Just Because He Breathes

Just Because He Breathes

June 1, 2009 – 2nd Day of 17 Days in Harborview

On the night of November 20, 2001, a conversation held over Instant Messenger changed our lives forever. Our twelve year old son messaged me in my office from the computer in his bedroom.

Ryan says: can i tell u something
Mom says: Yes I am listening
Ryan says: well i don’t know how to say this really but, well……, i can’t keep lying to you about myself. I have been hiding this for too long and i sorta have to tell u now. By now u probably have an idea of what i am about to say.
Ryan says: I am gay
Ryan says: i can’t believe i just told you
Mom says: Are you joking?
Ryan says: no
Ryan says: i thought you would understand because of uncle don
Mom says: of course I would
Mom says: but what makes you think you are?
Ryan says: i know i am
Ryan says: i don’t like hannah
Ryan says: it’s just a cover-up
Mom says: but that doesn’t make you gay…
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: but u don’t understand
Ryan says: i am gay
Mom says: tell me more
Ryan says: it’s just the way i am and it’s something i know
Ryan says: u r not a lesbian and u know that. it is the same thing
Mom says: what do you mean?
Ryan says: i am just gay
Ryan says: i am that
Mom says: I love you no matter what
Ryan says: i am white not black
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: i am a boy not a girl
Ryan says: i am attracted to boys not girls
Ryan says: u know that about yourself and i know this
Mom says: what about what God thinks about acting on these desires?
Ryan says: i know
Mom says: thank you for telling me
Ryan says: and i am very confused about that right now
Mom says: I love you more for being honest
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: thanx

We were completely shocked. Not that we didn’t know and love gay people – my only brother had come out to us several years before, and we adored him. But Ryan? He was unafraid of anything, tough as nails, and ALL boy. We had not seen this coming, and the emotion that overwhelmed us, kept us awake at night and, sadly, influenced all of our reactions over the next six years, was FEAR.

We said all the things that we thought loving Christian parents who believed the Bible – the Word of God – should say:

We love you. We will ALWAYS love you. And this is hard. REALLY hard. But we know what God says about this, and so you are going to have to make some really difficult choices.

We love you. We couldn’t love you more. But there are other men who have faced this same struggle, and God has worked in them to change their desires. We’ll get you their books…you can listen to their testimonies. And we will trust God with this.

We love you. We are so glad you are our son. But you are young, and your sexual orientation is still developing. The feelings you’ve had for other guys don’t make you gay. So please don’t tell anyone that you ARE gay. You don’t know who you are yet. Your identity is not that you are gay – it is that you are a child of God.

We love you. Nothing will change that. But if you are going to follow Jesus, holiness is your only option. You are going to have to choose to follow Jesus, no matter what. And since you know what the Bible says, and since you want to follow God, embracing your sexuality is NOT an option.

We thought we understood the magnitude of the sacrifice that we – and God – were asking for. And this sacrifice, we knew, would lead to the abundant life, perfect peace and eternal rewards, even if it was incredibly difficult.

Ryan had always felt intensely drawn to spiritual things; He desired to please God above all else. So, for the first six years, he tried to choose Jesus. Like so many others before him, he pleaded with God to help him be attracted to girls. He memorized Scripture, met with his youth pastor weekly and went to all the youth group events and Bible Studies. He chose to get baptized and filled journals with his prayers. He read all the Christian books that explained where his gay feelings came from and dove into counseling to further discover the origin of his unwanted attraction to other guys. He worked through difficult conflict resolution with Rob and I and invested even more deeply in his friendships with other guys (straight guys) just like the reparative therapy experts advised.

But nothing changed. God didn’t answer Ryan’s prayers – or ours – though we were all believing with faith that the God of the Universe – the God for whom NOTHING is impossible – could easily make Ryan straight. But He did not.

Though our hearts may have been good (we truly thought what we were doing was loving), we did not even give Ryan a chance to wrestle with God, to figure out what HE believed God was telling him through scripture about his sexuality. We had believed firmly in giving each of our four children the space to question Christianity, to decide for themselves if they wanted to follow Jesus, to truly OWN their own faith. But we were too afraid to give Ryan that room when it came to his sexuality, for fear that he’d make the wrong choice.

Basically, we told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. We forced him to make a choice between God and being a sexual person. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime condemned to being alone. As a teenager, he had to accept that he would never have the chance to fall in love, hold hands, have his first kiss or share the intimacy and companionship that we, as his parents, enjoy. We had always told our kids that marriage was God’s greatest earthly gift…but Ryan had to accept that he alone would not be offered that present.

And so, just before his 18th birthday, Ryan, depressed, suicidal, disillusioned and convinced that he would never be able to be loved by God, made a new choice. He decided to throw out his Bible and his faith at the same time, and to try searching for what he desperately wanted – peace – another way. And the way he chose to try first was drugs.

We had – unintentionally – taught Ryan to hate his sexuality. And since sexuality cannot be separated from the self, we had taught Ryan to hate himself. So as he began to use drugs, he did so with a recklessness and a lack of caution for his own safety that was alarming to everyone who knew him.

Suddenly our fear of Ryan someday having a boyfriend (a possibility that honestly terrified me) seemed trivial in contrast to our fear of Ryan’s death, especially in light of his recent rejection of Christianity, and his mounting anger at God.

Ryan started with weed and beer…but in six short months was using cocaine, crack and heroin. He was hooked from the beginning, and his self-loathing and rage at God only fueled his addiction. Shortly after, we lost contact with him. For the next year and a half we didn’t know where he was, or even if he was dead or alive. And during that horrific time, God had our full attention. We stopped praying for Ryan to become straight. We started praying for him to know that God loved him. We stopped praying for him never to have a boyfriend. We started praying that someday we might actually get to know his boyfriend. We even stopped praying for him to come home to us; we only wanted him to come home to God.

By the time our son called us, after 18 long months of silence, God had completely changed our perspective. Because Ryan had done some pretty terrible things while using drugs, the first thing he asked me was this:

Do you think you can ever forgive me? (I told him of course, he was already forgiven. He had ALWAYS been forgiven.)

Do you think you could ever love me again? (I told him that we had never stopped loving him, not for one second. We loved him then more than we had ever loved him.)

Do you think you could ever love me with a boyfriend? (Crying, I told him that we could love him with fifteen boyfriends. We just wanted him back in our lives. We just wanted to have a relationship with him again…AND with his boyfriend.)

And a new journey was begun. One of healing, restoration, open communication and grace. LOTS of grace. And God was present every step of the way, leading and guiding us, gently reminding us simply to love our son, and leave the rest up to Him.

Over the next ten months, we learned to truly love our son. Period. No buts. No conditions. Just because he breathes. We learned to love whoever our son loved. And it was easy. What I had been so afraid of became a blessing. The journey wasn’t without mistakes, but we had grace for each other, and the language of apology and forgiveness became a natural part of our relationship. As our son pursued recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, we pursued him. God taught us how to love him, to rejoice over him, to be proud of the man he was becoming. We were all healing…and most importantly, Ryan began to think that if WE could forgive him and love him, then maybe God could, too.

And then Ryan made the classic mistake of a recovering addict…he got back together with his old friends…his using friends. And one evening that was supposed to simply be a night at the movies turned out to be the first time he had shot up in ten months…and the last time. We got a phone call from a social worker at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle asking us to come identify our son – that he had arrived there in a coma, in critical condition. We spent 17 days at Harborview, during which time our whole family was able to surround and love on Ryan. We experienced miracle after miracle during that time, things that no doctor had any medical explanation for. God’s presence was TANGIBLE in Ryan’s room. But that is a long, sacred story that I’ll have to tell another time.

Though Ryan had suffered such severe brain damage that he had almost complete paralysis, the doctors told us that he could very well outlive us. But, unexpectedly, Ryan died on July 16, 2009. And we lost the ability to love our gay son…because we no longer had a gay son. What we had wished for…prayed for…hoped for…that we would NOT have a gay son, came true. But not at all in the way we used to envision.

