Friday, March 31, 2006

So Tell Me Again Why Gays Should Not Be Allowed To Adopt

When my daughter was born in 1988, my middle son was two years old. For him it was love at first sight. He never displayed a shred of jealousy. In fact, he loved her so much that I had to be ultra-vigilant constantly. I mean how many two year olds understand the concept of being gentle? And yet, his intentions were always pure, he just wanted unlimited easy access so that he could shower her with kisses when the mood struck him (which was often). He’d have his chubby little arm slipped through the slats of her crib and her chubby arm in his grasp and her tiny little body yanked over within convenient proximity of his pursed lips in a nanosecond, long before I could get my chubby little post pregnant body over there to stop him. It is a wonder that she doesn’t have one arm significantly longer than the other. But he just could not help himself. He was so overjoyed to have a precious little sister.

That love affair never ended. Their bond today is as amazing as ever. And his love for babies and children in general never ended either. I always felt that of my three kids, he was the one that would most likely get married and have a family of his own. And I had no doubts whatsoever that he would be an amazing dad if he ever chose to have kids. His compassion and tenderness really come out when he is around children.

So when I hear the Dobson, Falwell, Robertson crowd telling me that my son is not fit to be a father, I don’t take it too well (and I am not the only one). Never mind the fact that they don’t even know him, never mind the fact that he is a wonderful, kind, compassionate, and truly good human being, according to them he will never be good enough to be a daddy. How dare them! Where do they get off? Why do they think that they have the right to demand that my son never know the joys of fatherhood, that my husband and I never know the joys of being doting grandparents to his children, that my other son and daughter never know the joys of being uncles and aunts to his children, and that some child with no family never be allowed the joys of having a loving family? How can these so called Christians live with themselves? How can these so called Christians say that they are advocates for the family when there will be children denied families and condemned to the revolving door of the foster care system because of their ignorance, hate, and bigotry?

There are numerous studies (two of which are here and here) that show that children of gay and lesbian parents do just as well as children of heterosexual parents. But something tells me that it doesn’t matter how many studies debunk all of their reasons for denying gays and lesbians the right to adopt. Their ultimate goal never had anything to do with the best interest of the child and everything to do with demonizing gays and enshrining their bigotry in laws and in our constitution. The children? Pfffft Just collateral damage in the war on gays.

And then there is the Catholic Church! It is so sad how much this institution has lost its way. Once again the church’s most needy and vulnerable, the children, take a back seat, first to the protection of pedophile priests and now to bigotry. And yet the Pope actually had the gall to justify the church’s stand by saying (back in 2003 when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger) that allowing children to be adopted SEARCH
by same-sex couples would actually mean doing violence to these children and was gravely immoral.
Wow! Let that sink in for a minute. It simply boggles the mind, doesn’t it? I am left quite speechless. But as always, Andrew Sullivan can eloquently put into words what my anger prevents me from saying in an even remotely civil manner:

Truly heart-breaking news. The Vatican hierarchy refuses to budge in its demonization of gay couples and families. And so Catholic Charities in Boston has stopped placing needy children in adoption altogether. I would have reluctantly acquiesced in the discrimination, just to help the majority of kids. But I respect the integrity of the lay Catholic board in refusing to give in to an invidious piece of discrimination; and Massachusetts for insisting that the only criterion for adoption be the safety and love in adoptive households, regardless of sexual orientation. The whole thing is sad. But that's what bigotry does. Cruelty begets cruelty. And all in the name of love. All Catholics who do not share the bigotry of the hierarchy simply have to pray that one day, their hearts will open.

I am honestly left to wonder what happened to the loving, inclusive Jesus that I learned about when I was a child. Has He just gotten mean and hateful in His old age, or is it just that His loving image has been twisted and distorted to fit the mean and hateful agenda of the mean and hateful? I know what I think… Share

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Beware of Wildcat

I have three children, two sons and a daughter, in that order. My daughter is the only one left at home. Her two brothers are away at college.

My daughter and I have a relationship pretty typical of other mother/daughter relationships that are at this stage in the game. One day I am her hero and best friend, the next day the worst person in her life. Thankfully, I can say that with each passing year our relationship becomes closer and more special and the major meltdowns between us are fast becoming long ago memories at which we can both shake our heads and laugh.

She is a wonderful kid and I am very proud of her. She is an amazing student with grades that would make any parent beam. She juggles an outside job, community service, student council, and devotes time to several pet causes. She is a great athlete and is always on one team or another. She has wonderful friends and manages to balance social life and school and do well in both. Sometimes when she is totally immersed in something like a good book, or a silly phone conversation, or an aggravating physics problem, I just stare at her and thank God that she is my daughter. She is a beautiful blossoming young woman one moment and an awkward, easily embarrassed kid the next. She is at a funny juncture in her life, on the one hand working towards more independence and responsibility and actively pulling away from us and on the other hand working her way through some of the usual awkward stages that come with being a teenager who still needs parental guidance. It can sometimes feel as though we are living with two different people.

I would describe my daughter as a very sweet, low-key, (and most of the time) quiet girl. At social gatherings I observe her and she is polite, respectful, actively partakes in conversations, but exhibits no signs of needing or wanting to be the center of attention. She can easily be embarrassed (usually by one of her parents) and will go out of her way to avoid being confrontational with anyone (except of course one of her parents). In fact for most of her young life she has been content to just blend in with her group of friends, be normal, and not draw unnecessary attention to herself. BUT a lot of things changed once she learned one of her beloved brothers was gay. I saw a side of her emerge that truly made my jaw drop. Now, if someone makes a derogatory remark or tells a joke about gays she is the first one to step up to the plate and put the offender in his place. I was shocked the first time I witnessed it. She reminded me of a wildcat. My sweet little girl, who can be so easily embarrassed at the most benign things, had found her reason to step out of her comfort zone and be the center of attention. All her inhibitions evaporate, her face turns a little red, her eyes have fire in them, and she speaks her mind in a no nonsense voice making it absolutely clear that NO ONE is going to tell a joke or make a snide comment at the expense of a gay person in her presence. And on those occasions that I have had the pleasure of witnessing, the offender (usually twice her size) takes a step or two back, literally shocked at the sudden transformation of this quiet little girl to wildcat in attack mode. I, was utterly taken aback the first time I witnessed it, she had found the courage to do what I could not. She speaks up, she does not agonize in silence, she makes it clear that it is never funny to make gays the punch line of a joke. Her message is loud and clear: gays are not the joke, homophobes are.

And I have to wonder, how many more sisters and brothers are out there ready to pounce? This generation is different. They are not going to be silent or easily intimidated by the pulpit bully crowd. They are the generation that actually has friends who are gay. They are the generation that understands that gays are really no different than themselves. They are the generation that considers this issue a non-issue. They are the generation that is not going to tolerate the homophobic jokes and bigotry. They are the generation that is going to speak up.

So let this be fair warning to the Dobson, Falwell, Robertson crowd. Your days of using homophobia, hate, and fear to fatten your bank accounts and destroy families like mine are numbered. It is not going to wash with this next generation. They are too smart to buy your hateful hogwash nonsense. Share

Dear Senator McCain

I write to you today with a heavy heart and deep disappointment. With each passing day it becomes more and more clear that you are positioning yourself to run for President in 2008. Five or six years ago I would have been thrilled, but today ----- not so much.

It seems to me that all of the qualities that once set you apart from other politicians have pretty much vanished into thin air. I now find myself wondering what happened to the maverick. And I am not the only one.

