First, the Questions
I have been thinking a lot about what I would do differently if I knew, back when Ryan was 12, what I know now. I have been asked that question quite often, and it is a good one. But I’d really like to hear your thoughts…if you are an LGBTQ “child,” here are a couple of questions for you:
1. What was the most painful thing that you remember hearing after you came out to your parents?
2. What would you have most wanted them to say? What did you need to hear?
I’d be honored to hear your answers, and I think they’ll be helpful for all the parents who read this blog, as well.
Next, the Invitation
Rob and I are honored and excited to let you know that we’ve been asked to speak at the GCN (Gay Christian Network) Conference that will be held in Chicago, from January 9 – January 12, 2014. We would LOVE to have you join us there!
The GCN Conference is for anyone in the LGBTQ community who loves Jesus as well as for parents/allies who want to learn how to better come alongside their LGBTQ family and friends. It will be a great time to worship, learn, make new friends and to hear each other’s stories. If you’d like more details or want to register, go to GCNconf.com – It is all there!
52 responses to “Two Questions and an Invitation…”
I guess the most painful thing for me was finding books that my mother purchased, about “fixing your homosexual child”. I was already struggling in the knowledge that it was a sin in the churches eyes, but to know that my parents basically thought that I was mentally ill was crushing. I spent the next 20 years hiding every aspect of my life from my parents, and moved away so that I could live my truth.
Tracy…It had never occurred to me, as a straight mom, that finding a book about “fixing” you would communicate that you were mentally ill…but it makes TOTAL sense. No wonder you hid your life from your parents. Thank you so very much for sharing.
I think initially the most painful thing was a great big ball of things. It hit me like a bomb. I was pained by the fact that he had dealt with this by himself for 12 yrs, that he had thought of taking his own life, that he believed he was going to Hell. We held him and cried with him, we assured him of our love for him and that we would journey with him. We kept our dark thoughts and doubts to ourselves (he was tortured enough already) I also told him that if he was going to hell that I was 3 steps ahead of him because he is one of the most loving, Godly and gracious people I know.
I love what you said, Amy…You are a model for so many of us!
I wish you well at the conference. There’s no way I can afford to go to Chicago, but I trust that the conference will contribute to a lot of healing. I’m anxious to hear replies to your questions.
Me, too, Sheila! Thanks so much for being such a wonderful addition here…you are so very, very valued!!
1. From my dad: “You can’t be gay, because if you were gay that would mean I was a terrible father, and I know I haven’t been a terrible father.” From my mother: “I hate it (me being gay.) You are living a life of deception.” Also from my mother: “I don’t want to ever see you. I just want to see you on Christmas. Other than that, you can get out of our family, because you clearly care nothing about us – you only care for yourself.” (this was after I came out of the closet.)
2. I think I needed to hear them say that the fact that I am their son is more important to them than me being gay. I also *really* want them to tell me that they will love and accept whomever I love, but I’m not sure that will ever happen.
Stephen…I can’t imagine how much that must have hurt, because you are such an incredibly caring person…such a deeply loving person. My heart hurts reading this.
Ouch. Stephen, that was really painful to read. Thank you for sharing. I hope you recognize deep down in your soul that what you wanted to hear was, in fact, the best, most Christ-like thing your parents could have said. And also, I hope that your parents come around, and that if you do choose to love another man, that they love him too 🙂
I can’t wrap my mind around the idea that parents would be so cruel to their gay children. I just don’t get it. If either of my children had been gay, I would have continued to love them just as they were. I hope you are able to find some peace in your life. No matter what happens with your parents, you have a heavenly Father who adores you. He is walking with you through the pain. I wish I could give you a hug.
1. My parents told me they did not want to know or hear about “that part of my life” and I could never bring any gay friends or boy friends to their home. This told me they did not want to know or understand me as I moved through the rest of my life, as my sexuality cannot be seperated from who I am.
2. I wanted to hear them say that they did not understand, but would work to understand by asking questions of me and taking an interested in me, my life, and my friendships.
Oh, Jerry…I didn’t realize that they responded so hurtfully. Have they changed over the years? If not, they sure are missing out on one incredible person…we’ve been so blessed by your friendship! You have taught us so very, very much!
If I may go a bit off-topic here, I’d like to discuss what I believe ALL parents should do, whether they have a gay child or not.
