By Bryce Cook
How did you feel when you first found out your son/daughter/brother/sister was gay? Some LDS friends of ours just found out a family member was gay and are having a difficult time with it. This is what I shared with them – maybe it will be of help to someone out there who is in a similar situation.
“Dear ‘Julie and Dan,’ I understand ‘Jim’ came out to you recently. This can be a very difficult thing for both sides – I know because I have two sons who are gay. They are both returned missionaries and BYU grads (or soon to be in the case of one) – and my wife and I love them dearly. We’ve gotten to know your brother Jim quite well over the past year and think the world of him. He has a kind heart and is a very compassionate and understanding person. If you’ll allow me the liberty, I’d like to share some things we’ve learned about this subject.
“As my wife, Sara, and I have gotten to know and become friends with many gay men and women over the last year or so, we have seen that the gay people who have loving, supportive families are so much happier and more well-adjusted than those whose family members are unkind, judgmental or refuse to acknowledge the gay person’s feelings. The person whose family is able to talk about it without embarrassment or judgment and lets them know that they love them unconditionally, and who supports and trusts them, have a much better outlook on life and in fact find it easier to feel comfortable in the Church and to abide by gospel principles. Those families who are openly uncomfortable, judgmental or dismissive of the gay family member tend to make them feel worthless, conflicted and hopeless. They begin to have the feeling of ‘what’s the use, I’m an awful person, I might as well do whatever because that’s what people expect.’ These feelings can lead to all sorts of unhealthy, risky behaviors – and even suicide.
“I’ve seen some horrible situations where you just have to shake your head in wonderment how some families could think they are pleasing Heavenly Father with the way they treat their gay sons and daughters. Families should never have to feel like they are choosing between their loved ones and the gospel. Even if a gay family member chooses to have a partner, love comes first. We should never ever reject our loved ones. Elder Quentin Cook said, ‘Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.’
“It may be difficult trying to understand all the implications of this. But we have found that showing love and kindness and trust – the way the Savior treated the outcast and downtrodden in his ministry – brings about the best outcomes for everyone.
Please love and defend your LGBT family members! Life is hard enough for them in a straight world and in our church – their family should be a place of refuge and protection. Give them a hug, or send them a note and tell them you love them and are proud of them!
Family Acceptance Project’s Brochure: Supportive Families, Healthy Children (LDS version)
Bryce and his wife, Sara, have six children, two of whom are gay. Since their oldest son came out publicly a year-and-a-half ago, Bryce and Sara have felt prompted by the Spirit to be an active, positive voice for LGBT people in the Church and to help educate their fellow members of the Church on this subject. With others in their area, they have helped to organize a support/social group that meets on a monthly basis. They are also helping to organize the first LDS-LGBT conference in Arizona, to be held on April 27, at which Mitch Mayne and Bob Reese are the keynote speakers.