Now, when I think back on the fear that governed all my reactions during those first six years after Ryan told us he was gay, I cringe as I realize how foolish I was. I was afraid of all the wrong things. And I grieve, not only for my oldest son, who I will miss every day for the rest of my life, but for the mistakes I made. I grieve for what could have been, had we been walking by FAITH instead of by FEAR. Now, whenever Rob and I join our gay friends for an evening, I think about how much I would love to be visiting with Ryan and his partner over dinner. But instead, we visit Ryan’s gravestone. We celebrate anniversaries: the would-have-been birthdays and the unforgettable day of his death. We wear orange – his color. We hoard memories: pictures, clothing he wore, handwritten notes, lists of things he loved, tokens of his passions, recollections of the funny songs he invented, his Curious George and baseball blankey, anything, really, that reminds us of our beautiful boy…for that is all we have left, and there will be no new memories.  We rejoice in our adult children, and in our growing family as they marry…but ache for the one of our “gang of four” who is missing. We mark life by the days BC (before coma) and AD (after death), because we are different people now; our life was irrevocably changed – in a million ways – by his death. We treasure friendships with others who “get it”…because they, too, have lost a child.

We weep. We seek Heaven for grace and mercy and redemption as we try – not to get better but to be better. And we pray that God can somehow use our story to help other parents learn to truly love their children. Just because they breathe.

Linda Diane Robertson – Originally posted on FaceBook on January 14, 2013

**An updated presentation of our story, filmed at Northpoint Church in Atlanta, GA in May 2021, can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyThjXl7V0A

Note: If you’d like to see an example of the beautiful, gracious, loving soul who was the person of Ryan David Robertson, read the letter that he wrote to my husband, Ryan’s dad, on Father’s Day 2009, just 9 days before his accidental overdose. We’ve included a picture of the original letter, blown up into poster-size, which hangs in our bathroom to remind us of GRACE.

2,384 thoughts on “Just Because He Breathes

  1. Tammy Cariela

    It was in my bathroom, as I was getting ready for the day, that my 16 year old daughter told me she was gay. I can’t say that I handled it the way (in retrospect) that I wished I had. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth. First I dismissed it (I had had another daughter tell me this at one point in her life, it turned out to just be an attraction to that person, at that time — so you might forgive me that attitude), I told her that sexuality was flexible, and that we moderns are the first peoples to feel the need to definitively label things (and I still think that true, to a certain extent), I told her she was way to young to make such a decision, and I told her she was in rebellion to God (read her passages from scripture(cringe)). I told her, if it was true, she had had some time to reach that conclusion, and for me it was all new, so I was going to need time to process all of this. She cried, I cried. I stayed up that night and found for her websites from christian homosexuals that did a very good job of debating the issues, when I gave her the addys, she had no desire to look at them, at all. During the next week, I received emails from one of my daughter’s friends telling me how I should react — wrong. Then I received emails from the mother telling me what I should and should not feel, how I should and should not act — indescribably wrong (I was not very christian in what I told her to go do with herself. She literally knew next to nothing about me or my daughter).

    My daughter is now 21. She is a college student, and she lives with us. I don’t think we have a close relationship — I believe she may have something akin to asperberger’s, so her responses aren’t always what you would expect. We have what I call, an “unrequited love”. I tell her every time I see her that I love her, and hug her as frequently as I can catch her. I have met some of her girlfriends, and she has, for the most part, followed the rule of no hanky-panky in my house (her sisters all had the same rule with boys, so what’s fair for one is fair for all).

    So that’s the story, in a nutshell. I decided that instead of praying to God to change her sexuality, that I would pray for her salvation and growth in the Lord. If changing her sexuality was an outcome or not of that, so be it — but my main concern was for her salvation. She, for her part, is not a Christian. She seems to be involved with new-age thinking (tarot is a fascination for her). I still pray for her to accept the Lord. I don’t discuss her private life with her at all, nor do I preach. I pray. On the other hand, I do pray at dinner, and I listen to christian programs with her in the house (if they mention homosexuality, they get turned off). I told her that my faith is as essential to me as air, so she will have to accept me as I accept her. She had been baptized at about 14 — I had not forced her to be, she had approached me on the issue, so I am hoping that the seed is still there.

    The difficulty of all of this is for me. Ever since accepting that news, I have felt, in some small way, that I am walking on ground being actively shaken by an earthquake. Why me is the biggest question. I do not have adequacy for this, not at all. My faith is reminiscient of that famous poster of the cat hanging by one claw on a wire. In all fairness, it is not just this issue, but this issue has played a big part. I really can’t talk to anyone openly or honestly about all of this — my mother once told me I could not be a christian and her daughter, so she’s out — and her step-dad (although he loves me up one side and down another) is far more conservative than I, so that can be frustrating. We have moved so often, that I don’t have a home church, with a group of people who know me and my family. Could I have a suggestion of a safe place to discuss with people who are Christians who accept the Bible as divinely inspired (I cannot handle people who treat the bible like a cafeteria line, “I’ll have a little of this..no, I don’t like that..an extra portion of that”), but who are people devoted to God and also to their children?

      1. Dawn Tilford

        Your story has touched my soul to the core. My family has a very similar story, but in my case, I am the sibling: we have very Christian parents, 3 children, one of which, my brother, is gay. My sister and I knew my brother was gay in his late teens. When he came out to us, I was terrified for his safety (aids was a death sentence back then, and my sister was also very upset because, how could this be true?). He became suicidal, and knowing my parents would not be able to handle the fact he was gay, we turned to my aunt for assistance to help us. We were between He came out to my parent a few years later. My parents believed he was going thru a phase and being gay was evil. My brother is now in his forties, and unfortunately, I am the only family member who truly supports him. He speaks to my parents on occasion, but it is only niceties, nothing of substance. My parents never discuss with anyone, and have never mentioned the fact he is gay, though I’m sure some suspect it. Not that they should discuss he is gay, as it shouldn’t be anyone’s business, but what has happened is he is rarely mentioned, he is never invited to anything (for fear someone may suspect), etc… I have come to the same conclusion as you – love is more important than anything, and I fully support my brother and his partner. They are now married, and I stood up with them at their wedding. They are committed to each other and they love And believe in God. Is this wrong? Who am I to say? ,all I know is my faith is strong and God promises love and forgiveness for all. The church has been of no help with this issue, and sorry – turning my back on my brother is just not an option. For those people who are judging negatively, if you have not personally lived this experience, you can’t truly understand this. Can I please become part of your support group? Maybe I can slowly introduce my family to it one day, and perhaps we can all heal. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Michael James O'Neill

      Thank you both so very much …. Before I saw this video … I doubted all that had to do with God, as I am gay and 30 …. Fortunately my parents loved me from the start … My mum actually said to me at age 13 … We know you are gay, and that’s ok …. I have a gay uncle (mums brother) and I have been accepted. I am so sorry for your loss but at the same time I am so proud of you both for your realisation and acceptance. Goon on you both!

      I live in Tasmania the most southern state of Australia – word is certainly spreading far from your home town.
      That in itself is exciting.

      I was one of the lucky ones … By that I mean – not judged …. I went to a performing arts dedicated high school and my first boyfriend was at age 14. Currently I am happily with my current partner ben and I hope very much it lasts.

      I have read and been so used to the hate towards your faith from many a Facebook update and news article.
      This lead me to believe (as my parents do not follow any religion) that religion is bad.

      You chose you’re faith. … Good for you.
      Despite you’re loss I am so rewarded in the knowledge that in the end you realised that it’s ok to have a gay child. It is not a choice…….why would anyone choose to be attacked and persecuted and even killed ….. That is just silly.

      I think I wrote it before ……… But I am so proud of you both stranger to strangers for being now open, and understanding and …. You have raised a valid point and are supporting a community that will obviously give back three fold knowing that you are doing so.

      Thank you for changing my perspective,

      Xxxxx good luck and love

    2. Karene Arundell (@Karene_Arundell)

      From a “grown-up child’s point of view”… I am female, straight, do not believe in God or religion, but I do believe in being understanding to others. I also believe that your daughter is keenly aware of the fact that you deep down don’t approve of her lifestyle, hence the “unrequited love”. Whether God rules our world or not, there is one standard rule everyone can agree on: your child’s life is precious and how you choose to carry out a relationship with them is up to you (and later also up to the child, as they become an adult). I don’t believe in tarot either, but if a child or sibling or family member took that up, I wouldn’t degrade them for it. (Even if you haven’t said, “I disapprove of this tarot business” she knows you disapprove of it, trust me. A person of 21 knows a lot more about what their parents think of their every move, so she will know you disapprove of this. She’s not doing it to bait you, I’m not saying that, only that she would be intelligent enough to have a FULL understanding of your entire belief system on all topics, as she grew up in a household based on this belief system. Children understand what their parents want to say to them before the words come out, most of the time.) I suppose you need to find a way to acknowledge that “I am a Christian” while also equally acknowledging “my daughter and children have their own traits and beliefs.” If they are kind to others and make themselves happy, this is the most important thing and quite a Christian and admirable virtue. I don’t degrade my younger brother, for example, for believing in God; instead I acknowledge and even respect his personal belief, and I’m glad he gets support from prayer. I encourage him to believe in God because I think it helps him personally. In return, he doesn’t ask me to believe in the same thing. We are close with requited love BECAUSE we both understand we have different beliefs.