No parent knows if their child is gay or straight. Parents assume their children are straight until they learn otherwise. What if parents were to start with the realization that they might have a gay child. Perhaps they wouldn’t say things like, God hates gays. Perhaps they wouldn’t say demeaning things about gay people, knowing that their own child might take their contempt for people like him to heart.
Parents want what’s best for their children, and when they think they might have a child who is autistic, for instance, they try to educate themselves about autism and learn about ways they can help their child achieve their full potential. Even before they become parents, most people educate themselves about things like autism, just in case. If parents had the same attitude about homosexuality, a lot of unnecessary suffering could be prevented.
Even if your child is not gay, raising him or her in a way that respects gay people will reduce the number of bullies who make the lives of gay people a living hell. Children adopt their parents’ beliefs, at least until they are of an age to think for themselves, and a parent’s contempt for homosexuals will give their child license to persecute the objects of their parents’ contempt. Because contempt says, You are not worthy of respect.
At the very least, let us teach our children to respect others and the way others choose to live their lives. Respect does not say, I approve of you. It says, I have no right to judge you.
You make such important points, Catherine. Have you been judged, and treated with contempt?
Linda, every gay person has been judged and treated with contempt. It’s the air we breathe. A day does not go by but that I hear some natural disaster blamed on gay people. During the election, the rhetoric of Republicans was toxic for gay people. I live in California, and during the campaign for Prop 8 (that took marriage away from gay people) I saw lawn signs, Yes on 8. It made me feel unwelcome in my own town. One friend called those signs, Our tombstones.
Hearing the constant drumbeat of hate is exhausting. We have to constantly shore up our self-esteem to counter it. It is demoralizing to hear yourself demeaned and condemned day after day. Yes, we understand that those people are mostly ignorant and have no idea the harm they are doing. But still the harm is done.
I suggest following the Gay Voices section of the Huffington Post, or even check out the stories in the Advocate. Both are online. You might get an idea of what the lives of gay people are like in America.
Catherine…yes, you are so right…the constant hatred is harmful and exhausting and horrible…even if those who spread it don’t realize the harm they are doing.
I love this! Unfortunately I learned it too late. No matter how our children turn out, it is important that they know their home is a sanctuary. When they are young, their minds are so malleable and they take in everything they hear. Guess what? They hear quite a bit more than you think. So many times I have had to apologize and eat the words I so carelessly threw around when my kids were little. Thankfully I have a good relationship with them now. Parents, please don’t perpetuate any hateful ideas against anyone, no matter what. Your kids are listening. If they hear love, acceptance, and respect, that’s how they will turn out.
Love you point that parents shouldnt assume they’re child is straight until told otherwise!
Omg I thousand percent agree. Would have been way easier for me
After coming out to my parents, though several days of arguing and crying, my dad basically told me that if this was the “lifestyle” I wanted, then he did not want me to bring it around him or his house. My mom was convinced I had been molested as a child and was certain I was going to die of some horrible disease, alone and miserable.
However, worse than what my parents said, was what they did. My parents decided their “status” in the church and amongst their friends was more important than their love for me, and as a result, the whole topic was never discussed, and my parents told no one about it, out of embarrassment and fear. In order to see my parents, I attended family events and holidays alone, often leaving my partner with friends or members of his family. It was an a topic we did not discussed and it made me feel less than a whole person.
Thankfully, after many years, we are beginning to mend the relationship, and work on reconnecting. As we work toward forgiveness, more than anything, I want to hear “I am sorry”.
Woah. Chip…it is powerful to hear that their actions hurt even more than their words. That their choice not to embrace you fully, because of what their friends might think, did such harm. I think we all, as straight parents, need to hear that. I know I did.
When I came out, I heard from my father, “Your mother died last year, and you died today!” I would like to have heard…I love you no matter what!
Those words are beyond cruel…and so far beyond painful I don’t have words for them. 😦
Posted this on your FB page, but posting here for anyone who might benefit and be encouraged .. GOD has not forgotten a single one!!