There have been numerous things over the years that have slowly chiseled away at my admiration for you. And lately, it has gotten too much to bear. Endorsing the teaching of Intelligent Design in our children’s science classes and supporting the Protect Marriage Arizona Amendment, two Republican wedge issues designed to whip the extreme religious fringe of your base into a frenzy was just more than I could stomach. But I suppose the last straw for me is your blatant cozying up to someone like Jerry Falwell, a man that you once referred to as an agent of intolerance, but then again, that was back in your maverick years. And now that Mr. Falwell knows he’s got you right where he wants you, he has made it very clear that “You have a lot of fence mending to do.”

Oh Senator McCain, what have you done? Don’t you see that you cannot ever please these religious extremists? They will never be satisfied. And by even trying, you have turned off the very people who once held you in high esteem, the moderates. You are not a maverick anymore, you are just mushy. By abandoning your principles, you have made yourself no different than the other Republican candidates that are eyeing the Presidency. You don’t stand out anymore. It has been a long fall from Hero to Ho Hum.

I know that I am just a Seething Mom and that I have a personal stake in who becomes the next President of the United States, considering my son is slowly being relegated to a second class citizen by the powers-that-be, but could I give you some humble advice? Be true to yourself. Leave the Republican Party, which has become a party of yes men anyway. Run as an Independent and go back to being a maverick. It becomes you.

And let me close with a little refresher. The second definition for Maverick in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary is: an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party.


Seething Mom


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Planning a Vacation to Utah?

If you are planning a trip to Utah, you might want to think twice about visiting the city of Kanab. The Kanab's City Council unanimously adopted a nonbinding resolution last month that calls marriage between a man and woman "ordained of God" and urges homes to be open to a "full quiver of children." It also encourages young women to become "wives, homemakers and mothers" and young men to grow into "husbands, home builders and fathers." This document has been warmly received by some people, like the Rev. Doug Hounshell, who:

thanks God for a community that doesn't think it has to be gay-friendly. We don't mean to be mean-spirited," says Hounshell, pastor of Cliffview Chapel Baptist Church in Kanab. "But the message to a homosexual might be that this is probably not the friendliest town for that type of thing.

Hat tip to Pam's Houseblend


Friday, March 24, 2006

Dear Senator Frist

Dear Senator Frist,

A couple of weeks ago I read that you are planning on bringing to a vote a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Again.

I guess the poll numbers showing the country’s dissatisfaction with this administration and this Republican controlled congress is pushing you to do it. I mean it is an old tried and true political weapon that has certainly worked before. So I guess it doesn’t hurt to dust it off, keep your fingers crossed, and hope like hell that it bears fruit for the Grand Old Party again.

I really hate to be the bearer of bad news on this brilliant political strategy, but I don’t think it is going to work as well as it has in the past. You see, opposition to gay marriage is declining. Could it be that most Americans have bigger problems threatening their families and their way of life? Could it be that they are now realizing that decreasing job stability, rising energy prices, unaffordable healthcare and high insurance costs, ballooning deficits, a war in Iraq and Afghanistan, disappearing pensions, rising higher education costs and declining grant and scholarship funds, etc., etc. are bigger threats to the American family than two people of the same sex wanting to have their commitment to each other legally recognized? Could it be that the American people are feeling a little hoodwinked from the last time you pulled this cheap little trick out of your bag?

And on a more personal level and as the mother of a gay child, I have to tell you this is getting so old and so offensive. Please STOP IT. I am sick and tired of you using my child as a way to whip your base into a frenzy to raise your poll numbers. How would you like it if one of your children was shamelessly used by an elected official in such a self-serving way? Betrayed? Angry? Fed Up? I would guess all of the above and more.

I have spent countless sleepless hours thinking about the harm you have done to so many families like mine with these stunts. We are Americans too. Leave our children alone! Leave our families alone. I need some sleep. Please sir, I respectfully request that you start spending more time on the real problems our country is facing and stop inventing problems that don’t exist. You might be pleasantly surprised at how that might just raise your very sad poll numbers.

Thank you for your time.

Seething Mom Share

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Wow, What a Kid!

To the mom and dad of this young man: You should be so proud of him! I sure am. Share

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Gay Marriage - From the Perspective of a Mother of a Gay Son

I found out I had a gay son right in the middle of the 2004 presidential campaign. And though there is never an ideal time to learn such news about one of your children, this was in my opinion a pretty bad time. The Bush campaign was going full force in its efforts to rally and fire up its “base” by putting the threat of gay marriage front and center. It was so depressing to see how successful they were at hyping gay marriage to a threat level almost on equal footing as that of a terrorist with a dirty bomb. And it turned out to be one of their most powerful political tools for drawing out their far right evangelical supporters.

What I want to know is how on earth could so many people buy into the argument that allowing gays to marry would destroy their own marriage and family? I just could not understand why more people were not asking the obvious questions: how will it destroy my marriage and how will it hurt my family? But I guess there were enough people willing to accept the argument at face value with no questions asked because here we are today with George Bush as our president for a second term.

I still firmly believe that most Americans are a fair and kind hearted people. It is the only thing that keeps me going at times like these. With that said, I would like to make my argument for gay marriage, admittedly from a very subjective and at times selfish perspective, that of a mom who has a gay son.

Let’s get the selfish part out of the way first. I have 3 children; some still in their teens and some in their 20-somethings. As any parent with teenagers at home knows, these years are a minefield to navigate. The worry level is set at high and every emotion, good and bad, during this time can be described in superlatives. During some of the more tumultuous and worrisome periods, I project myself into the future and imagine my kids all grown up and functioning as fine, upstanding, moral, independent, contributing members of society. I would be lying if I said that I don’t assume that some, if not all of my children will one day get married. Imagining my children in happy, stable, and fulfilling relationships gives me such joy and peace of mind. And why not, the term settle down did not just appear out of thin air. I would venture to say that many a parent breathes a sigh of relief when their children enter into this rite of passage. Taking on the responsibilities and commitments of marriage is very stabilizing, very settling, and very healthy, emotionally and physically.

By denying one of my children the opportunity to marry, the government is not treating my 3 children equally and is singling out my son by denying him the same rights the other 2 will enjoy. They are also denying me and every other parent of a gay child all of the benefits that we would experience from our child’s marriage. I can never be a mother-in-law to his spouse, I can never be a grandmother, I will always feel deep sadness and regret that my son will be denied the contentment and happiness that comes with committing to marriage and having a family of his own, I can never stop worrying about HIV and AIDS because he will not be held to the same monogamous commitments that his married heterosexual counterparts will be held to, I can never stop worrying that he will always be more vulnerable and at more of a financial disadvantage because he is denied the legal protections and benefits that married couples enjoy. And I will always know that society has deemed my son a second class citizen because of whom he chooses to love.

I would also make the argument that society stands to lose too, but I will let Andrew Sullivan do part of it for me. From his essay, Unveiled, the case against same-sex marriage crumbles:

In Denmark, where de facto gay marriage has existed for some time, the rate of marriage among gays is far lower than among straights, but, perhaps as a result, the gay divorce rate is just over one-fifth that of heterosexuals. And, during the first six years in which gay marriage was legal, scholar Darren Spedale has found, the rate of straight marriages rose 10 percent, and the rate of straight divorces decreased by 12 percent. In the only country where we have real data on the impact of gay marriage, the net result has clearly been a conservative one.

When you think about it, this makes sense. Within gay subculture, marriage would not be taken for granted. It's likely to attract older, more mainstream gay couples, its stabilizing ripples spreading through both the subculture and the wider society. Because such marriages would integrate a long-isolated group of people into the world of love and family, they would also help heal the psychic wounds that scar so many gay people and their families. Far from weakening heterosexual marriage, gay marriage would, I bet, help strengthen it, as the culture of marriage finally embraces all citizens. How sad that some conservatives still cannot see that. How encouraging that, in such a short time, so many others have begun to understand.