  2. Edward

    For those of you who use the Bible to judge homosexuals:
    Most of the verses you refer to were not in the Bible before 1946
    I know many of you read the Bible literally and claim to follow every word.
    Well I believe that the letter of the law kills and the spirit gives life.
    If you are truly Christian then you will have an open mind so I suggest you watch a movie titled A Fish Out of Water and the look up a young gentle man by the name of Michael Vines.
    Jesus told us the greatest comandment is to Love God. The second to love one another.

  3. Robynne Hartshorne

    Linda, I read your story and while I am truly sorry for your loss of your son, I don’t understand why you would try to make him rehabilitate from who he was at the age of 12, when kids are so vulnerable at that age, who need so much support for the physical and mental changes they go through during these formative years. Why would you make him choose between his sexuality and God. He must of felt so alone. I too have sons and they are not gay but I too had the thought when they were babies, ” what if they turn out gay”? and you know what the answer that came from my heart, was, “what if they turned out to be a murderer or something worse? Being gay is not a choice in life, you don’t wake up one morning and think ” I think I will be gay today, because there are so many narrow minded people who still hate gay people”, so why would you declare yourself to be something that is still not fully accepted and even ridiculed in the world. If my sons had turned out gay I would have loved them unconditionally. The other thing I don’t understand is why you would chose your faith over your child. Religion is a concept that as yet no one has actually proven to be true , and is so intertwined with paganism and commercial rituals that is so removed from the actual bible it is hardly believable now. Now you may think me an atheist, I am not I believe that Jesus did come to the earth, I believe that we simply did not evolve, and I believe in spirituality, apart from that not much more. I see all the wars and hatred of mankind based on religion and don’t understand why innocent people die because of this. It is good that you now travel the country and speak on behalf of the gay community, but I have to wonder is that because you need to ease your guilt for your actions towards your son??, or do you truly believe, that gay people have as much right to live the way they want to, especially as this goes against your faith. I don’t ask these questions to hurt you, and I imagine you have asked yourself the same things, however I also don’t believe that people change their strong views over night either. I wonder why when you son was alive could you not imagine him with a partner whom he loved and loved him back , and simply be happy for him. You say that your brother is gay , would this not then make it easier to accept your son being gay ?, or was it because you were afraid of what your friends would say? I feel sorry for you that you have to visit your sons grave instead of his home, it is a terrible thing to lose a child. I truly hope that your pain will ease someday, and in delivering your talks this will help in some way.
    My mother died 6 years ago and she was such a wise woman who accepted her kids for who they were and she had a saying that is never truer, ” Enjoy life and live life to the fullest, because your a long time dead”. I wonder if you might upload a video of one of your talks I would be interested in the message you deliver

      1. Brad Tilford

        After watching 34 minutes and 58 seconds of what you did as parents leading up to your son’s death, to what you did as parents after your son’s death, the common denominator is still two words – Religious Fanatics. You still do not understand. God is not some being that died on the cross. God is an act of “LOVE”. Love is God. Do yourself a favor and bring down this video and start over. Speak from your heart, not from a piece of paper.

        1. Linda Robertson Post author

          Brad, what would you have us do differently? I wish you could talk to all of our LGBTQ friends, and ask THEM if we are religious fanatics. If they thought so, we would need to change, to be sure.

        2. Betty Hamburg

          I am LGBTQI – not saying which, and yes, Brad is right. This is religious fanaticism. I detest Christianity because of the bastardization of it. I hate saying that because I know many very good Christians who are 100% accepting of “queer” people (I get to use queer and it is not derogatory coming from me – it’s just an umbrella term). It is definitely fanaticism.

    1. Marc

      As a gay man, I have witnessed countless men and women whose lives have been destroyed by religion. Ones who have been kicked out of their homes, shunned by their family and friends, driven out of their towns because they couldn’t “change.” You probably won’t get a lot of sympathy from us because, in many ways, we have been – and continued to be- persecuted as a result of it.

      If you want to truly help your son, then attack the very leaders of your church and others who perpetrated these myths. Some leader had to tell you to place your son in this therapy – have you publicly denounced them for this? Have you told members of your church to stop reading passages out of a 2000 year old book in some literal way? It really isn’t enough to say “God told us now to love gays.” That’s sort of the same self-serving logic of “God told me to buy a fire alarm after my house burnt down.”

      Yes, this is a heart-breaking story – and one I have heard far too often. But your son’s memory will be in vain if you don’t attack the very source of the problem that lead to this tragic conclusion in the first place.

        1. Marc

          I truly hope you do. But I also wonder if you and your husband realize the cruel irony of a God that tells you for six years to change your son, and then suddenly tells you after his death that you should have loved him the way he was all along.

          I don’t mean to add to your pain or call you crass names. I am sure you and husband thought you were doing what you thought was best for Ryan. But if you are to gain a bigger lesson from this, please let it be that religion doesn’t hold all the answers to things you don’t understand. I hope at some point that you can find some peace with all this.

  4. Marawder

    I’m 25 and up until now I have gotten pretty used to hearing about young LGBT kids suffering silently in the pews and sometimes killing themselves because of religious homophobia.
    But then I saw actual photos of your son lying in a hospital bed with a breathing tube. It’s been a while since I haven’t felt so distraught and broken down.
    What an unbearable tragedy, a handsome young man in the prime of his life, in pain and crying out for help…he could have had a bright future ahead of him, if only his parents would have been more empathetic, more accepting.

    Rob and Linda Robertson, to me, you are no less than murderers.
    You deserve to feel the pain & void that you have inflicted onto others, onto your own flesh and blood!

    P.S. Your god is DEAD! He died along with your son and thousands of other victims of religious persecution.

      1. Cris

        Don’t blame yourselves Linda. The Church controls and exploits you and all the little people like you. I hope you have left to find you own happiness and to do the good your son should have.

        1. Betty Hamburg

          Well said, Cris. If people would only think for themselves, we might not have this problem.

    1. John

      Marawder – someday when our society accepts diversity as normal, parents will not be put in such a situation. Unless you have been there, don’t judge. In fact and even if you have, don’t judge. Love is the only answer. Only love will save anyone. This is what Jesus taught which is vastly different than much of the christian church. That is so sad and it is costing lives. I guess nothing changes ha?

    2. Chris Lamparello

      I initially had a very angry reaction to Linda and her husband, but I know better. As much as I would like to condemn them for what they did, I cannot. I’ve been there. I joined the Pentecostal church when I was a teenager. A few years earlier, I realized that I was gay. I desperately wanted to change it. (This was in the mid-1980s, I was young and stupid, and things were very different then). The Pentecostals promised me I could be “free” through “the blood of Jesus Christ.” I fell for it hook, line and sinker. THAT becomes your reality. It is as real as the air you breathe.

      I live in New York City now. People here see right through religion, but that isn’t the case in much of the rest of the country. If a child is raised in it, they just don’t question it. They simply accept it as true. Millions of people live in small, rural areas, too. They aren’t exposed to a lot of different ideas, if any at all. All of their neighbors (claim) to believe what they believe. Their community and social activities often revolve around their church; it is the center of their lives and the community at large.

      Religion is INCREDIBLY dangerous because it has the power to convince people that absolutely ANYTHING is true. It removes you from the reality of our day-to-day world; it catapults you into a very strange arena, one in which there’s a God who loves you but will nonetheless torture you for all eternity if you break one of his rules or aren’t “saved”. People who were never involved in an evangelical belief system can never truly understand what it does to those who accept it.

      As one who was in it, I can tell you without a shred of doubt that this couple didn’t do what they did out of malice. In that case, I wouldn’t hesitate to despise them. Instead, they did it because they actually thought they were helping their son. It is what they were taught. They truly believed that they were expressing their love as parents for him by helping him avoid a dangerous path in life, as any good parent would. They, and their sons, were both terribly victimized. He is gone now and they will never overcome all of the trauma. I admire them for trying to help other evangelical parents avoid the same fate. They must share it with others, and I commend them for doing so.

      1. Linda Robertson Post author

        Bless you, Chris, for giving us such grace, and for seeing our hearts. You are a wise man…and your explanation of hell is one I am all too familiar with, but that I’ve also realized that can have NOTHING to do with a loving Father God.