Most painful of all to read in a letter received on October 13, 2001 was that because of my “unacceptable lifestyle” it would only cause pain for all of us if I were to come to Oregon for my annual visit. That killed my heart really badly, and I wasn’t young when it happened. I did go back at my insistence (though there was no room for me to stay with the family .. I stayed in a motel), and as I was looking at the wall where all the family photos were (and mine had been removed and destroyed), my mother said quietly that “they are gone .. but you are still in my heart”. That whole incident completely changed my life, for the better I suppose, but ultimately it has meant no communication with my family at all. I am no longer part of any fundigelical church, though I am still a Christian and God has blessed me most wonderfully with a faith community that is my “family of choice”.
As I said on FaceBook, Will, it astounds me that you didn’t lose your faith completely after that…reading about your pictures being destroyed did me in.
And I love your word, “fundigelical”…I now know what kind of church I was raised in!
My heart aches for you and all who have had similar experiences. My son is gay and his Dad and I have said to him many times how much we love him, want he and his partner to visit etc and yet he rarely return our emails, texts, phone calls etc. I’ve asked for fogiveness for hurtful things I might have said before we knew he is gay and yet never get acknowledgement that he will forgive me. I can’t know exactly how it feels to be rejected by your parents but I know how much it hurts for our son to reject us. Grace is needed for all.
Praying for you right now, my friend.
This is why I constantly harp to people, Don’t assume your child is heterosexual. When you speak about gay people, keep in mind that you may be speaking about your own child.
Gay people are the only minority who can’t assume that they have support at home. An African-American child almost always goes home to people who know what it’s like to be African-American in this country, but a gay child is usually more fearful at home than anywhere else, because so many of us lose our families when they find out about our sexuality. It is estimated that 20 to 40% of homeless youth are LGBT kids rejected by their parents. Most become homeless at the age of 13 or 14. Imagine being 14 years old and all alone in the world.
All I can say to people like Anonymous above is, Try to understand how much pain your son has endured, not only at home, but from the world at large. It may be that he cannot risk one more hurt from you.
We need to hear, I’m sorry. But we also need to know you mean it. Do you still attend the homophobic church where your son heard that he was an abomination? Have you made it clear to your family and friends that bashing gays is not OK with you? If you still fear the judgment of others, how will your son believe that you will defend him against those others?
You could demonstrate your change of heart by joining Pflag (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). And by helping other parents come to terms with their gay children, you may find answers you need for yourself. How about taking an active part in working for LGBT causes?
How about working for a world in which everyone is accepted and respected, as Linda says, just because they breathe.
Great insights, Catherine. There are some GEMS in there.
For evangelical Christian parents, PFLAG doesn’t always feel like a safe place. That is why we’ve started a private parents group here…and we praying that we can continue our partnership with GCN, to provide more safe groups for Christian parents who want to truly love their LGBTQ child, while staying rooted to their faith.
I’m a boy, live in Asia and I might never do such a “coming out” because the stigma in here to gay is really taboo, i feel my burden heavier year by year because I was forced to get married, I dunno what should I do, I will not happy and I’ll become a liar if i marry someone that I dont “trully love, any suggestion ? I’m so desperate
Linda said: For evangelical Christian parents, PFLAG doesn’t always feel like a safe place.
I would hope that Christian parents could find the courage to risk being in a place that doesn’t feel accepting and welcoming, given that that’s where their children have been living all their lives.
How many times must I say this. WE DO NOT FEEL SAFE IN AMERICA. I live in California, a relatively safe place, and I have been made to feel unsafe, even here. I was once offered a job in another state–an excellent job–and my first thought was, Will I be safe there? How many of you folks reading this have to worry about being safe in an American state or city because of who you are?
I’ve never known a PFLAG parent to criticize anyone’s religious or spiritual beliefs, unless those beliefs are harmful, and in that case, they should be challenged.
To be completely frank with you, if I were a young gay person whose parents avoided mainstream groups like PFLAG and instead joined something with the word “christian” attached to it, I would believe that my parents still felt homosexuality was sinful. It might be helpful for the parents to be in such a group, but it does not witness love to the child.
Catherine, respectfully, I don’t agree. Our kids must know that we want to learn to love them without reservation. But the gay Christians I know are EXTREMELY respectful of their parents’ faith. They aren’t asking their parents to reject Christ. None of them felt comfortable at PFLAG. But these parents ADORE their kids – and their kids’ partners.