Another reason I think gay marriage would actually benefit traditional marriage and the American family is that there would be less pressure for gay men and women to try to conform to society’s view of normal by entering into sham marriages. Many of these marriages result in failure and among the casualties of those failed marriages are children. I never realized how devastating or prevalent this was until I started attending PFLAG meetings. I was shocked at the toll it takes on the children from these failed marriages. Their families are shattered and their lives are shattered. Their world as they thought they knew it is gone. It is a tragedy for which we as a society can take some blame.

I would also argue that legalizing gay marriage would be beneficial to the black community where homophobia is intense and often results in something called living on the down low”. The need to appear straight and avoid the stigma of homosexuality is so intense that many black men are secretly having sex with other men while married or in relationships with girlfriends. This practice has been blamed for the rising number of HIV infections among more women, more college students and people over age 50. If we legalize gay marriage, eventually we might be able to dilute this powerful stigma that drives so many gays to live double lives that endanger so many innocent people and tear apart so many families.

I know that for many people opposition to gay marriage boils down to their discomfort with the idea of gay sex. Understandable. But are these people any more comfortable thinking about their preacher and his wife having sex or god forbid their parents having sex? There are lots of things in life that are not easy to think about, but discomfort is not reason enough to deny a whole group of people the same rights that we take for granted and enjoy.

And then there are those people who are opposed to gay marriage on the basis of their own religious beliefs about homosexuality. I completely respect their right to believe what they believe. That is what our country is all about, freedom to believe what you want to believe. Heck the Catholic Church, my own former church is very dogmatic in their belief that homosexual sex and thus homosexual marriage is wrong. Again, I say fine, don’t sanction gay marriages. That is what makes our country so beautiful. Churches are free to preach whatever they want about homosexuality and back it up in practice. People are free to believe that homosexuality and everything that goes with it is wrong. But that is where it should stop. People are not free to demand legislation that denies equal rights to an entire group of people because their religion has deemed it wrong. Our laws must fall within the parameters set forth by the constitution, not the bible and not the church. Everyone should be treated equally regardless of who they choose to love and regardless of who they choose to marry. Share

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tell your story

My son is gay.

Wow, those words still kind of blow my mind. And if I say them out loud, I feel a little shiver run down my spine. But I am still grappling with and working through some issues that I have had since finding out that I have a gay child.

When I first found out that my son was gay, I was so stunned and so not ready to talk to anyone about it, that I didn’t even tell my mom. She is my closest and dearest friend in the entire world and had actually lived with my husband, me, and our three children for 10 years. We also did not immediately tell two of our dearest friends, godparents to one of our children, who themselves have a gay child. The result was a terrible isolation and loneliness.

I had so many immediate concerns and fears and I needed desperately to know that what I was feeling was not crazy or horrible and yet, I just was not ready to face someone and tell them my son was gay. So I turned to the anonymity of my computer. It was an invaluable resource. I was able to link to so many others out there going through similar struggles. It provided me with answers and assured me I was not alone.

Now I want to create a kind of safe haven for others who might not be ready to openly talk about what they are going through, but need to know that they are not alone. My hope is that it will be a kind of one stop destination that provides a place for people to come and tell their stories and/or read about other people’s experiences. But to do this, I need help.

I am inviting anyone who has a story they want to share to send it to me. I would love to hear from parents who have just learned they have a gay child, parents who are old hat at it all, gays and lesbians who are contemplating coming out, gays and lesbians who have come out, gays and lesbians who have chosen not to come out. I’d love to hear the stories of people who came out many years ago and what that was like and the obstacles they faced that may not exist today. I’d like to hear from people who have come out more recently and how that has gone. I’d like to hear about the struggles, the victories, the conflicts, the fears, the joys, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And if you are someone who has had a major change of heart about gays, please, please share what brought about your transformation. There are just so many stories to be told and I believe there are so many people out there who need to hear them.

Everyone with an opinion or a story is welcome to contribute, sexual orientation does not matter, we do not discriminate here. No subject is too trivial, no emotion is abnormal, and no worry is unfounded. I would ask for civil discussion although I understand that there are plenty of outrageous things going on out there which may require some major angry ranting and that is ok (I confess that anger has been a prevailing emotion for me these past few years).

Remember, ignorance is our biggest enemy. Educating people by telling our stories is a powerful tool. I believe in my heart that most people are fair and kind hearted, but if they have only people like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson to listen to, we lose this war. So speak up, get your feet wet here, and then when you are ready, start showing people that you are really no different than they are.

And one final note, I have met some amazing transgendered people at PFLAG meetings. I know there are many people facing enormous challenges and obstacles relating to this issue. Please feel free to join us. We would love to have you and your stories would be invaluable as well. Share

The Day We Found Out

The day our lives changed forever started out like any other day. Our second son was in the middle of his senior year in high school and heavily entrenched in the college application process. Anyone who has been through this with their teen knows how stressful this time can be.

Applying for college is an overwhelming process, wrought with high level emotions, a lot of hand wringing, and outright worry. Add to the mix the pressures of an unbelievable school schedule loaded with AP and honors classes, the constant worry of keeping the GPA up, a job, the usual outside school activities, PSAT, SAT, and ACT testing and retesting, and you have a pressure cooker environment ripe for explosive parent-child confrontations. It is truly a wonder that any kid lives long enough to even make it to college.

It was under this backdrop that my husband and I found out that our son was gay. Sadly, he did not come out to us. And if he had any plans to come out to us, my guess is that it certainly would not have been at this point in time. No, unfortunately we found out quite by accident, a factor that only exacerbated the shock, sadness, and misunderstandings. Though the way we found out was not very dramatic considering some of the stories we have since heard from other parents, it certainly was no less traumatic.

Knowing the stress my son was under, juggling everything he had going on plus staying on top of the massive amount of work involved in applying for college, I offered to handle all of the more mundane and tedious chores that come with applying for college. We agreed that I could help by organizing all of the correspondence from all of the universities to which he was applying (I believe there were 10 on his list) and keeping track of all of the deadlines for him. We decided that it made sense to use my email address for any correspondence between him and the various universities so that way I could sift through everything and make sure that the important stuff got to him and dealt with in a timely manner.

Most universities require some kind of essay. The choices for subject matter usually include an option for telling about something that has profoundly affected your life. My son chose this theme and proceeded to churn out a run-of-the-mill paper about his school community service project (his school, a Jesuit high school, required a set number of community service hours in order to graduate). The trip he took to satisfy his community service requirement was a week working and living with a family in a very poor border town in Mexico, and it was a trip that did indeed profoundly affect him. Most of the universities to which he was applying were Jesuit as well and he knew this would appeal to them. The paper was very good, but now in retrospect, I guess it seemed very unauthentic and insincere to him considering he had something much more profound at that point in time affecting his life.

Unbeknownst to me, he decided that he needed to put into writing, to strangers, what he did not have the courage to do with his us ------ come out. So he used an essay that he actually had written for a high school class assignment (again I plead cluelessness, I had never laid eyes on this paper) and under the most stealth of conditions, sent it to every university to which he was applying. I would later ask him what on earth was he thinking when he did that. After all, the Catholic Church was not proving to be the most protective or inclusive haven for gays and his goal was to be accepted not rejected. He just stared at me, he did not have an answer. I can only guess that he felt he should know before getting accepted whether any of these schools had a problem with who he truly was.

I am happy to say that I underestimated the Jesuits. He was accepted to every university to which he applied. Not only was he accepted, but he received heart felt handwritten personal letters from many of these schools telling him how moved they were by his essay and that they would be proud to have him as a student on their campus! All but one of these letters came addressed to him by way of the US Postal service. The one letter that did not come by means of the postman came directly to my email inbox. And that was one of the best and one of the worst moments of my life.

