt like it was the right thing to do…I for one chose to use my power to build up others vs crush them…
      Here is what I wish for you to seek out and find this grace….your life will profoundly change, you will discover a personal power within yourself that has no use for anger, hatred or judgements towards others, you will only want the best for all….
      this space is the space of forgiveness, grace and love.

    • I do not believe that you killed anyone. I see your story ,and I think “there but for the grace of God, go I”. I was molested as a child, and it is some kind of miracle that I did not turn out gay. I cannot understand the hatred that people feel towards gays. I pray that your religion will give you comfort.

      • I find your implications that being molested is the cause of homosexuality to be ignorant and offensive. I understand how sexual abuse is harmful in innumerable ways. Trust me on that. However, being surprised that you’re not gay BECAUSE of molestation is ignorant. It implies that all homosexuals are such because they’ve been damaged. People are born gay. Understand that.

      • I was never molested but I knew I was gay since I was around 6 (I am now 47) even though I never knew of the term or that other gay people existed. If a straight adult molests a boy or a girl, or a gay adult molests a boy or girl has nothing to do with that boy or girls’s inherent sexual orientation to begin with. It is true that that boy or girl will have sexuality issues growing up and might lead to an unhealthy sexual outlook. But beingmolested has nothing to do with being gay or straight – sexual orientation is hardwired for the most part. Look at what the founders and former leaders and former patients of Exodus Int’l have concluded: being gay is not something you choose or become or “reverse”. Yes you can try to bury it, deny it, ignore it. But that “it” exists doesn’t it? so the act of trying to deny it means it’s always there, immutable, to begin with.

    • Jason…I honestly think you are going about this the wrong way. First off, you don’t have any right to criticize the mistakes that these people have made on their child because you do NOT have any children of your own, so don’t act like you know everything. Secondly, for someone who claims to be experiencing a similar crisis, you’re not very understanding to the whole situation. These people have lost a child! I doubt you understand the pain that they are feeling because quite frankly, you just don’t care anymore.
      Linda…I am truly sorry for your loss and I am praying for you and your family. I know how tough it is to lose a family member because I, myself, have lost quite a few in my years. I am bisexual, yet I am not really open about it because I believe that it is not important as to what you are but who you are. I also am a Christian and I pray for God and ask advice whenever I need it. I try so hard to argue with others about these concepts:
      1. A true Christian does not judge others by the color of the skin, the religion he/she follows, the sexuality, the political point of view, etc.
      2. Same as you have mentioned, you are allowed to be gay AND Christian.
      3. A true Christian loves others and treats others with the intention that they will be treated the same way.
      I really hope that things get better for you and your family. God watches over all of us, and he will be with you at every moment.

    • What do you possibly gain by condemning people, who are already suffering, who are trying to reach out to the world for others to learn from their experience, Jason?

      This is a family in an unbelievably tragic situation. Rob and Linda lost something infinitely precious to them, and they are sharing their story, so that others may not have to go through the same horror, and all you can do is judge them for it?

      Please … just stop it.

      I fit -two- of the LGBTQ-letters. I am expressedly not Christian … and yet I can find it in myself to reach out to them and show some sympathy and kindness towards people who have suffered in ways no human being should ever have to suffer.

      Rob and Linda made the right choices before their son passed away, and I pray to -my- Gods that at least Ryan knows, in his Heaven, that he was loved.

      That he IS loved.

      And that his story is helping show the way for others. There is so much hate and anger in this world. So much condemnation, anger, misunderstanding, rage … you name it. And what does it ever gain you?

      I ask you all to pardon me for some coarse language here, but my father has a saying I believe is particularly apt for this situation: “Take a fresh turd in one hand, and the concept of Sin in the other, and then please tell me what hand holds most substance!”

      Rob and Linda, by sharing this, are not only showing that mankind can learn, evolve, change and grow to be bigger, more all-encompassing, more understanding, more patient, more tolerant beings through experience, but that such stories can bring hope to others.

      My hope … MY hope … is that just one LGBTQ youth will read their story, and understand that they are not alone. And that their parents will not hate them forever. And that they are -good enough-.

      That they have human value on part with anyone else … -everyone- else.

      Rob and Linda, please … pay no heed to haters like this. I can only speak for myself, but I do speak from within the LGBTQ community, and even if my voice was the ONLY ONE in a sea of dissent (which I think the vast majority of replies to your story so far proves it is not), then at least my voice would say:

      Thank you.

      For what it is worth.

    • I respectfully disagree with Jason. Jason, I sincerely hope you are getting therapy. Know that you are filled with rage and your words here are more harmful and disgusting to any type of person (i am not gay and not even a little religious) than any perceived actions of these parents. To call the parents murderers is not only wrong but presumptuous; I’m certain he had other sources of pain. You preach to these parents as if you are religious yourself, are you a preacher? Have you never done any wrong? Please please invest in therapy as your rage and anger toward parents you have never met is frightening. I hope you don’t carry firearms. And my biggest hope is that you find peace the way these parents are trying to. Life is too short to spend as angry & judgmental as you are here. Maybe it was a bad night?

      To the parents: a brave and beautifully written letter. A high price to pay for a difficult lesson learned, and you have my deepest sympathies.

    • WOW!!!…Jason, are you listening to yourself? You sound just like what Ryan’s parents sounded before he started using drugs. “Judge not yet ye be judged”. We need to support what they are standing for now. Ryan’s parents paid the ultimate price for their mistake. I cannot judge them, I can only support them in their efforts to stop the judgment they made about their son and to make sure it does not happen to other parents. My prayers and compassion pours out for Ryan’s parents.

      I will leave these thoughts to your conscience. You are in my prayers as well.

    • You are not a murderer and yu are forgiven according to God!! You did your best with what you had, we all make decisions a nd your son made his decisions!! Only God can judge you nobody else!! Religion doesn’t kill anyone. I feel your pain yet I don’t know what I would do if I was in tour situation!! God loves you and understands:)

    • How about the gay kids who are never accepted by their parents, yet never get into drugs or crime; like me? Why must be blame our parents for everything? Sheesh! How about personal responsibility? There are even straight kids who have terrible upbringings yet never get into drugs or go onto sexually abuse children, despite being abused sexually. And Ryan had a loving family; but had a hard time accepting something so shocking as being gay. I don’t blame hetero Christians as it goes against their faith and they want what they think is best for their kids. Ryan’s parents never killed their child. He killed himself with his self-destructive behavior; so I don’t think his parents need to feel guilty for anything really. I am gay yet I never asked or forced my gay lifestyle on my parents. I let them slowly tolerate it and they did; took 20 years. Did I kill myself slowly with drugs and alcohol? No.

      Despite my opinion, I am still sorry for your loss Linda. Losing a child is something you never get over, I have heard. You did the best you could do while still loving your child; as he seems to be have been loved and not abused at all. Some gay kids are treated horribly; physically and emotionally. I get the impression Ryan wasn’t at all. Jason is just bitter because he was treated horribly by his parents. Ignore him.

      • Chris, you make a good point. The reason Ryan started using is complicated…it wasn’t only because he was gay in a conservative, evangelical home. I am thankful that most LGBT people DON’T get addicted or become alcoholics, regardless of whether or not their parents supported them fully.

  2. I don’t even know where to begin, but it is very touching for you to share your story.

    I am currently going through disillusionment and despondency with a dash of despair over some issues and I don’t have my parents in my life to talk with or lean on, even though they are very much alive and wedded to their religion. So I go it alone and do the best I can.
    If your testimony helps just one person to avoid such pain, it will be bright, albeit small, light in a terrible situation.
    Thank you,

  3. Linda, thank you

    i started to talk to my mom, my dad past away last year,my mother his christian , i will print your story and translate it to her!, because we are french canadians, i know and feel all the guild she has, because of my gay life,key work here with god:honesty,and sincerity in are heart, bless you and all of your family ,GOD works in so wounderfull ways….i came to GOD the first one in my family, but left it so long ago,…because the church did not gave us a place( not condamning but just realizing it!, has you say” we are works in progress”, HUGS and much love to you and your husband ( he his a priviledge man to have such a beautifull relationsip with ryan, me and my dad where never able to find the bridge beetwwen us! i gave him a strong hug too xxx GOD his pround of cristians like you!:-)

  4. Thank you for sharing! I just gave birth to our first child (a son) and can only hope that I love him in the way that you loved Ryan! Your story has inspired me to not set expectations or goals for my own child (or children) but to be thankful and give praise for the person God had made them.

    Thank you again!!!

  5. This article makes me both sad and angry. Sad because of your loss, and because at an earlier age, that could have been me. I’ve seen this happen to friends in one form or another and I get so angry that people can’t see past their faith and just… love. I truly am sorry for your loss.

    My mother struggled with my coming out because while she knew, hearing it put into words made it real. She believed it was wrong, and a sin, and for a few months she struggled with it. She suggested I speak with a minister, or a priest, because it would have made her feel better, and helped validate her feelings. I told her it wouldn’t change anything and that I still had to be me no matter what she felt. Eventually she realized that this was her struggle, not mine. With that, she was able to let it go. Years later she told me that she really had to examine her faith because her love for me was stronger than what she had been raised believing. Unfortunately she passed away 10 years ago, but I know without a doubt that I was loved, and she was immensely proud of the man I had become.

    I refuse to defined by just my sexuality. It is such a small part of who I am as a whole person. I am a son, a brother, a friend, an uncle, and so much more. My partner and I celebrate 5 years together on July 6th. We are respected and liked by our neighbors, His 3 children and 2 grandchildren adore me. His ex-wife, and mother think the world of me. I am many other things besides just a gay man. Above all of that, I am loved, and that is more important than anything.