There is NOTHING about the group of parents I am working with that is safe…their lives aren’t easy, either. I am not saying that as parents we deal with anything as severe as what our kids do, but many, many parents are cut off from their churches, they lose friends and family members, and their parenting is questioned – all because they have a gay child who they love. Please try to have respect and compassion for the needs of parents, Catherine. If we don’t try to meet them where they are at, we won’t make progress in attempting to reconcile families and in helping parents love their kids – gay, straight or otherwise – just because they breathe.
Linda, your job is ministering to the needs of those parents. Mine is to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves, either because they’re too angry or too injured.
I have yet to hear a definitive, We believe that homosexuality is perfectly acceptable to god, on this site. I think you aren’t definitive about it because you don’t want to alienate the parents who can’t let go of their conviction that homosexuality is sinful. Please let me know if I’ve missed something.
One thing that is SO damaging to gay people, especially to their spiritual life, is this: We know we are born gay; it is an integral part of who we are. When we are taught that god hates us, we understand that to mean that god made me something he then finds unacceptable. No one can respect, let alone worship, a god who creates you and then condemns you for the way he created you. That would feel like the devil to me, and I believe that’s the source of much of your son’s anger at god. How dare you reject me for the way you created me! And even worse, how dare you command me to love and then condemn me for loving!
When parents try to love and accept their gay child, while still believing that child is ‘in sin’, that belief is the poison pill in a spoonful of honey. It feels worse than complete rejection. And though the honey may be sweet, the poison will still kill you. For many of us, ‘christian’ means hateful, condemning, self-righteous people who have fought our every attempt to live a reasonable life.
No gay child wants their parent to reject christ or whatever god they believe in, but you can still be a faithful christian and give up your belief in the sinfulness of others. The answer is right there in the new testament, if christians would just bother to take it to heart. Don’t judge. Love people. Respect people whom the world rejects. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
One good thing I was taught when I was part of a christian community: god has a plan for my life, and my only responsibility is to discover what that plan is and follow it. No one knows what god’s plan is for another person’s life, not even their own child’s. For those who would counsel gay people to be celibate, what if that isn’t god’s plan for that person? What if god made that person just the way he or she is and intends for that person to find love with someone of the same sex, which is why the person was created gay in the first place? No one ever thinks of that, do they? What if those who impose their judgment of homosexuality on others are actually interfering in god’s plan?
I think it takes an immense amount of self-righteous arrogance to think you know better than god the way someone else should live their life.
Catherine, I couldn’t agree more that it is not our job to judge – God can take care of that when/if it is needed. I’ve tried to be clear about what we believe – https://justbecausehebreathes.com/2013/07/06/so-what-do-you-really-believe/. But if you want something more clear, we don’t think any of our LGBTQ friends are in sin unless God has convicted them of it…if HE has, then we’ll support them in being obedient to what He has called them to. But for those who feel peace with God, or for those who aren’t Christians, we don’t secretly think they are living in sin, no. Hope this helps clarify things! Have a good weekend, Catherine!
Please understand that while I appreciate what you do on behalf of gay people here in America, you do not speak for me. I cannot understand why it’s so important to you that these people to come out with a mission staement that proclaims “We endorse homosexuality”. If they reach only one christian parent who has a gay child, and can remind them to love their child unconditionally, then that is enough for me. As a gay woman that grew up in a Quaker household, I would have given the world for someone who could reach out to my parents and relay this message.
I cannot understand why it’s so important to you that these people to come out with a mission statement that proclaims “We endorse homosexuality”.
I think you misunderstand what I am saying. I am not asking them to do anything other than what they are doing, which is having a serious discussion that will change people’s lives. Most of my comments are directed at parents who have posted here. Several parents have said things like, why can’t my child meet me half way, why can’t my child understand my pain, how can I reconcile what I believe about homosexuality with the fact that my child is gay. Those are the questions I am trying to address.
Catherine, for a lack of time and because i am a straight forward person, i wont use diction to put it lightly about how i find your posts. they are super annoying, self righteous, judgemental, accusatory, preachy and, well to sum it up, hypocritical. i know tone gets cut out from writing, so i hope you know, i am not saying this in a mean spirited way-just gettin to the point. you definitely dont speak on behalf of me as a gay adult nor would i want you to speak on my behalf, nor should it be your `job.` you are guilty of the very thing that you are accusing straight parents of gay children. i dont think it be effective to tell a parent of a gay child to go to a PFLAG to know how it feels to be out of your comfort zone, nor do i think it is right to tell parents that they have to give up their personal convictions and not recognize homosexuality as sin in order to know that i am loved. my family still agrees that it is sin.. i dont care.. but they SURE AS HELL love me, and that is what counts. seems like you are just fighting bitterness with bitterness or anger with agner? that strategy is never gonna be effective to bringing love and acceptance to a resolve. there are a lot of things i dont agree with my gay and straight and whatever friends about, yet my love for them is immutable, nor would i want them to ever feel uncomfortable in a place they wouldnt feel comfortable. dont get too pissed. i am just sayin.