I saw that email in my inbox and noted that it was from one of the universities that my son had applied to and I blithely opened it, completely unprepared for what I was about to read. Talk about an event that profoundly affects your life… I was stunned. My face felt on fire, my eyes filled with tears, my hands began to shake. I was unable to speak. The thoughts flashing one right after the other in my brain went from crazy to ludicrous. My head felt like it was going to explode. I wanted to run away, but there was nowhere to run.

Fortunately, my son was still at school when this happened. It gave me and my husband a few hours to collect ourselves. We needed to decide how best to handle this. It was obvious that he was not ready to tell us, a fact that painfully seared deep into my heart, but I knew I could not pretend to be the person I was five minutes before I had booted up my computer that day, that person was gone forever. I knew that I would have to confront him with what I knew soon after he got home. I was incapable of pretending to be June Cleaver.

After a bit of thought, I printed up the email and laid it on his bed. When he returned home from school that day, he did what he always did, came in and mumbled some semblance of the word hi, clunked loudly up the stairs with his overloaded backpack on his shoulder, headed straight to his room and closed the door. My husband and I sat nervously in the kitchen and waited. I did not know what else to do. I was so apprehensive and scared. I could only imagine what he was feeling behind his closed door reading that letter. I am sure his terror and sense of dread dwarfed anything we were feeling.

He never came down those stairs. Eventually I had to go up to him. When he opened his door to me, I saw a tremendously frightened kid whose face was scary white, the blood completely drained away. I was overcome with intense sadness and a love that made my heart hurt. It was at that moment that I realized that he was not sure if we still loved him. It almost killed me to realize that he could even think this. I could not have loved him anymore than I did at that moment. And yet all I could think to say at that moment was “Are you sure?” I wish I could take that moment back, it was such a dopey thing to say. OF COURSE HE WAS SURE. I knew damn well that he had spent years grappling, denying, pretending, pleading, crying, and finally accepting who he was. Who was I to question him on something that had so consumed such a big part of his life? In fact, I knew the moment I had read the email earlier that day that it was true, so many things that had nagged at my subconscious as he was growing up finally made sense. Damn, why couldn’t I have said something more profound like “I love you with all my heart and that will never change”?

He and I retreated back to the privacy of his bedroom and began to talk. My husband needed more time to digest what we had learned and decided to let us have this time alone. I will not go into the minutia of what we talked about, but the major point I needed to get across to him was that nothing could make us not love him. He was still our son and nothing would change that. I assured him that he no longer had to make this journey alone and that I was there when he needed to talk. I also mentioned that I would need to talk too, a lot – a whole lot, and he would need to accommodate me. I reminded him that he had had many years to get comfortable with being gay and that he needed to understand that we too would need time to get comfortable with it. We cried, we shared some nervous laughs, we hugged, and we shared a lot of nervous silence, but that evening marked the beginning of really truly getting to know my beautiful son for who he really was. Share

The Aftermath

After finding out that our beloved son was gay, my husband and I each retreated into our own little worlds to try and make sense of it all. It seemed the only way to sort things out. For days, we would get our children off to school, and then proceed to walk around the house like zombies completely incapable of comforting ourselves or each other. When the pain would get to be too much, I would just crawl off to some dark corner of the house and sob. Neither of us had energy to do anything. I was so numb and so close to comatose that I wonder now if I even had a pulse. I dreaded going to bed at night, being alone with my thoughts was torture, but I dreaded the daytime even more. Trying to carry on with some sense of routine and normalcy took more energy than I had. I felt completely crippled by it all. But somehow through all of this we managed to carry on around our son without revealing the frightening depths of our pain, fear and confusion.

During those first few weeks my mind was cluttered with crazy, frightening, and sometimes incoherent thoughts. I could not shake the feeling of doom. All of a sudden my son’s once bright future looked like a foreboding minefield of danger. A heavy, suffocating fear enveloped me. I was overwhelmed thinking about the challenges that he would face simply because of who he might choose to love. All I could think about was Mathew Sheppard’s tragic story which played in an unending loop in my head. HIV and AIDS moved to the top of my list of must have conversations (and I mentally scratched the “you don’t want to ruin your future by getting a girl pregnant” talk from the list). Any peace or contentment in my life was gone and fear and paranoia had moved in.

Thankfully the initial doom, gloom, and paranoia did not last too long, but they were replaced with a festering, just below the surface anger. I was taken aback by its intensity and the ease with which it reared its ugly head. Now don’t get me wrong, I was not angry that my son was gay. I was angry that my son was gay in an intolerant, hateful, and judgmental society in a country built on tolerance, acceptance, and diversity. I was angry that people I had always known to be kind and loving could tell cruel gay jokes and think nothing of it. I was angry that a third grade literal interpretation of the bible was being used to justify hatred and denial of basic civil rights and protections for gays, the constitution be damned. I was angry that words like “Family Values” and “Protecting Marriage” had become twisted Religious Right buzzwords for hate, oppression, and send me money. I was angry that there were actually people dumb enough to believe that gays were the reason for their failed marriages. I was angry that groups like Focus on the Family could claim to be advocates for the family, but were my family’s worst enemy. I was angry that in 2006 there were only 16 states that had laws banning discrimination in housing, employment and insurance on the basis of sexual orientation.

I was angry that some kids choose to kill themselves rather than face life as a gay person. I was angry that my son chose not to tell us he was gay because he did want us to stop loving him. I was angry that he could even think that. I was angry that he felt so much shame at being gay that he could not see what a wonderful, kind, and compassionate human being he was. I was angry that he struggled and agonized alone for so long because he had seen others disowned and thrown away like trash for being gay. I was angry that there were people who could make ludicrous claims like “people choose to be gay” and there were people who’d actually believe it.

And most of all I was angry that the very people who should have been at the forefront of changing hearts and minds were actually the ones fanning the flames of hatred and ignorance, while claiming to be good Christians and good Americans. I was angry that so many religious leaders make it their lifelong mission to demonize and marginalize anyone that does not fit their narrow definition of normal. I was angry that preaching fear, hatred, and intolerance had become so financially and politically advantageous. I was angry that a “compassionate conservative” named George W. Bush uncompassionately and cruelly used homophobia, ignorance and hate to barely eek his way into the highest office of the United States. I was angry that so many Republicans have found it so successful to run on a platform of values, but once in office display only un-American and un-Christian values. And I was angry that it is necessary to oppress and deny rights to gay Americans in order to keep their “base” appeased.

And unfortunately I am still angry, in fact I am seething. Our lives have dramatically changed and they will never go back to the way they used to be. So much that had felt right before we had a gay son now feels so wrong. Things just don’t fit anymore, not our religion, not our politics, and not even some of our friends and family. But the one thing that has not changed throughout this ordeal is our intense love for our son. We are different people now, but in a better way. Our family is much closer, stronger, and more resilient. So many wonderful and positive things have come from something that at first seemed so devastating.

I often ask myself, would I change my son’s sexual orientation if I had the power to do so? And I always shock myself with my heartfelt answer --- no way. To choose to change him would be to say that I do not like who he is. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love and adore him just the way he is. How could I ever be sure that the very things that make him so special would not disappear if I changed such a fundamental part of who he is? His sexual orientation is only one aspect of his personhood, but what if it is tied into some of the very things that have made him such a unique and loving human being? I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m damn sure I don’t ever want to find out. Share

Hell Bound (my son's high school essay)

Note: I post this with my son's blessing.

It was not until I reached high school that I learned that I was going to hell for a sin that I did not understand, for a sin that I did not want to commit, and for a sin that I could not control. Being fourteen years old and totally believing that God wanted me to go to hell was very hard. I could not fathom how being gay warranted an eternity of pain and torture, as if this “curse” was not already enough torture.