    3. Kristina

      What a hateful, ignorant person you are. To say such mean things to grieving parents. The Robertsons didn’t murder their son – they accepted him with love, but did what they thought they had to do. Now, they realize they were wrong and are looking to help other parents with their story, a story that likely may very well save others lives.

      God isn’t at fault for what mankind have done in the church, either. As a Christian, I’ve always maintained that yes… homosexuality is a sin. But so are many things that we do daily. God loved us enough to give us free will. Does that mean we should abuse it? No, but we are who we are and I don’t believe for a second that anyone being born gay is a mistake. God knew what he was doing and as hard as it may be to believe, perhaps he brought Ryan into this world… so that his story could be told and save countless others.

      To the Robertsons, I will be praying for you for your loss. I hope you find a sense of peace in knowing that your son is in the arms of the Lord (because he truly sounds like a beautiful soul.) and that your story is touching and helping many. I pray that God creates an armor around you to defend against the ignorant comments like Marawder’s, and that you know where there is one cruel person, there are hundreds behind him pouring love out to you. Love, appreciation, sympathy and gratitude. You are brave. To tell your story, knowing that you face this kind of backlash, in the hopes that you will help people makes you not only just brave, but beautiful too.

      P.S God is NOT dead. He’s alive and well. You may hate him, you may blame him, but saying he’s dead does not change the fact that he’s alive, burning bright, and beautiful.

      1. mikeinasheville

        Kristina, you are an apologist, and the message here is not an apology for God’s deeds. Gays and lesbians are not sinners for being gay and lesbian. How dare you make our essence of being a sin? Far too many Christians are christian in name only. You are an Old Testamentist, not a Christian. A true Christian follows the words of Jesus. Not the words of the Old Testament and not even the words of the New Testament other than those directly from Jesus.

        Nowhere in the words of Jesus is it a sin for a man to romantically love another man nor a woman to romantically love another woman. Jesus NEVER said homosexuality is a sin. Never in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Not once in any of the minor gospels (those gospels not included in the bible by the Council of Nicaea (325AD), the Gospel of St. Thomas. Indeed Paul wrote homosexuality a sin (Romans), but those are the words of Paul, not the words of Jesus. (Just a reminder, Paul was not one of Jesus’ Apostles. Paul’s conversion does not happen until after Jesus’ death.)

        Jesus said (KJV: John 13:34): A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

        We don’t want your tainted love; we do not believe your judgement of what is sin. Jesus’ love is the very definition of grace; true love. Who are you, Kristina, to question Jesus’ grace? Who are you to say homosexuality is a sin? Who are you to judge the love one holds for another?

    4. carolb12

      Ohhhh Marawder, I am the mother of a 28 y/o gay son, and I at one time held many of the same beliefs as the Robertson’s. It is what we were taught. Linda and Rob work tirelessly to fight these strongholds “religion” can perpetuate. I would imagine you have erred at some time in your life, and this is exactly what they go around talking about to help others, like myself, see that what we were taught is wrong. Once you know better, you do better. All of these actions came from such a fear based place. I know you probably will not understand, but our hearts grieve over the pain this has caused in the LGBT+ community. We never want it to happen again. That is why, as difficult as it is, Linda and Rob relive this pain every day of their lives to try their best to help some other child not to have to endure what their precious Ryan did– We came to realize there is a huge difference in “Religion” and Jesus. We are not the enemy–We advocate for LGBT+ rights every single day. God bless you. I am so sorry this hurt you–

  5. apopesocal

    My heart goes out to you and to all the parents and kids who have to deal with same sex attraction and remain a family. I am a father of four straight sons who was unable and did not know enough to come out until my sons were mostly grown, my youngest was in his senior year of High School. I was an evangelical pastor who always taught my congregation and my family to be open as much as I could but it did not help much when I came out and divorced in 1999. We had married when I was 17 and she was 18 because we “had” to . I thought my inability to like sex was just a defect and that if I worked on it, I would get better and I would be “normal”. I had no context for understanding what it meant to be gay nor did I want to be gay. I fought it tooth and nail, including reparative therapy and “Exodus” type groups and went to counseling. I finally started seeing counselors who understood exactly what was going on with me and with us as a couple and took us to the point that I knew we had to divorce. Some things are way worse than divorce and I began to see some of those things manifest in my marriage and family life.
    Now, I try to help parents love their kids no matter what and help kids love their parents no matter what.
    Matthew Vines book does an excellent job of helping Christians see that the six or so passages in Scripture do not address two loving, committed, consenting adults. One can be straight and Christian just as one can be gay and Christian. God is bigger than humans think (Exodus 33:19) God shows mercy and compassion upon whomever He chooses. Humans have no say or vote in this, even though we often act as if we do. Gay people go to heaven just as straight people do and should be welcomed at church with no question about their sex lives…just as straight people are welcomed without intrusive questions by humans. It is God’s business to sort sheep from goats, and Jesus never mentioned same sex attraction as a reason not to follow him! Jesus and the New Testament writers are very clear, there are two commandments that exceed (are greater than) all the others. 1. Love God above all else 2. Love one another and treat other people the way you would wish to be treated. In doing this, everything else falls into place. If Christians are not following these two greatest commandments in the way they treat gay people,, they are not following Jesus, but have deviated from the narrow path and strayed on to the broad path that can lead to destruction. Jesus gave us a “new commandment, Love one another”. There are few instances in which the Church has failed this prime directive of Jesus than in the way many Christians have treated gay people. So start with doing what is clearly taught and then read Matthew Vines fine scholarly exegesis and scriptural work about the very sparse passages that seem to mention same sex behaviors (not one of them mentions orientation) and remember that the word “homosexual did not appear in an English (mis) translation of the Bible until 1946. The word homosexual does not appear in any of the original languages of the Bible, not Greek, Hebrew not Aramaic, so it shouldn’t appear in English and modern translators are (properly) removing it. Pagan practices involving same sex and different sex acts are condemned in the passages cited. None condemn same sex attraction (aka being gay) or address the issue. It is unwise to step in and condemn when God’s first and foremost tendency is compassion and mercy. It should be ours as well. Thanks!

      1. Brad Tilford

        I’ve been sitting in front of this keyboard for an hour or so trying to squeeze out words that would explicitly describe what I’m feeling after reading your story. I found your moans to be humiliating to your consciousness and your pain aimless. Why? Because you still participate in the religion that contributed to your son’s death. Not only do I blame you for your son’s death, I blame your religion, and I blame the pastor of your church who delivered sermons to an assembled group of people that being Gay is a sin. Your church had an enormous amount of control over you to the point of being totally oblivious to your son’s pain. I’m offended by your Crusade to assist LGBT children from experiencing the same pain as your son. Your crusade shouldn’t be with the LGBT community, but with your Religion. You should be reaching out to Pastors across the country who use Religion as a weapon against a certain people. I would much rather be Gay and loved by God, then to be a Christian who hates and is loved by the Devil.

    1. KatWoman

      John – Thank you for being so pointed and expressing what I’ve had trouble putting into words this week. My beautiful daughter (17) has finally “come out”, though we’ve all known for a while. It came to a head just this week when YoungLife, a self-proclaimed non-denominational Christian youth group, booted her out of the leadership program. She loved that group, having grown their local middle school program from 5 members to 21 – all for the love of Christ. Then she gets told they do not allow homosexuals in positions of leadership, though they suggested she could come read scriptures with them. What a week we’ve had. Already living in the midst of a huge Southern Baptist population that had nearly pushed us all away from church, we now find that this pervasive discrimination is all around. I’m struggling with how best to support my daughter while praying that narrow minds and the clobber passages aren’t too much for her to handle.

      I appreciate your story as a small ray of hope.

    2. Rick

      Apopesocal , Dealing with same sex attraction and remaining a family would not be an issue if it wasn’t for religion. A percentage of people will be gay,.It is just a fact of life. A child is no lesser because of their sexual preference. The bible was written by people and is just a sign of it’s times. It also advocates how to keep slaves but even the church does not still push that because they know it won’t fly. It will be the same with homosexuality in a few years but for the moment the voice of the church needs to be shouted down and ridiculed at every opportunity.

      Also have you actually read the bible? “God’s first and foremost tendency is compassion and mercy” Your god is a jealous,murdering homicidal, genocidal maniac. This is the the being that supposedly has created hell. Not one person on this planet would punish others forever for making a mistake but your God doesn’t think twice.