I am a christian and I am gay. For what its worth…I know you have been through a lot .. we all have..it almost sounds like you are arguing with the choir. The Robertson’s are on our side and I know you’ve been hurt by well meaning people.. I can hear it in your “voice” .. but theses are not the people to “argue” with.
I hear what you are saying..but these grieving parents are like Santa Clause coming to town..try to accept the gifts they are bring to our community and
Let go of whatever feelings you are holding on to..perhaps post a personal blog. Through their tragedy..God has opened a door for them to speak to others…let the gift flow.
Catherine. .I am sorry for your pain. GOD DOES LOVE YOU..just the way you are.
I JUST CAME OUT TO MY FAMILY THIS YEAR . ALTHOUGH ALL OF MY FAMILY TOLD ME THEY LOVED ME (THANK YOU, LORD), THE RESPONSE WAS MIXED AND SOMEWHAT PAINFUL. I CAME OUT TO MY FAMILY IN A MASS EMAIL THAT OFFERED TO MEET WITH EACH PERSON INDIVIDUALLY TO SHARE AND DISCUSS. IT WAS TOO HARD EMOTIONALLY TO HAVE THE COMING OUT CONVERSATION MANY TIMES. MY DAD WAS VERY LOVING AND ACCEPTING. HE TOLD ME HE LOVED ME UNCONDITIONALLY. ALTHOUGH HE DOESN’T TALK ABOUT IT, NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN HOW HE SEES OR TREATS ME. MY MOM’S RESPONSE WAS A BIT PAINFUL, HOWEVER. SHE SENT ME A TWO SENTENCE EMAIL SAYING SHE LOVED ME AND THAT SHE NEW IT WAS HARD FOR ME TO SHARE, BUT NEVER SPOKE TO ME ABOUT IT. I SAW HER THE SAME DAY I SENT THE EMAIL, AND IT WAS IF I HAD SAID NOTHING. I CAME OUT TO HER LAST YEAR, AND SHE HAS NEVER MENTIONED IT. OVERALL, I AM SO BLESSED MY FAMILY LOVES ME, BUT I KNOW IT WOULD BE TOUGH ON SOME OF THEM IF I EVER CHOSE TO DATE. I SUPPOSE I JUST WANTED TO HAVE MY MOM MOVE PAST HER DISCOMFORT TO ASK ME QUESTIONS AND LISTEN. IT MAKES THE THOUGHT OF EVER DATING AND BRINGING SOMEONE TO MEET THE FAMILY DIFFICULT. IT IS TOUGH TO NEVER HAVE DATED AS A RESULT OF FEAR OF CONDEMNATION AND TRADITIONAL CHURCH TEACHINGS ON HOMOSEXUALITY. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT MANY IN THE CHURCH AT LARGE HAVE AN EASY TIME OF TELLING GAY MEN AND WOMEN TO LIVE ALONE IN CELIBATE FASHION, BUT NEVER OFFER SUPPORT OR UNDERSTANDING AS TO HOW DIFFICULT THAT IS. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT MY MOM THINKS OF MY COMING OUT. DID SHE THINK I WAS GAY EARLY? DID SHE EVEN KNOW? HOW DOES IT MAKE HER FEEL? I KNOW SHE LOVES AND ACCEPTS ME, BUT IT FEELS LIKE I AM A LITTLE KID AGAIN, AND THAT I HAVE BEEN ABANDONED EMOTIONALLY BECAUSE THE TOPIC IS UNCOMFORTABLE FOR HER. IS SHE DISGUSTED BY IT? EMBARASSED? I CHOOSE TO FOCUS ON HER MESSAGE OF LOVE, DESPITE THE PAIN THAT FOLLOWS.
