“What do you think about homosexuality?” Nearly 20 years ago our then 18 year old son, Scott, posed this question during his college Christmas break. Having no real reason to think about it, I thought, I told him I did not understand the “choice” or “lifestyle”. Why would anyone want to be gay knowing how society might treat him — bashing, zero protection for housing or job selection, denial of many basic rights like serving one’s country in the military, lack of acceptance in most churches, or denial of freedom to marry and all the benefits that automatically come with that (i.e. joint insurance, filing joint tax returns, shared home or property ownership, next of kin healthcare decisions, to name but just a few of these benefits).
“When did you first choose to love men, and Dad in particular?” It was not a choice, I had just always been attracted to men, and it was part of who I was. “Same for me Mom, I just remember always feeling this way. It is not a choice.”
Dad’s response was clear and simple. “You are my son; I love you and support you just as you are.” While I echoed this, I needed to know and understand more. So I began to search for something to help me. I finally found a book, Beyond Acceptance, by a group of PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) parents that began to help me understand we were not the only family struggling with so many questions. We found a local PFLAG chapter and began to feel the unconditional love and acceptance for ourselves as parents and for our son. The hardest part of Scott’s coming out was his clear statement about the church that he had grown up in. “The church does not want me as I am and I do not need the church.” Many times over the years as our church and so many others made hurtful, even hateful statements about gays, I tried to remind Scott that the church is people and that God did not reject him, He continued to love and care for him. God made him as he was and must surely continue to love His child, even as Dad and I did. This has been a long hard struggle for Scott, but today he has found a church that loves and accepts him as he is. He is active on the church council, the outreach committee and has taught Sunday school for more than six years. His church has blessed his union with Kelly, as have both families.
Today he is a pediatric Intensive Care RN, respected by his peers, honored by his employer, Children’s MercyHospital in Kansas City, loved and respected by his church and active in the gay community (he testified for the passage of Kansas City’s Protection and Support of Domestic Partners Bill). Scott and Kelly sing openly and proudly in the Heartland Men’s Chorus that always brings not only a great musical presence, but a strong and positive message to each concert.
Twenty years ago I knew I loved my son just as he was. Today, I have come to know and love so many in “the gay community” that I might never have known except through our journey with other PFLAG parents.and their children and friends.
We will continue to work with other reconciling United Methodists for acceptance and full inclusion in our church for all of our children and friends. Indeed, we look forward to the day when all of our churches not only speak about but fully embrace the vision of Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors. This is not an easy task, but a loving challenge by God to live His unconditional love that we all enjoy as His children.