Parenting LGBT youth
2012: Reactions to a letter sent by
a father who disowned his gay son.
Postings by readers of the Reddit article:
The following posting by "newvideoaz" was rated as the best of the 4,721 comments added within three days of the son's article having gone online. He differentiated between the term "father" -- the sperm provider -- with "dad" -- the person who spent decades helping a son develop to maturity:
"... here's the opinion of someone who's been in your dad's shoes, but didn't have his sad mental baggage.
Your dad failed a really huge parenting test. Period.
So now he's self selected to be your father, but not to be your Dad. That sucks. And the really sad thing is that he has absolutely no freaking clue about the real value of what he's tossed away.
He'll always be your father. That's biology. But biology is fickle. We know this because while he has perhaps passed a lot to you via DNA, he did NOT pass along intolerance or stupidity. He can 'disown' you in his brain all he likes, but that doesn't mean much because he's already proved that whatever his strengths might be, he's allowed his thought processes and natural instincts to become seriously flawed. How you feel about him. Hurt, sad, angry, disappointed, that's yours to shuffle as you see fit.
But trust me, this is about him, not you. I actually hope that someday he gets a change to look deeply in his heart and comes to understand how horribly, terribly he screwed this up. If so, he'll maybe have a chance to start some personal redemption and healing. But he needs that. You don't.
Cuz there's nothing wrong with you. At all.
Stay strong. Take care. The world is changing fast. And for more people than ever, gay and straight, it's changing more toward love and away from fear - at least in this particular area.
Take care." 1
Another comment on the original article in Reddit caught our eye. It is from "jackrabt:"
"This is painful to read, only because my dad wrote me a similar letter when I came out around 7 years ago.
I'm happy to report that after around 5 years, he came to me and asked me to forgive him for what he'd done, and we've worked on rebuilding our relationship since then.
[I] Wish for much happiness to you in the future. [I am] Seriously amazed to find someone else who got 'the letter'." 1
Some further comments, apparently by conservative Christians:
These were two of the very few postings by persons who believe that same-gender behavior is intrinsically sinful, regardless of the nature of the relationship:
"nimrod1109" wrote: "I believe this person is no worse then I am. We have different struggles. I do believe homosexuality is wrong, but I have sinned and am in no position to throw the first stone. I believe even though it is a sin God still loves them, and if they truly believe that Jesus was God's only son sent to earth crucified for our sins, ordained by God, raised 3 days later, and ascended to heaven, I will see that person in heaven regardless over which sex (s)he liked."
This comment comes from a person who believes that a gay person can become straight:
"Lebagel" wrote: "You cannot directly and wilfully live your life in sin and believe in Jesus at the same time to get to heaven. (Although you can "wipe the slate clean" right at the end, of course). God does indeed care who you go to bed with. Biblically speaking you have to repent your sins, be washed clean by your belief in Christ. So that's why Christians try to cure gays. A Christian who accepts a gay for what they are is not being a good Christian."1
A letter by blogger John Kinnear to his "hypothetically gay son:"
John Kinnear wrote an article for The Blog on Huffington Post about the father's letter. He commented that this is a "pretty common story" in Utah. Some of his friends in high school had similar experiences in their families of origin. John is about to become a father for the first time and speculated what type of letter he would write a decade or so in the future if his son were to reveal that he is gay. He wrote:
"Dear hypothetically gay son,
You're gay. ..." *
"Let me be perfectly clear: I love you. I will always love you. Since being gay is part of who you are, I love that you're gay. I'm just trying to wrap my head around the idea. If you sensed any sadness in my silence last night, it was because I was surprised that I was surprised. Ideally, I would have already known. Since you were an embryo, my intent has always been to really know you for who you are and not who I expect you to be. And yet, I was taken by surprise at last night's dinner. Have I said "surprise" enough in this paragraph? One more time: Surprise!
OK. Let's get a few things straight about how things are going to be.
- Our home is a place of safety and love. The world has dealt you a difficult card. While LGBT people are becoming more accepted, it is still a difficult path to walk. You're going to experience hate and anger and misunderstandings about who you are out in the world. That will not happen here. You need to know with every fiber of who you are that when you walk in the front door of your home, you are safe, and you are loved. Your mother is in complete agreement with me on this.
- I am still, as always, your biggest defender. Just because you're gay doesn't mean you're any less capable of taking care of and defending yourself. That said, if you need me to stand next to you or in front of you, write letters, sign petitions, advocate, or anything else, I am here. I would go to war for you.
- If you're going to have boys over, you now need to leave your bedroom door open. Sorry, kiddo. Them's the breaks. I couldn't have girls in my room with the door shut, so you don't get to have boys.
- You and I are going to revisit that talk we had about safe sex. I know it's going to be awkward for both of us, but it is important. I need to do some research first, so let's give it a few weeks. If you have questions or concerns before then, let me know.
That's enough for now. Feel free to view this letter as a contract. If I ever fail to meet any of the commitments made herein, pull it out and hold me to account. I'll end with this: You are not broken. You are whole, and beautiful. You are capable and compassionate. You and your sister are the best things I have ever done with my life, and I couldn't be prouder of the people you've become.
P.S. Thanks to a few key Supreme Court decisions and the Marriage Equality Act of 2020, you're legally able to get married. When I was your age, that was just an idea. Pretty cool, huh?" 6
* A portion of this paragraph was deleted to stay within copyright limitations.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not
necessarily still active today.
- Posting by readers, Reddit/Atheism, 2012-AUG-07, at: http://www.reddit.com/
- John Kinnear, "Dear hypothetically gay son," Huffington Post, 2012-AUG, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2012-AUG-10
Latest update: 2012-AUG-10
Author: B.A. Robinson