I love what you mentioned earlier along the lines of loving and supporting your child whether they be 12 or 49. I never got the chance to actually come out to my parents because a family member I got brave enough to tell outed me to my whole family. She asked me if I had been molested, and told me this was just a form of mental illness that could be cured with help. I didn’t come out until I was 34. I tried my best to live the life that was expected of me although I was so miserable that I felt like I was dying inside. My mother confronted me right around my 39th birthday over the phone. She told me she was going to pray for me until her dying day if that’s what it took for me to live right. She said I was one step better than a pedophile. This stemming from the fact I had come into the place she worked to get my boyfriends driver license renewed, and I suppose she was horrified that he was 12-13 years my junior. She told me not to bring any guy like that into her home, and a few other things I’ve just tried to forget. I asked her not to try and pray me back into a life of misery, that I have lived my life long enough to know I cannot live with the conflict inside me any longer…I have to do what feels right to me. My parents are divorced so my father had his own opinion. He said he doesn’t understand it, and he isn’t to sure he agrees with it but I am his son and always will be and that’s all that matters. He has since always accepted whoever I was dating.
My dad’s response was ok in my eyes, especially after my mom’s. I commend him in many ways for at least trying. My mom and I didn’t speak for 3 years after until she called me out of the blue at Christmas and said my brother was in town and it would be nice if I could stop by and see him. I did, and it was very awkward between my mom and I at least. I was hoping for maybe a little more from her in the off chance she had reconsidered her views or something. I however wasn’t going to turn a deaf ear to some show of effort. I since stop and see my mom every few months. She lives 10 mins from me so it’s nothing to brag about. Our relationship is strained. I cannot share my life with her because my life revolves around my current boyfriend who I have now been with just shy of six years. Our conversations are small talk about insignificant things that mean next to nothing. If I even remotely mention that my boyfriend and I did something fun on vacation or are looking at new houses it just gets an uncomfortable response like “oh” or “yeah”. Not being able to share my life and be a part of family functions makes me feel alone like I have no family. I would have gladly accepted a response from m y mom that she didn’t understand it but I’m still her son….I don’t see that every happening. Every child whether they be 4 or 47 desires to please their parents. We still seek approval and acceptance. Love should be unconditional. We share our lives with a small group of friends that is our true “family”.
Thanks for taking the time to share, Alan…your story so clearly shows why we can’t simply choose to “tolerate” those we love; that is, perhaps, more painful than outright rejection in some ways. So glad you and your partner have found family in your friendships!
My sister told me when I was young before I even knew what gay meant–in the 70’s – there was news on tv about it in France-“They (Queers) should all be hung up by their toenails and tortured to death. At the age of 17 I was being beaten by my mother for the gossip that was going around town—which wasn’t true— but it made me look into what everyone was speculating— I realized that it was true with the exception that I do not hate men but I am definitely more comfortable with women and do have an attraction towards them. Years later around the age of 24 I had broken up with my lover — or rather she had left me for another— and I was so broken that it came out with mom in the room— I told her I felt like I had just gone through a divorce—she said that I was worse than a dog.
What would I have liked to have heard– what I heard from my best friend’s mother and her dad— I know who you are and you are a very beautiful and loving person and I love you as my own. My parents are passed away but my sisters are still here– I wished that I could share with them my life- my tears , my joys, freely without fear. But I know what they will say– they have before— I’m possessed— I’m sick– I need help.
That’s not God’s plan for your life. You know better.
Jamie…thank you for sharing…even though what you have been through, what you HAVE heard, breaks my heart. 😦
I am sorry for the pain you have been through and are still going through.
Bless you, Jamie…you sound like the kind of person I would LOVE.
Thank you Linda that is nice to hear as I have been battling suicide myself today… Reading blogs like yours helps give a heart hope..that maybe there will be a better day. Maybe.
Linda… I made up the name Jamie Peters as a pen name so that I could freely write. Jamie…because often when I introduce myself thats what people hear…Peters because..the Lord said..when you return strengthen your brothers.
In the real world..90% of my friends and acquaintances are evangelical / pentecostal christians. I in the real world..also have a job that takes me all over the country. I have 2 face book accounts…one Tammy Ricks of East Dublin..diorama artist..missionary..the other I created under Jamie Peter 48 so that I could be friends with gay church..jim swilley and support sites and blogs that are worthy of attention….when jamie peters blogs or you or stephen or just a blond…jp shares it with tr so that it gets said and it is posted but im not receiving any hate mail yet. I’ve been doing this about a month… I needed an outlet to share my grief…it was through wordpress…I discovered sacred tension and you.