It is both scary and painful to write about this subject; however, I feel that I need to. This aspect of me that I have kept hidden for so long is just now starting to emerge. I am scared. Hell, I am more than scared. Even now I have the urge to stop and throw this paper away, to write about something else, to pretend and forget. But this “fake” identity that I have lived is no longer working.

For some reason I feel compelled to continue writing. Being gay has helped form me into who I am today. Truthfully, I have never written or shared these things in a class assignment or with any of my friends before. This makes me all the more nervous. Nevertheless, I feel that I have so many things of real value to say.

Obviously, being gay is not a single formative experience. It is a collection of experiences that have occurred throughout my life. In order to understand how it has formed me recently, I need to give some background about this aspect of myself and the points leading up to where I am today.

I am gay. Being able to write this statement down on paper is an accomplishment within itself for it has taken me my entire life, a lot of pain, and a lot of events to be able to finally admit that I am gay. Only a year ago I would have never been able to say “gay” in the same sentence as my name for I was constantly denying the fact that I was, and constantly trying to change this aspect of myself. However, being gay is not all that I am about. I am about so much more. I am a normal teenage boy who grew up in a Roman Catholic family with two siblings and two loving parents. Yet, all my life I have known that there was something different about me.

For many people the topic of sexuality is a confusing one. It takes many people a long time of contemplation and wondering to finally figure out their sexual orientation. I, on the other hand, did not have this problem. I have known that I was gay for as long as I can remember. There was never any contemplation or doubt; it is just the way I have always been.

I have never felt comfortable to be me. I can remember praying, begging, and sometimes crying to God asking him to make me normal, to allow me to be able to grow up, have children, and to be a happy, accepted straight person. My whole life I have pretended to be someone who I am not to my friends, family, and anyone who has ever met me. Even now it feels awkward and weird to see myself writing about this openly.

This school is an amazing school, however it has made it difficult for me to be myself. Still, being a very “closeted” gay student in an all boy’s school, a very homophobic environment, makes it difficult for me to be open and for me to relate to my heterosexual friends and peers. I feel alone. I am alone. No one knows about my secret because I have lied to everyone in my life for so long that it only seems natural to keep it hidden.

I am a hypocrite. I am a liar. And I am superficial. When the subject of homosexuality comes up around my friends or people that I know, I bash it right alongside with them. Most of the time I bring up the issue of homosexuality just to put it down. I began to actually despise homosexuals to the point that I hated all gay people, regardless of who they were. I began to drive myself crazy. I examined every movement I made and I examined every word that came out of my mouth with the utmost scrutiny to make sure that it was as straight sounding and acting as possible. The fear of discovery consumed me. I COULD NOT LET MYSELF BE GAY!

I am a quiet student, however, I always do my work and I always try to contribute to class. With this being said it has always been hard for me to step out of my circle of friends to talk to and to meet other students. I am constantly trying to find the place where I fit in. Throughout high school I have wanted so badly to meet other people like myself. I don’t want to feel alone. I don’t want to feel uncomfortable. I don’t want to feel embarrassed. And I don’t want to feel disgusted to be myself.

This brings me to where I experienced a turning point in my life. This major event in my life occurred only a year ago over summer vacation. I was in Europe with my family on vacation for a couple of weeks. While I was in Florence, Italy, I met a gay college study abroad student from Australia. Meeting him marked the beginning of a long change that was about to occur in me. Even though we only talked for a couple of hours, it had a profound and lasting impact on me. I realized that I was looking at a person who was just like me. He was perfectly normal and happy. In fact, he was popular, enjoyed sports, had a loving family, and was just enjoying his college life. It was here that I learned that I was truly not alone. Unknowingly he taught me the importance of just being me, the importance of letting go. I realized I was killing a part of myself, the part of me that I had never revealed to anyone, the part of me that I had always been too ashamed to reveal. I realized how miserable I was. I was never happy and I was never intimate with anyone. I never let anyone truly get close to me for fear that they would discover who I really was. Sitting there in Florence, listening to him talk about how he experienced the exact same things I was going through was a truly amazing and touching incident. I realized there was hope. The fears that I had of losing my friends, my family, and of being looked down upon were the same fears that he had once had. He was living proof that everything could turn out ok. I realized here that friends come and go, but that my true friends would stick by me even if I told them I was gay. It was here, with him that I understood what I had been forgetting: That I was a person, and that being gay did not make me any less of a person. I still have a hard time remembering this today.

When I returned home from my Europe trip I built up the courage to go out and meet other gay people. I had heard about a restaurant that many gay people frequented. One night, after a lot of contemplating, I finally convinced myself to go. Even though this doesn’t seem like a big deal, it was a major feat for me because I finally stepped out of my shell and took a chance. It was the first time I was able to be myself in public. I was able to be free. It ended up being a wonderful night. I saw teenagers having fun, eating, socializing, singing karaoke, and living. They were free from fear of being discovered. They were free from worrying what people thought.

It was here that I also met the first person I have ever truly liked, the first person who loves me for who I am. His name is Kris. Through Kris, the college student in Florence, and other major and minor events, I have changed from a person who hated himself and prayed to God every night to be “fixed” to a much more confident person. I am no longer as worried about what other people think or paranoid about other people finding out that I am a homosexual. I feel more free. I am no longer sad all the time or disgusted to look at myself. I look back at who I was and I realize how far I have come. A year ago I never would have thought that I would come to be where I am now.


A couple of months ago my parents found out about me being gay in a way that was very unexpected and unplanned, in an accidental letter from a university. Fortunately they are now dealing with it, and have taken it much better than I thought they would have. However, I only wish that they could have found out in a different way. During this time I have never felt more uncomfortable to be at home. I can’t help but feel as though they look at me differently, maybe even with disgust or pain. I don’t want that. It sickens me to think I brought this upon them, and that they had to find out from another source.

My parents have lost trust in me. This has been an unfortunate side effect of this whole situation. I feel as though I had no other choice but to keep this part of myself a secret, and I do not think it is right for them to feel as though they need to “watch over me” like a five year old. Just because I am gay does not mean I am going to be promiscuous or that I don’t hold the same value to a relationship that a straight person does.

My mom has been supportive. My dad remained silent. He does not discuss this or bring it up with me. I know he still loves me, but it makes it all the more awkward. My mom has blown me away by doing research on homosexuality and encouraging me to be safe and to talk to her.

Before my parents found out about me, the person I was dating was known as my girlfriend, and Kris was known as Kristine. For five months my parents wanted to meet “her” badly. For five months I had to make up new excuses why she would be late or why she was out of town. As time passed, my parents yearned to meet her more and more. They even joked around about not having met her yet.

The most painful part of this whole ordeal is the fact that when my parents found out I was gay all this changed. The interest to meet my “girlfriend” disappeared as soon as they found out that she was actually a he. There were no more questions, no more jokes. It just stopped. Maybe they didn’t overtly tell me that they didn’t want to meet him because he was a male, but it still hurts me every time to think that my parents don’t want to meet the person I am dating because of his sex. Does it really have to be this way just because they found out their son is dating another boy? HOW DOES ANYTHING CHANGE? My parents say they love me and want me to be happy, and yet they silently act as though me dating another boy is killing somebody or simply has already killed me.

I am still not out of the closet. I am waiting for the right time to begin to reveal to people this part of myself. My friends still don’t know me, and that upsets me. I don’t know how they will react, whether they will support me, still look at me as their friend and help me through this time in my life, or whether it will be up to me to venture through this alone.

I hope to tell my friends someday that I am sorry. Sorry for lying and being a hypocrite, and sorry for putting them in this situation.

