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 – Ryan’s would-have-been-24 birthday
An expanded, live version of this story, presented at the June 2013 Exodus International Conference can be seen here.

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

2,309 thoughts on “Just Because He Breathes

  1. D. Lewis

    Hi Linda, Your story touched me and my husband deeply. Thank you for sharing your story. I am a mother of a beautiful, intelligent gay son. Initially, I too let fear guide my decisions and know that I hurt him deeply. I am working through forgiving myself but I struggle with the religion that was the root of my son’s pain, deep depression and misery. A religion that taught him he was an abomination, as well. How have you wrestled with your denomination? Are you still a practicing member of your original faith? Thank you again for sharing your story and helping many families.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      D…I hear you…on so many levels. I think most Christian moms with LGBTQ kids have had to wrestle with their faith and their church, too. We are still followers of Christ, but we do attend a different church, and that has been good for us. I will be praying for you, D…much love to you.

      Reply
  2. Pat Imboden

    What wonderful people you are. I was telling Rob I don’t get tongue tied very often, but I am. Since I can not seem to express how I feel in words I thought I could at least start by telling the two of you how proud I am that you are sharing and continue to share your story. How brave.
    Our short time here on this earth is to be spent loving each other. The two of you are the best example of that.
    Thank you both for being my friend.
    Pat Imboden

    Reply
  3. lynnblossom

    I feel for you because of your loss, and I rejoice with you that you found the true meaning of God. The only part of religion I believe in any more is that “God is Love” and you just reinforced that one belief perfectly. Bless you and your family and thank you from my very soul for telling your story so beautifully and honestly.

    Reply
    1. Rob - Chicago, IL

      Linda,

      I wanted to thank you for sharing your story with everyone to prevent this from happening again to other LGBT children.

      As a gay man I can tell you the greatest burden I faced was family and religious rejection throughout my life. I have made peace with God but have no contact with my family today and have not for years. I can tell you the result has taken a toll on my mental health as I have faced despair, addiction, and even a suicide attempt in college.

      I had to listen to the person whom I loved more than anything in the world (my mother) ridicule gay people or anyone she perceived to be gay during my developmental years in high school. I was terrified she would find out I was gay and I had to suffer in silence.

      Later, as I struggled with God, I felt I had to throw my sexuality in the garbage can as there was no room to be gay and be loved by God as the messages supporting this are everywhere. What was the result of this thinking on me??? It literally threw me into alcohol and sex addiction. The thought was I’ll just have sex one last time and then never do it again and devote my life to God. This thought fueled my addiction. Why??? Because like your son Ryan I loved God the most. And I felt unworthy of being loved by God for being gay. The alcohol helped temporarily with the guilt and shame. But being gay never went away. I was slowly destroying myself for something I could not change. Like Ryan some bad things happened to me during the height of addiction. I’ll bet these destructive thoughts that were in my head were the exact thoughts that fueled your sons addiction and countless others who are going through the same thing.

      As the Chair of the Department of psychiatry once told me “we don’t have a pill for Hope”. I responded that faith and spirituality is Hope that is alive and healing. But not for so many LGBT people for the eaxct reason it threw your son and myself into addiction. God is perfect but those preaching in His name are not so perfect.

      No, I don’t condemn you. I forgive you and hope you forgive yourself. You are so much more powerful being a force for good by sharing your story and the numerous articles telling parents to love their gay children. I hope to God they are listening.

      It is my turn to forgive my mother and the people hiding behind the symbol of a cross. But most of all I need to forgive myself.

      Ohhhh. If I just could do over again with what I know now and love myself regardless of being gay and know that God loves me unconditionally it would have saved me so much heart ache and pain. Perhaps I can join you in sharing these stories so that those coming behind us are spared the wake of destruction that family and religious rejection leaves behind on LGBT children and adults.

      One thing I have found that is healing in all this is to blog not only to share our stories to save lives but perhaps to share ideas that are comforting and healing to those left out in the darkness so they can find their way out through unconditional love from God and family.

      This is for all those who never had a voice. This is for all those suffering in silence. “To all the gay kids out there – You are beautiful creatures of value and God does love you”. (Dustin Lance Black 2009 Ocar Speech)

      We are on the right side of history and love is ever with us.

      Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity, to ALL mankind.

      Rob Scott
      Chicago, IL

      Rob Scott
      Chicago, IL

      Reply
      1. Linda Robertson Post author

        Rob…the timing of reading YOUR story couldn’t have been more perfect for me. Just got off the phone with a reporter asking what we thought of reparative therapy, and I told her JUST what you said…I could have copied your words. Thank you for sharing…you’ve encouraged me GREATLY to continue to speak up…even when others don’t like it.

        Reply
        1. Jerry Metellus

          It took me a minute to start typing, as if I was going to speak to you and that my breath and words failed me. I find what you are doing to be so brave, so powerful and so Selfless that it moves me to the highest degree. Your link was posted on a blog I’ve posted to from time to time:

          http://www.danoah.com/2011/11/im-christian-unless-youre-gay.html?hubRefSrc=email#lf_comment=93899397

          I’m a straight man with a Universal heart and mind. I have learned to NOT judge others. Rather, I have learned to count my blessings and realize that the fact that others may not have been blessed, as I believe myself to be, doesn’t imply that there is a single thing wrong with them. I say, celebrate our differences and our uniqueness. I have parents who, early in my siblings and my time, were severely homophobic per their culture. They have evolved to embracing all humans regardless of any potential point of discrimination. A fine example they are for us…

          Your post moved me so and shined so much as an amazingly hard lesson in unconditional love. I hope you don’t mind that I shared it to my FB page immediately. Your message is such a powerful tool which, I hope, will help in either prying open the narrow minds and/or shine the light in the darkness of the tightly sealed ones.

          I wish for you (for all its worth) a Life of Peace and Elation, knowing that Ryan, just as Jesus, did not die in vain. I hope that Mary, through her motherly pain, found comfort in the knowledge her son’s legacy would go beyond the pain of his death and his position on the cross. Your beautiful Ryan bore his own cross through many of his own stations, fell and rose. It is wonderful that you were there once he did and I’m glad that, all things considered, you had the opportunity to find each other before you were left with his Legacy.

          I’ll stop here…as I could go on. Know that you’ve gained the respect of one more fellow loving human being. On behalf of my LGBT friends and their supporters, THANK YOU and BLESS YOU and yours. Wish I could cradle you and your husband.

          Wishing you all good things!
          Respectfully and Lovingly
          Jerry Metellus

        2. Rob - Chicago, IL

          Linda,

          You are welcome.

          Let me know if you need anything from me.

          Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity, to ALL mankind.

          Rob Scott
          Chicago, IL

      2. carolb12

        Rob Scott–I am the mother of a 26 yr old gay son and would LOVE to give you a great big cyber hug. Yes!! God LOVES you and so does this mother. Tyou for having the courage to keep going and realizing that even though we all have had seasons in life of leaving God, He NEVER leaves us—what a message you have!!

        Reply
        1. Rob - Chicago, IL

          Carol,

          Thank you so much for this.

          There is so much healing going on in this blog and Ryan is connected to it through love.

          Carol, keep loving your son with all your might and make sure he knows God loves him unconditionally too. This will save him from so much heartache and pain. There is no substitute for a mother’s unconditional love or our Father-Mother God’s unconditional love.

          Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity, to ALL mankind.

          Rob Scott
          Chicago, IL

  4. Rashad F

    Thank you so much for your testimony! As someone who lived in your son’s shoes I can say I am nothing short of blessed to read how you two have come full circle through following Christ! It’s so wonderful to hear that you “get it,” because we both know it wasn’t an easy thing to get. Thank God He is faithful! Thank you for following him!

    Reply
  5. Carol Lundemo

    Thank you for sharing your heartbreak, and I am so sorry for your loss. We have a 26 year old daughter that was suicidal because she couldn’t live with being gay and being Christian. She says most everyone will give up faith because of the damage the church has done. She has kept her faith, and bravely lives her life, despite rejection from others. I live in Seattle, and am so looking forward to your sharing with our group at Bethany Community Church on Aug. 4th. God bless you.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      What an enormous blessing that she has been able to hang on to her faith! And so glad you said something about August 4th…because I didn’t really know I was doing that! Haven’t heard from them…I will have to look into it!

      Reply
  6. Tom

    Thank you for sharing such a monumental amazing story. It parallels my life and has given me hope. As a 46-year-old gay man I still struggle with acceptance of my sexuality by my Father and Sister. My mother died without ever telling anyone that I was gay or that she was proud of her gay son. Her friend all knew because I told them and her friends accepted it with unconditional love. Yet to this day my family has yet to ask me if I have found someone special in my life or check in on me after emotionally difficult relationships have ended. I never had such unconditional love. My parents dwelled on how I ruined their life with little care or concern of the difficulties I would face coming out. As an adopted man of 46 years I still seek unconditional acceptance from many people. It’s not a taboo topic. Remember we have hearts as well and we want love and care from our families no different from those in the family that are not gay. Ryan thank you for making someone have more hope………

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Your story is such a poignant reminder to me, to ALL parents of LGBTQ kids: “My parents dwelled on how I ruined their life with little care or concern of the difficulties I would face coming out.” As parents, we may need to grieve, yet, but more importantly than that we need to trust JESUS with our children so we can relax and love them without conditions. Much love to you, Tom!

      Reply
      1. Tom

        While I don’t know you personally I have much love and respect for what you’ve done for so many people including me. Words cannot begin to express my emotions.

        Reply
  7. Jason

    Linda, I don’t know you, but I love you and I thank you for sharing. I cried reading this article, as well as reading the letter that Ryan wrote to his father. I am a mess. Ryan seemed like a great person and I can’t articulate how proud I am of you guys. I, like Ryan, am gay. I can identify with the way that he felt because I too come from a religious background and daily, I’m fighting to reconcile my faith with my reality. It hasn’t been easy. It’s amazing people like Ryan, that I’m able to draw my strength from – it gives me something to fight for. Just know that one day, you will be reunited with him. He is always with you. You have to know that. Thanks again. God bless you, Ms. Linda, your husband Rob, and your family.