    1. Roger

      Linda – if you feel that the Word does not oppose homosexuality in any way – you must not have studied it that well. I have attended many lectures by Evangelical scholars who know that God does love the homosexual, but also judges all for their sinful nature and the Word does talk against homosexuality.

      1. Linda Robertson Post author

        Roger – there are many Christian scholars who don’t think God condemns same-sex relationships. Check out James Brownson, the New Testament theologian who wrote Bible, Gender, Sexuality.

        1. Roger

          First Linda – I am sorry for your loss – really am. There are also 2 kinds of ‘christian’ scholar – those that are Christian(saved by the blood of Christ) and those that attend a so-called ‘christian church where the Gospel is not even preached. I will ck this guy.

        1. Paul

          Jesus walked amongst the religious scholars, sat in lectures of the smartest minds of the time, that supposedly walked closest to God and the religious laws.. and he was despised because ‘they’ didnt recognise Him.
          He chose to share the gospel truth of love, faith and hope with the non religious leaders and impacted a world because he loved us so much that it cost him everything, so we may have life.
          You whom condemn know not God & know no peace, you are the evil ones… the religious bigots. You have no patience, kindness or no goodness. Love is never rude or selfish. It does not take offence and is not resentful. You know not what you speak of, you certainly dont know God.

      2. Dee N.

        …And this is why those of the LGBT community turn away from religion. How can you love someone yet condemn them. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” isn’t a welcoming motto; you might as well say “I’d love you as I’d like you to be, but not as you are.” Is God’s love unconditional or not? Listen Roger, I get how important faith is to you and many people, but judging others just because they don’t agree with your way of thinking is what led to many pointless deaths. I’m not saying that you have to give up being a Christian to get along with everyone, but it wouldn’t hurt to actually go out of your way to ask a homosexual (like myself) why they live like they do rather than read a book and call it a day.

      3. Betty Hamburg

        Religion is why we have wars, why we have terrorism, and why parents drive their children to suicide and self-destructive behaviors. I am not of that hateful religion, and you are the evil, not gay people. How dare you cherry pick, judge and behave nothing like your Christ. He hung out with those on the fringes of society and married a prostitute. He was the truest form of the word LOVE and he judged no one.

  6. Lincoln

    Your son did not have a drug overdose because you taught him not to engage in homosexual sin. Your son made some bad choices. He may have experienced some pain in his struggle against sin and decided to rebel. I don’t know if you made mistakes as parents. You probably did like the rest of us. Teaching your son not to fall into sexual sin wasn’t one of them.

    But please don’t contaminate other children, tempting them to stumble, by trying to influence churches to accept sexual sin as normal. I know you’ve suffered pain, but that is no reason to embrace sin and error. We are to love people, but love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices with the truth. We are to love people by helping them be reconciled to God and walk in a way that pleases Him. This life is short and we will all be judged by God.

    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      I agree, Lincoln, this life is short…and we will all stand before our loving God. And when we do, He’ll ask us if we shared what He taught us through Ryan’s life and death, and I want to be able to say YES.

      1. carolb12

        Linda and Rob, you have saved countless lives by sharing your story!! Tyou from the bottom (mother with a gay son) of my heart. What you must endure every day to see that others aren’t mistreated is unbelievable. Tyou for living JESUS every day!!

    2. Michael

      Your ignorance astounds me. You do not choose to be gay, you are born that way. I am a 56 year old gay man, and I have been gay all my life. I was never interested in girls EVER!! Why, because that is how I am wired. Some people are born black, some people are born white, some people are born straight and others are born gay. Your uneducated and ignoramuses attitudes are responsible for the promotion of this medieval garbage that causes parents to do horrible things to their children and ultimately commit suicide. How many gay conversion therapy deaths is this now? Are you aware that it has been discredited by the American Physciatric Association? Did you choose to be straight or are you a closet gay hiding behind the bible? Was that a choice that you could make? America, the Christian nation, yeah right!

    3. Anonymous

      Amen! If it had not been for a man of God I would still be ignorant to the will of God. I am free and it’s all because of JESUS! JESUS! JESUS

  7. Cris

    To anyone who feels different: Churches, and religion in general, will never accept. They WILL lie to you! It’s better to say your peace and leave and live your own good life.

    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Cris – it sounds like you’ve had a horrible experience with churches. Many won’t ever accept the marginalized and oppressed, but we have a lot of churches in the Seattle area who do, and we are so thankful.

    2. John

      Unfortunately, you are correct. We had been involved in an evangelical church for years and had to leave after much frustration.

  8. A mum.

    I’m not Christian. I do not believe in your god. I do however respect your beliefs and your right to believe in them. But Linda and Ryan, I AM a mother. My heart breaks for you and your family, I can’t imagine how devastating it must be to have lost a child and I know for certain that no matter what anyone said I would blame myself, so I won’t even begin to try to ease that guilt.
    Your son has left a beautiful legacy, and that is simply understanding and empathy in a place where before there was none. That is an enourmous thing.
    You might like to look at that as a gift from god. I personally look at it as a gift from your very own child, the gift of the beauty that was simply him (and I mean your son, not Him!). Your message will now pass on to many other families and hopefully help to prevent further deaths or even do something as simple as help some parents show their love and acceptance in an even better way.
    And to the people spreading ignorance, hate, and bile… I’m going to be indelicate now. SHUT YOUR MOUTHS. How DARE you take a stab at people who very clearly and obviously are despairing the loss of something so precious as their baby boy. I don’t care if he was an adult, as a mum I know that my boys will ALWAYS be my babies. I nestled their heartbeats below my own for nine months before they even drew their first breath. A child is a piece of your heart that you allow to walk on the earth outside of your own body and to lose that child is to lose a part of your soul.
    Whether you think they’re at fault or not, have a little compassion.

  9. David

    Greeting Robertsons, from Australia. Recently your story was published on one of our major news websites.. Congratlations, your religious views had your own son killed.. Your not the first people to be reasponsable from their own child’s death and your wont be the last… You just need to unstandard your religion is the Ultimate reason your son is dead and I suggest your find a new one.. Try atheism, we love everyone… Ps: jesues didn’t speak to you, get of the crack.

  10. Joe Aust

    I just read your story on an Australian news website. It is truly heart breaking. As a gay male with a very catholic mother I understand the how parents can be torn between what religion has told them and the truth of reality. My mother chose not to take forward with our relationship her prior convictions on homosexuality taught by the church and our relationship has been stronger ever since. It is totally unfortunate what has happened to you and your family though on a positive the work you are now doing is probably going to save so many lives! That is something for you both to be proud of. Fight the good fight. Fight for acceptance, equality and breaking down the prejudices, not only for the LGBTI community but for everyone who is perceived differently.

  11. Mark

    I am a parent with a Christian faith and I love my children no matter what or who they are and know God will the same . It wasn’t the religion or drugs that killed your son it was your torture of your own son that killed him your faith has nothing to do with it , it was your extreme views in your tiny fucked up minds its people like you that should have no part in religion you disgust me I just hope God forgives you oh and one more thing God didn’t speak to you it was your crazy stupid minds voices in your head it is you that needs help . RIP RYAN

    1. KatWoman

      Mark: So glad your non-judgmental, loving, Christian faith just shines through. Assuming we’re in the presence of one who may cast the first stone? I’m honored … and your pastor must be so proud!

    2. carolb12

      WOW Mark!! God BLESSSSSSSS you, honey! If you truly knew the people you are speaking of, you would want to die of embarrassment, so I will spare you that—They are the most loving grace filled people in this world. If you are a Christian, as you claim, then you probably believe God can still speak to people through the Holy Spirit that resides in the heart of every Believer?? I can speak to this because there is not a doubt in my mind that God has spoken to me and totally changed my heart and mind surrounding this issue. It does happen, my friend. Wishing you peace in your

      1. Colleen

        To Mark: i dont believe you can be a Christian in your heart or faith with such anger and hatred in your heart. Christians, true Christians are not mean, nasty or evil…….they have compassion, understanding and love for all including those who make a mistake. You need to seek further Christian counseling and I will pray for you Mark.

  12. Resh

    Linda, bless you and your husband.

    We are all magnificently human & making mistakes is a part of our simple beauty… as is the ability to learn, grow and develop our soul.

    Your bravery in coming forward and “out” so to speak, acknowledging your journey honours your beautiful boy who is surely watching you with pride & joy.

    I pray Gods healing hands hold you, guide you & protect you until it is time for you to all meet again.