I am only now just beginning this long journey of change. However, what is important is the fact that I am changing, that I have come to this turning point in my life where I no longer refuse to change. I still have a long and probably hard road ahead of me. However, I am strong. I want to eventually tell people who I really am, and I hope that they will see that I am so much more than my sexuality. I am a changing person and I will continue to change for the better. I am still discovering things about myself. I am my own person and I am happy. I can finally say my name and the word gay in the same sentence.

Final Note From Mom:

I did not get to read this paper until 2 years after it was written and he had left for college. He wrote this paper for a senior year class assignment and I cannot believe the courage it must have taken to do such a thing. His school was an all boys Jesuit High School and the response could have gone either way. He allowed me to read both the teacher’s (a priest) response and his advisor’s (also a priest) response and both were unbelievably compassionate and supportive. Bless them both. I will be forever grateful to them for showing him that most people will not react with revulsion and disgust.

I was shocked at the way he interpreted our behavior just after we found out. It hurt both my husband and me deeply to think he thought we looked at him with disgust. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. If anything, we looked at him and hurt deeply because he had been so alone at a time in his life when he needed us so much. If anything, our disgust was at ourselves for not picking up on his desperation and loneliness.

Happily, we are all doing well. We could not be closer. Our son is away at school. He chose a university located in a very progressive, open minded city and started school there with NO secrets. He is finally free, completely happy, and thriving. Life for him has never been better.


Two Years Later, I Read My Son's Essay

Imagine being so consumed by the fear of discovery that you spend every waking moment of your life carefully choreographing your every move, your every spoken word, and even how you speak each word. Imagine the need to be the badest “homo-hater” in a group of macho studs at school telling the rankest “fag” joke so that everyone absolutely knows that you could not possibly be one of them. Imagine you do this so well that you become more robot than human and the terror of accidentally giving your true self away is the only thing keeping you tirelessly on your toes, unable to ever relax for fear of possibly slipping up and revealing your deepest darkest secret. Imagine finally realizing that you have spent the better part of your life killing a very vital part of yourself just so that you could be accepted, perceived as “normal”, and liked.

Imagine my horror when I read my son’s essay a full two years after he wrote it and realized that this was what his life had been like throughout his high school years. I was devastated by how robbed he had been at a point in his life when he should have been having so much fun and so few worries. I grieved for the joy that had been sucked out of his life. And I was so disgusted with myself for being so utterly clueless. I was his mother for God’s sake and I had failed him miserably.

Imagine a rage so frightening that you can think of nothing but wanting to go out and slap people like James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and others of their ilk. Imagine being frightened by the intensity of that hatred and anger. But that was me then and even today just hearing their names makes me so angry.

So to James Dobson and all of you other self righteous, cowardly, little men spewing hate while hiding behind a loving, forgiving, and accepting Jesus, I say: enjoy hell, because that is what you all deserve for making so many people’s lives hell on earth. You have spread anguish, agony and heartache. You have spread the message that kids like my son are not worthy of society’s love and acceptance. You have made many of these kids feel like dirty, worthless freaks because they don’t fit your tiny little narrow minded vision of normal. You have created a world so hostile that these kids fear living in it and many decide not to. Just look at the suicide rates among gay teens. You may not have taken a gun and actually shot them yourselves, but you can certainly take credit for contributing to their deaths. These kids are not the ones who need to seek redemption or be saved, you are. For once in my life I hope that the cold, hard, unforgiving God you worship is the one you face when you die. You deserve no forgiveness and no mercy for the hatred and intolerance you have sown. You deserve only an eternity of the hell that you put so many people through here in this life on earth.


Dear Pope

You miscalculated. We now know. You are just as human as the rest of us, although I would argue with less heart. And you have proven that you are indeed fallible. And to paraphrase what a priest in my diocese said, the Holy Spirit did NOT pick you!

Look me in the eye and tell me to my face that one of my 3 children was born a lesser human being because he is gay or to use your words, "objectively disordered”. Please, I dare you. I’m betting you won’t. And let me tell you why you won’t. You know the unbelievable love a mother has for her child. You know it is an intense love that can actually make the heart hurt. You know most mothers would lay down their life to defend their child. So why do you think you can tell mothers all over the world that their precious children are flawed, imperfect, objectively disordered? And just wondering, don’t you think you insult God when you make this proclamation? I do. A wise Jesuit once told my son, “God does not make trash.” So why do you believe otherwise?

And how can you stand in your glass house and use language like “intrinsically evil” and “serious depravity” to describe the love of two people who happen to be gay? It is not evil for two consenting adults to want to commit to a life of love and devotion. I would argue that it is quite human, quite beautiful. But let me tell you what is a serious depravity and intrinsically evil: raping and molesting children. And even more evil and depraved are the actions of those within the Catholic Church who chose to protect the predators rather than the children. You should be aiming your vitriolic, caustic language at the actions of those who played any role in shattering innocent children’s lives and even more so at anyone who chose to protect the victimizers rather than the victims. How many souls were destroyed?

And how dare you think that you can morph dedicated, celibate homosexual priests into the pedophile priests that have left an indelible black stain on the Catholic Church. Most people know that homosexual does not equal pedophile and for you to try and equate the two is reprehensible and sinful. Homosexuals are not responsible for the cancer that has been growing unabated within the Catholic Church for so long. Stop destroying even more innocent people’s lives. This is a time for true leadership and accountability, not shifting and evading blame. This is a time for rebuilding trust, not destroying it even more. This is a time for healing the wounded, not wounding even more people.

Do you have any concept of the agony that you have brought down on so many people? You cannot heal a gaping wound by throwing salt in it. But that is exactly what you are doing. I was always taught that one of the bedrocks of the Catholic Church is forgiveness. There can be no forgiveness, no healing, no moving on, until you honestly acknowledge how horribly wrong the Catholic Church has been and continues to be under your leadership. By attempting to shift blame and paint all gays as evil, you shame yourself and create another group of people deeply harmed by the church.

My son is gay. I love and completely accept him just the way he is. I believe God made him just the way he is. When you push him away, you push all who love him away. What you say about him cuts deeply into my heart and the heart of everyone who loves him. I have cried many tears over your searing words. Learning that my beloved son was gay was not devastating, learning that the only church I have ever known condemns him, was. I can no longer walk through the doors of a church whose leader deems my son disordered and evil. It has taken a long time to get to this point, but I am finally at peace with saying good bye.

You were chosen by your peers to be the next Pope. You had to know that the job ahead of you would be quite daunting. You were taking the reigns of a church overshadowed by the taint of evil, a church that had deeply wounded so many of its most vulnerable. People from all over the world watched the light gray smoke coming from the chimney that day and prayed that this marked a new beginning for the church. But it was not to be. Rather than healing the wounded you have chosen to add to their numbers.


Changing Hearts and Minds

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I firmly believe there have been some big successes in the battle to chip away at the homophobia and ignorance that exist in our society. Unfortunately these successes are dreadfully slow in coming and very small in scope when looking at the bigger picture. But even changing one person’s heart and mind or correcting one person’s misconceptions about homosexuality can have a big impact. And that is where we as parents, loved ones, and friends can help in this fight. There is power in numbers and together with our gay loved ones we can be a mighty force.

In the two plus years that I have been trying to get a feel for the challenges, dangers, and setbacks that my son will face because he is gay, I have plunged myself into major research and spared myself no pain. In this quest I have seen a lot of depressing and downright infuriating things, but I have also seen glimmers of hope.