    Reply
  8. Rebecca Lowrie

    Your story is so beautiful. I read it out loud to my 16 year old gay son. It made both of us cry. You can feel the love and the raw emotion in every word of your story. I wanted to share this with my son to show him that parents can deeply love their children and not embrace their sexuality at the same time. Why.? We live in the rural south, there are not a lot of “out” gay youth. My son has sort of dated a couple of teens his age but it was always in secret without their parents knowing because their parents don’t approve. One boys mom found out and took her sons cell phone away and Facebook page and she forbid any contact between the two of them. My son was devastated. He cried. He was angry at her. He said “how can she judge me? She has never met me.” This mother was cruel to her son. She called her son gross amongst many other things. She said he won’t go to heaven with her. Your essay taught my son that parents that don’t accept or embrace can also deeply love their children. The best that we can hope for is that in time they will come around before it is too late. He realizes that this mom was doing the best that she could at the time to protect herself and her son. My son honored her wishes and stayed away, which though it hurt him I was glad he did. Being involved with this teen under these circumstances was toxic for our son and not good for his fragile teen-age emotional well being.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Rebecca…bless you for sharing. What an honor it is to have a “window” into your experience with your gay son – in the south. I am so thankful that he has you..what an incredible mom you are!

      Reply
  9. Emily

    I read this while my little 3-yr-old boy slept under his Thomas the Train blanket with his stuffed basset hound and wept for you. I can’t imagine what you went through as a mother. I am so, so sorry for the loss of your little boy. I think the part that hurts my heart the most is that you blame yourself. I love that you are sending a message to parents not to forget to love their children wholeheartedly and unconditionally, no matter what their life choices, but it truly sounded like you did that with your son from the start. I know you mentioned that fear dictated your decisions, but your decisions didn’t sound hateful or foolish; it sounded like you were trying to help him in the most loving, wise way you knew how. Could I ask what it is you believe you did wrong?

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Of course, Emily. Thank you for your kindness. Among other things, we didn’t give Ryan a chance to get to know gay Christian mentors…or to really decide for himself how to reconcile his sexuality with his faith. Also, we should have changed churches, as the church we were attending communicated messages that were, in retrospect, harmful to how he viewed himself. But like you said, we thought we were protecting him. But unfortunately, our actions contributed greatly to his self-hatred, which ended up to be FAR more dangerous than any boyfriend could have been.

      Reply
  10. Karen

    I was touched to read your testimony. Thanks for being so open and honest. We were dealing with a family crisis with our teenagers. I read your story just as the crisis started. I felt I also need to listen to my son and daughter as they make decisions and not shut down what is uncomfortable. I want to validate what they say and believe them. I have struggled hearing their perspectives and your story helped to heal my relationship with my daughter. In the middle of this crisis I kept saying…”Being gay is not a deal breaker for God…mental health is not a deal breaker for God.” I have made a commitment to love my kids and listen “Just because they breath.” Your testimony was a gift to me right when I needed it.

    Reply
  11. A Concerned Son

    Dear Mrs. Robertson,
    I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you and your family. I will keep you in my prayers. Your story is written with the love of a mother. It’s so full of emotion, and growth. My parents are having a tough time accepting my coming out and I’ve passed along your site to them. My parents are very loving people and devoted to the Catholic Church. I pray that they will put their faith in God regarding my orientation instead of being fearful. I really worry about my mother’s health she is completely consumed by her fear. I hope she reaches out to you in some comments or email/facebook. Thank you again for sharing. Prayers and thoughts to your family.
    A concerned son.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      I will pray, too! Thanks for sharing…And I hope she will reach out to me, too…we have a GREAT group of moms on FaceBook from all over the country who are in – or who have been in – the exact same place she is. They are all so loving and kind…and are really helping each other. I am Linda Mueller Robertson on FaceBook – I will pray that she’ll have the desire and courage to connect with other moms whose faith is extremely important to them, but who also want to support and love their kids. So proud of you for doing the hard thing and sharing with your parents.

      Reply
  12. angela

    Thank you for sharing this story.
    We are walking this Journey with our 16 year old Daughter. We love and support her yes we struggle at times because of our faith. But i pray for wisdom daily and it is nice to know we are not alone in this Journey

    Reply
      1. angela

        Ok i read it and yes i will be willing to.join your.facebook group. I will look it up later tonight when i am home.

        Reply
  13. Casey

    Linda:

    I read and re-read this article in the hopes of reaching a place of peace. My 13 year old daughter has just told us that she is gay. I love her more than anything, but I am in so much pain. I feel as if I have to choose between my daughter and God. Who can make that kind of choice? Earlier this year, my daughter tried to kill herself. Now I know why. She could not fathom how to love God and also herself. She worried about her family rejecting her. My husband and I have made it very clear that this does not change our love for her, and we will love and support her no matter what. The rest of my family will never accept this. So I live in fear; fear of the pain she will experience when she comes out to the family, and her only living grandparent rejects her, and her aunts and uncles and cousins do the same. I live in fear of the cruelty the world will hand her, and the fact that I can do nothing to protect her. She is bright, beautiful, funny, compassionate and caring. She has worked with autistic children since she was in third grade. She volunteers and advocates for the under dog. I am so conflicted. I feel that it was divine intervention that she is still here, yet also feel that God’s salvation will now be out of reach for us all. I cannot bring myself to pray that my daughter not be gay; I really don’t know how or what to pray anymore. I just know how much I love her and how much I feel separated from God.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Casey…I am crying. You are SUCH a wonderful mom. Your daughter is so blessed to have you. What you are going through is so very, very familiar for all of us who, as Christians, have found out that our beloved children are gay. Would you be interested in joining a private FaceBook group for parents who love God and who also love their children? It is very secure and the women in it are AMAZING. Most of their families are like yours. You can find me at Linda Mueller Robertson on FaceBook…friend me and then send me a message. It will be a huge encouragement to you and your husband, as you go forward in figuring out how to best support your daughter and trust God at the same time.

      Reply
      1. Julie

        Hi Casey, I am a part of that group Linda speaks of. We would love to have you join. We are all in different stages of processing and it has been so good to finally be able to share what we are going through with each other. My daughter came out two years ago and I was so hurt and devastated at first. I have been slowly healing. Because of some of the information the ladies have shared such as books and blogs to read, I now find so much comfort that I did not have in the beginning when I thought this was the worst thing that could happen to our Christian family. I want to encourage you that God is very present in your situation and has not abandoned you or your daughter. Though you were surprised by this, God was not a bit surprised. Remember it was HE that formed your daughter. God loves your daughter more than you can imagine and He will get you both through this. I used to worry that my daughter could not possibly be gay and still walk with the Lord and have salvation in Him. This is one of the biggest misconceptions in the church today. I strongly encourage you to read Justin Lee’s book Torn. He is a gay man and a very Godly man. He explores the scriptures and his faith without leaving a stone unturned. He loves the Lord deeply and his book really opened my eyes to the reality that it is NOT all or nothing with God. I will pray for you and your family as you learn to processes this. You sound like you are a very loving mom and your daughter is blessed to have you. If you are not ready or comfortable reaching out to our group yet I would be happy to give you my email and talk with you further. You don’t have to go through this alone.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          I am in tears. Thank you so much for reaching out. I would love to connect with you further. God bless you!

    2. Brother John Ryan, O.C.P.

      My dear friends – nothing can separate us from the love of God. It seems your child has been given wonderful gifts, one being her sexual identity. No one should ever deny her that gift that was given by God. If other family members, acquaintances, strangers, (whoever) thinks they know better, they will have to justify their judgment calls against the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and a child of God, when their time comes to account for the life they lived.
      Any “faith system” or “church” that condemns is not based in the Gospel Life. You and the rest of your family should seek out a faith community that is affirming and supportive of Life in the grace of God, NOT the opinions of other people. Support, love, and be happy in the knowledge that you all live in the constant Presence of the HOLY, each of us is unique, just like everyone else!

      Pray for the Grace where to find a supportive Faith Community, and remember sometimes the thing people make the most noise about is the very thing they fear most within themselves. I have talked with any number of homeless youth, thrown out by families because they spoke up and told others who they really are, LGBTQ people. The judgement is on the heads of those who discarded their children.

      It took courage, trust, and love to come out, as her parents have the courage and love to stand with her.

      Reply
    3. Anonymous

      Casey,

      You and your husband need to wrap your arms around your daughter and love and protect her. Be her advocate. Coming out to you was very brave and courageous on her part. My now 16 year old son came out to us when he was 13. He was conflicted in his faith and felt coming out would mean his church family wouldn’t accept him. I told him God doesn’t make mistakes. God loves him as much as he loves all of his children and God makes some of his children gay. It is not a lifestyle choice it is who our children are. Gods gift to us is our precious children who go out in the world to teach the rest of us love and tolerance. He is “out” in our town and several kids in his high school have spoken to him privately about their own sexuality. He is a comfort to them.

      As far as your church goes, churches are run by humans and none of us humans are perfect and we don’t have all the answers about what God really wants. Find a more loving and accepting church if you need to. It always astounds me how “Christians” can be so hateful some times. Ask yourself how Jesus would treat your daughter and let that guide you.

      As for family, they don’t always know best. Mine does not really embrace my son fully and over the years we have chosen to limit our contact for the well being of our son. We pray that my family will learn love and tolerance over time. In the mean time we have filled our lives with new “family” that loves and accepts my so for the wonderful person that he is.

      Wishing you much peace and serenity.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        WoW !!! What a touching and very Educating story. I a gay female and I am an ex-drug addict. Your story moved me and also broke my heart in many ways. First off I feel now that God can love me for the way he had created me to be. Second for the struggles and painful life of your son and last but not lest is for the guilt that you two ( Ryan’s parents) are carrying, of stuff that is not your fault . True you made mistakes , but all parents do. Also Ryan was old enough to take responsibility for his own actions. You do not have to carry that guilt anymore. Lay it down, please, lay it down. He took the drugs , it was his chose. Thank you for sharing your story, it ment a lot to me. Take care, cathy

        Reply
    4. queenyonthemove

      Dear Casey,

      What a wonderful thing that your daughter has a mother willing to examine the depths of love, God’ and her own, for the well being of her (happen to be gay) daughter.

      My mother in law has had such a hard time when my girl friend came out to her and now, 5 years on, we hear testimonies of people near her that have been thinking, praying, reading and talking and ‘just’ have come to other conclusions then the (seem to be) standard thoughts on this.

      You might wanna read http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/category/parents-resources/ where this wonderful str8 lady who has done tons of Bible study will start you of with some different thoughts.
      Not thoughts of fear, as did my mil had, that her/your daughter might be going to hell. But thought of love and hope and comfort.

