Friday, January 17, 2014

To Parents Who Have Just Found Out That Your Child Is Gay

I keep hearing things about gay people being an abomination or worse in the twenty first century when we should be growing and evolving but some people still would prefer to live in fear.
I am a straight person who supports gay rights, not because I grew up thinking that was a good thing or that I am what some people call liberal, but because I am who I am through my own experiences. I know that I am not sexually attracted to men but I am to women, not because I made a choice to be but because I just am the way I was genetically programmed to be. I was asked once decades ago, "What would you do if you had a child and they came home one day and told you that they were gay?"  I was in a group and several people answered ahead of me. One lady said, "I don't know what I would do, or how I would feel, I guess I would have to be in that situation before I would know." I kind of thought that was a good answer at first.
I have two daughters and they are several years apart from two different relationships. The oldest one was attracted to and dating men at the time I started thinking about that question, but I thought that I would never have to face it so it didn't matter. Then the second child was born twenty years later. My youngest daughter hung out with one girl in grammar school whose parents were a same sex couple and the girl dressed like a boy. I didn't know how to feel about that, but it occurred to me at a certain point that my daughter could at some point discover she was gay.
I asked myself again, knowing many gay people who were friends at that point, would you wish this on your child? NO, no one would want to knowingly want their child to go through the disrespect and discrimination that gay people have had to endure. Later that thought turned into, "Wow, I guess no one would knowingly think about that kind of treatment and pick a lifestyle that would create that kind of dramatic mistreatment and hate in their life if they could choose another path unless they hated themselves."  And from my gay friends, I learned that they don't, for the most part, hate themselves. That only happens when they seek the approval of parents that are religiously hateful bigots.
My mother obviously came from a different generation and she had a friend that taught me something by her example. My mom worried through watching this woman basically disown her daughter for being gay because she (my mother's friend) was a LDS Christian and her minister had told her it was a choice and that her daughter was a "sinner".  Her husband was there and supported her in confronting and chastising her daughter and they asked her to leave their home until she "chose" to pick a normal lifestyle.
After her husband died of Alzheimer's disease, the woman tried to establish contact with her daughter before she died because when her husband died, two things happened. 1) She lost her mutual admiration society partner in the act of hating their daughter for being a sinner, to pat her on the back and tell her she was right in what she did, and 2) her husband's passing signalled in her that life is short and the realization that as she got older, maybe what her religious leaders had told her was wrong. The last time I heard the woman's voice was when she left a message to my mother on my mom's answering machine, crying, and sobbing out loud, "She's gone and it just occurred to me I will never see her again."
Sometimes it doesn't occur to us how much we love someone until they are gone. If you are a parent, and your child is gay, please remember, they are still your child, the one you raised and their values are probably the ones you taught them when you were still proud of them and felt like they were a gift to you and the rest of the world. The only difference is, that a part of their lifestyle turned out in a way you didn't expect, but that is okay. You will have to quit trying to understand it, and just accept it, that they are different, like all humans are different and you don't own that. If you choose to believe in God and call yourself a Christian (those are choices, how you are genetically designed at birth isn't), then I ask you to look in the New Testament where the disciples wrote about Jesus, and find the part where Jesus said you were to judge, condemn, and rebuke ANYONE, including gay people. Can't find it? That's right, because it isn't there.
If you lose your child through the choice of being intolerant and acting like a bigot, it is going to be your loss, because as you will probably see, like my mother's friend did, much too late in life, that you could have known your own child for the wonderful human being that you raised and that is a very sad, lonely epiphany to endure as you are older and realizing life is too short to hate the people you love. I suggest that if your religious leader tells you to hate your children, that you need to find a new leader or become an active leader of the movement towards the love you feel for your child.

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