  6. Thank you for sharing this intimate story of your family. I cried throughout and thought of the courage you had to tell it. As a lesbian (45 yrs old/out since 1985) I can tell you how much it means to the LGBT community for people such as you to be visible. It is a tough world out there for us and we can be consumed by the dark side if we let it. But the strength of the dark side is an illusion. Love is real and Love is everywhere. It is our straight allies who provide much love and support. I’m Jewish. I believe our faith is in the same G-d. Peace and Love and Light to you and family.

    • Debbie, Bless you! As allies, we haven’t gone though anything NEAR what you have…but we do feel called by God (yes, the one we share 🙂 to no longer stay silent. Thank you for your encouragement!

  7. Linda and Rob –

    I simply can’t imagine the pain the two of you have felt…watching the slideshow you put together and reading Rob’s letter to Ryan broke my heart. You have my deepest sympathy.

    I shared your story on Facebook this morning, along with a note saying how grateful I am that my own mother — far from a perfect parent — never turned her back on me when I came out. Even when the days were their darkest as I struggled to find the will to carry on in a world that seemed to hate me, my Mom’s love and acceptance never faltered.

    It is clear to me that your love for Ryan was deep, regardless of the struggle your faith created for you. I am also grateful to you and Rob for sharing your story. You are not only honoring Ryan’s memory, but it is my hope that other parents will recognize that unconditional love must be just that – love without any conditions or biases.

    I am holding you and your family in my heart. Thank you for having the courage to share your story.

  8. I have posted your story along with my own comments on my facbeook page for all of my friends to read. I tend to sit between two worlds: I was raised as an Evangelical Christian and half of my friends are still practicing and few see homosexuality as anything more than a condemnable and correctable sin. I’m also in grad school, in a program within the performing arts and many of my friends here are part of the LGBTA community. Over the years I’ve seen so many of them come out to their families. Many of have met with rejections, so many of them are the most loving beautiful people imaginable and I constantly wish I could do more to help them in their fight for equality. I’ve posted your story so that my Christian friends can read it, can be touched by your story. I sobbed when I read those awful words that your beautiful son had died. He sounds like such a wonderful person, I believe anyone would have been honored to know him. I am so grateful to you for sharing your story, as painful as it must be. I pray that by sharing it, more couples can find it in their hearts to love conditionally.

    In closing, you’ll note that I said LGBTA, not LGBT. I’m the divorced former wife of an asexual husband. I judged him. We went to therapists to “make him better” or to “cure him”, we did so much. Finally I gave up on him. For years I have hated myself for this, and in turn have hated my own sexuality, as it ended our marriage. My ex-husband only learned of the term “asexual” a few years ago. Recently, he came out to his parents and much to my surprise, they accepted him. I’ve learned to accept him too, but not before our marriage could no longer be salvaged. I know that I’ve caused him great pain, perhaps in this very small way (compared to yours), I can relate to your pain.

    Thank you once again for sharing. God bless you, and may he find ways of constantly showing you that your son is looking down on you now, and smiling at his loving parents.

  9. Linda & Rob, i cried with hope once I finished reading and watching this, and it was with hope because I have a toddler and a newborn, who I still get to know each and every day, my husband and I are raising them both catholic, just as we are along with our families, and your experience though incredibly sad, is just full of hope and knowledge about the true meaning of being a mom and a dad. Im really sorry for your son’s passing, but glad he was able to feel your love and Gods love before he came to Him. Writing to you from México to let you know (although you probably already do) that your story and your son’s experience, have crossed borders to enlighten other people lives.

  10. Hmm. Will you also edit out the several unbelievably crass posts from “christians” who “hate the sin and love the sinner?” If not, your story – eloquent or not, sincere or not – is not valid. I cried when I read your story. I believe you have experienced a tragic and moving journey. But to leave those comments in place puts your sincerity utterly in doubt.

    • Alex…Good question. I am still learning how to do this blog thing. I hope you will have patience with me.
      So far, because this was printed on Huffington Post Gay Voices, we’re hearing way more from the LGBTQ community than the conservative Christian community. (When they get ahold of it, I will REALLY need prayer!) But the extremes on both sides are toxic, and I couldn’t agree more that the statement “hate the sin and love the sinner” is extremely offensive and simply ludicrous. But I have approved some truly awful things on the other side…and now that we’re trying to start changing that policy (though the ugly emails are truly only about one of every fifty or so), I will be more careful. If the people are respectful, I would hope that people like you and I who understand why that is so offensive can help them to get it. To help them to understand that the statement itself is an oxymoron, and a horrible condemnation.
      Please have grace for me as I learn how to be a good moderator, and while I figure out how to recruit people I REALLY trust to help me. Thank you, Alex!!

  11. Dear Linda,
    I have tears in my eyes from reading about your story with your beautiful son. My son isn’t gay. However, your story has made me want to do more to show my son how much I love him, made me realize that no matter the mistakes he makes that he is still the beautiful boy that God blessed me and that I had to ask God for. He was born dead. No life. Once I asked God not to take him. He started to cry. I feel so honored and truely blessed to have read your family story. I feel that I will be a better parent because of it. I know that God has a plan for my son. I know that he is destined for great things. God was in the delivery room with me that day and now He is with me while I’m writing you this message. I want you to understand that this has helped someone that doesn’t have a LGBT child. You and your husband are such a blessing and inspiration to me. To your husband, your letter to your son is the most loving and beautiful letter I have ever read.

    Thanks so much,

    • Sheretta…that will mean so much to Rob…thank you!! And thank you for your kind and encouraging words!! I am so glad that our story has somehow helped you to be encouraged to love your own son more fully!

  12. I have never responded to something I’ve read on the internet until now. I read the letter and watched the video. Wow; so much unnecessary regret, sadness and pain especially considering that sexuality is but a small component of who we are. Indeed Ryan was a special soul and my heart felt deeply saddened for the pain he must have endured. I suppose the difficulty for me is in trying to understand how it is possible that parents would not/could not accept their child NO MATTER WHAT; even despite any/all religious convictions. Good heavens what God would espouse such a thing? I am far from being a perfect parent but it seems to me as if there is “something” (maybe on our DNA) that innately understands beyond the shadow of a doubt that the love we have for our children is unconditional; NO MATTER WHAT. It transcends everything. I worked in the criminal justice field and perhaps the best teachers/role models for demonstrating unconditional parental love for a child were the parents of incarcerated individuals (some of whom were on death row awaiting execution for hideous crimes). Their never ending unconditional love for their children was something to behold and a lesson for all of humanity. Reading your story confirms my belief that raising my two sons in a secular environment that values the acceptance of all humanity regardless of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation was the best route. Ryan’s death was a loss for everyone, even those that did not know him. Let us all hope (and pray too) that there will be no more Ryan’s!

  13. Dear Linda,
    I saw your son’s story when a friend of mine (who is gay) shared it on his Facebook page. I am a 41yr old gay guy who was brought up in a strong Baptist family in South Africa. I too experienced the same lifestyle growing up as your boy did. Church services twice on Sundays; Friday night youth group, Christian summer camp, involvement from childhood onwards on the church’s worship teams and finally a year of youth missionary service after high school. I was 28 when I finally came to terms with my sexual orientation and then had to start being honest to all those people I loved , after having lived a lie for so long. My parents also wanted the best for me and had exactly the same questions that you and your husband had. Luckily they loved me through all that and affirmed me constantly. I never experienced the marginalizing and hatred from “Christians” in South Africa , that is so prevalent in the USA. All I experienced from my pastors, Christian friends etc was love and acceptance. This is why I think you have a whole mission field wide open to you now in the USA and you have an incredibly powerful story and testimony to share with churches across our great country. I never once stopped believing and trusting in my Saviour , our Lord Jesus, and while I do not belong to a church, I rest on all that my parents taught me and all that I have experienced about God’s love for me as His child. I think God loves us regardless. It is God’s people who screw it up and make up their own rules and what they think God expects. I think that is the real sin. I will share your story as it is a powerful one and one that I know will help so many parents and people who are gay. You and your husband are truly an inspiration and I am SO blessed to have read your article today.

  14. Dear Linda & Rob,

    First off, I’d just like to say that your story touched me immensely and that I ache for you in losing your son.

    Life is a mysterious thing. We are thrown so many incredible curve balls that shape us into complete human beings, but we must never think that that our learning is done. You made a mistake, a big mistake, but it is never too late to repent and mend the wrongs you have done. I am very happy to see that you and your husband have opened your eyes and seen the light. Love is love, it doesn’t matter where it comes from. Love is the purest manifestation of God in our lives.

    Sadly, it took hard times to change your hearts, but I thank you for taking up your burden and using it positively to spread your message to parents across the world. I was very lucky to have a Father, very committed to his faith, who from day one believed what you two believe now. Don’t fret, we all have our moments and come to these conclusions sooner or later.

    You were very brave to bring this to Exodus International and as a gay man, I thank you for bringing this message of love to such closed minds. Continue to fight for love, it will bring you the redemption that you seek.

    Only love,

  15. Rob and Linda…
    Your words and images were beautiful….the blog, the letter and especially the photo tribute. As a hospital and medical professional, I myself, I have had had the misfortune of actually taken those very images…last photographs. Like those of yourself and husband with your Ryan, already gone.
    While I sometimes struggle with my own spiritual conflicts, as a mother, nurse, wife and somedays even a believer in God, I imagine your story and these images having a significant impact on others.
    Please continue to share your story with ANYONE who will listen. Don’t let the hate in. Hang on.