      All the best to you from the Netherlands,

      Esther.

      Reply
  14. Kalan

    Hi
    Firstly, I just want to let you know how sorry I am to hear you lost your son, I can not imagine how difficult it is for a parent to see one of their children go before them

    Secondly, thank you for writing such heartfelt post, I hope many Christians will read it , not only I am sure your post will help many parents who find themselves in your shoes, but to any Christians who ever came across a gay person in their lives.

    Anyway, I am a gay Christian myself, I think many of things you mentioned are spot on. You were spot on when you say sexuality ( your son attraction to other men) is part of who he was, and I think from my experience, I can attest to the fact when you come out, especially to your own parents, the one thing you most desire from them is that sense of unconditional love and acceptance from them, for them to just love you, no but, even it means you chose not to obey God, And for them to not always see you through the lens of your ” gayness” as if you are some kind damaged goods that make it difficult to be proud of you. I know sounds weird, but when I first came out , one thing I wanted from my parents, is to see that I am still the same person I was, I did not want them to see me any differently just because they know I am gay now. I wanted them to be able to accept that fact that if I am not be to change my orientation, and that would perfectly fine with them if that how things turned out. I wanted them to be able to love me and still see me the same even if I do decide to not obey God in this area ( thankfully, that never happened, I made up my mind long before I came out that I was going to try honour God for the rest of my life, but I was only able to do that because I was able to have this sense of healthy separation of my orientation and what I do, I knew God was not disgusted one bit with the fact I was attracted to other men, and I know doesn’t matter how much mistake I might make, I am always His special little guy no matter what, so I never hate myself for my attraction, which as you have put eloquently, is part of my “self”)

    Another thing that kind bothered me about Christian community in general is the amount of misinformation being spread about issues regarding gay community, and personally I think very harmful. For example, the reparative therapy you talked about ( I have no idea how you and your husband feel about this kind of thing now), but there are no scientific basis to them what so ever. Yet for some weird reason, many within Christian community continue to want to hear what they want to hear, believe what they want to believe, as result, I think many gay Christian as well as their families receive wrong information that subject those gay Christians to those harmful treatment. I have talked to many Christians before about this, and they always accuse me of being unloving, that just because I don’t want to change my orientation ( like I enjoyed being called a faggot from time to time?), doesn’t mean I should not stop others from having a chance at changing their orientation, and my response has always been it is not about me not wanting them to have a chance ( quite the opposite, as I know from personal experience being gay is a hard road to walk, so why would I want that on anyone else?), but rather I don’t think it is very humane to subject anyone to treatments that are not only not backed by science, but condemns by many mainstream health professionals. Just like if my dad is sick today, I would never subject him to a treatment that not only is not scientifically proven, but is condemned by many mainstream health professionals ,it is not because I don’t want him to get well, it is because I don’t want to harm him through some dodgy treatment. Anyway I am not trying to condemn you and your husband’s decision to get your son into reparative therapy, I know as parents, you guys were only trying to do what you thought were best for son. I guess my reparative example is really for all those Christians out there who are advocating this type of treatment for someone else children.

    Not that I don’t believe God has the ability to turn someone straight, I do, but I don’t know if it happens that often, sure one should always keep their hope open, but they need to know if that doesn’t happen, it is ok too, they don’t need to beat themselves up over it.

    Anyway, that is why I personally believe when it comes to issues revolving around homosexuality, Christian organizations are not the best sources. If one want to know about sexuality or the cause of it or things like that, one should go straight to the professional organization that are experts in those areas, like the APA.

    Reply
  15. Esther

    Dear Linda,

    Thanx so much for your post, very brave especially since you must be going through so much pain.

    Although I can imagine that in some way you want to give meaning to what happened to all of you and also led to his death.

    A lot of things, as Kalan said befor me, really sound familiar and I’m proud when I think of that just this week (sharing some difficult times we’re going through) my mom said: “I just don’t understand, you are still the same you you were 5 years ago right?!”.

    And I have 2 agree with her and be happy with her… I am stil the same and so is my girlfriend and on another level so much has changed.
    The level of Grace we were able to grasp we like to think has grown and yet there’s grief and there’s a loss of child like faith.
    Well, maybe not so much the faith but the way we dare express ourselves when amongst brothers and sisters in faith and that keeps hurting.

    Still we’re going on and strong becoz there’s not a doubt in our minds that the church, in it’s beginning, never has and should condemn those we are different and colorfully made… instead we should speak up against unloving modern pharisees.

    So thanks again, it matters!

    Reply
      1. queenyonthemove

        since my last note ‘stuff’ happened again and one to may times… we’re now in the proces of leaving our church and could do with a prayer from anyone who reads.

        Thanx!
        Esther & Esther.

        Reply
        1. Edward Greene

          I wish more people could know my minister and my two previous ones. They all three are open, accepting and living.
          The world is getting better little by little.

  16. Justin Yoder

    Linda, your story is amazing! My parents have a long ways to go and while you lost your son at least you had a relationship with him and in the end had a good relationship, thank God for that! Is there a way for me to contact you? I would love to talk to you more and possibly see about turning your story into a documentary that could help other parents. Thank you! Justin

    Reply
  17. Darillyn Lamb Starr

    Your son died three days before mine did. He was 26. He had taken some methadone, gone to sleep, and stopped breathing. My son was bisexual. I was the only one who knew it. He knew that his dad, my ex husband, would not accept him if he knew. His dad all ready rejected him, for various reasons. He felt inferior and had told me that he felt like a “piece of crap”. I tried to love him enough to make up for the lack of love he got from his father. He had become very careless with his life, a few years before. He survived some things that many people probably wouldn’t have, but he risked his life one too many times.

    What a blessing that you had the chance to reunite with your son and assure him of your love for him, before his death. I’m sure that, if he had died before you had a chance to renew your relationship with him and assure him of your love, it would have been even worse. I will always be thankful that the last time I saw my son, we hugged and said “I love you”. I said it to him a lot but if he said it, it was usually just very quick and sounded like he was just saying it because he was expected to. That time, it was very sincere. I thought it was just going to be a week before I would see him again, but I’m thankful that, since it was the last time I saw him,

    It is very nice that you are sharing your story, and I am sure it will help other parents.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Oh, Darrilyn…my heart aches for you. I am SO thankful both of our boys knew we loved them FULLY before they died – I think I would be a COMPLETE mess if Ryan had died before we reconciled. Thanks for getting that…but I am sorry you “get it” so very well. 😦

      Reply
  18. Philippa Skinner

    Dear Linda, thank you for your writing. I read your blog about church life and loss of a child first and then went on and read more about Ryan and the years that led up to his death. So much of what you have written rings bells for me. We lost our lovely son, Jim , in 2007. He was 21 and died of a heroin overdose. That bald statement covers so much pain, as you will understand. We now do our best to walk the road of sharing our hard earned learning about feelings of shame and stigma with others, so that we may all become more able to support one another with our griefs. Look us up if you have time and would like to on http://www.seeyousoon.me.uk
    Thank you so much for having the courage to share Ryan with us.
    God bless you and your family in all that you are seeking to do to honour your son and help others,
    Philippa Skinner (from across the pond)

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Oh, Philippa…My heart just aches for Jim, and for you and your husband. BLESS you for working to fight the stigma surrounding drug addiction! My prayer is that someday our world will see it for what it is – a disease, just like any other. Wish I could hug you right now and I could hear more about Jim!

      Reply
  19. Richard Howard

    hello Linda that was is sad i am so sorry for you loss. i am a 29 year old gay male i have not know to see that god don’t love us he loves us to love one another.,love is love is love no matter how you slice it. i thank christian assume hat god hate other for being wrong but that to me is so bad cuz god made us all and love us all we are human we are to love whom we chose to. i am a christian and i am gay but i see it as god would love one another do unto you and things will be given to you as it is god love all his children.i really loved this story and rember he is with you in spirit each day never lose sight of that.good night or day what ever day it is and or night it is lol have a great one.

    _—–richard——–

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Richard, I would like to tell you how awesome I think you are and that you taught me how beautiful love is~ and should be ! I love this website and although I do not read all of the comments, yours stuck in my soul ! I am a 51 year old with an incredible daughter (22) and I pray that I will love everyone like you do ! Love, Lee from Philly

      Reply
  20. (The Rev.) Thomas Eoyang, Jr.

    Dear Ms. Robertson–
    I am so very very sorry for your loss, particularly because your family had made such a positive turn in how best to love each other. You’re right to understand it as an accidental overdose. Ryan knew you loved him; he knew that there was a bright future with your abiding unfolding love and the love some day of a wonderful life partner. You write so eloquently about your experience, and about the advice you have for other parents, I am in awe of how you’ve put your pain to work. I am a gay Episcopal priest, and while I do not preach about this issue every single Sunday, when I do I try to make it as clear as possible what I am doing (as opposed to vague admonitions for “acceptance” and “tolerance”). The URL below will take you to my last such sermon. Thank you so much for your ministry–so truly important and still necessary. I’m just deeply sorry that you had to pay such a high price to find it.
    (The Rev.) Thomas Eoyang, Jr.
    http://www.grace-epi.org/docs/SermGE12090212Pent14Pr17Mkinputnotdefile.pdf

    Reply
  21. Sarah

    Linda,
    Thank you.
    I am very sorry that you lost your son.

    I am 25 now and happily, proudly queer. However, it was a long road of people damning me to hell and making me feel like i was so disgusting that i wasnt even human. I struggle to forgive the church and i struggle to find any kind of faith. But i’m trying and im healing. Your blog, your story, really gives me hope. I hope my mother will stumble on this some day, i hope one day she will come around. I hope that more and more people will learn what unconditional love really is. I hope more people realize that the bible says over and over again that love is most important, that love will make the law, and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in his image.

    Reply
  22. Brad Doles

    I am literally crying while writing this message.
    The Lord requires three things of us: to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him.
    Your words and your life exemplify this.
    Thank you for sharing this story.

    Reply
      1. Anonymous

        I am 43 years old. I am a white man. I am gay. I am HIV positive. I have lived in NYC for the past twenty years. I have been verbally harassed and physically assaulted. I am a cancer survivor. I am a Christian. I am in a relationship with a hard-working, caring and intelligent man who was born in a predominantly Muslim nation. He is Turkish. He is a pastry chef. We are opening our own shop. He has tattoos, a piercing and is hairy. He is sexy. He tells me that no one has ever died from too many hugs and too many kisses. Our journey is jusbt beginning.

