This is a hard post to write.
I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and my son is gay.
It was probably the beginning of January last year, when my son told me he was gay. He’d been acting “off” for quite a while, and I could tell he wasn’t himself. I was starting to worry about his level of depression and whether or not he was taking after me in the mental health department. I have been dealing with depression and anxiety since I was 12 or so.
But, he text me one day while I was at work and told me he was gay. A huge weight was lifted. Not only from him, but from me too. I realized why he was acting the way he had been. He wasn’t dealing with mental illness, just a weighty issue that he was scared to tell us about.
My oldest son is 13. He was 12 at the time. I was thrilled at first…thrilled that he wasn’t dealing with mountainous depression. But then the truth started to sink in. And so did the doubt. Was he really gay? How could he know? I reasoned that 12 year old boys know if they like girls or not, so he must know that he didn’t like girls.
But just the year before, he’d had a “girlfriend.”
More and more doubt seeped in. I mean, he didn’t seem gay. Yet, all of a sudden he was proudly professing it. He was wanting makeup, wondering why it was inappropriate for him to wear dresses. I’d lie if I said I wasn’t hoping it was just a phase.
Over a year later, it’s not a phase.
I’ve always prided myself on being open minded. I had gay friends growing up….I still have gay friends. And I love them. Why was I having such a hard time coming to grips with accepting that my son was gay? I was constantly second guessing myself, and living a double life. Happy for him and supportive; but secretly scared, doubtful and a bit angry. Yes, angry.
You see, selfishly, I was (and still am to some extent) hoping that it wasn’t true. That he’d just change his mind. That he’d come to a realization that he wasn’t really gay. Maybe it was just a phase. As awful as it sounds, I was mourning the loss of the way I pictured my son. I’d always just assumed he would grow up and get married to a woman and have some grandbabies for me. In my head, he’d go to some nice college and meet a girl.
After we joined the church, I assumed he’d go to BYU. He’d serve a mission, attend BYU and then get married in the Temple.
You see, we joined the church just about six months before his revelation. I had everything I wanted: a deacon serving in the church and two beautiful primary kids. We were working toward our endowments so we could get sealed in the temple. I couldn’t wait for my kids to go on to seminary and then missions, and then BYU. I had this whole Mormon bliss cooked up in my mind. Our story of joining the church is a long one, and hopefully I’ll tell it here sometime. I was working toward a better life for my family.
And then it happened. My son told me he was gay. I love him for it. I do. I love his relentless ability to be himself despite everything. But I have my doubts now.
Doubts that I can have the perfect family. Doubts that I’ll be accepted. Doubts that he can truly be happy as a member of the church. I have doubts that I won’t scar him in some way by continuing to attend the church. I want to protect his fragile self esteem. His self esteem is building finally, but I do not want to be that family that makes one of our own feel like they’re not good enough.
I fear that’s exactly what will happen if we continue to be members of the church.
As a mother, I’d do anything for my family. Including forsaking my own religion in order to make a better, more comfortable life for my son.
I’d do anything to not have these feelings I have. These conflicting feelings.
The newest updates to the BYU honor code further drives home just how out of place my poor baby will be in our cushy Mormon culture. Not just our LDS culture though, the rest of the world.
Recently, a friend of my middle son’s told his parents that my oldest is gay…and now he’s not allowed at our house any more. My poor sweet middle baby – the autistic one – is denied from seeing his only friend because of choices my oldest son is making. (Choosing to openly tell people he’s gay) Admittedly, also because the friend’s parents must be raging bigots.
Please Lord, deliver me from this.