  16. I cried through this but thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry you lost your son and glad that you had time to show him how much you loved him. As a mother of a 15 year old daughter and 12 year son, I am reminded to always love them for who they is. I am a Christian and know Jesus’ love and we are raising our kids in the church. As a Christian, I would never post anything “crass” as was stated by a previous poster. I do not agree with that lifestyle, but it is not my place to judge others. I don’t know how they will turn out when they grow up, but I will remember this story and make sure to love them always no matter what. My dad was gay so I can relate somewhat (he passed 8 yrs ago) and we loved him for the man he was. He was a wonderful father and I miss him dearly.

    Again, thank you for sharing your story.


  17. This all started with a Bronze age belief system – one of many, many religions (several still exist in the mostly uneducated countries). Christianity, Muslim, Judaism, and the like. It is so sad and breaks my heart that although these religions are slowly dying, I won’t live long enough to see a world free of these ridiculous, and in your case, deadly fairy tales. Love is love and then we die. I’m sorry, I agree it sucks, but that’s is the more likely the reality. If you were born in Japan, you would think of this God, or in Africa or Egypt or whatever. Sounds like your son could have been great! Again, it’s a slow moving ship, but kids are staying to not fear death, but instead, love life and religion is losing. The youth and science continue to grow and so does agnostic and atheist movements. These are the most peaceful, loving, tolerant, humans our species have ever known. I wish I would have known your son. I would have told him maybe this is all there is and isn’t that beautiful. Life is bittersweet and drink it any precious way you want.

  18. Thank you for walking this out in a way that can inspire dialogue and growth. If God has a plan, and I like to think He does, then every life and death has it’s reason and purpose. Sounds like your son was a beautiful person and still has tremendous purpose. Your story/His story pulled some heart strings for me. My own parents and I have come a long way with this stuff but the wounds are still not completely healed. Sometimes I still want an apology. I want them to see how so much of my self destructive behavior could have been avoided if they would not have confused religious concepts for absolute truth. That “love the sinner, hate the sin” thing can be so painful when you are the perceived “sinner”. Even now, as 42 year old man with truly loving parents, who as loving as they are, believe that it is unnatural and wrong to be gay. That can be tricky because my goal is to love myself as I am. I have had to draw my boundaries with them and so we are as close as can be. After all this time, I am pretty certain God made some of us humans gay for a reason, and it wasn’t to change us. Sexuality is just a small part of the picture. It’s deeper than that. God is using us to change the world. He is using your son and his story to break and open hearts. To open minds. God is funny that way. Never what you expect. Anyway, you are both beautiful parents and I love how you continue to mother and father your son.

  19. Linda, my 23 year old son is gay and I suspected it since he was about 4. My macho ex-husband tried to toughen him up his entire childhood and it was damaging to their relationship. My daughter told her father one day “nick is more of a man then you will ever be, he is kind and strong and you will not break him”! My extended family has become more accepting and open in their views thanks to nick. Thank you for your story! If it helps just one family to learn acceptance of their beautiful child, it is worth all the angry words some will post against you. I love having a gay son! I can’t wait for him to fall in love so we can love that boy with all our hearts. You should become a volunteer to a gay teen that has been cast aside by their family. Many organizations need parents to help. What a true testament that would be to Ryan. I wish you peace and I am proud of your family!

    Bobbie Meola

  20. Hi. My name is Rachel, and I saw this when a friend posted it on Facebook. 🙂

    I just wanna say thank you for showing the love of the Father to your son. 🙂

    It taught me to see my gay friends in a fresh pair of eyes. I never hated them, but I was always questioning and worried… what would happen to them? The world judges them as if they were some mutants or strange creatures… but didn’t God make them all, all beautifully and wonderfully made? If being gay was wrong, does it mean that God made a mistake? Isn’t that calling God a fake? It really made me think.

    I have a gay friend who’s an orphan. He was born and raised in a Christian orphanage. He always was the ‘Jesus freak’. However, as he grew, he also realized stuff about his sexuality. I guess the church could not take this idea in, so… he left the church. He left God. And even though he didn’t mention it, I guess he’s really against Christianity and he also thinks that God is not loving because of what the Bible says about gays.

    The more I think about it, the more confused I get. But reading your message here, and also reading your story on the Huffington Post, it really gave me a new perspective to love, cherish and to honour these individuals.

    I love my gay friend, now and always. My job is not to garner hate or make him feel like an outcast; my responsibility as a follower of Jesus is to love, because He is love. 🙂

    Thank you again to you. I am truly inspired.

    Rachel from Malaysia

    • Rachel…I LOVED reading your story, hearing about your friend, and your own process working through this! Keep listening to Jesus – He will NOT steer you wrong! Sending hugs from Seattle to you in Malaysia!!

  21. I am so glad to have read both the mother and the fathers statements. I would also like to say to the person who wrote the first Mean spirited comment. It is obvious to me and I’m sure most everyone else that you have a lot of anger and resentment towards your parents still, even though you say you found peace. I to am a gay man. I to had VERY religious parents. And, I to turned to drugs and even suicide as a young teen to deal with my self loathing and misunderstood lifestyle.
    I am also one of the lucky ones to have survived that part of my life. Although I struggled over and over with relapse throughout my thirties I am today a clean recovering addict. I related so much to your story as I said my parents are VERY religious. Today I have a life I love and cherish it but no matter how much time goes by I will always have a hole in my heart when I think about my parents and our “strained relationship”
    I have a beautiful man in my life today and I know in my heart he will soon be my husband. His entire family embarrasses both me and our relationship. Although my parents try I know as they look down at us through their “Christian colored glasses” and they only see two sinners. This is a constant source of sadness to me. I believe in god and love god. In my heart I know that God made me gay. I know god loves me and every other gay person in the world. It saddens me that my parents are such “slaves” to their religion that we are not close at all. I’m happy that you and your family came to terms with your sons sexuality and I am sad that he relapsed and died.

  22. Progression-
    No matter how long it takes-
    Is still progression.
    I am neither
    Christian nor gay.
    But I am thankful
    For people like you
    Who are closing the gap.
    People shouldn’t have to
    Make a choice between
    Religion and sexuality.
    Love is so
    Important to our survival.
    We need all that
    We can get-
    It’s the last thing
    We need to judge.
    Your story is beautiful
    And you are brave
    To share your journey
    Honestly and openly….
    And I truly think
    You and your family
    Will help more people
    Than you can ever imagine.

  23. This is sooo beautiful!! I cried reading this article and letter. I wish my mom would be as understanding and loving as you guys were and are to Ryan. You guys truly overcame it all as a family! I’m glad someone finally thinks that gays and Christians and God still loves us an loves us all no matter what! Ryan was so blessed to have parents and a family like yours and your family blessed to have such a beautiful soul to be apart of your family and shine so much light!

  24. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
    Please don’t take scripture out of context. “Christians and Gay’s can co-exist” is contradicting the scripture above.

    • Jena, respectfully, we disagree. But this blog is not about theology. We are not theologians. We are parents, sharing what God has taught us…and wanting to allow others to share their stories, too.
      P.S. I wish you could meet our friends Jennifer, Bertram, Trentan, Jerry, Marta, Don, Natasha, Jason, Brian, Chip, Matthew…I could go on and on. If you did…if you sat down to pray with them and hear how much they love Jesus, you would know that Gay and Christian DO co-exist. ALL OVER THE WORLD. PRAISE JESUS!!

  25. I don’t know how to put into words what I feel reading your story. My heart aches for your loss and I want to thank you for making me focus at last purely on the goodness of my own children, rather than worrying that about what they may be or might do. I promise you, that in your loss I will fully take your advice and will love them just for breathing. Your gift has already, in the few minutes of absorbing your story, softened my heart and I will hold your message near. God bless you. Tracey xx

  26. Auuuuw…what a beautiful,amazing story…ii find myslf in the same situation…nd ii dnt knw wht to do….bt yohr…ii just hope things culd b diffrnt 4 ryan…shame… 😦 i wish some peopl culd undastnd this whole gay-thing like uhoo do … Thanq 4 mking me undastnd things betta… Thanq 4 posting ur story God used uhoo to talk to us… Thanq…

  27. I felt compelled to post a comment.

    I read this article, watched the video, and read the letter; I dont think there was a second when I wasn’t sobbing uncontrollably. Thank you thank you thank you for having the strength and integrity to be honest in such a public forum about the mistakes you made and Ryan’s struggle. I myself am gay but I love Jesus and everything in his teachings more than my own existing. However, I cannot find a church that accepts me and that is in line with the values that I I continue searching for a community that can help grow spiritually and thrive. So many of my family members won’t speak to me and have tried to “cure” me of what I am. But what I am is human…I cannot change who I am and trust me i’ve tried. But now..I dont want to. Because liking girls is a preference, kind of like how I dont enjoy spicy food but I love cereal. It doesn’t matter and It is none of anyone’s business. There have been nights where I have almost died because of my struggle but somehow I have to believe that God has helped me overcome these dark wishes that shadow and cloud my mind and my faith.

    Reading some of these comments about how you can never change made me sick to my stomach. You made mistakes…big ones…but you aren’t denying it and you aren’t trying to to anything but humble yourselves. I agree that you should have loved Ryan unconditionally but you lived your religion and your religion taught you to think a certain way and to act a certain way. I dont think it means you didn’t love your son and that you were the reason for his death. I think it means you are human and you struggled in a way that all of us struggle. The whole journey you shared with us was not an easy one for anyone involved…but you overcame it and are on the other allies to all of us. So, thank you. I, obviously didn’t know Ryan, but I know I will think of him often as I continue to struggle with my faith and my sexuality. I honestly think this story has saved my life for the second time…I think Ryan saved my life.

    Thank you again for the ferocity and honesty of this article.