        I am well versed on drugs and sex. I have two friends who have overdosed. One with a combination of prescription meds and one with an illegal substance. A past boyfriend, who is twelve years my junior and of Afro-Cuban American heritage, contracted HIV from me. I have self worth issues related to my self-imposed views and socially driven views on how a man’s body is to look and what it means to be masculine. I work out and I eat well. As a young person, I was bullied and molested by someone I know very well. I struggle with alcohol. I am surrounded by great friends. They are ethnically and racially diverse, mostly immigrants and first generation Americans. They provide me with an amazing support system. I am blessed.

        I grew up and went to a small college in Western Pennsylvania. I received a BS in Math with a double major in Music from a liberal arts school affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and in an Amish community. People there “cling to guns and religion”. I know that first hand. My Dad and my Mom divorced when I was in kindergarten. He was verbally and physically abusive. He was bipolar. I am very close to my Mom, my three siblings, all my nieces and nephews and all my great-nieces and great-nephews. I love them all. I feel their love. They accept me.

        I like to donate my time, when at all possible, to helping others. One place in particular that I like to go to is a community health center where I am a patient and a board member/board secretary. The center believes, “health care is a right, not a privilege.” I couldn’t agree more. I would love some day to see the health industry do more to help those with addiction and mental illness. One of my best girlfriends went away for six months to get treatment for anorexia nervosa. Another dear friend, who was a hoarder, died alone in his apartment. There is still a lot of work to be done. I hope and plan to see it through.

        The above information is some fact and some opinion. It is about some of my life, some of it good and some of it bad, some of it by choice and some of it chosen by others. None of it completely defines my life. For life is not about where we have been nor what lies in our path but where we are going. It is about the love we have for one another. It is about the small acts of kindness we can do every day to lift each other into the light. Lifted up high and saved by grace. It is His grace, unlimited and forever. Amen.

        “We must reach out beyond justice to mercy
        Going more than halfway to forgive
        And though the distance seems so far
        The love that used to hold our hearts
        Longs to take us beyond justice to mercy.” – Susan Ashton

        PS – The health center, in NYC, is called the RYAN Centers/Network. The love you have for your son, Ryan, and the courage you show by honestly sharing his story will be reminded to me every time I am present and helping at my RYAN. His life even after his death touches those he has never met and his memory lives on.

        Reply
  23. Butch Spradling

    Re: While your child is still alive:A letter to parents….
    First of all, thanks so much for a message that should be required reading for every parent of a GLBTQ child.
    My story: I’m a 56 year old gay man who lives in rural northeast Mississippi (Pontotoc). I came out to my mom as a young teenager many years ago in my home town of Fulton Mississippi. It was a heart wrenching moment filled with fear on my part as I loved my mother very much and was scared of her rejecting me, as any son or daughter would be. After finally getting the words out…Mom, I’m gay… To my amazement, she said three things that changed my and my mom’s life forever. Facing me eye to eye she said “Butchie ( that was my nickname at the time) I love you and nothing can ever change that”. Then, still facing me eye to eye she thaked me for my honesty. As I began to cry, she pulled me into her arms and whispered, “I knew since you were a baby”. I said “Me too, mom”. Then we both burst into tears and from that moment on we were as close as a mom and son could be. We traveled together, shared our highs and lows together and remained best friends up until her death this past October. She always invited and welcomed my partners ( I’ve had 3 relationships ranging from 6 to 10 years each) to every family get-to- gether we had as a family. At Christmas she always gave me and my partner the same as she gave the rest of the family. This was a courageous thing to do as the rest of our family (Southern Baptist) resented it very much.
    I went on to finish graduate school, have a successful career and traveled the world over. She shared her delight in all my endeavors.
    After 30 years living and working in New Orleans, I returned to Northeast Mississippi to be by my Mom’s side as she slowly went downhill from dementia. I had the great privilege to be by her side for the last 4 years of her life. I’ll never forget coming into the nursing home to visit her with my partner Kevin, who she loved very much. A local church lady’s group was visiting her. I walked in and introduced myself and introduced Kevin as my partner (you could have heard a pin drop…lol) as they were speechless. Mom, reached out and took my partner’s hand in hers and, with a huge smile said “I am so happy you are a part of our family”. I couldn’t have been more proud of her. The heartwarming gesture had an added benefit of quickly clearing the room of all the church ladies….LOL.
    Mom died October 2nd of 2012. But her spirit of acceptance and love shaped both of our lives in so many wonderful ways. She will continue to live in my heart and soul and mine in hers as well.
    So, thank you for the wonderful article. It brought back wonderful memories of my mom and me.

    Reply
    1. Brad C. (North Carolina)

      Butch,

      What a heartwarming story. I’m so amazed at how much it parallels my own. With a couple of exceptions, I could have written the same details, including our general age, our mothers’ enduring love, our travels, being from the South, of Southern Baptist families, of complete acceptance and incorporation of our spouses into the family, and finally, my mom having passed last year with dementia after four years. I was very proud when my dad asked my partner of thirty years to give a eulogy at her funeral in their Southern Baptist Church, where they were members for nearly forty years. Story, after story, after story of those who move from this world into the next indicate that, regardless of religious devotion, love and concern for family who remain is the over-riding concern in the last days and moments of their/our lives: “Will they be OK when I’m gone? Who will take care of them when they are sick? Do they know I love them?” (etc.). This is well documented cross-culturally. It is so heartwarming that your love for your mom, and her love for you carried you (and her) through to the end. I’ve read much of this blog, and it is obvious the intention is to help others to understand that ultimately, the most important thing in this life is for all of us to demonstrate uncondtional love for everyone, and especally the family members we have been entrusted with, for whatever length of time we have been privileged to know them. I’m thankful Linda and Rob were able to reconcile and extend that unconditional love to their son, Ryan, in the months before his unexpected and tragic passing. This must have been such an incredible comfort to him, and as they continue to heal, to them. Peace to all of you, fellow travelers. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face….” (I Corinthians 13:12).

      Reply
      1. Butch Spradling

        Thank you for your kind words, Brad. It amazes me sometimes how two people can share such similar experiences in life. I know you were filled with joy when your partner was asked to do a eulogy at your mom’s funeral. What a heartwarming, wonderful thing for your father to do. I wish only the best for you, your partner and your family as you march forward in life.

        Reply
    2. queenyonthemove

      you made me tear up

      I, though not a mom, wanna be like your mom…
      And I can’t wait for the day that church will be nice and sweet and loving and caring… but this lil lesbian can’t point no finger at noone.

      So, I’ll live it out and try and be like your brave, loving old mom.

      thnx

      Reply
  24. Anonymous

    Dear Linda – thank you so much for sharing with us and I am so sorry for the loss of your son. Please know that you are helping many people (and saving lives) with your story and it’s reach is far and wide …. My husband and I are both Asians, living in Asia. We came across your article yesterday and were deeply moved and I couldn’t stop crying. It felt as if God was talking to us and showing us the way – through you. When our 21 year old son revealed earlier this year that he is gay, we were truly shocked, lost and revolted at the thought of him having a relationship with another man. It was against our Catholic belief and we put the fear of God in him, bought him self help books, found him a U.S. based reparative therapist, etc, – we did almost everything you did!. We prayed fervently everyday for God to make him “straight”. We lived in fear … how embarrassing it would be if someone found out that our son is gay!!! For the longest time, I pulled away from my son for I was disgusted by what I felt he had become. Why can’t he see that he has chosen the wrong path!

    It isn’t easy – but since reading your story, we now pray for the strength to be able to accept whatever God’s plans are for our son.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Dear friend…please know that I am praying for you this morning, that God will give you peace that HE is watching over your son with far greater care than earthly parents ever could. If you EVER need support on this journey, please contact me by email or via FaceBook. No, it isn’t easy…through this blog, I now have lots of friends going through exactly what you are doing…attempting to love their children fully and well, while reconciling that love with their faith. I sure wish we had known, back in 2001, what we know now. Standing and trusting with you, in this difficult time, from Seattle to Asia. Much love, friend.

      Reply
  25. Michael

    Hello Linda,

    I don’t know if you read these comments, but I just read your essay on the Huffington Post, While Your Child is Still Alive (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-robertson/while-your-child-is-still-alive_b_3741003.html) and honestly, this is something that I would like to share with my parents. The difficulty, however, is in the fact that while my parents are Christian (Catholic specifically), I am not. To send them this would be to send mixed messages about the person I am. You make many potent points and statements, but I know I’m not alone as a gay skeptic and agnostic atheist. I could personally edit your essay and send it along in an email, but that loses some of the provenance. I think a lot of us in the gay community who see these kinds of perspective pieces would love to have one with a more secular perspective. I don’t mean to tell you that you should exclude Christianity from your writing. But your message extends to love between human beings in the here and now of all stripes. If I understand your blog, you share your message so that other troubled parents can learn from your mistakes before it’s too late, in whatever sense that means. I don’t think my parents are searching for things to help them overcome their own fears and misgivings about having a gay child, so I can’t rely on them to discover places like your blog, and essays like yours on HuffPo. Your perspective has a harsh honesty that puts forth many issues that parents of gay children never consider. It’s something that many need to hear. But to share most of what you’ve had to say constitutes something of an endorsement of Christian faith on my part. I’m not out there on my own personal quest to destroy Christianity or anything like that. But I don’t want to confuse them, or give them some kind of hope, that I intend to return to a life that includes the Christian, or any other, faith. Thanks for reading.

    -Michael

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Michael…thanks so much for commenting – I need your perspective! It sounds like you are simply wanting to be honest with your parents, and don’t want to give them false hope for something that is not happening in your life. THAT makes sense. I am going to give your input serious consideration, Michael. Again, thank you.