It has been my life support since my lover left over not wanting to lose her family..she is 63.
I say all this to because I would like for you to know me..even though we are prob the same age..I hear a mom…slowly the two pages of my life will become one but right now I am allowing you guys speak for me as I share your stories on Face book. You may look me up…. I need friends that know and accept all of me.
There was no further discussion after my coming out letter and no personal communication of any sort from my father (a Baptist pastor) since then. Silence and lack of acknowledgement can be just as painful as hateful words. I think ignoring your child is even more tragic than saying something awful, sometimes. We all put our feet in our mouths, hurt one another with words (by mistake and on purpose), say things we regret in the heat of the moment or when put on the spot. This is human. I don’t think it necessarily has to end the relationship, if we have the courage to keep working through the pain with our loved ones. As long as the conversation can continue, there is a possibility for reconciliation, forgiveness, understanding.
2) I wish I had heard (or received this message through their actions): “This is so hard for us and we don’t agree or understand, but we care about you enough to do the extremely uncomfortable work of learning to know and love you.” And also, “Can you tell me about your life? What you hold most dear and why? I would love to try to understand.”
Even after 10 years, I am still protecting my parents, so here I’ll just be “J.”
J…WOW. Rob and I are both in awe at the wisdom, insight and beauty of your words. Yes…if we continue to love each other enough to do the hard work of reconciliation it can produce such rewards. Your parents are clearly missing out on a relationship with an incredible human being. If I was your parent, I would be so very proud to have such a gracious and wise adult child.
I came out to my parents when I was 20 years old, though I knew years before that, when I was in high school. I tried dating men and, soon after that, got pregnant with my son, who I had when I was 19. I was 2 years into a 6-year enlistment in the Marine Corps when my son was born. I married because that’s what good Catholic girls did when they were with child. My son was about a year old when I met a woman who changed my life. I came barreling out of the closet, and to my surprise, received support from my husband. When I told my parents, however, it was a much different story. My stepmother told me that I should have kept it to myself and now that they knew, I was no longer welcome at home, for any reason. From my father there was just silence. He let my stepmother do the talking and refused to answer letters I wrote, asking for some kind of confirmation that he felt the same way. From my mother, I got the “Are you sure it’s not just a phase” but she has since become the sole accepting member of my family. Twenty-five years has passed since that time. I am 45 now and my son is a man. In August of 2012 my father passed away. Nobody called me. Nothing has changed. He spent the last two and a half decades shunning me, in complete silence. I received hate-mail from one of my step sisters in the first few years after I came out, saying things like my son was going to die of AIDS. On a positive note, marriage became legal in Washington State in 2012. In August of 2013, I married my partner of 4 years at the Unitarian Universalist Church near our home. My mother made the trip from the east coast to be there, and paid for a trip to the beach for us all after the wedding. It was seven years since I saw her last. Acceptance is a slow process, I suppose, but at least she got there.
The most painful thing I heard after coming out to my mom was silence: She did not reply, she did not speak, she did not write back. About a year after I came out, my mom had a heart attack and died alone in her home. I had not heard one word from her since I had come out.
What I wanted to hear was, “I love you.” That’s all. No condemnation, no guilt trips, no attempts to change my mind (as if this was a decision I took lightly or even something I could have chosen at all). I wanted to hear, “I love you.” I wanted to introduce her to my first girlfriend, who later became my fiancee, who is now my wife. I wanted to tell her about the cat we adopted from a shelter. I wanted to tell her about the scarf project we did to help homeless people be warm in the winter. I wanted to tell her that I was enjoying library school, that I really liked Harry Potter, that I was still building with LEGO even though I’m over thirty.
But I didn’t get to say any of that.
And I would give anything, ANYTHING, to have just one hour with her again so I could hear it: “I love you.”
Jenni…this TOTALLY made us cry. I want all those things for you…I am so very, very sorry that she died before you could reconcile with her, and hear what you needed to hear. And what you needed to share.
P.S. I LOVE your list of what you would have liked to tell her. I can tell I would adore you. AND you are a fabulous writer. You don’t live in Seattle, do you??