    Be Well and Blessed Be,

    Jessica-Rose Garcia

    • Jessica-Rose…After Ryan got clean, he often told us of the many times, while using, that he tried to take his own life. He was EXTREMELY intelligent, and always did everything humanly possible to make sure that his efforts would be successful. However, he told us that God never allowed it. He felt it was crazy – that He was still alive. He believed that God had preserved him for some reason, though, at the time, he had no idea what that reason was.
      Today, after reading your message, it occurred to me that this week we are seeing some of the reasons why Ryan didn’t die during those months of using. God wasn’t finished teaching us yet….we still had a LOT to learn. We needed those ten months of reconciliation, unconditional love and acceptance with Ryan to learn the value of simply loving him…PERIOD. Those were months I wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world. If God protected Ryan only to save one life – yours – then that is MORE than enough!! Thank YOU for opening my eyes and making me realize, anew, how grateful I am for God’s timing and His intense love for Ryan and for our entire family. YOU are a gift, Jessica-Rose.

      • Thank you for your reply Linda!

        I couldn’t agree more. I have heard many stories like the one of Ryan’s but there is something in particular that moves me when it comes to this one. I think it moves everyone in a different way. I think he should still be alive…I wish he was but I think there was something special about him in a different kind of way. And i cant blame God for wanting him up there on his team of angels. I am sure that he has some special mission as an angel and that his work is changing lives day by day and second by second.

        I cannot shake the feeling that I was somehow meant to read this story and that I am attached to the meaning within and all around it.

        Be well and thank you again for your kind words and loving spirit.

        YOU are truly what God intended when he created human beings.

        Blessings always,

        Jessica-Rose Garcia

  28. Ok so I have never commented on any blog ever in my life but have an overwhelming desire to speak up with love and truth… First of all I’m sorry for your loss Linda and Rob. My heart truly goes out to you and your family. Although I’m not a parent, I can relate to how you first handled things with your son. I have struggled with same sex attraction for more than half my life and my parents did not except my feelings for women. I truly believe that they did the best they could at the time. However, there rejection and disapproval only caused me to run to where I felt loved and that was being around people like me. They came around about 6 years after I told them about my same sex attractions. Although they still did not condone it I believe they realized at the time things weren’t changing and I was still their daughter no matter what I felt. Anyways, I have read everyone’s comments and respect what you believe regardless if your a Christian or not. I don’t agree with some of the posts however that’s what makes the world go round and we can agree to disagree. We live in a wonderful country where we have freedom of speech and religion. I hope that people who claim to be tolerant will read this and weather you agree with me or not, you’ll respect my beliefs…

    Please bare with me because I have a lot to say and I feel that as a Christian I must stand up for what I believe is truth even if it’s not popular with society. First and foremost we MUST LOVE ONE ANOTHER regardless of what we may or may not believe!!! God’s greatest command after loving him with all are heart, soul, and mind is to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we could only reach the place where we would love one another unconditionally as God loves us! I believe heaven will be that kind of place but wish we could have a world of a peaceful people who respect ALL views, beliefs and choices…

    So here goes on what I believe… I believe you can have same sex attractions and not act on them. I believe like anything that might be tempting to someone you can make the choice to not give into those temptations. We all were born with sinful tendencies. But if you believe in God and except Jesus as your Lord and savior for the redemption of your sins not only will you be saved, but God through his holy spirit will enable you to say no to sin and yes to righteousness. We are not strong enough in our own might and strength. However, with God we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). There is a measure of faith and trust in God that you need but nothing is impossible with HIM! I am 40 yrs old and have lived many years in homosexual relationships but was very unhappy. For me personally I could not fully embrace being a lesbian because I believed and still believe that any sexual relationship outside the marriage covenant of one man and one woman is sin in God’s eyes. I lived many years with no peace and was very depressed and unhappy. After about 15 yrs of living in and out of the gay lifestyle, I walked away for good almost 11 months ago. I believe I finally got tired of living without peace and trying to run away from God as he continued to invade my heart and life. God loves us ALL and just wants the best for us according to his purpose and plan for each and everyone of us personally. I believe in his word, the Holy Bible and there are many scriptures I could show you about what God says about homosexuality. Instead I will quote a wonderful scripture that I believe speak volumes whatever it is you believe in.. Jesus says in Matthew 16:24-26, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” (NKJV) I choose to deny any sexual feelings for women for one and only one reason… For God. I believe he doesn’t want me to act on those desires and I want to honor my heavenly Father and his son Jesus who died for me and you. He took the penalty of our sins to that cruel cross not so we could continue in unrepentant sin but live under grace and follow him until he calls us home. I have always viewed life as being so short and to live my life how I want to is so NOT worth losing my soul over because of habitual unrepentant sin. I mean there are a million ways to sin and habitually sin which is what I believe I was doing for several years and by the grace of God’s mercy I’m still here and just want to help others who feel there is no hope for them because of how they “feel’ and might believe how I believe or may question their own beliefs or whatever. I’m not here to tell you how to live, I’m just telling you the other side because most people don’t want to speak up about this controversial subject. Sin is sin and I believe we can twist, turn and rewrite the bible all we want but does it make it right?? Is God ok with it? If you still believe it’s ok to live in a sexual relationship with the same gender or sleep together with the opposite sex without being married then I’m ok with that and don’t judge you. God is the judge and anyone who claims to be a born again Christian is just the messenger. Despite what other people say on this very hot button topic, I have ALWAYS believed what I’m saying and never doubted that what I was doing was sin in God’s eyes. As long as you still have breath, God is always there with open arms and loves you NO MATTER WHAT. He just hates sin and because he is a Holy God he can not condone sin of ANY KIND… I hope anyone who reads this will keep an open mind and be tolerant to my beliefs as I am to yours. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    • Shelly, thank you for sharing your perspective. It sounds like God has made it very clear to you what He desires for your life, and that you are listening to His voice. May I do the same!
      Rob and I want to make sure that this blog is a place where Christians and non-Christians alike, ex-gay, celibate gay, openly gay and straight can come together to “sit down,” so to speak, together at the same table…to share the things that bring us together. Most of us here desire to please God, and many are committed to trusting Jesus as Lord.
      I hear you saying that you don’t judge others…but other statements seem to contradict that, at least to me. I respect your convictions, and your desire to be live a holy life. I just think we need to be REALLY careful about telling others what “holiness” looks like for them. For many year Christians thought it was “holy” to own slaves (and used scripture to back that up), and that it was “unholy” to marry a person of another race (again, using scripture). I was raised to think that it wasn’t “holy” to drink – at all – and that if I didn’t do a daily “quiet time” with Jesus, I was choosing to walk away from the Lord. Now, God is showing me that His love is much bigger than my behaviors…and that I, actually, don’t affect or change his love at all, no matter what I do or don’t do. Everything used to seem so black and white to me, so certain. Now I am finding that I must live much more by faith, abiding in Him daily, trusting in Him to lead and guide me, and not being so sure of many things I used to gladly get on a soapbox about.
      When we were at the Exodus Conference, one of the other speakers shared this quote with me:
      “The opposite of faith is not doubt, it’s certainty.” – Anne Lamott
      That gives me a LOT to think about!
      Thanks for sharing your story, Shelly!

      • Thanks Linda for responding to my comment. I do appreciate it. I’ve been meaning to send you a reply sooner but have been super busy! Anyways, I find that because my convictions are so strong it’s easy for some to find me judgemental but it’s not what I intend to come across as. That’s how strong of a conviction I feel at ALL times. So to those who disagree with me, I’m in a no win situation. I feel like I’ve been through hell and back wrestling with my christian beliefs & same sex attractions for years. I so relate with Jeff and my heart breaks for him. He sounds just like me what I would call a “torn soul”. That is what I considered myself for years. It’s only been recent that I walked away again from the gay life hoping this time it’s for good. For me the pain and torture is far worse when I’m acting on my attractions because it just leaves me empty and without any peace. I can’t live without peace!!! I know God loves me NO MATTER WHAT as he loves us all no matter what. However, as I said before God can not condone sin of any kind and I believe I’m sinning when I act on my physical desires. No matter what anyone tells me I believe the way I believe and feel for certain that what I believe is true. I’m willing to say if what the Bible says about homosexuality is not true after all then I realize I wasted a lot of my life and didn’t have to. But if it is true as I believe in my heart it is, then giving up a gay life will have been worth it! I’m just not willing to take the chance on being wrong. Eternity is forever and I’m not willing to lose my soul for anything! I put my faith and trust in God that he knows best because he created us. Please know Jeff and I are in a really tough spot because we get people from both sides telling us it’s ok to be gay and others who tell us the opposite. At the end of the day I have to listen to the voice of God who I believe wants me to live a celibate life. It’s a sacrifice but I rest in God’s peace and nothing satisfies my soul more… Linda, even though we may disagree I applaud you for your undeniable grace you have shown even to some extremely hateful and angry people. You held your ground and walked in love as we as Christians should always do even when people can be so mean. I wish people could respect others for what they believe even if it goes totally against their own beliefs. God bless you and your family and for sharing your personal story with all of us.

        • Shelly, I LOVE this quote, “Please know Jeff and I are in a really tough spot because we get people from both sides telling us it’s ok to be gay and others who tell us the opposite. At the end of the day I have to listen to the voice of God who I believe wants me to live a celibate life.” You expressed yourself so well; you ARE in an incredibly difficult position! And I couldn’t agree more…at the end of the day, you have to listen to God’s voice. May we each do the same!

  29. I am so sorry for the loss of Ryan…he sounded like a wonderful young man with such a beautiful future Unfortunately he was robbed of his future by people who feel that their beliefs and opinions are all that matter I am the heterosexual mother of 3 teens who have been told since the day they were born that hate in any form whether racism, homophobia or any other kind is totally unacceptable Please excuse my ignorance but who are any of us to say “God loves you” or “You are blessed by God” What gives anyone the authority to say that? Ryan….OI am sure that you were loved by many…………Please rest in peace XOXOX Jayne

  30. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope that the pain you bear is softened in the knowledge that you are helping to make the world a better place through a message of grace and understanding.