      Reply
  26. Brent Childers

    Dear Linda,

    One of our board members, Shari Johnson, shared your family’s story with me yesterday. Someone else had included reference to it earlier last week in a note. I serve as executive director of a non-profit organization that educates nationally about the harm caused to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, especially youth and families, when misguided religious teaching is used to promote stigma and hostility. We were founded in 2005 and do not identify as a religious organization because we believe it is important to advocate against religion-based stigma and hostility from outside the constraints of institutionalized religion as well as within. As a Christian who once aligned myself with the cancerous part of organized religion that we term the anti-gay religious industry, I came to understand how I was doing great harm to innocent people in the name of my faith. Several years later (not coincidence in my opinion) I was offered the opportunity to become involved with an effort that could help others come to that point of understanding. Earlier this year, we launched a web site, http://www.faithandequality.org, as a separate site whose goal is to bring that understanding to others whose actions and attitudes are guided by the traditional religious perspective on “homosexuality.” I would like to communicate with you about sharing your story on the site. It is such a powerful story and we hope we can assist in getting it shared with those who need to hear it. Thank you. Brent Childers. brent@faithinamerica.com

    Reply
  27. Donni

    Linda,
    My wife’s parents are 7th Day Adventists, and although they are tolerant of me, I do get the your not really welcome feeling. We are in our mid 40’s and we have been legally married now for over a year. We decided to renew our vows on our 1 yr anniversary with our family present in Colorado this summer. They refused to attend because they said our relationship was wrong and that God doesn’t approve. Now, neither one of us care to visit with them. My parents have passed on, so I don’t have extended family. I was hoping, against all hope, that they would accept us and just love us. And when I think about all the wonderful things they are missing out on, because of their fear and misunderstanding, it makes me cry. We are God fearing, loving, moral people. We’ve never done drugs, nor lived a lifestyle that would put our lives in peril. I’m asking that you please pray for my in-laws, that Gods love will be revealed to them, and that we can all just be a family. God bless you and your journey!

    Reply
  28. John Alaniz

    Thank you for sharing so beautifully your life and that of your son’s. I am so touched! I am gay and am so blessed to have my family loving and supporting me and my partner. I lost my older gay brother to AIDS IN 1990 and I think your story could really help my straight brother who is really unaccepting and to a MUCH lesser degree my folks who although totally supportive I think struggle reconciling having gay sons with their Roman Catholic teachings. God bless you and your beautiful family here and in heaven with my brother.

    Reply
  29. Anonymous

    Although I am a a straight female, I believe that God made us who we are. I am also a Christian. I have Gay Cousins who I absolute adore. They are here for me during a very hurtful time in my Life. I lost my only child on 9-11-01. I would have nothing without them. They are my best friends. Please don’t hate Gays. They were made by God just like everyone else, maybe a little mix up in their makeup. I don’t think that God likes Bigots. Please Love the difference in makeup. God Bless you all and please try and understand.

    Reply
  30. Edward Greene

    My heart hurts for you and your family. But please try to rejoice in knowing Ryan is safe now. I truthfully believe he is in heaven and at peace.
    Please do not carry guilt, life is to short
    and too hard. Ryan knew how much you loved him and knows it now.

    Reply
  31. Carole

    Wow! Thank you Linda for sharing your story. As painful and hard as I’m sure this must be, your heartfelt and honest words will surely help those families who are experiencing similar situations. As a 59 year old gay woman, it has been difficult living in a world where there is so much fear, hatred, lies and misunderstanding. I am not a believer nor a disbeliever in God. It is difficult to even entertain the thought of attending church – any church. People have de-friended me after they started going to church and Bible study. It is similarly hard for me to read about God, Jesus, the Bible and church. I wanted to died many times because of what God-fearing people believe that people who are gay are so awful – and also the military. I served in fear and silence for 25 years. Depression and alcoholism ran my life until 7 years ago until I started AA. It’s still hard even in AA to hear talk about God. I’m still depressed and have such a low self-worth, but I no longer want to die. Thanks again for helping those parents who may be facing having the news of a gay child. My parents are both gone and also had a hard time with my life – my mother more so.

    I wanted to share this person’s blog with you. He was raised Morman. I’m going to share your blog with him on his. All the best.

    http://www.danoah.com/2011/11/im-christian-unless-youre-gay.html

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Oh, Carole…no wonder it is so hard to even hear people talk about God. You are so grace-filled and kind, when you have so many reasons to be bitter. I wish I could go with you to AA…and then go sit and have coffee afterward. You sound like an amazing person who I’d be blessed to know.
      P.S. I LOVE that blog!!

      Reply
    2. Jerry Metellus

      Carole, I’m glad to see your words here. I wanted to personally thank you for guiding me to Linda’s blog. I will continue to spread her beautifully written, heartfelt message. I am saddened to read a sliver of your Life story. I can’t imagine the spiritual tumor that you’ve carried for all these years without the comfort of a spiritual oncologist to help you heal. I’m so sorry that you walked such a heavy trail, burdened by the negative feelings of others. I applaud you for having the same selflessness as Linda. In spite of your personal pain, here you are reaching out to others to spare them the hurt that you’ve experienced time and time again. Bravo. If nothing else, know that you’ve mattered to the handful of people who’ve already responded to my posting of Linda’s link to my FB page, as I’m sure that you’ve made a difference in many more others’ lives, unbeknownst to you. Trust me…I kinda know about those things 🙂

      Reply
      1. Carole Briggs

        Hello Jerry,
        Wow! Thank you so much for your kind words — you’ve touched my heart, and it means a great deal to me. It’s not always easy, but when we can help others along the way, it sure makes our footprints lighter. I wish you well in your journey on this Earth.

        Reply
  32. Deneen Robinson

    Finding ways to love oneself as the perfected creation of The Lord is difficult in the most ideal of settings. After all, life provides a plethora of opportunities for us to be reminded that we are lowly, unworthy, ugly and misguided creatures doomed for nothingness. Yet in our encounters with faith, we see another view. A view that says all of me is not only worthy, but necessary in kingdom. For those of us that are seeking the heart of God, we find peace in this until we encounter something about ourselves that positions us ‘outside’ of Christ’s ability to save us/ to reconcile us. This belief is often affirmed by our friends, pastors and family. We find ourselves in a place of hopelessness.

    The good news is that no one decides who is loved by the God of the whosoever – John 3:16. My job, our job is to find ways to see the God in each other. We must also trust God with ourselves, our understanding, and those we love. We can never believe that the knowledge we have about God and what God will do is the final answer – the last word spoken. God is continually speaking. Thank God for that.

    I thank you for the courage to share your story and the responders who have showed their support for you and your family. As a minister, I am reminded that the role of being Jesus’ hands and feet in the earth is so profound and has grave consequences when not fully understood. We cannot love from fear. We are called to love despite our fears. We are called to love despite not understanding. We are called to love ‘just because we have been loved enough to breathe’. Blessings to you~ Rev. Elder Deneen Robinson – http://www.livingfaithdfw.org

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      My new favorite quotation: “The good news is that no one decides who is loved by the God of the whosoever – John 3:16” WOW!! And Daneen, you are a gifted writer…my husband and I are sitting here reading your comment and just marveling…at God’s goodness, at His grace, and at the way He connects us as believers…we are better people tonight after connecting with YOU.

      Reply
  33. Chanica

    I know now how a few moments can change a life! You have manged to change my perspective in the few moments it took me to read this! My battles are not yet won, but my eyes have opened! All glory to our Lord Jesus Christ, our loving, forgiving father.

    Reply
  34. sd

    I found your blog because I googled “i told my mom i’m gay and she said i don’t agree with it but at least you’re not dead.” I can’t even begin to express how much that statement hurts.

    I grew up in a Christian family and I embraced the word of God with all my heart until… I started to confront my sexuality. Since middle school, I knew I was attracted to other girls but I believed the Bible so I prayed and fasted. I prayed and prayed and I hated myself. I waited till university to tell my parents about my sexuality. My parents both said things I don’t want to ever repeat again or remember. My father said I was going to hell. My mother said I wasn’t her daughter.

    I left home and for years did not speak to my parents. I have battled depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Just recently I tried to make contact with my parents. They were so happy to hear from me. My mother just kept crying. They didn’t know till now if I was dead or alive. She kept thanking God for bringing me back into their life.

    Although this is supposed to be a re-union and perhaps I expected to feel warm feelings towards my mother, but I don’t. Instead, I feel resentful, angry, and cheated. How can she say that “at least I’m not dead”? Is that all my life is worth? Just the fact that I’m breathing?

    I feel sad and I don’t know how to move forward from here. I want her in my life, but it’s damaging to my self-esteeming and it sucks to hear your mom say something like that. I feel alone.

    But i’m thankful for finding your website and I’m sorry for the loss of your son. I feel my parents will never accept me because of their faith. Why is Christianity such a stumbling block? Why does it make reasonable people do unreasonable things? I have since abandoned Christianity because I felt there was no room for me in there. For years, I was angry at God. I was born again and yet I felt like he placed an incredibly unfair burden on my back. God supposedly created me, yet condemns who I am.

    Thanks

    SD

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      SD, God DOESN’T condemn you. No wonder you’ve been angry at God, since that is what you’ve been told. And your parents have heard horrible things that have caused them to react as they have, as well. You are worth SO MUCH MORE than just your breath…You are beautiful and precious and have already been a blessing to me. I wish I could talk to your mom, SD…I am sending a TON of love your way today. XOXOXOX

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Let me tell all of you on how to breath , I have lived the lifestyle for 15 years , 8 years ago , my riding buddy not my partner and I were struck by a younge 21 year old drunk driver at 10:30 am on a beautiful Sunday , My Buddy was killed instantly , I was hit at 45 to 50 miles an hour ,
        I was not to survive, The only thing , I remimber , was Gods Huge and I mean Huge hands , picking me up and holding me close and saying not yet my child ,
        I wanted to go , with our Lord , As a Christian , that led the lifestyle and feared the christian , church , that moment , resovlved every doubt , every fear , I ever had , He said ( gOD) Steven is with me , It took 6 years to rehabilitate to learn how to walk , talk , And do you know a . Believer that I cared for , said I would not have been hit had I been in Church ! ! , I truely Believe God wants to show us his love mercy and Grace, there is no one that can shake me , or make me doubt ! I wish you all would get over this ! You cant believe How huge Gods Hands were , His peace , I so long
        for to this day ! Mrs Robertson , I will tell you , You have a long way to go in order to Breath ! , Gods breath was so peacful , the words are undescribable , many a times I wish to go home to be with our Lord , now that I know , for sure ,! God Loves me , He loves your son , !
        Cut the email this or that , unless you have been in the shoes , you cannot , speak or preach , Your SOn accepted Christ , He is with him , regardless of what you have to say about it .. So Long as your Son was a believer , he is with christ ! , So many times I want to go home and sit by the father , not you or anyone else can tell me different , cause I experienced the actual thing! His hands are so soft and huge ! and a confort ,

        his breath is , no words can describe the peace I had , it was between God and I , since then , I am single and loving our Lord , Nothing anyone can say , can change that , due to my experience , I know your son should he have accepted christ as his Lord and savior , is with God ! and we all will see him again , ~

        Reply
  35. Melissa

    Linda I just read this, and God has moved on my heart…I don’t want to publicly share my testimony at this moment on a website, but I would love to be able to share with you my walk and how God has impacted me in His love…My heart is breaking for reasons that I personally don’t even know, only God knows…I guess I just want to thank you for sharing your story and choosing to live by faith and making the choice to touch other people’s lives instead of keeping this all to yourself…God is using you in a mighty way!!

