By Greg Searle (also published at his blog http://gsearle.blogspot.com/)
What’s that? You haven’t heard? Yes, we are the proud parents of a gay son. Prior to this I had a passing interest in LGBT issues and the cruelty they have faced. I’ve always believed in being kind and compassionate to all, but haven’t actively been involved in this cause. I’m ashamed my son didn’t feel comfortable coming to us as parents and felt he had to hide it. I’m disappointed in my religion’s history towards LGBT individuals, specifically that it was once thought of as a choice and could be ‘fixed’ through reparative therapy, prayer, scripture study, living righteously, faith, fasting etc. Yeah, just like I can be fixed of being straight by doing all of that. Anyway, today they merely acknowledge it’s not a choice, but to remain in good standing our good brothers and sisters of the LGBT community must not act on it. They are to remain celibate or enter a mixed orientation marriage. The LDS faith, where it’s not good for man or woman to be alone, unless you’re LGBT. I hope and pray that one day this will change. Good people are leaving the faith because of the things that are shared from the top down and how this doesn’t square with the beliefs and answered prayers of a large portion of the membership, including me. For leaders and members that so confidently say this is an abomination and the doctrine will never change, I would simply ask the question, what if there is a place in the plan for LGBT members outside of celibacy/mixed orientation marriage? If I’m guilty of being too compassionate, too loving, too accepting or too tolerant, so be it. I will gladly accept and face my judgment in making those choices. This by no means makes me feel like I’m not defending my religious freedom as is the popular thing being thrown around on social media.
Back to my son and our little journey. One evening upon looking through his iPod and emails, I found an email that made me thankful we still have Zach in our family. He thanked this individual for his YouTube videos and how they had saved Zach’s life. I won’t go into the intimate details of the email, but Zach felt he couldn’t tell his parents about being gay because of our affiliation and beliefs in Mormon doctrine. As is common among many LGBT youth and knowing you can’t fit the mold outlined by the church, there was a feeling of hopelessness, shame, and dislike for himself to the point of thoughts of suicide or self harming.
My immediate response was wow, I’ve failed miserably as a parent. Not because I have a gay son, but because he felt unable to approach me with this and I haven’t helped him to believe in who he is and love himself for the wonderful person he is. I went to him that night and let him know what I had read, and most importantly that I love him no matter what, just the way he is. I hugged him as long as a teenage boy lets his Dad hug him. He cried and let out all those emotions that had been pent up for so long. I can’t imagine the burden he had carried for as long as he had known he’s gay.
I didn’t tell Christy that night. I wanted to wait until the next morning when Zach was gone to school and we could discuss. My journey with the LDS faith, Prop 8, and various other religious topics had gotten me to the point that I was fine having a gay son and I wasn’t going to allow my religion to dictate my emotions or response. Christy had a more difficult road, being much more in line and happy to follow without questioning. She can detail her journey if she feels like it, but it was painful for the first while until she found such wonderful people as Carla and Buzz Hoffman, the Montgomery’s, and the Abhau’s among many others. These people have offered such love and support and I’m eternally grateful to them for helping my wife feel that all is not lost. Along with the Abhau’s, Montgomery’s, and every other parent that has experienced the joy of this journey, we celebrate this gift of being parents to a gay son!