    • As a gay woman, I have a question for Linda and Rob.

      Had your son, initially, miraculously, become straight, would you have been happy? I mean, I never thought I’d find ANY fault with your incredible/tragic story that I cried my eyes out at, but that first comment from Jason has a slight point. -That you basically “wanted your son how you wanted him, and when you realized after he left home that you weren’t going to GET that, THEN you had a change of heart”. I mean, that’s what Jason is saying and I think it’s kind of valid, no?

      So not that there isn’t EMENSE learning here and positive change on your part and your husband, Rob’s, but wasn’t it kind of after the fact and him leaving? My question is…Had the Bible (or whatever means) made Ryan straight, would you have been happy? Because what if a year later Ryan came to you and said he wanted to say, live a polygamist lifestyle or something else your faith condemns? Would you then have tried to change THAT TOO? -Only to have him leave again, lose him and ultimately change your own views on THAT subject just to have him back in your lives? I mean, where would the trying to change him have ended if you had succeeded in the first place and didn’t have this horrible lesson? I’m just curious. Thank you.

      • Jessica, Let me try to answer you with complete honesty. In 2001, or 2004, or even 2006, we probably would have been happy. Ryan would have been, too (we have many of his journals that express this, as he hadn’t learned to love himself at that point). But our process in changing and learning was much more complex than just losing connection with Ryan. It had to do with reading Ryan’s journals, listening to gay friends’ journeys, reading (a lot) from different perspectives, praying and listening to God (even more), dialoguing with our other kids and learning to love them as they made THEIR own choices in life, etc, etc, etc. By the end of 2006, BEFORE Ryan started using drugs, major change was going on in our hearts. Lots of humility, perspective, new awareness and regrets began to invade our souls. Both of us…though separately.

        Yes, as a parent, when we lost contact with Ryan, we learned a HUGE lesson about what really matters. We felt ashamed and horribly sorry that we had EVER been so wrong, so ignorant, so mistaken. During that time, we knew that we knew that we knew that it didn’t matter what or who Ryan believed in, what he chose to do with his life, who he loved…NOTHING could keep us from loving him and wanting him in our lives. What if he, because of his addiction, had killed someone? That would have been awful, but it wouldn’t have kept us from loving him. Not a chance.

        I don’t know if you are a parent…but you are asking a sincere and honest question. I am really trying to answer honestly, as well. I would love to say, “NO! We would NEVER have been happy if he had become straight!” But that would not be true. Our kids know it, our close friends know it, and God knows it. I was trapped by fear and ignorance, and had a complete blind spot for what I was doing that was wrong. I did, truly, think that I was doing the loving thing for Ryan. Kicking Ryan out of our home, telling him he was going to hell, or that he was an “abomination”…those were NEVER even thoughts or ANYTHING close to what we felt or did or believed. Our lack of love was much more subtle, but it still hurt Ryan. Deeply.

        I fear that I can’t “win” in this conversation…that somehow, no matter how honest I am, I will get attacked for doing the wrong thing. And maybe I did…maybe we committed more errors than we are now aware of. If so, we are open to learning. We can’t go back and undo what we did…but we can learn, we can share what we’re learning, and we can apply what we’ve learned with our surviving children. AND…we know, that Ryan was, above all others, our biggest champion. I don’t think one day went by in the last ten months of his life that he did not call me to “remind me” how much he loved us, and that we were the best parents in the entire world. To him, we were. Mostly because, I think, we learned how to be vulnerable enough to confess to one another, to forgive each other…and to love each other just because we were family.

        Thank you, Jessica, for listening. I hope that you will believe the best in us, and that you will offer us grace. I respect you for your honest question and for asking, instead of assuming what is true.

  31. Linda and Rob-
    Thank you so much for sharing your struggles and being so open about your imperfections as parents. My little guy is three and therefore much too young to worry about sexual orientation for now. I am a Christian mother who has struggled with addiction and mental illness all of my adult life. Though my struggles are not the same as yours, your honesty has given me courage to face my own struggles head on. I have been clean and sober for a few years now but will always struggle with my mental illness. I have been reluctant to rely on God for help because I have felt ashamed. But your testimony has encouraged me to do just that. I was raised in a loving Christian home where I was always taught that God accepts me just as I am. I think the problem has been that I haven’t accepted myself. You have encouraged me to lay my problems before the feet of God and trust that His grace and love is sufficient for me. Everything I do, I do to be a better mother for my sweet son. Thank you for sharing your imperfections. It has helped me to accept my own.

    • Missy, you cannot BEGIN to know how timely your message is…I am in tears. Weeping because I just spent the last 30 minutes responding to another reader, and had to be painfully honest about my own mistakes, so I am acutely aware of them right now. Four years ago today we were living in the ICU with Ryan, not realizing that we were spending the last days of his life with him. This is a very tender month for us…a month of a lot of fresh grief. My mama’s heart is super tender. Thank you so very, very much for encouraging me that God can use my mistakes and flaws to encourage someone else to trust Him…that is worth it ALL. I read your comment aloud to our youngest son, who is here for our dear friends’ daughter’s memorial tomorrow, and to my husband, and they both said, “THAT IS WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT!” You’ve been a HUGE encouragement to me, Missy. I am thanking God for you tonight.
      P.S. Thank you, too, for being honest and vulnerable about mental illness…that is a struggle that our family knows all too well, and something we are so passionate about – We pray that it will be treated just as any other physical disease in our grandchildren’s lives (if/when we have grandchildren, that is! 😉

      • I cannot imagine God not blessing you with grandchildren after you have followed Him so faithfully. You chose to listen to not what those around you were saying God would want, but to His own voice and guidance for your lives. The Lord rewards the faithful :-). You have been such an encouragement to so many, just as your son has been. Though his life was cut short, he has impacted countless others by his loss. Prayers for you, your family, and the courage it takes daily to keep sharing your story.

      • Linda, thank you for your response. I appreciate your time in answering my question and you DID answer the first part (which I don’t condemn for the record) I would expect most very religious individuals to be happy if their gay child miraculously became straight. You didn’t however answer the last part of my question, which is perhaps the most important. That being– had you first efforts worked and changed/made Ryan straight (the way you wanted him) what else would you and your husband tried to have changed via scripture? My example was, say Ryan then came home and said he was attracted to the polygamist lifestyle? Or something else that isn’t accepted in the bible or considered “normal”? Would you have tried to change that too? Thank you. (My point here is that I have found that many very religious people want to mold their children into these perfect packages when they just can’t. So please explain…When would the pressure have ended for him to be as close to all the values your religion upholds?) I don’t think it would have, would it? Which is why I feel too much of anything, even religion, is a bad thing. It makes people want to mold themselves and others constantly, at every angle, to what was written thousands of years ago. It’s not right and it’s not realistic. You know what I’m saying? Thank you and if you could please answer the latter part of my question so I could understand more I would appreciate it.

        • Jessica – What you are asking just doesn’t resonate with me, or with my adult kids, with whom I’ve discussed this. I don’t recognize the kind of “religion” that you are describing…a kind that values beliefs and concepts over people. We never forced our children to align with our faith, or to choose the same values that we did. We were the kind of parents who, though we ourselves were both virgins when we married, told our kids that if they decided to be sexually active, that we’d gladly take them to get birth control. So I just don’t think that what you are suggesting is true of many faith-holding, Christian people…definitely not of most of my Christian friends. Thank you for giving me a chance to explain, and for being open and willing to trust my replies.

  32. Linda,
    I am sixteen. I have a gay cousin and I am also Christian. I am one of the few that believe God loves all his creations, gay or straight. This is a speech I wrote which I intended to post on Facebook, then never did for fear of ridicule from my more conservative family:

    I want to bring up an issue that is very controversial and if you don’t like my views, feel free to unfriend me cause they’re not changing. Yes I am Christian, yes I love my God, and yes I support gay rights. First off, let me inform you about what is commonly thought about homosexuals. A lot of people believe homosexuality is a choice, however, I believe that is a falsehood. Homosexuals get so much grief an ridicule that I believe if it was truly a choice, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. I believe if they could choose, they would all be straight to avoid the ridicule and condemnation most people throw their way just because they are gay. God created them gay. God loves all his creations. He does not condemn, but forgives those who put their trust in Him. So why do we as Christians condemn homosexuals? Why do we say “Forgive your brothers” but condemn the gays? We say “God loves all people” when most people believe he hates homosexuality? My view is that he loves all his people. Straight or gay. He created all people equal, so why not treat everyone as equals? Why not give gays the same rights as heterosexual people? Face the facts: times have changed. Homosexuality is more common. GOD LOVES GAYS.

    I just felt compelled to share that with you after reading your article and Rob’s letter. Bless you and your family and may you have many happy memories of Ryan!


    • Madison, I LOVE your spunk and courage and boldness to share what God has shown to you! You have a lot of wisdom…Can’t wait to see how God will use you to change the world!! Much love to you!

  33. The fact that you are censoring comments tells me all I need to know about you. While I think it is wonderful that you came to love your son again before he died, I think it is shameful how you treated him before that. I am a heterosexual mother of four, and I would never, ever treat my children the way you did. My oldest just turned 18…she went through a period where she thought she was transgendered. I NEVER turned my back on her or told her something was wrong with her. I NEVER forced god on her. I told her I love you and accept you no matter who you are, and I tell ALL of my children that. Watching the video broke my heart, because your religion killed that boy. He was such a handsome young man, there was something about him, I don’t know how to explain, but even in your pictures, you can tell he was someone special, with great things ahead of him. Religion took that away from him.