    Reply
  36. Marilyn Schulz

    I sit weeping uncontrollably at my computer as I search for a “support” after finding out last night of my 22 yr old son being gay. I am soo crushed right now not so much at him but I am so disappointed in God…. but your words are the started in helping me to coping with and moving ahead in this journey. It hurts so much right now…. I will be telling his dad tonight as he was away for the weekend. Thanks again for your words… I am very concerned that I walk with God through this and I feel that your mistakes in the early part of your journey have saved me from a lot of pain for us as parents but for our son ultimately. I can imagine there are so many opinions and thoughts on this in the Christian world and I prayed God would lead me to something that was His heart… I think I have found that in your blog…. I hope to join your facebook page. Finally I found myself as I wept through the night saying wishing I didn’t have a gay son…. but your perspective (God’s perspective) is but I have a son. Thanks again from the bottom of my heart and I pray for continued peace for you and your family.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Marilyn…I am SO glad you found this blog…another reminder to both of us that HE is in control, and loves your son far more than you do! I am going to friend you on FaceBook right now! Praying for you!

      Reply
      1. Rob - Chicago, IL

        Marilyn,

        I hear you and understand your reaction to having a gay son. Give yourself some time to get away and really pray over this. I know in my heart God would want you to show up fully in your son’s life.

        You have a choice and your choice will effect the health and well being of your son not his sexuality.

        I pray you choose to love him unconditionally and make sure he knows God does love him unconditionally.

        It saddens me that with all the progress the LGBT community is making that we still hear these stories and still read about people who have taken their life because of religious and family rejection.

        I would like you to read the following article and hope it brings you peace.

        http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/07/3610060/on-gay-rights-christians-arent.html

        Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity, to ALL mankind.

        Rob Scott
        Chicago, IL

        Reply
      2. E G

        Marilyn, please remember your son is the same person now as he was before he told you. The only difference is you know him better. He showed how much love in trust in you by telling you. It is a compliment.
        Trust God and His plan.
        Edward

        Sent from my iPhone

        Reply
      3. Anonymous

        Hi there , this is Marilyn and I am wordless to thinks of a way to thank all of you for your words of well gold and healing. And just wanted to say to Carol with the e✨I do understand what you were saying , I promise you my goal is to work though the rawness and shock of things so that i can fully keep loving my son as he is and in a way keep my tears/ fears away from him , i know these are my issues not his. I know he knows this is hard for us (his family)but you are right i want to be as supportive as i can be as he journies through his path i am thankful that I do have a god i can wrestle with and thankful for my close friends, my other kids, my husband and especially all of you here in this amazing group. To everyone else who replied I will reading over the wisdom in your words many times in the days to come. Luv u all!

        Reply
        1. Edward Greene

          Marilyn, I can see the real mother coming out in you. If it helps, remember no ever knows it what direction their child might go. And I don’t mean sexually. I have known lot of parents that started out upset over the choice but came around to see how right the child was.
          Ok I have to be funny, at least you will never have a b….. I mean heifer of a daughter in law. Lol

    2. Carole Briggs

      Dear Marilyn, you have absolutely no reason to be disappointed in God. God made your son, just as he made you, just as he made me, just as he made every living thing on this earth. Do not think about how YOU feel. Do not think about how your son could have possibly turned out this way. Think about HIS feelings. Think about how you can help him cope in his coming out to you, his father and in dealing with his peers.

      He needs your love and support now more than anything. I know. I needed my parents love and support, but I did not receive it. You must believe that being gay is no ones’ fault. You may question your own parenting skills – what you did wrong, etc. — don’t. I believe that we are born this way and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with me, or your son.

      This is the beginning of his journey too. You must not listen to the negativity that your church leaders might say about what they believe the Bible says or does not say about homosexuality. What is more important than anything is that your son knows and believes that you love and accept him unconditionally. We are all blessed for being alive and the best gift we can give to anyone is love.

      Reply
      1. Linda Robertson Post author

        Carole…I love so much of what you have to say, and I am so thankful that you are sharing your perspective as a daughter. What a gift!
        I do want to remind all of us, though, that feelings aren’t right or wrong – they just ARE. I want this blog to be a place where people feel safe to share feelings, to wrestle with them and to grow and change.

        Even if we as parents ADORE our children, it is very normal, in our culture, for the parents of LGBTQ kids to feel all KINDS of emotions. In our support group for Christian parents who love their gay kids, almost everyone felt angry/sad/shocked/disappointed…and only after honestly feeling and processing those emotions in a safe community are those same parents able to love their children without reservation, and to celebrate them EXACTLY as God created them. If there was space for this kind of honest wrestling in our churches, we’d have a LOT less rejected, alienated and disowned gay kids.

        Reply
    3. Anonymous

      Marilyn, what your feeling is completely normal after finding out about their child being gay. My son who is now 17, told us about a year ago and I was very devastated and disappointed and upset with God! But trust me your son is still just as wonderful as ever and God designed him for a purpose and plan and none of that has changed! Is this road ahead going to be difficult at times, yes but raising children whether straight or gay is difficult but we learn as we go and make mistakes along the way and get through the difficult times as a family! Through all of this my son and I have become so close and everyday gets easier and easier and my relationship with God has been mended and I realize that God gave me my wonderful, funny, awesome, smart, handsome young man to raise with love!! Is there days I am scared thinking about the first time he brings home a boyfriend, yes! But I felt that the first time my daughter bought home a boyfriend also! A little different I know for us heterosexual people to understand but I am trying to embrace the differences!! Remember feelings are feelings, not right or wrong just the way we were designed! I will be praying for you and hope you feel God’s love all around you!! Big HUGS!!

      Reply
    4. carolb12

      Marilyn–I have a 27 yr old gay son. I thought I would die of sheer fear–worry and anxiety at first, but I PROMISE you it gets better. My stomach literally felt like it was boiling at night–I remember our son very wisely and thoughtfully telling us that in a way his coming out would mean our “going in” because he knew that most of our social connections etc were tied up in our church. That is kind of what really did happen for awhile, but then beautiful things began to unfold too. We found out how to love better and in the process let go of some terrible teachings that were so wrong and really crippled our hearts to ever be able to love unconditionally the way Christ does–We also let go of some acquaintances that couldn’t respect our new found knowledge and expanding grace, but gained some amazing loving people who really get what Jesus was all about– I never thought I could say this Marilyn, but I truly would never want to go back to the person I was before our son came out. I am even grateful to him for so many things. Our son is happier than we have ever seen him. He was 26 when he finally felt like he could tell us—that is a long time to suffer alone. I am ashamed that he didn’t feel like he could share this earlier, but I also understand how very difficult this was for him. In time, I pray I can forgive myself as a parent–I work on that every day. I would like to encourage you and your husband to seek encouragement wherever you can find it and be careful who you seek out for understanding. People can be so ignorant when it comes to this topic–I read as many supportive articles as I could find and several books. Just like coming out is a process so is coming to grips with the realization that things will be different from what a parent initially thought at first—they are both doable, but require courage–patience and support. When that journey is completed on both sides this relationship can be even more lovingly powerful than before–. I’m praying for you and your entire family as you wade through this rough sea, while trying to keep your eyes focused towards the shore–I PROMISE it will get better—

      Reply
  37. Anonymous

    Hi Carole! (By the way, I am so jealous of your “e”, I am just a plain Carol who has envied the classier looking “e” all my life),

    When my daughter told me almost exactly a year ago that she was gay, she had had 10 years to come to grips with this. Granted, I didn’t know what caused her crippling anxiety and depression, but she did, and that was struggling all these years with her sexual identity. It was a complete shock to me, and I have taken this entire year to get used to the idea, and am still learning to accept.

    I have no doubt that Marilyn truly loves her son, but as a parent, (which I assume you are not yet), there are hopes and dreams for our children we store up over the years. We just can’t help it. Most of the time the dreams don’t turn out the way we had expected, but when there is a huge fundamental change (such as learning your child is gay), not just seeing them choose a career that you hadn’t expected, it takes a long time to get used to.

    Marilyn, you can feel however you need to feel, and take the time to grieve, to be angry, whatever you need. Carole with the “e”, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love him, but it means that SHE needs love now too, and patience. As humans, and especially as caring mothers, we just can’t overnight change to completely focus on our child, and ignore or suppress our own feelings. This does not diminish the love we feel for those precious children, but it just acknowledges that we have emotions and feelings as well. Perhaps her son already has gay friends, and has experienced acceptance in that regard, but Marilyn may never have met anyone she realized is gay. (I know I had to think throughout my entire circle of friends and acquaintances before I could remember one gay person).

    It is only because Marilyn DOES love her son so much that this has affected her. And she has already reached out to find support. Let’s continue to support her and other mothers as they continue to support their dear children.