  13. j;

    This was such a touching and sad story. It made me cry because I too am the mother of a gay son, who didn’t come out to us until he was 24 yeas old. I struggled with it for six months or more, but decided that I couldn’t just throw him away because he wasn’t what I wanted him to be. Later, after a friend told me that my son had attempted suicide once, I decided that I had made the right decision. He is now in a long term relationship with the love of his life and we love his partner like he were our own son. Testimonials like this really help in dealing with this issue.

  14. YeVonne Morris

    I learned my 20 yr old so was gay recently. He was raised in a Baptist church. Both my boys went through AWANA…. *which I taught and directed for many years* I have since stopped beacuse the Pastor and his wife, whom we love greatly, does not agree with our chiice. I will love my Son no matter what and we will accept his boyfriend and allow him in our house. I am not saying it isn’t a struggle. I love my Lord, I love His word and I love my son. Nothing will ever change that. I just can’t go where my boys aren’t excepted. So hard to jnow what God says and know how happy my son finally is.

  15. sam

    U guys are the most beautiful parents. I am so touched by this story. I know you both had real love for your child. I wish Ryan was still here

  16. bobbie

    Faith isn’t the problem here. Sometimes it is hard for us to accept others for who they are and what they are. Why all the councelling etc at 12? As for being a Christain, it is an individual choice and it is between yourself and God no one else!!! Sin is sin no matter how big or small it is. We must try to let God be the judge and not take it upon ourselves to do, yes, it can be very hard not to judge at times.
    One of my Christain friends have told me that she to is gay, but she chooses to serve God and not serve the flesh. Jesus said “Take up thy cross, deny thyself and follow me” She trully does that and is a great spiritual friend to me, just standing true. not giving in to the flesh. Beautiful picture, a great sacrifice of the flesh, to put God first in her life.
    Others have been separated/divorced and remain single. If they were to remarry they would be commiting adultery, they too are willing to “take up thy cross, deny thyself and follow me” I know a couple that both were previously married & divorced, they met and got married and then they heard the Gospel and knew in their hearts that by staying married they were commiting adultery, so they separated and live on opposite sides of the town, yet here they are still today, standing true. What a sacrifice to put God first instead of the flesh with all its desires, which will only end at the grave.
    Just one real battle for me, which may not be a battle for others, I do not like long hair, but it speaks of long hair is a womans glory/head covering. (also says if this is going to cause trouble/conflict with others there is no such thing) I struggle with it, love to cut it off but I do know it is what God would like.
    God has never said that he would not send trails and tribulations our way, In another post mentions the wars/etc, these things are not of God, but of self, greed, need to control others, etc, etc all to do with human nature/flesh and the devil, yes, the devil too has many powers to hinder those who choose to follow Jesus and serve God. We need to be proved to be able to come forth as gold. God will see the effort and the sacrifice to serve Him, but the reward for it will come later, not in this life.
    What is sin? Anything that is not right with God – what is our spirit, our attitude like? Serving the flesh, A list of sins are in Galatians 5:19-21, there are others. We will always have a fight going on inside of us one for the flesh and one for the spirit, the one that wins is the one that we are feeding. There is never a right time for a wrong spirit
    We have got the ten commendmants, many illistration in the Bibe to live by. We need to follow Jesus only, he is the plumbline that we should be lining ourselves up to, not anyone or thing else. Sin can be overcome by repentance and love and forgiveness.
    Again it is an individual thing to serve God, become a Christain, it does not and should not really involve anyone else.
    I also like to think of the two men of the cross with Jesus, one ridiculed Jesus but the other rebuked this man and asked for forgiveness and he was going with Jesus on the other side of this life. None of us know what is in others hearts at the last breathe taken, like to think there are many repentent souls at this time, just like this man.
    Sympathy and lots of love with the loss of your son not just at this time but for the rest of your lives. The pain never goes away but it slowly lessens. If any help, I like reading and thinking and of Job, who lost everything and he’s spirit never stopped putting God first. It has been a great help to me this last twelve months.

  17. John Smith

    You two are the biggest idiots ever. You deserve it. Your son doesn’t. So you choose to believe some old book, written by people (not “God”), rather than love your son. You should suffer forever.

  18. Sylvia

    Linda and Rob, my heart breaks for you both. Even though you are doing so much good now – and thank God for that – you will always live with the loss of your precious son, and for that I am so sorry. I hope that knowing you will help some parent (hopefully many parents) avoid the mistakes you made brings you great comfort.

  19. James

    If you would have accepted your son and loved him for who he was, he wouldn’t have died. You killed him just as much as the drugs did. What a shame.

  20. Nan

    Every day, I had the same question… Why god made me like this? What is wrong with me?
    It was really, really hard for me… And I happy to found people like you, who help kids and teenagers, to accept and love themselves

  21. Steve Brewer

    I am a 24 year old gay man living in Upstate New York and my heart broke after I read your story. I was raised a Christian and was devout in my beliefs until I got into my teens when my sexual orientation became clearer, I had known since I was little that I was attracted to the same sex, that I had a crisis of faith which caused me to leave the Church. I was fortunate to have been embraced by my family upon coming out to them when I was twenty.

    I have started my college career this semester to begin a school for LGBT youth who have been disowned by their families or who cannot complete their education at their own school due to persecution they face. Like you I hope to make a positive effective in the community.

  22. Anonymous

    [Leviticus 20:13 If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.]. Its very clear homosexual relations are unacceptable. That said, the Bible says too that some straight men go even for castration when they want to refrain from sexual immorality and maintain sanctity for their calling. You see, all of us are under the sledgehammer of sin which keeps pounding on us every hour. We are all sinners. Our weak bodies cause us to sin. Straight or Otherwise. Its our daily battle. But to do battle, we must first recognize our foe (ie sin).

    The only difference between an immoral straight and a homosexual, is a straight pervert is only recognizable upon committing perversion that is witnessed by someone. A homosexual is recognizable immediately. But it doesn’t make the former better. Jesus said “woman was made for man”, not “man for man”, so the intended purpose is always for men and women to be straight. Some unfortunately are not. Just like people are born handicapped, some are born sexually dis-oriented. Others cultivated themselves into dis-orientation. Sin is the betrayal of God’s intent, and mating man-to-man is a violation of godly intent for man to be made one with a woman.

    How and What do we do if we are caught having a child with homosexual tendencies? As difficult as it may be, we must adhere and continue to support the word of God. We don’t bend God’s word to fit our conditions. Doing so voids our Christian Living. Life is not long, just 70 yrs on average. If we believe the righteous shall live by faith, then that same faith should teach us endurance despite our conditions. It is through this life and how we hold on to His word that determines where we stand in the next much longer life which by the way is sex-less (there is no male or female in heaven according to Jesus). And if we are expecting rewards for a triumphant life in Christ by His teachings, how can that triumph be achieved by bending His rules???

    If we give up eternal life because this transient life holds so much attractions to us (straight or otherwise), then we forfeit that which has been prepared for us. That said, the sexual orientation of Ryan does not entitle anybody else to look down/scorn at him. On the contrary, as Christians we should pity and love him and work with him on his difficulties and inabilities. We are not God, so we don’t execute judgment. We do however, keep to His word and His word includes “Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself”. Love covers many sins. Cover, not removed. Only Christ can remove sins. Let not your sadness drive a wedge between you and God, for God has already prepared His mansion for those who love Him.

    1. Butch

      Perhaps God is the only one who punishes sin. However, you were obviously ‘chosen’ to point out the sins of others. What a judgmental, holier than thou, Christian you are. If you were really a Christian, you’d be out helping the poor and hungry. Instead, you spew out hate in the most judgemental way. I’m so glad you have become sin free so you can teach others how to achieve a sinless life like you. I started out believing in Christ. However, after reading your post, I’ve decided it’s nothing more than bullshit. I reject Christ because of you. Thanks for showing me what Christians are all about….judgementalism and hate.

      1. Anonymous

        Judgement according to scripture is nothing wrong. The problem comes when people take things into their own hands and mete out the sentencing. Homosexuality is a sin no matter how we want to look at it. We are taught to love our neighbour, not force them to a corner.

  23. Mallard

    The only acceptable outcome here is that you both kill yourselves. You have no place in this world or the next should it exist. Bath and razors now please. Wipe you scum from our society

  24. Nathan

    Linda and Rob:

    I want to encourage you that your work is not in vain. With a gay 14 year old son and we being a Conservative Christian family, we have truly sought the Lord in prayer and in His word. We have also are also reading posts like yours and with other parents of gay children. You are making a difference. Your insights and ups and downs and even tragedy are difficult for you but know that God is guiding you.