    • Jen, I sincerely beg to differ. The only comments we are censoring are ones like these:

      You are soooo mental ill!!!! Just because he is gay you forced him to kill himself and did not proper help him. JUST because of a fucking religion!!!!! YOU gave birth!!! You gave him life!!! And you KILL him just because of a fucking phantom nobody ever really seen?????? Religion is more worth than your own flesh!!!! YOU ARE ILL!!!! Hope you burn in hell with your fucking Jesus and religion!!!!

      Yup. I censored that one. It is offensive on so many levels – you are clearly intelligent, Jen, and can see that. True tolerance and love does not condemn someone else’s faith. And it certainly doesn’t judge another person as guilty of murder and deserving of hell without even knowing that person, much less giving them a fair trial.

      I don’t see any productive, positive purpose to print those kinds of comments. Your comment, though it feels hurtful to me, is fine. It reflects your opinion. But to give someone who clearly has a deep level of pain and rage an online audience seems unwise to me. Do we really want to give our attention, in this world we are trying to improve, to that kind of hate speech? Toward ANYONE? I don’t see how that commenter is any different than the folks from Westboro Baptist Church…who most agree SHOULD be censored, or at least kept from disrupting the sacred funerals of innocent people.

      Jen, I am sorry that you have dismissed me because I have chosen to set boundaries on what is my personal blog. I think you are missing an opportunity to hear from someone who is different from yourself, and that is ALWAYS a good thing. I wish you the best…and truly respect you for loving your four kids so well.

      • Linda, I did not know you were getting those hateful comments. I am not above admitting I jumped to conclusions and was a bit judgmental. As you stated, I do not know you. It is truly a shame what happened to your son. I think it is great that you are trying to spread the message of acceptance, I just think it should have a more secular approach. (I know that is hard because it was religion and their lack of acceptance that led to Ryan’s destructive choices.) It’s just very hard for me to understand how people can think there is something wrong with someone because they are gay. Maybe it’s in the way people are raised, I don’t know. People can change. It’s usually rare, but it can happen. I believe it is up to us, as parents, to teach our children love and acceptance, not hate. Future generations depend on us to do so. I stand by my comment that religion kills, because most religious people I know have been hateful, condescending, and extremely judgmental.

        • Thank you so much for your humble reply. I am truly sorry that your experience with “religious” people has been so incredibly hurtful. I wish you knew OUR friends, who are people of faith whose lives are marked by compassion and selfless service to street kids, foster kids, people suffering alone with HIV and serving our community without any agenda other than to LOVE. We have an incredible church here in Redmond, Overlake Christian. I wouldn’t be able to attend if it was full of the people you’ve known. I don’t blame you for being cautious and a bit cynical…there ARE many who, in God’s name, have committed untold atrocities. May God have mercy on us all.

        • I believe the critical judgements are in themselves evidence of the individuals misunderstandings of the subject they are defending with so much emotion…
          They don’t get it, they have missed the point or they are refusing the information they have been given…but, here’ s the thing…
          We all need to grow in our time frame not someone else’s. I think Linda and Rob offer us an amazing gift in sharing their wisdom of learning and making changes before it ends up too late. Like they did before they lost their beautiful boy…
          We should all take heed. Those who say such terrible things…are responding defensively….they don’t understand….
          All I can do is pray for them, and hope life doesn’t get too painful, due to what they don’t understand…because in those moments it is going to suck to be them….
          I say pray for them…and I am not religious, it just seems like the right thing to do…

    • I find it so ironic that Jen H. left such a self-righteous and hateful message in opposition to what she perceives as an injustice. That attitude is destructive. I realize that some people just never lose an opportunity to lose an opportunity, but Jen needs to take a look at her own comments which were so negative and judgmental and realize that however much she was trying to criticize you, they did not reflect on you, but really on her own insecurities. It’s often called “projection” in psychology, but also is a trait that the Bible refers to when it says to “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” I’m sure she would be appropriately embarrassed, as most of us already are for her, if she realized how self-revealing her comments were. Linda, never let that kind of email or the other, even more ugly and vile ones get to you. We don’t even have to share a common faith to understand that compassion is a human value and I for one am so glad you are doing this blog and censoring inappropriate comments. After all it is YOUR blog, no one else’s. And there are other, more appropriate places online for people to “vent.” You are doing so well with these things, and with getting out your message of compassion, hope, and love for so many struggling families and their children. So many children would be honored to call you and your husband their parents. I think I am pretty representative of a huge percentage of gay people of all kinds of faiths and political persuasions, and in talking to people across the spectrum, I can assure you that we feel that you are providing a wonderful message of hope and love. Thank you so very much!

        • Linda, you are correct in saying I was using the analogy with the Bible as way of connecting the shared wisdom of modern psychology with a single quote from the ancient New Testament writers. And you were also correct in understanding I was not necessarily endorsing the Bible in the way most Christians do, though I have respect for those who do. One does not have to believe in biblical authority to appreciate that there are many gems of wisdom written there, or that there is a beauty to the writing of the Biblical text as literature, or that we can respect everyone’s views regarding its importance (or not) in our personal lives. Having been in an academic and culturally diverse environment for much of my life, I have observed that even atheists and people of other faiths recognize that fact. There is a famous test in psychology where people were so focused on one aspect of a video they were watching that they fail to see a lady dressed in a gorilla suit who walked into the picture. Then, in another experiment where people knew of the gorilla, people missed that the color of the entire backdrop curtain transitioned from bright red to gold! (Check out the full story at the Smithsonian Magazine here: I am surprised by the fact that you have received so much hate mail, and some just so rude and inconsiderate of your family’s feelings by people that hadn’t even read your whole story. I would assume that some people, gay or straight, are just naturally disagreeable and unpleasant. And some are categorical, simple thinkers. A more generous explanation is that some people, as in that experimental video, are experiencing “inattentional blindness” ……..where they are so focused on something… this case defending a viewpoint, a political position, or venting their anger that they cannot “see” the curtain changing color in the background. We are all human and we are all subject to that kind of thing. I just hope you will press onward with your lovely story of redemption.

        • Wow…Brad…you are a brilliant writer and great thinker. One of my kids read one of your comments out loud last night and he was yelling, “THIS GUY ROCKS!!” I think so, too!

        • I couldn’t agree more…Brad you are an excellent, intellegent and thoughtful writer.
          I likewise second that Linda & Rob need to keep sharing their story. Thoughts and beliefs are getting stirred up, explored, challenged and this is what expands our connections with ourselves, others and “God”, however one preceives God. We do have choices in how and what we believe…
          Their message is one of deep and profound redemption and love… for me, a non religous individual… this is how I choose to preceive God and his message.

        • I don’t think Brad has said that he personally believes or endorses the Bible…All I heard was him quoting it as an inarguably important piece of literature. But I could be wrong…

  34. Dear Linda and Rob,

    Having read your blog, and looked through many posts in awe and sometimes in disgust at some people. I’d like to add my thoughts, in the hope that you are fully aware that everyone supports you and your bravery to speak the truth about your faults with Ryan. Firstly, I am not a gay nor christian, I’ve never beleived in god, because I’ve never had ‘proof he’s out there, allowing so much evil in this world. Anyway, each to their own, I don’t diss anyones beleifs. Me english and my partner is an indonesian muslim and I respect him. Humans only do what they think/beleive to be right, at the time. That’s not a fault, that’s life. No one is wrong, no one is right on their beleifs, were all different people! And you came to see that BEFORE ryans passing, good one you gal!! Parents and children alike, are proud of you!! therefore these comments of people saying your bad, are WRONG!! The only people who are wrong, are the ones who never change!! You’re already making a difference in the world by showing people just how precious life/time is with our loved ones. Keep smiling guys, were all sympathizing and hold you in our hearts.. Donna xxx

      • Thankyou for your time to read and reply to me. You’re a truly dedicated soul, and I sincerely wish for you peace inyour hearts. Life throws so much at us, no one is perfect. But you as a person to see what’s right, clearly are.. Best of happiness to you and you’re family linda/rob.. I’m living in indonesia now, with my indonesian partner, the western world sometimes is pathetic in judging.. Here, I feel comfortable. I truly hope you stop thinking too much, you were/are clearly a good parent, and I don’t even know you, but reading your heary story, there’s nothing that dapat say any different.. Bless you also.. Xxxxxx

  35. As a lesbian who was raised in a very religious house I just want to let you know that you guys are awesome. My parents struggled initially to know how to deal with having a gay child while being deeply involved in the church, and while at first things were not easy, we’ve come a long way. As someone who was plunged into depression and substance abuse problems trying to reconcile my faith with my sexuality, understanding parents can make all the difference, even if it does take them time to come around. I, like Ryan, am lucky to have awesome parents. Keep sharing your story, the LGBT community needs all the Christian allies it can get.

  36. I am a gay man 33 years old and I am also a Baptist ministers son. I was raised in a loving, Christian home and taught that homosexuality is wrong and a slap in the face of God. I too tried to change for years..every night asking God to change me. Make me straight and I’ll never sin again. Unrealistic, I know. After counseling and trying everything Ryan tried, I finally realized that this is who God made me to be. I sing gospel music for a living praising my King. I feel his presence daily. My dad loves me but still hasn’t come to the realization that I was born this way. To him, I chose this and its a sin. I know what God has put on and in my heart and it’s something the world needs to hear. “I love you son” is what I hear. It’s what I feel and it’s what I go to bed knowing every night. Thank you for your story. It has given me a spiritual boost to let my gay light shine. lol I love you and your family and I don’t know you but I would love to. Anyone out there thinking you are damaged goods because you are gay or transgender, please know that those things that were so deeply rooted into you are lies.. God loves you so much and you are not doomed to an eternity in Hell. You are princes and princesses of the most powerful King ever. THANK YOU FOR YOUR STORY. I LOVE YOU GUYS.