One of the biggest eye-openers for me has been the ferocity with which the extremists on the religious right fight efforts made by schools to battle bullying. As a mom, I have personally experienced the heartbreak of a child coming home, devastated and frightened, the victim of bullying. I was encouraged that the schools recognized the need to address this serious problem. So when I learned that many of these “Christian and Family Values” groups were spending so much of their resources, time, and energy fighting the schools on these efforts, I was flabbergasted and furious! I just could not wrap my mind around that. These were groups that touted themselves as advocates for the family, why on earth would they so vehemently oppose programs designed to stop something as harmful and hurtful as bullying? And was their definition of “family” so narrow that families like mine did not qualify for their “advocacy”? It did not take me long to find the answer to that question.

When schools approach a problem like bullying, they usually attack it from different directions. One of their approaches, especially in the younger grades, is education, teaching children respect and tolerance for other people’s differences. This, it seems is absolutely unacceptable to some of these Christian and Family Values groups. It is their belief that there is a radical homosexual agenda out there, just looking to recruit innocent children to a life of homosexuality (never mind that in some cases we are talking about first and second graders). Any mention of words like tolerance or diversity is going to raise these groups’ hackles. For them teaching children to accept all people for who they are means accepting gay people for who they are too. If gays as a group cannot be separated out of the mix, then it is better to simply throw the baby out with the bath water and oppose all of these programs. They cannot take the chance that school children will be taught that gays are just as entitled to a safe environment at school as everyone else. Tolerance, diversity, antidiscrimination: bad words to these sanctimonious “holy” people.

Another thing that gets these groups out in angry numbers is Gay/Straight Alliance clubs. These clubs are forming on high school campuses all over the country. The opposition to this trend by these religious groups is no less vehement. Gay/Straight Alliance clubs bring together straight kids and gay kids with the goal of providing a support system and safe zone for youth suffering from isolation, harassment, discrimination, and violence because of their sexual orientation. These clubs work to educate teachers and students and promote understanding and acceptance. Again, the key word for these religious groups is acceptance and acceptance of homosexuality cannot be allowed under any circumstances.

But there is another important dynamic coming into play here. These Christian and Family Values groups recognize the threat these clubs pose to their systematic campaign to demonize and marginalize into oblivion gays and lesbians. These religious groups understand that an environment which is not hostile to gays and lesbians would actually make it easier for more people to come out and be who they are. And ultimately, putting a human face on homosexuality is the last thing these groups want. It is much easier to convince people that homosexuality is evil if they don’t think they know anyone gay. It is essential to these religious groups that homosexuality remain an abstract concept. The minute it becomes a living breathing human being in the seat next to you in your economics class, they know they have not only lost the fight, but also one of their most powerful fundraising and scare tactics. The last thing they want is for people to see that gays and lesbians have hopes, dreams, and goals just like everyone else. Once people realize that gays are really no different than themselves, the religious groups have lost their battle of hate.

All of this leads me to my final point. I said earlier that there is power in numbers. We can be a mighty force, but to effectively fight this battle, we can no longer be silent or invisible. Our gay loved ones need our help, they cannot do this alone. So what do we have to do? First, we must come out to our family, friends, and neighbors. Second, we need to educate ourselves and then get our butts to the polls. And third, take our butts out of the pews and our money away from the churches that preach intolerance and hate.

I know that coming out is a highly personal decision that can have repercussions. This step cannot be rushed. It is essential to wait until the time is right for you. It takes a tremendous amount of courage for our loved ones to come out and sometimes it can take them years to do it, but coming out is a daunting task for us too. Speaking for myself, I immediately retreated into the closet when I found out that my son was gay. I told no one for a very long time. I remained silent when someone would tell a mean spirited gay joke, quietly agonizing inside. And even today there are members of my immediate family who still do not know. This is a slow process, but I too am working towards the goal of complete openness. I owe this to my child.

The second responsibility we have is to vote. But for this to be successful we must be informed. Putting our elected representatives, both on the state and federal levels, under the microscope is essential. And it is here that I must warn you, this is tougher than it sounds. I truly came to understand the old saying “Ignorance is bliss”, once I really started digging (and NOT just by reading the newspaper each day, you have to go deeper!). What I learned was appalling, horrifying, infuriating, and depressing. I truly had no idea how much my gay child is used as a political tool to bring out the bigoted and ignorant. This is a hot button political issue used successfully by many politicians to divide and conquer, just look how well it worked for President Bush. Homophobia, ignorance, and downright hate are alive and well in the political world and sadly, there are many politicians that recognize the importance of keeping these terrible things alive and well. It is time to start showing these politicians that we will no longer tolerate this and vote them out of office. I will post some examples at the end of this article of politicians who know no boundaries when it comes to getting down and dirty.

I am happy to say that everyone we have told so far has been very supportive and loving, but we have prepared ourselves for the possibility that there may be people along the way who will not be so supportive or loving. We have been pleasantly surprised by how much we underestimated what people’s reactions would be. Everyone we have told has had little to no reaction other than to say it doesn’t change who our son is in their eyes. In other words, his sexual orientation has been a non-issue. Now it is time to make sexual orientation a non-issue in politics and religion as well. It is time to let people know that our gay loved ones are every bit the American citizens they are and as such, entitled to the same rights, protections, and dignity that everyone else enjoys and takes for granted. Let’s come together on this and show them how much our money talks and our votes count.

Some Final Notes:

The fight to create a non-hostile atmosphere on school campuses doesn’t end on elementary and high school campuses. Here are some examples of college academic rules that have the religious right outraged:

From a religious right website:

  • ban on "insults, taunts, or challenges directed toward another person" (Appalachian State University).
  • A practice of outlawing "statements of intolerance" (North Carolina Central University), which FIRE says mirrors a speech code in Pennsylvania that was deemed unconstitutional.
  • A requirement that all students "respect the dignity of all persons" and "strive for the openness to learn from differences in people" lest they be punished (UNC Asheville).
  • A policy outlawing "disrespect for persons" (UNC Greensboro), which FIRE describes as "Orwellian."

Hat tip to Americablog

Below is an email posted on Andrew Sullivan's blog site from a cadet in the Military Academy. Andrew sums up the email this way: “This is how the world changes: one act of courage at a time.”

The email:

"You had focused a while ago on what it meant to 'come out' in America today. Well … I have done it now, in one of the most unlikely places to find a good reception for doing so (at least that's what I thought). I am a cadet at the United States Military Academy and had been in the army for three years before coming here. I knew what it meant to be in the Army, due to my prior service, when I chose to accept a commission here. The way the Corps is organized, we stay with the same group of about thirty to forty people within our class year for the four years. That being the case, we grow very close spending our summers and academic years together. After the first two years, I had to make a decision to stay at West Point or leave the Academy because if you attend classes on the first day of your Junior (or Cow) year, you can no longer resign with no penalty—you must, after that day, pay back the entire tuition for the first two years.

I made the decision that I would tell my friends at the Academy within my company and let them decide if I should stay or go. If they reacted as I hoped, I would be able to spend my last two years at the Academy without having to lie or otherwise hide myself from them. I am still here. Almost a year later and the only thing that has changed is we are closer and work better together than ever before. The other guys (and girls) in my company had worked with me and knew my value to the team. I hold quite a few elected positions to represent my class (which I, unfortunately, cannot list here) and have been picked for leadership positions within the Corps.

One of the strangest reactions I got was a majority of the guys in my company apologizing to me for the first two years. Quite a few have told me how truly sorry they were if they ever said anything offensive or otherwise even gave me the impression that they would have been anything but accepting of me. I guess that is one of the blessings of the military … it is one of the few realms of society where a person's value is directly related to his (or increasingly, her) job performance and dependability. Because of that, the people I live and work with care nothing about my sexual orientation, but instead focus on the working relationships we’ve built over the last two and a half years.


Ok, Now I’m Really Confused

My son finally ends his years of questioning and admits who he is and so now my years of questioning begin and I am the one asking who am I?