    As for those who hate you and say God does not exist, it is important that you know that Jesus is still with you and that He has forgiven you. You have have chosen to love and to understand. There are those who choose to hate and not sympathize. These emotions and decisions are a choice and ultimately, we are all held accountable for them. You and Rob and your family have chosen live and love and understanding. For that you must always remember that you are taking the right path. I say this because…..

    You as parents of a gay son and an ally of Christian parents of gay children has been imp actual. It has been six months since our son came out and we love him even more and accept him for being gay. He is beautiful and he is the child God gave us. He is who he is and we are proud of him. He is out and open and loves God. Because of a gay teen son, we have learned to be less judgmental and to love more.

    Our journey, like every other family’s journey is unique. It is unique because of our change of heart. It is unique because we realize that being gay is not a choice. It is unique because we as a family have grown closer to one another and support one another.

    Finally, let me say that we are praying for you and Rob and your family. Always know that you are not alone and that God is with you. Know that Ryan is enjoying a place of no more pain and sorrow and that he is worshing Jesus!

  25. Cass

    I am sorry for your loss.
    I to have a son who is gay, he came out when he was your son’s age.
    To say I was a little shocked at first is an understatement, but after talking with him and asking all sorts of questions i realised no matter whether he was gay or straight I loved him just the way he is.
    I am not a religious person I do how ever believe there is a God and that he put us all here for a reason.
    I am sorry for some of the ridicule you are getting from some people but I do understand we’re they are coming from.
    I would never try to change my son for who he is, I love him with all my heart.
    I am sorry it had come to the death of your son to realise that what you had done to try and change him has now made you feel the way you both do now.
    Religion and peer pressure have a lot to blame for all of this. It is how ever sad it has taken the death of your son for you to see this.

  26. seaguy11

    So sad that your son overdosed and died, my condolences. But I am glad you have taken a sad situation and started doing something positive sharing your experience with others so that they do not make the same mistakes. As a gay man myself who has gone through outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse I know all too well how easy it is to turn to drugs and alcohol when your gay and having to deal with issues with family having a hard time dealing with the fact that you’re gay. Hopefully your sharing this story will help prevent others from going down that road too. Your son looked like a great guy.

  27. Kelly

    People, human beings – not just parents like you, should be stricken from the records of time. Your injustice killed your son.
    I was raised in a Christian school with wonderful friends, teachers and family members that supported me.
    I am not gay.
    However if by some chance fate were different, my life could have been similar. But the main difference is that I was taught to love someone as they love me, give kindness when it is due (all of the time of you ask me – unless you a prick) and treat everyone as an equal.

  28. Anonymous

    I see a lot of blame on here so sad. Im so sorry for your loss. i am a transgender MtF and while it is very sad to hear what happend to your son I think he still taught you a very great lesson in accepting all people regardless. I believe god loves me even though im trans and no one can take that from me. society has made it very hard on me and has put me to the test for being me. I am grateful that you have seen the truth. we are all human and need to be treated with love and compassion for it’s only one person who judges us.

  29. Millard

    While Iam sorry for the families loss, their son’s death was not from conversion therapy because it had absolutely nothing at all to do with his death. Drugs did. He died from self abuse but then his mom and dad refuse to see the truth. This also has nothing to do with hate. Here was a child who used drugs to find an inner peace that caused his death, His inner peace would have come from God had he let it but he threw that out the window like some stupid people have in the past and paid a terrible price. His mother refuses to see that it was her son that killed himself with drugs yet thinks it ok to blame something else. Her faith was in herself….not God. Her husband followed right along behind her like a little lost puppy letting her take the lead.

    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Millard, while I don’t mind you attacking my faith, I feel defensive about your implication that Ryan didn’t seek God or trust Him enough. If you had a chance to sit down with Ryan’s youth pastors, his closest friends, or his siblings, they’d tell you that you’re way off the mark here. And just FYI, my husband has NEVER followed right along behind me like a little lost puppy. He’s an incredibly strong, Godly man, for whom I have utmost respect.
      May God bless you, Millard.

      1. Millard

        Then why are you in the lead? If your husband was a Godly man, you would never have made the remarks you made. You are free to blame whomever, but a lie is still a lie. Your son threw away his faith and thought the queer lifestyle and drugs would bring him peace. It didn’t apparently. Again I’m sorry for your loss but stop blaming something that had absolutely NOTHING to do with his death.

        I’m not angry just don’t understand. I will say no more.

        1. Richard Young


          I was not there when Ryan died and do not know the family. I only know of them from what I read, this I do not know the specific circumstances surrounding his death. But I do know this, as I lived it. I am a gay, 65 year old, man. My life is not a lie as it was lived in the first person. I know from experience that it is the teachings and the “millstones” that religious teachings place around our necks that are killing us. I struggled for years trying to reconcile my sexuality and my faith. I prayed hard for the healing and for the homosexuality to be taken a way. It would go away, and I even married and raised a fine son.

          Years later I realized the homosexuality did not go away but was only hiding. I came out in my mid fifties in the midst of a deep personal struggle that almost killed me. I know today that if I had not come out I would be dead today. Millstones… I continue to use the term “millstones” as that is exactly what my struggle felt like. I was trapped beneath the weight of those millstones that were crushing and killing me. I buried my homosexuality deep out of site and mind, but it would not stay buried. When homosexuality is buried like that it festers until it erupts and refuses to stay hidden. When it erupted in me, I went into a deep dark place that would have killed me had I not met God.

          In 2003 I attended a Christian retreat on a mountain top, surrounded by ministers, prayer and God. I was in the depths of a four day struggle, but I was in communion with God. He touched my heart and soul. I realized that God loved me, He made me and I was the person that He claimed even before my birth. I came to peace with myself, my homosexuality (no my sexuality) and my God, and I continue to actively practice my belief in God and my Christianity. If you take nothing else from my writing, I hope that you remember this. I now realize that my sin was not homosexuality, but was instead my failure to acknowledge and to honor the gay man that God made.

          I pray that someday you and others will realize it is not the homosexuality and drugs that kill our children, but it is the teachings of mankind that put millstones around people’s necks. Sexuality is from our God and cannot be changed. These struggles that we humans put our children into do not allowing our children to honor what God has made. It is not the homosexuality but the rejection of our children, your children, that is killing them. We must all honor what God has made, and we must love and accept our children. Too many children are rejected and literally kicked out into the cold to die. It is a cliché, but it is so true; God made you, God made me, and God don’t make no junk. May God bless you and speak to your heart. God save the children and the parents.


        2. Sean

          You are a sad excuse for a human, Millard. If he had to conform to god’s wishes to never be who he was then he would be living a lie and would be eternally unhappy. The drugs were what he found comfort in for the lack of comfort in himself after it being drilled into his head that being homosexual is wrong. He didn’t find peace because the drugs killed him, not because he was gay.

          Here’s a little fact for you, conversion therapy doesn’t work and homosexual suicides in teens are already through the roof with low self esteem issues and thinking the world fucking hates you or that you are wrong, disgusting or otherwise worthless.

          You don’t choose to be gay, stop trying to blame Ryans issues on shit you have no facts about.

  30. Debbie

    It is extraordinarily challenging to parent our kids when they don’t become the people we imagined they would become. I am guilty of focusing on the least desirable trait in my son rather than being grateful for and fully appreciating his many fine qualities. In our case, our son is an alcoholic. We rejected him for some time, hoping it would lead him to sobriety. We are damn lucky it didn’t lead to him taking his own life. We have had a second chance to love and support him. We strive to not enable his addiction, but we make it clear that we welcome his presence in our lives. He may never be exactly who we want him to be, but now we realize his choices do not require our approval. We don’t judge him. We love him. It’s hard when people who haven’t seen him for a long time ask how he is. I’m not always sure just what to say. I don’t want to violate his privacy, but I don’t want to behave as though this is shameful secret. I am not embarrassed that my son is an alcoholic. I say this not to compare being gay to an addiction. Please don’t read that into this. But, the world often lacks compassion towards issues that are viewed as the result of selfishness, laziness, sinfulness, etc. Everyone has an opinion. So much judging. It’s not the issue that turns our lives upside down as much as society’s reaction to it. I wish you peace.

  31. Melbourne Food Review

    There is no god, religion is ridiculous. We only have one ‘god’ to answer to, Mother Nature. without her, we don’t exist. Without us, religion doesn’t exist. Stop wasting your damn time worshiping nothing and learn to love the world around you. Poor kid, would have taken so much courage to come out to you and you threw it in his face thanks to some stupid fake idea of right and wrong.