    • I’m just a follower of this blog…I am touched by your words. It is such a beautiful thing to get to the other side of that torment, isn’t it? I’m so happy for you! Continue to let your light shine!

  37. I see so much of myself in this story. I know and understand Ryan’s pain and suffering. The conflict between gay and God is torturous. It’s ruined my life. Thank you for this story.

    • Oh, Jeff…your short message is breaking my heart. If you have time, look at the resources listed on my latest post…especially Justin Lee’s new book. It could be life-changing for you, Jeff…it was for me, and I am only a mom. I am praying for you today, my friend!

      • Yes I will do that. Thank you so much for the prayer Mrs Robertson. I can’t seem to talk to God anymore because I know how he disapproves of my life, but any intervention is greatly appreciated.

        • Oh, Jeff…I know it is easy for me to say, but still, hear me when I tell you that Jesus cares FAR MORE about the burdens and pain you are carrying than anything else! He is your father…and as a parent, I know that a good father (and God is the ULTIMATE Father) simply ADORES their child and aches for their sorrow. I will pray with you and for you…knowing that Jesus is IN LOVE WITH YOU, Jeff!

        • Now if only I could get that through my head….but I will try. Thank you again for your words, your prayer, support and the reference. But mostly, thank you so much for this story. It’s touched me in ways I cannot explain.

        • Jeff!!!! God does not disapprove of you or your sexuality. Ever try to change your sexuality? You can’t and there’s a reason. God made you this way. It is instilled in you and it is who you were meant to be. Please don’t be down on yourself. I wasted so many precious years hating myself for who I thought I wasn’t supposed to be. Know that you are loved by the most high king and father. He wants you to be happy. Serve him and love him with all your heart. Love who he made you to love. Love a man who loves the lord also. I am praying for you my friend.

        • Hey Jeff,

          I won’t bore you with bible verses or anything, but I’ll share with you a paraphrase that brought my gay a** back into a loving, fabulous (and even somtimes tumultuous – because its the mark of healthy “dialogue” as opposed to “monologue”) relationship with the church or God or the universe or whatever you decide to call the gracious presence that binds us all together and keeps us alive.

          “Nothing done by you or to you can ever seperate you from the love that God has for you.”

          Read it again – – –

          “Nothing done by you or to you can ever seperate you from the love that God has for you.”

  38. Wow…Thank you guys for your concern and replies. I have tried to have both a Christian and a Gay life and the conviction is more than I can handle. It always comes down to one or the other for me. I try to serve God and ignore the gay and that works for a short time, but eventually I give in to my homosexual ways and then I feel so guilty that I can’t talk to God. If I try to live a gay life I constantly feel conviction for not following God and I can’t have a good relationship with a man either. It’s a vicious cycle. I don’t believe being gay is a sin, but I was raised Pentecostal and acting on the gay is wrong.

    • Jeff, as a straight Christian I know there is only so much I can say to help you, but acting on the way God created you is not wrong, you were made gay and that is what God wants you to be. I hope one day you will reconcile the way you are with how you view your faith, good luck in everything you do, and if you ever feel yourself slipping into depression, reach out. It doesn’t have to be family or even friends; if you feel like you cannot talk to anyone you know about your problems there are always people who will listen and try to help. Ethics and God both have no quarrel with who you are.

  39. Jeff!

    You can be both a follower of Christ and live in peace with how God made you. Look at the resources Linda has recommended, and they will help you find the people who will support you in your faith, and help you understand you do not have to give up your faith to be gay, and vice-versa. There are many, many, people like you; yes even Pentecostals 🙂 who will help show you the way to retain your faith and show you how you can be an ethical, moral, gay man at the same time. Please do me a favor and write to this blog again to let everyone know if you were able to find some assistance and how you are doing. So many of us have been where you are now in your life and it helps all of us when folks like you share your journey. There are countless thousands who have struggled like you describe. They are now in a happy place, full of the joy their faith brings and with the knowledge that they are loved and at peace with the way God made them. Please know that it does get better! And please keep those of us who read this blog up-to-date. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us. We all care.

    • Linda, Brad, Travis and Matthew. I’ve been thinking a lot about what all of you said since I wrote on Monday. I do believe that Jesus loves me, I just don’t believe He approves of the lifestyle. How could He when he writes that man with man and woman with woman is unnatural? I understand that sin is sin and He would love me anyway, but I can’t for the life of me live a gay life guilt free. I’ve tried for years. I have gone to Exodus International, got saved, water baptized and even shared my testimony on a radio show. But nothing has changed. I guess it’s my cross to bear. Someone please explain to me how to live a gay life guilt free and maybe I’ll finally have some peace.

      • Jeff, have you had a chance to read Justin Lee’s book, Torn? If not, please do…It will give you so much to think about…and so much to pray about. Love to you as you seek to hear His voice above ALL others.

      • Jeff….I wanted to add my 2 cents….I really don’t see being gay as a “lifestyle.” Its not like deciding you will wear a suit one day and jeans the next. Its part of who you are…you don’t choose it, it chooses you. I assume you mean by “lifestyle” that some people in the LGBTQ community frequent gay bars, party, do drugs, have casual sex, or do other things you believe are in conflict with your Christian beliefs or personal standards. And while everyone deserves love and respect, they do not represent all gay people….in fact, I would say that group is a minority. Really, none of my gay friends are like that, even non-Christians. You can choose the type of gay people you want to be around. And you know, many of the people closest to me are straight. That is not to say it couldn’t be the other way around. That is just how it has worked out for me. The main thing I would say to you is that there are whole groups of loving, caring, gay people, and specifically gay Christians who live ordinary lives, have normal dating habits, are drug and alcohol free, worship regularly, hold regular jobs, or who are in long term monogamous relationships. You might not even know they were gay if they didn’t tell you. What I’m saying is that accepting yourself as gay isn’t an either/or proposition. I think Justin Lee’s book TORN explores many things you will find helpful. I wish it had been around when I was in my teens! Read it all the way through, then let us know what you think. Please continue to stay in touch and best wishes as you learn to find the way that works for you. We care!

        • Thank you Brad….I feel like I’m clogging up this blog about when when it should be about Ryan. If you like, you can contact me privately.

      • Jeff Baby – I just wanna hug you and hold you so tight and squeeze all of that “stuff” you’ve been taught right out of you. YOU are exactly as our loving God created you to be. YOU are not and have not “chosen a lifestyle”. YOU are not a mistake, or any sort of anti-Christian. YOU are perfect, just as you are and I wish SO much that you could live into the beautiful life created for you.

        These feelings you have were installed in you by someone else or some culture. They are not from God and do not represent anything I know about our on true, loving, fabulous God of all things good.

        I’ll say it again, and I wish I could look you in the eye – “Nothing done by you, nothing done to you could ever, EVER seperate you from the love that God has for you.”

        Where do you live?? Come to church with me. I am SO priveleged to belong to a beautiful congregation, the Cathedral of Hope. We just happen to be the largest primarily GLBT church on the planet. One of the things we do here that makes me the most proud is save lives. Not a week goes by that we don’t get an email, a personal testimony, a Facebook post from people all over letting us know that the message we preach – that our God is one of extravagant grace, radical inclusion and relentless compassion – has opened the eyes of someone like you and they were able to walk out of the darkness of condemnation and into the full, vibrant, bright life intended for them.

        This is pretty COH’centric, but it’s also just folks, like you, who thought they were living a lie and were ashamed, but then learned that what they’d been taught about our loving, gracious God was just wrong – dead wrong.

        And then there are just bunches and bunches of sermons and stuff – The one that Shelley Hamilton preached about the “winds of change” on the weekend after the repeal of DOMA and Prop 8 is one pf my recent favorites.

        I’ve ranted long enough and will leave you alone now. I’ll close with this though. It’s one my faves to play in the morning, and well for cryin out loud its Whitney Houston, I’m a big homo and when you can get a little fusion of Whitney AND God…..

        One more time – “Nothing done by you, nothing done to you could ever, EVER seperate you from the love that God has for you.”

  40. I’m the parent of a gay son, 25. My husband and I told him that he will always be our son and that we love him just the same, but I’m ashamed to say I didn’t feel the same, I wanted him to change. I prayed for God to change him. I never told him this because I don’t want him to feel less than. We just don’t talk about who he sees in our weekly phone conversations, only his work, school, apartments and accomplishments. We see him only once a year now because he lives far away so it hasn’t been necessary to tell our friends, although I think some of them probably know. My husband can’t talk about it at all. He (my son) is a follower of Christ and was a leader in youth group, traveled a missionary etc. I just couldn’t understand it. I spoke with 2 Christian councilors. They both said that it was because of something someone did to him when he was young that God doesn’t create gays. It is not true and I know that. He was born gay and tried to be something he wasn’t, going to proms with dates, etc. But I couldn’t understand why he didn’t just turn away from it and chose God over this evil, dark, deviant way of life. I thought less of him for this weakness. I just found your blog because of his post on twitter and even while writing this realized that he must want me to read it. It must be difficult for him to live with the unspoken disappointment his dad and I have felt. Although I have not read all your posts yet, I am thankful for what you are doing. I have felt so alone for the past nearly 3 years since finding out. I cried through the letter to Ryan. You may save countless lives, and help heal hurting families because of this blog. I want to celebrate who my son is now. Not just his accomplishments, which are many, but his entire being, WHO he is. Thank you.