    Love,

    Carol (desperately wishing for the pretty “e” at the end of her name)

    Reply
  38. survivorgirl007

    Marilyn, my heart aches for you, and I have compassion for what you’re feeling. And, WHATEVER you’re feeling, God is bigger than and okay with it. Truly. You love your son, no doubt about it, but you had your own dreams for him, right? Surely you’re feeling those dreams are now shattered. Oh, I’ve been there, and when my son came out, I honestly thought a little of me died right there on the spot. I was furious – and I do mean FURIOUS – with God. At that time, I left no space in my mind or heart for God to speak to me about what was now to be our “new normal.” I was in shock reading the words (he told us in a letter), even though it confirmed my earlier suspicions. Instead of saying, “Oh, now I get it,” I lashed out at God and blamed Him for “letting this happen.” I battened down the hatches and tried to close myself up into a little ball, like a frightened hedgehog, prickles out and everything. Yet as time passed and this new truth found its way into MY heart and life (my husband handled it very well from the beginning), I realized that my worldview was s-l-o-w-l-y expanding; I began to grasp the Gospel message of love and grace and freedom in a way I never had. My son had become my teacher, and in many ways, he is still teaching me. I can’t have our old life back, so I don’t spend time longing for it, but it’s taken a few years to be content. 🙂

    I’d like to recommend a wonderful book to you by a mom whose only child received a life-in-prison sentence for first-degree murder: “When I Lay My Isaac Down: Unshakable Faith in Unthinkable Circumstances” by Carol Kent. I want to leave you with her powerful words: “There are some tragedies that are too big for a heart to hold, and they defy any description that makes sense. Time weaves its way through the shock, the hurt, and the inexpressible feelings, and one day you discover that in the process of daily survival, you have instinctively made decisions (good and bad), defined your theology, formed an opinion about God, and determined that you will either curl up and die emotionally or you will choose life. The terrifying but truthful fact is that, in choosing life, you realize it will never match the kind of life that was in your carefully thought-out plan for your future. It will force you to view the people around you differently. The brokenness will challenge you to new levels of personal compassion. It will melt your pride, diminish the importance of your carefully designed agenda, and it has the potential to develop an unshakable faith that defies rationality.”

    You will get through this, Marilyn, and you’ll earn scars along the way, but in that way, we identify with Jesus. So He knows, sweet friend. He knows.

    With love to you,
    Survivor Girl

    Reply
  39. AJ

    Ive read this quite a few times. It helps me deal with my family who do not support me for being gay and marrying who I love. I hope and pray that someday they come around but their words and actions hurt deeply. Thank you for loving your son and having the courage to look outside and change.

    Reply
  40. Beau Larson

    I just saw the NALT video you recorded and was both incredibly heart broken and moved by your story. Thank you for allowing this piece of your life to be public in order to help others. You are truly an inspiration.

    Reply
    1. Rob - Chicago, IL

      Thank you Linda and Rob for being a transparency for this Christ message of unconditionl Love in your NALT video. The message came from God and Rob and Linda reflected it all back!!! I could not have said it better myself.

      Thank you God so much for all this hope that is reaching and healing people everywhere. Ryan is connected to all of this through Love.

      I have to say it again.

      Thank you Linda and Rob and thank you God!!!!

      Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity, to ALL mankind.

      Rob Scott
      Chicago, IL

      Reply
  41. Sebastian Fernández

    Dear Linda:

    It is very inspiring to read about your story with Ryan. I am a 20 year old gay colombian who came out to his parents last Tuesday. I didn’t wish for it to be that way, but I was practically forced to since someone saw me kissing my boyfriend, and they told my parents.

    My parents are very Catholic, much like myself. The difference is that while I have long searched for ways to keep my faith (and luckiky, I have found those ways), they feel that my sexuality is interfering with the life plan God has designated for all of us.

    Not all is grimm, since I have been lucky enough to have a very unusual source of support. A priest that also happens to be a very importan aquantaince to my family has been guiding us through the process. He graduated from psychology about two moths ago, and his perspective has been nothing but healthy and constructive towards achieving the best environment possible.

    I write to you not only to thank you for your story, because it fills me with hope, but to ask for your advice on how to proceed with this process. It is hard for me to know that my parents, don’t wish to hug me, as it has been 2 weeks of missing those hugs. Also, I was imposed conditions for my stay home, like a very restrictive curfew. This has seriously difficulted my relationship, because I have very little time to share with my significant other. I would like to ask you how to proceed with this fact, and since they know I have something with someone, but nothing else.

    Finally, I’d like to know how you think I could approach them about an upcoming session they are going to have with another mom who experienced having a gay son, and that is a Catholic friend of the priest who is helping us, and is of 75 years of age.

    Again, I’d like to thank you for all that you are doing. My grandmother, who I was able to speak about this before her passing away, would be very thankful of any kind of help you could give me, and I know God smiles to you from Heaven above when you help each one of us.

    Reply
  42. George

    Dear Linda
    I just wanted to thank you and your husband for your video post to “not all like that” . As a young man I studied for ministry thinking (because I was gay) that I should do as much good as I could before I died and went to hell. That was how warped my view was at the time. I loved Jesus, but I thought it really didn’t matter because I was gay and therefore evil. I still love Jesus and now understand that He loves me, not just in some ontological sense, but personally.
    Your story brought me to tears (weeping actually) but they were mixed with thanksgiving for you and your message and I praise God for your loving witness to Jesus’s Gospel of love! God bless you always!

    Reply
  43. Karen L. Blair, PhD (@klbresearch)

    I’ve ready your story a number of times in different places… and every time it brings me to tears. Your story, along with others like it, are what inspire me daily to do the work that I do. I’m an LGBTQ researcher who studies how social support for relationships and sexual diversity can have important outcomes for our relationships and our mental and physical health. Ultimately, I just want to make the world a better place for all couples who love each other – regardless of sexuality. I also want to help to bridge the gap between those who need support and those still struggling to find a way to provide the support – for instance parents and loved ones struggling to come to terms with the sexuality of their child. One step towards this goal is a new study that I’m launching this fall that will be examining the physiological underpinnings of prejudice and it is my hope that the results of the study will provide us with crucial information on how to help reduce prejudice – although, honestly, I think that stories such as your own contribute to this goal on a daily basis! Anyway – I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story – over and over – everywhere that you can because I believe it is one that needs to be heard by so many. If you’d like to read more about my research that I’ve already done in this area – my website is http://www.klbresearch.com and my website for the crowdfunding of the new study is http://www.wecanholdhands.com – Thank you for your story.

    Reply
  44. Rebeccah Thompson

    I want to thank you for this. I was a young child when I found out what ‘gay’ was (about 8 or 9) and I, with purpose and pride, said to myself “I’m gay.” (because I thought it super cool that God would make me so unique); but then I found out, through my fiercely conservative, large, extended family, it was ‘bad’…. very bad.

    so over the course of the next 25 years I carefully and consciously tried to rid myself of it quietly without anyone ever knowing my struggle. It was with great shame that I had, inexplicably, been cursed with this “cross to bear” and so i did not want anyone to know. If God had that be my struggle than the struggle was to be between me and God alone. I became a fierce advocate that homosexuality is a “choice”…

    well, flash forward. I am married (to a man) and have a young son. When my son was about 7 months old (he is 5 now) I was praying and the deep sadness of what I had done struck me with a question, “would I ever want my young son to hate himself so? would I ever raise him to believe that he is innately wrong?” the clear answer was NO– and the spirit of god washed over me as if to say, ‘I never said you were wrong… I have loved you always… I MADE YOU THIS WAY.’

    I am in the thick of the struggle to tell my family and friends even now and it makes even less ‘sense’ to them because of the craftiness with which I hid it for so long; but I want to thank you and your son for your bravery. Firstly, him in telling you and secondly you in telling us. God is outside of time; and he used Ryan in such a blessed way in changing his heart and yours. This blog exists and gives me a place with which to start with MY family, yes; but also as a resource to direct others toward. I go back to Jesus’ parable about the tree bearing good fruit. The fruit of so much of conservative evangelical approach to homosexuality is pain and bitterness and people turning from this ‘wrathful god’; but the fruit of honesty and grace is grace upon grace and love upon love and peace; Great, unalterable peace; which passes all understanding.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Rebeccah…I am saving this message to read again when I need to hear truth and encouragement. I can’t thank you enough for your vulnerability and your wisdom. YOU are a gift, Rebeccah, and I am praying that your family will be able to hear you sharing part of yourself – that gift – with them. Much love to you.

      Reply
  45. Christopher

    Dear Mrs. Robertson:
    I am inspired by your journey. Your and your husband are good parents, or at least it is evident to me that you are trying to do the best you can for your family and other families like yours. Thank you for your efforts, your joy, your humility, and your story.
    I would love some advice. What can you say to lovingly win over an evangelical parent? My father is a Church of Christ preacher. My mother is a life-long, devout member of the Church of Christ. My 3 siblings are also members of the Church, as is my entire blood family. I came out to my parents 7 years ago. It was not well-received. I did turn to drugs, briefly, but I do not currently use and haven’t in some time. My sexuality has not been a welcome topic in all that time. Our relationship has been strained and superficial, but it was still there.
    I have now been in a monogamous relationship with a wonderful man for 3 years. He is literally the best. We live together and are starting to talk about marriage. I decided it was time to breach the subject with my parents. I phrased it like this, separately, to each of my parents: “Dad/Mom, there is someone important in my life and I just want you to have the opportunity to hear that from me.” That was the kindest and least adversarial way I could come up with to share this important information.
    My father told me my partner would never be welcome in his home and that I would not want to bring any children we have together around because the children would be told their fathers were going to Hell. He told me his son was dead and he didn’t know if that son would ever come back. The discussion went on for a few hours. I was respectful, but stood my ground. He told me if something were to happen to me, he didn’t want to hear about it from my partner and that my partner would not be alerted if anything happened to me while I was visiting my father’s home. It was the single most devastating moment of my life.
    My mother simply responded tearfully with, “Well, try to remember that God should be the most important one in your life.” I think that was the best she could do, keeping her faith and loving her son.
    This was 7 months ago.
    So, my question is, what does a gay son say to parents in this situation? I haven’t spoken to my father since that day. My mother and I are back to the superficial. I just don’t know how to help them heal and reach them on a level of mutual love and respect. Maybe it isn’t possible. But I am a genuinely hopeful person, and I would truly appreciate your perspective on what was helpful to your family as you healed and learned.
    Any resource or advice is welcomed.
    Thank you for your time. I am certain you are swamped with requests and hopefully positive feedback.
    You and your husband are remarkable examples. Please keep up the inspiring work.

    Reply
    1. Linda Robertson Post author

      Christopher, you’ve handled this so beautifully…I am amazed by your grace and maturity. We’re traveling and are in the midst of some really difficult family stuff, but I will say this..Keep seeking God yourself, and trust that HE will work in your parents hearts in His time. It may not be on your timetable…but I think what is most important is for you and your partner to keep seeking God together, knowing that you have your Heavenly Father’s unending love and unconditional approval. Keep me updated – I will be praying.