  32. Anonymous

    Hi, Thank you for posting your experience. No words can bring your son back. It’s hard. When one make decisions in life, one is not sure if they are correct. In time, we are amazed by how much right or how wrong they were. I’m a young mother and I thank you for posting this. I realize how kids love us, no matter what. I am more aware of how we may do wrong against our kids. I hope you have found your peace. God Bless.

  33. Richard Young

    I am a gay man, 65 years old. I grew up in a southern Christian Church and was given a fundamental belief that homosexuality was evil and wrong. I tried to change and hide my sexuality for years. I even had a wife and have a wonderful son. In my mid-fifties I could no longer hide and went to the depths of despair. People say that I was strong for holding on for so long, but in reality I was weak and could not, would not, face myself. My inner soul eventually took control and forced me to the inevitable. I did not consider killing myself, but if I had not come out it was the next logical (or illogical) step. Today I have come to accept my homosexuality and my faith, knowing that God loves me and that I am right in the Lord. My biggest pain and anguish now are for the children that we as a society lose because of the hopelessness that we give our children that often leads to the death of a child. I am so sorry for your loss. God bless you both for your courage and love, and I thank you for the work that you are doing. May you continue to be blessed by God’s strength and love.


  34. Duncan

    It must be hard for the mother to live with the guilt that she treated her son that way. However with every negative there is always a positive as this will have no doubt had an impact on others who will learn not to judge people by there sexuality. I hope the mother can heal her guilt as we all make mistakes.

  35. Anonymous

    You did a terrible, cruel, and sinful thing. And you know that. But the fact that you have made this blog is a step in the right direction. God put us here to love everything under the sun. Only HE may judge. Our only duty on this earth is to LOVE one another. “LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR.”

  36. Ray

    I wanted to offer my condolences for the loss of your son. I know that it does very little in the healing of your pain but as a young gay man who too came out to his parents I understand the struggles your family had. Though my story is different than your own I have to commend you and your husband for seeing the difference you too can make in the lives of other families who still continue to struggle. Thank you.

    I recently adopted a child of my own here in Texas and I hope that if he grows up either straight or gay it will be in a world that accepts him for who he is and for the love he will have to offer a special person one day himself.

  37. Dana

    Heartbreaking. I could barely, I’m so sorry for your loss. It is enlightening, I’ve always known that “but” takes away what came before, yet I didn’t put make the connection. I have said the same “but” statements to my son who wanted to be a missionary after finding a devoted, like-minded girl to go into closed countries with the gospel but is now a homosexual atheist. I didn’t realize that I’ve been promoting self hatred, that speaking about his homosexuality was condemning him. Heartbreaking.

  38. Bonnie

    I have a son who came out to my husband and myself about 10 years ago now. I had suspected for sometime that this was the case. My husband’s brother and sister are gay. My husband is also a pastor. He took it very hard. We have two other sons and one daughter all pastors all with different perspectives. As you can imagine conversations at our house are lively. My bottom line is the love of Christ! Whether you believe it’s a sin or not and I do not, we are to love as Christ loves and that means everyone, sinners include. “He who is without sin, throw the first stone.” John 8:7

  39. Clinton Bradley

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story. I’d like to share and hear more. My parents put me through two programs with Exodus International.

    My blog: clintonbradleyontheedge.tumblr.com

  40. Corie

    Hi I just wanted to say I’m sorry for your loss of your son. When I first read your article on another site, I was angry. I’m a gay female and also have a twin sister that’s also gay. I was angry because I felt what it was like for your parents not to accept you for the person you are. My parents are not that religious at all really, they claim to be Christians by name but my whole life they never talked to me or my siblings about what was in the bible until the day we both came out. I have always been a atheist. I just never bought into religion at all and when I was younger I always thought nobody actually believes these stories because they are illogical. I’m sorry if that’s offensive to you or any other Christians on this thread. I believe everyone has a right to believe what they want, doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense but when hurting someone else over that belief that isn’t backed up with evidence of being true, I honestly don’t see how you and husband live with yourselves. I knew I was different when I was younger and when I realized I was attracted to the same sex, I just knew my life was going to be hard. I cried everyday for two years! I was so depressed and felt so alone because I knew what the majority of society at that time thought of me. My parents never spoke about scriptures or about homosexually growing up, so I honestly didn’t know how they felt about it. My twin sister used to be homophobic and if someone called her gay she would lash out and go in a rant. I knew she was gay and lying about who she was, I could look at her and feel all of her pain and wanted to tell her that she’s not alone but I couldn’t and didn’t for years because I had this fear that my own family will turn their backs on me! I believed my best friend and the person that I shared my mothers womb with would reject herself and me if I would say I was gay. Years later after we finally came out, my parents just wouldn’t accept it. They said we chose to be gay and we where wrong for snatching their dreams away to be grandparents and that we where going to hell. They read us scriptures and went on hateful rants. Everyday we heard that we were sick in the head. I honestly don’t see how anybody could believe being gay is a choice. I would never choose to be gay and I tried to commit suicide and my twin sister too. If I have children in this life, I would hope they did not turn out gay, I am not ashamed of being gay but I wouldn’t want my child to go through this pain that society has made for the lgbt. I do not fear god because like I said I have always been a non believer, telling me I’m going to hell is like saying I’m not getting presents from Santa this year because I was bad but my sister is a believer and it hurts me that my parents used her faith in god to try to make her be someone she’s not. I’ve saw her breakdown and said that she knows god hates her and she’s trying to be worthy of his love. I have read the bible cover to cover and it’s pretty obvious that anybody can take anything and interpret what they want. I don’t mean to bash religion and I realize not all religious people believe being gay is a sin but overall Christianity has been hurtful to gays and has taken lives. Honestly if it wasn’t for my twin being alive in this world I know I would already be gone, I wanted death just didn’t think life was worth all this pain. After confiding in each other about our sexuality I knew at least she would always love me even if nobody else did in our family and we would always have each other. I understand Ryan when he said that you don’t get it and because nobody could unless they were gay! My mother is pro life with exceptions but I’ll never forget that she looked at me and my sister with so much hate and said if she knew we were just going to turn out gay, she should have aborted us and she wish she did! Yes! I chose to be gay so my mother could hate me! People just don’t have a clue about being born this way. Honestly if I’m wrong about god and he’s real, he doesn’t deserve my love or my sisters and I rather burn in hell for eternity then to be in heaven with all the homophobes. Anyways that being said as parents you admitted that you were wrong and you tried to repair that damage, you didn’t force Ryan to take drugs that was a choice he did make. Honestly if I would have died in my suicide attempts I wouldn’t want my parents to suffer so much about the blame in my death. Even though they were nasty to me and my twin I will always love them and they are my family. I knew deep down that they were just scared because we are different. My sister and I would be different from the norm in society and they were afraid of what people thought of them as parents. We would have different lives then what they had pictured it to be. I used to have so much anger towards them at that time at my life. A parents love is supposed to be unconditional and when my parents said they couldn’t accept us for who we are, I believed that they truly didn’t love us. They wanted us to be what society said we should be and if not then we weren’t worth being loved by them. I can tell you loved your son and you told him you loved him no matter what before he left this world and that’s all that matters! You accepted him for who he was. Being gay myself I believe that’s all we want is just are family to love us for who we are. My parents came around after years and it was hard to repair the relationship with them, I always will remember the words they said and the pain they inflicted but I forgive them and I realized it’s a process for the parents too. They now say they never said those nasty things they said to me and my sister out of shame and embarrassment. My mother even admitted that she always knew we were gay but she was in denial. We are all humans and we make mistakes. We do and say a lot of things based on fear. If you believe Ryan is in heaven because your god loves him then he is because you believe it to be true. I have no ill towards Christianity even if it may seem that way in this post. As humans we need to love each other more. Roughly 10 billion people have already died on this planet and almost 7 billion live today, I don’t see how humans can’t see that we are not all the same. Life is and will always be on a spectrum, it’s not just black and white there are shades of grey.

    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Wow, Corie…I have SO much respect for you. Thank you so much for sharing your story; it is a sacred gift to me. I want to have coffee with you and hear more. I am so very sorry for all your pain…I hope and pray that you have found love and that you know what an incredible woman you are.

  41. n8tvtexan

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

    1. Betty Hamburg

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

      1. david

        I fully agree about ‘gay lifestyle’. My church uses it when describing gay people (which they really are intolerant of). Makes my skin crawl.

    2. Laurie

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

      1. Gwennaëlle

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

      2. mikeinasheville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      3. Anonymous

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


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