    • T…Thank you for sharing…Your humility and deep, deep love for your son is so beautiful! I think, often, our gay children reflect the grace and love of Jesus to US, in how they are patient with us as we learn how to truly reflect that love ourselves. Much love to you!

    • ‘Lady T’,,, I think we all understand what you’re saying, and yet your last sentance said it all.. we are who we are, and in my mothers words.. like it or lump it.. those who lump it will suffer.. I live in a muslim popluated country (indonesia) and hell I pay just for driving a motorbike! (women shouldnt do that). I say.. why the hell not. its in my blood, I’m happy.. let ME get on with it.. Ill say it again.. Let ME get on with it.. MY life.. No ones the same and nor will they be.. Give thanks to what we have, not what we wish it will be.. Amen
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  41. You are not murderers. Your religion is murderer. You unholy book is murderer. You are not forgiven till you support murderers. Your religion has persecuted LGBT community for millennia and continues to do so. Not just in christian countries, through out the world. Waves upon waves of suffering, depression and suicides all over the world are direct result of actions committed by your religion.

    If you have truly repented , you will abandon your vile religion and work for its eradication. As long as you continue to support Christianity and continue to call homophobic bible a holy book, you are supporting persecution and suffering of people like your son. Your son realised that your religion is evil, it is religion of hate, that is why he left it. Still you continue to propagate that evil. As long as you continue to support evil religion that killed him, his death is waste.

    • Akshay, respectfully, I do not believe the Bible is homophobic. People often are, and can misuse the Bible to attack and persecute others, but Jesus Himself said He came into the world NOT to condemn the world, but to save it. When Ryan stopped using drugs, he not only reconciled with our family, but with God, as well. I am so sorry – you must have had such horrible experience

    • Akshay – Respectfully, I disagree that the Bible is a homophobic book. PEOPLE can be homophobic, and misuse the Bible to persecute others. But Jesus Himself said He came into the world not to condemn us, but to save us.
      When Ryan stopped using drugs, he reconciled with God and with us.
      “Religion” did not kill Ryan, Akshay. Addiction did.
      Lastly, if it wasn’t for our faith, we would not have the strength or courage to speak out and share our story now…it is much too painful doing so. And Ryan’s life and death were NOT a waste. God has showed us that over and over again.

  42. Your story has truly moved me. I realize what an enormous courage and selflessness you and your husband and even your whole family must have. I have an enormous respect for you who are an inspiration. Don’t listen to the haters.
    I was raised between Christian and a catholic families. Yet I have doubted the existence of God the more I educate myself and learn about the world. A part of me wants to believe this fairy tale as someone mentioned and another tells me to be cynical. There have been many times in which I have believed. Religion I know now is not for everyone. I try to defend lgqbt and also the theory of evolution inside of the church but it seems useless at times.
    I think religion is a beautiful thing in theory, and can aid but also harm. Does it aid more than harm? To some I believe, yes. It can be used as a tool to live a moral and purposeful life. But I am afraid that if it is all true and there is a omnipotent being, then I will be castigated and doomed. But I try to be a humane and moral individual everyday. Even if I do follow the Christian path with the exception of worshipping a deity, is that a sin? Will I be reprimanded? This I think is an unfair concept. But I do commend you for your efforts and accomplishments, I am aware that following this path is to some easier than to others.
    Thank you for your time.
    May the force be with you.

  43. Thank you so much for sharing your heart wrenching story. Ryan must have been an amazing son and you both have so hit me and my parents with your story. I was searching
    FaceBook this evening and all I can say is “My deepest sympathy goes out to you both.” I sincerely wish my parents would feel the same. There are times I want to do whatever to get out of their lives. Bless you both and once again, I am sincerely sorry for your loss.

  44. Linda & Rob,
    I have a wonderful friend who is struggling with parents who are not accepting of her sexuality. She was brought up in a Christian home and is wrestling with some of the same issues your son did. Her mother has even gone so far as to tell her she is being controlled by the devil! Yikes! I read your story and felt I needed to send it to her so she could use it as a tool to help her family. She emailed me this morning, telling me that she was in tears after she read about Ryan. She is looking for courage to send his story to her parents. I wanted to thank you for being so transparent and telling Ryan’s story. It could help so many more people than you could possibly imagine. I am glad you had the time to reconcile with Ryan. God bless your family. I hope knowing that your story is helping others is giving you some type of comfort. – Dawn

  45. Hi Linda,

    Thank you so much for sharing so many personal, intimate details of your life with us. I am a 27 year old bisexual woman, who is a proud member of the LGBTQ community. On the day that DOMA and Prop 8 were overturned, I decided that I could no longer hold in my need to tell my mother that I am bisexual. I wanted to tell her because we are close, and because I love her, not because I want to gush about girls or bring home a woman to the next family gathering. I knew that my mom would not disown me or stop loving me, but she and I have different political viewpoints, and she is Christian (I have my own ideas, but am supportive of all religious and spiritual walks of life). I am really not 100% sure where she stands on gay marriage, or homosexuality as portrayed in the Bible; but I do know that she understands being gay is not a choice. All in all, she said she was fine with it, and that she loved me. However, she sounded very disappointed, and seems to have a lot of misconceptions about bisexuality, as do many people, even in the LGBTQ community (I always say we’re the oddballs of the gay community). We did not get to have a long, extended, face to face conversation, and I regret that. When I bring anything up (for example going to PRIDE, which is something she’s known for a long time that I’m passionate about), she quickly changes the subject to something more neutral. Even though I know she loves me, it deeply hurts me that she does not want to talk about or acknowledge the fact that I am bisexual. My mother is the most supportive parent, and had this been any other issue, she would have acknowledged how hard it must have been to work up the courage to tell her, and tried to help me in any way I could to work through any issues I may have. I’m not asking her to join PFLAG or march next to me in a parade, I just want her to talk about it, or ask me about it. When I came out, I told her she could ask me anything she wanted, be it today, tomorrow, or 6 months from now, but it feels like she’s pretending I never said anything. I understand that she has her own life and struggles, be it with her job, our family, her faith, my sexuality, or whatever it may be- but I feel empty inside as long as she shuts the door on that issue. As a Christian, as a mom, as a woman, do you have any advice for me as to how I can bring this up to her, or deal with these feelings of her indifference? It was hard enough to pick up the phone and call her the first time, I am wondering if I am even able to do it again. Any words of wisdom are so appreciated. Your son’s life was a beautiful one, but more importantly, so is yours. I cannot thank you enough for being a source of love and support for so many people out there.


    • Cait…wow…you are amazing. My hunch is that your mom is NOT uninterested…she probably is just in process, and needs some time to work through her own thoughts and feelings. I could be wrong, but from how you describe your mom, that is what seems most likely. Perhaps she needs other Christian moms with kids in the LGBTQ community to talk with? I, and other moms, have found this to be incredibly helpful. I will message you privately about that, my friend.
      Lastly, you are a BEAUTIFUL person and daughter…I love the way you have taken such risk to lean into your relationship with your mom.

  46. Omg, I almost balled when I saw Rob kissing Ryan while in the hospital bed and then the photo of Rob kissing Ryan as a child. I wish more Dad’s were like him, because my Dad never did that with me (I suspect he assumed I might have been gay as a child and wanted to toughen me up?). I wanted it badly (affection from my Dad) and can honestly say I was searching for a father figure all my life (in other men) and never finding it because most wanted just to sleep with me (sometimes gay life can be sad). Thank you for the video, Linda and Rob. It’s beautiful.

  47. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank you for sharing your experience. Because, while I realize that personally I might not find it “enough”, and I do have my own criticism of it, it must have been a truly brave step to make from your position. For that, I applaud you.

    What I don’t understand is why you’re still Christians, after you’ve experienced first-hand what damage it can cause.

    I do understand having a deeply spiritual inner life. I have one, despite not belonging to any organized religion or sect. I don’t understand still belonging to one that poisons people’s views on a large scale, to such an extent that it ruins people’s lives.

    At what point do you give up trying to change a rotted system from within? With Christianity, it’s even more difficult, because different churches and sects will have different interpretations and approaches. When there are so many fundamentalist and backwards views adding to the body of Christianity, how do you justify belonging to the same thing?

    In the end, you’re the one making the choice. From interpreting something in the Bible this way or another way entirely, to actually acting the way your conscience tells you to, or not. Everything is your own personal choice. Even deciding which book or religion is the right one, despite how many “credentials” it might seem to have.

    Frankly, I hate how popular opinion is polarized between the two extremes of Christianity and atheism, because it dumbs down any sentient discourse and makes it look like there are no third options. Trust me, there are many. To be true to yourself, and your own conscience, would be the main one.

    I guess, maybe you’re trying not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It would be insane to suddenly become atheists, even with something this horrible happening. But there is no clear formulated system to belong to, that would let you keep those things you still find good. There are people who have been pushed to search for something else, for themselves. People like your son, or like myself, who could not find peace in what was offered. I should say that a tragedy like this might push one in a similar way, but apparently it doesn’t. And that is the crux of my bafflement with the story you share.

    • Rasselas, you have got my number! I am DEFINITELY trying not to throw the baby – JESUS – out with the bathwater. I, along with many friends, am VERY uncomfortable with much of conservative, evangelical subculture. However, blogs like Rachel Held Evans, books like Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer, and pastor friends who also despise the wrong that has been done in Christ’s name, but who are REALLY living out trying to be like Jesus…all these have helped me hold on to my faith. Oh, and a GREAT psychologist and spiritual director.
      Most of all, though, it has been God – speaking to me and working in our lives in undeniable ways, faithfully, for years. He has never abandoned us, even when many in the church did.

      Thanks for your honest thoughts and questions…I really appreciate how kind and gracious you are!

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