      Reply
      1. Debby

        Christopher,
        I am a C of C mom to a wonderful, kind, gay Son. I am so sad for your Dad. ( I believe your Mom has a heart to love!) We have always loved our Son and I never handled everything in the best way, (cried a lot) and then when my Son said we could meet his boyfriend, I ask God how I could handle that? Loud and clear, HE said, “He is a child of mine!” So, I realize going to seek counsel from a religious leader, would never help our relationship, BUT praying has always drawn me closer to my Son. Your compassion will not go unnoticed, and I believe IF your parents seek God’s help, through prayer, it will change their fears.
        As Linda said, keep God first and never stop praying for your parents. I’m sorry we have given what we think is truth a hold over our love. Not the way God intended!

        Reply
      2. D.Fisher

        Dear Linda,

        One of my family lineages is Robertson and my middle name is David and I am gay. This story touched me so, because growing up Mormon and Christian was for me too, a very difficult stumbling block in coming out late at 24. Now at 55, I feel so lucky while reading these kinds of stories, that I had a grandmother who had always said, “there will come a time in your life when you will have to stand on your own light and not the light of others”. This is that time for you as well. I had taken this quote of hers so to heart, because I knew already internally I was “different”, and I also luckily, had the idea that truth was everywhere, and not exclusive to one religion, or people, or even just “the just and righteous”, as it would undermine all truth or light (as I came to understand it). I had realized that when truth/light seemed it was in conflict, that it just meant I had come to a gray area or mixing, where it was not as clear and needed more understanding. I had prayed for death at one point, I had experimented with drugs briefly after coming out, but luckily they weren’t my thing. I searched and searched for answers in order to reconcile God and my sexual desire. I was lucky, I had guides (internal/external) along the way at key times, and my grandmothers voice, and I trusted my own inner voice more then many do. Unfortunately, your story could be the story of so many gay kids and parents I know and even the religious affiliations don’t matter because the understanding seems to have been the same (for those who arrived at it). Your reactions as a family and concerned parents were the same as most Christian parents, most all of my friends had similar experiences with their families, so don’t beat yourself up for that. I have been the black sheep and example in my family that has made my Dad have to question things, and I came to realize that sometimes certain family members are there, to make us question our lives and inspire us in new directions, change our limited view of mankind; they force us to get out of our box of beliefs and see a larger world. I’m so sorry for your loss, and yet joyful that your epiphany, though late, has been turned to honor him by sharing in honesty your touching story with some who will understand and empathize from experience, and others who may sympathize, and for being willing to be the target of rage and anger of some due to their transference/projection of their own inner damage and hurt. I think of Matthew Shepherd and his Mother and what all young Gay people owe her as a result of her work and sacrifice. It will be thanks to you, and people like you and your husband, and your willingness to share your pain and suffering, that will save many other lives, and help other parents, so that many do not have to experience the pain and suffering that you all have or if they do, to know they are not alone. Thank you for your story and reminding me that every day, I am so much luckier then many of my fallen brothers and sisters. God bless you and your family for that! ~ David

        Reply
    2. carolb12

      Sweet Christopher,
      I truly believe that God sends people into our lives who can “stand in the gap” for parents trying to find their way. I would be overjoyed to be that person for you if you need it during this difficult time. My husband and I grew up Southern Baptist (alot like the CC) and we have a 27 y/o gay son. I will pray with you and help you in any way I can as you attempt to navigate through these very deep waters– Our son is visiting us for a while right now, but I can make myself available in the evenings while he’s here and then after he leaves in 2 weeks, I would love to be an encourager for you. if you would like to contact me, my email is: carolb12@comcast.net CONGRATULATIONS on your beautiful relationship.

      **Linda and Rob are AMAZING!!!

      Reply
    3. dogtorbill

      My very best advice is to tell them both that Jesus IS the most important thing in your life, and that continuing to work on that relationship is what your life will revolve around. Certainly there are issues that separate you, but that you will continue to pray for them (parents), and that you ask for them to pray for you. That you will continue to do the best you can in your walk with The Lord, and will worship and give glory to the God that created you. Tell them you have found (hopefully you will have, by then) a church to worship with that has the FULLNESS of God’s truth, love, and mercy. You long for and will also pray for the day when they will stand with you in the pew, side by side, each with our own crosses to bear, instead of from his pulpit, from which he somehow thinks he has the authority and prerogative to give his son anything other than unconditional love. If your earthly father can never do this, please know that your Heavenly Father certainly does. Much Love on this Camino my friend.

      Reply
    4. JustJohn

      christopher.

      what exactly do you want from the ‘rents? exactly? it may be that it isn’t possible, and that you will simply have to love them in their infirmity as they are and where they are.

      that is all.

      Reply
      1. Robert

        JustJohn “you will simply have to love them in their infirmity as they are and where they are.”
        That’s exactly what he wants from his own parents. How do you not see this? Your advice sucks.
        It’s unproductive reasoning like this that allows pain to continue and plague the lives of people who never did anything to anyone and are simply trying to live life as they are.

        Reply
        1. JustJohn

          i have direct experience. i used the word “may” and wouldnt deign to deem my non-advise to be better than yours. i dont and didnt advise. i give another way to consider, and that is all.

    5. zacloud

      Dear Christopher, just try convincing them to read this page, or listen to the lecture version of it. I can think of nothing better. For them to realize that “killing” their son (your ‘father’ essentially did that) is wrong, and very much not Christian.

      I’m fortunate that me and my family have already taken an open-minded approach to our faith, and have let Jesus and God speak to us directly, instead of figureheads claiming to speak for Him at the pulpit or in the media. So when my younger brother came out as bisexual (later affirming gay), we accepted the new knowledge of him immediately, and it changed absolutely nothing in our relationship… except, he became even closer to us on his own end, relieved that his burden, fear of rejection, has been lifted away.

      I don’t know you personally, but I accept you unconditionally, Christopher. As do so many of us NALT (Not All Like That) Christians. You’re always welcome in Jesus’s family, no matter what others may say. The real Jesus, not the fabricated, judgmental facsimile. The one who spent SO much time repeatedly telling us to love, respect, and accept others. The world will be a better place when we all truly walk in His footsteps.

      Wishing you the best of luck, both with your old and your new family. Embrace the real love that has come your way. You deserve it, and so much more.

      Reply
    6. David

      Love takes time. I’m not a particularly religious person myself. However, I do know as a teacher and fellow gay man, that setting an example of how to be is the best way to get something done. It does take time though. You need, as Gandhi said, to ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.’ Marry your husband, have babies and raise them to be wonderful little people. Send your parents christmas cards, birthday cards emails, post cards etc showing that you still love them and that you are safe, healthy, happy, loving and loved. Keep in contact with your siblings – they can be your rock in hard times (I know mine were). When I praise the kids who do the right thing in my class rather than tear down the kids who are being ding dongs day in and day out, the response is swift and more positive. I set the best example I can of how to show care, show love and support to my students. They just found out recently that I’m gay and the VAST majority of them know someone (friend or family) who is gay, and then went on to math class and didn’t care at all.

      Hate and judgment are blinding, but love always wins in the end. So while your parents are blinded by their religion, your love and happiness in your own life could, one day, help open their eyes to the love they’ve been missing out on. Everyone wants to be loved by someone, so while your parents are having a tough time with this, you have found someone in your life who can be that love for you. So embrace that love and foster it. Then, go back and work on the pieces that are still missing. My dad took a little while to come around because of all of the conservative talking points he was used to ingesting. But when he saw that the rest of my friends, family and professors weren’t even batting an eye, he came around and is totally on board. Lead by loving human example and others will follow.

      David.

      Reply
    7. Anonymous

      I wished that I, and especially my husband. had this site back when our son was 18….I always vowed to love my children unconditionally, and in the end, I believe I do..But, it has taken my ex-husband longer. My child is now in his 30’s, and I am sure he has had struggles that even I do not know about…I am glad that he feels free to talk to me about his life, and involve me in his relationships and his life. I have tried to be there for him and I do love him just because he breathes…it is, after all, his life and he should have the freedom to live as God made him, knowing that God created him, and loves him just because he breathes also…With all the prejudices out there in this world, a parents job is to love and provide a safe haven for their children… I am growing with knowledge… my son and daughter have taught me more about living life than I could have ever imagined….

      Reply
      1. Linda Robertson Post author

        Isn’t it amazing how much we learn from our children? I couldn’t agree more! If you’d like to join a private online FB group for Christian moms who love their LGBTQ kids, find me on Facebook (Linda Mueller Robertson) and friend me! We’d love to have you!

        Reply
    8. Simcha

      Christopher,

      God made you, and as you are. Not only does God not make mistakes, you are made in the image of God. Remember this fundamental truth and if you at all can, have your parents understand it and not ‘pick and choose’.
      We live in a world of falsehood, where God’s true nature – love, and the gentle small, still voice that revealed itself to Elijah – is hidden. You have the truth. So do the Robinsons after their heartbreaking journey. And so do the scriptures, if one chooses understand them with faith in God’s creations instead of fear.

      Reply
    9. Kay

      Christopher – I used to think like your parents, but as a straight Christian mom of a non-hetero child I came to realize error in that line of thinking after real life experience. And I used to read the Bible as plain literal text like them, but now I ‘ve learned there is historical, cultural & linguistic contexts on the term homosexual to be different from what exists as a sexual orientation. And I’ve read same gender marriages used to be performed in history & Jack Rogers’ book on the topic & Matthew Vines’ video on youtube were a few of my considerations. I saw harm to people out of the view I had & I became more concerned that 40% of homeless gay youth are disowned by religious parents & that the church has guilted many into suicide (Mary Wallner’s story on that at Teach-Ministries.org & Trevor Project).
      But it is the biological aspects that I invite others like your parents to review in Dr Cynthia Chappell’s teaching on sexual orientation. I see it is like handedness & not a choice.
      http://houstonsvoice.com/video/thescienceofsexualorientationpartiii/

      The third part of this 3-part series discussed the science of sexual orientation. It focuses on prenatal hormones, hypothalamic activation and dimorphic characteristics all leading to the conclusion that sexual orientation is determined during the 8th – 16th week of a pregnancy. In John, Jesus also mentions some eunuch “born that way” & Jesus never taught against them.

      Also here is Dr Chappell’s earlier 9-part series in one place on biological aspects. Dr Chappell has gone through over 200 studies & compiled it for lay people to understand & I hope your family would be open to reviewing.
      http://www.pflaghouston.org/vidindex.html

      Reply

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