I thought I knew who I was, but what a difference a day can make. The day that threw my whole life into turmoil was the day I learned my son was gay. Up until that day I thought I was a Catholic, a Republican, and a mom whose biggest worry was paying the insurance premiums on three teenage drivers. But in a matter of minutes, the time it takes to boot up a computer and open up an email, to be exact, that all got shot to hell.

I cannot believe how much impact this event has had on our family, and my husband and me in particular. Absolutely every belief system in place before gay child appeared on scene, now stood on shaky ground after gay child appeared on scene.

The biggest trauma for me was realizing my religion was not gonna work for me anymore, at least not under the current Pope. Yes, I knew the Catholic Church was not keen on gays, “love the sinner, hate the sin” and all of that. But I had Cafeteria Catholicism down pat. I’d just pick and choose what I believed, and that seemed to work quite well until I learned that one of those “sinners” was my son. Learning I had a gay son did not just tilt the scales in favor of leaving the church, it broke them.

I am definitely not advocating leaving the Catholic Church once you learn you have a gay child. I know many people whose children are gay that would never consider leaving the church. I am just not one of them. Where they can still find comfort within, I cannot. I finally had reached my shame limit on living hypocritically. But I would be completely remiss if I did not point out that there are many, many wonderful and brave nuns and priests who are huge advocates and defenders of the GLBT community. They stand up against the injustices and speak out against the current stand this Pope takes. And they do this at great personal risk. To them I say a heartfelt thank you.

Another area in which I felt a seismic shift was in my political views and party affiliation. I had always thought I was a Republican. I am ashamed to say that I was probably in the wrong party most of my entire life, but the worst part is that it took something earth shatteringly huge (for me, finding out I had a gay son) to make me truly look under the hood of this party and realize how wrong I’d been. This was not just the wrong party for me, it was my bitter enemy. I have paid a heavy price for my political ignorance and laziness. I will have to live with my part in guaranteeing my son second class citizenship, passing on an exploding deficit and an environment that may be beyond repair, a judiciary that will slowly erode civil rights and keep the little man little, an empowered group of religious extremists (and I am not talking Muslims) who preach hate rather than love and compassion, and a much more dangerous world than the one that existed before George W. Bush took office. My failure to stay informed and vote accordingly is horrible, unforgivable, and unpatriotic. How many more people are making the same mistake and is it going to take them being personally and profoundly affected by something huge to make them realize the mistake they are making?

I am no longer a practicing Catholic and I am definitely not a Republican. What I am is still a question mark, I am still evolving. I will not allow myself to be pigeon-holed into any one political or religious classification. I will do what I can to make informed decisions. I will always reserve the right to change my mind and no one will ever form my opinions for me or tell me how to think again.

To those who have been doing this all along, I beg your forgiveness. I don’t blame you if you are furious with me.

Final Note:

As I mentioned earlier, I am re-evaluating where I stand in the political spectrum. I am resisting all labels because I do not want to be restricted to any one set of doctrines. But in my quest for answers I did come across a definition by a blogger I read often that really resonated with me. This is Shakespeare’s Sister’s explanation of what Progressive means to her:

“I’ve always found that the unifying concept of all the progressive sub-groups is the very simple statement: My rights end where yours begin. Environmentalists want all manner of industry to be able to do business except as it effects the health and lives of others. Feminists want men to have every opportunity to succeed in whatever they endeavor to accomplish except as it prohibits women from the same. Minorities want the same. Pro-choicers want everyone to make the best reproductive choices for themselves and therefore fight to ensure all those choices are available. Gay rights activists want straight people to have job protections, the ability to live wherever they want without discrimination, and legally recognized unions, and they would like the same for themselves.

On the other hand, corporatists want to be able to have unfettered access to anything that strengthens their bottom line, even if that means other people’s (and animals’) health and lives have to suffer as a consequence. Sexists and racists want to retain the unearned dominance that (many) white men have enjoyed, and one of the best ways to do that is to limit opportunities to white women and all people of color who might challenge the status quo. The pro-life movement seeks to ensure that everyone abide by their opinion on abortion; simply choosing not to get an abortion oneself is not good enough. The anti-gay marriage brigade is similarly not happy with the right it has to be married, but wants to 'protect' that right by denying it to others.

Across the board, you’ll see that progressives share in common the desire to give everyone the best life and equal opportunity. Conservatives view it as a zero-sum game—if you increase women’s rights, you’re taking something away from men; if you grant marriage rights to gays, you’re taking something away from straights. And in some sense, it’s true, but what’s being diminished is undeserved dominance at the expense of others.

Progressives don’t see undeserved dominance as a right. Hence, my rights end where yours begin. Each of us has all the freedom in the world do whatever the hell we please, as long as it doesn’t encroach upon someone else’s ability to do the same.”


Oh Gee, That Makes Perfect (non) Sense - Bigot Quotes

Note: this is just a sampling, there is so much more, I just don't have room. I post this to give people an idea of just what kind of ignorance and intolerance is out there.

Rick Santorum (Sen. R-PA):

"In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."

“Well, because we’re so far away from any potential of doing a constitutional amendment. The bottom line is, what we want is the people to speak on this issue. And I think the most logical way, given the state of play in the American mores, if you will, is having each state legislature, and the Congress potentially, although I would really try to reserve it to the state legislature, have them decide what the collective morality is.”

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

(on the Lawrence v. Texas case)

"I would argue that the future of our country hangs in the balance because the future of marriage hangs in the balance," said Sen. Rick Santorum, a leader in the fight to approve the measure. "Isn't that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?"

James Dobson (Focus on the (perfect) Family):

“While words like "diversity" and "unity" sound harmless — even noble — enough, the reality is they are often used by gay activists as cover for teaching children that homosexuality is the moral and biological equivalent to heterosexuality.

I’m sure you can see, now, why I expressed great concern about the intention of the We Are Family Foundation in using SpongeBob and company to promote the theme of "tolerance and diversity," which are almost always buzzwords for homosexual advocacy.”

“State Universities are breeding grounds, quite literally, for sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV), homosexual behavior, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, alcoholism, and drug abuse.”

“[The homosexual] agenda includes teaching prohomosexual [sic] concepts in the public schools, redefining the family to represent "any circle of people who love each other," approval of homosexual adoption, legitimizing same-sex marriage, and securing special rights for those who identify themselves as gay. Those ideas must be opposed, even though to do so is to expose oneself to the charge of being "homophobic." (“Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide,” by James Dobson.)

“Girls can continue to grow in their identification with their mothers. On the other hand, a boy has an additional developmental task—to disidentify from his mother and identify with his father. At this point [beginning at about eighteen months], a little boy will not only begin to observe the difference, he must now decide, "Which one am I going to be?" In making this shift in identity, the little boy begins to take his father as a model of masculinity. At this early stage, generally before the age of three, Ralph Greenson observed, the boy decides that he would like to grow up like his father. 16 This is a choice. Implicit in that choice is the decision that he would not like to grow up to be like his mother. According to Robert Stoller, "The first order of business in being a man is, 'don't be a woman.'"17

Meanwhile, the boy's father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son's maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son, in ways that are decidedly different from the games he would play with a little girl. He can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball. He can teach him to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard. He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.”

Mark L. Cole (Del. R-Fredericksburg):

"Sexual orientation is a broad term. There are eight different sexual orientations, including pedophilia and bestiality. I think we'd be opening up Pandora's box and allowing judges to interpret what that means."
-- on why he wants to strip the state budget of outgoing Governor Mark Warner's language protecting gay state workers from discrimination.

Bob Dornan (Rep. R-CA):

"Don't use the word 'gay' unless it's an acronym for 'Got Aids Yet'"

Jerry Falwell:

"AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharoah's chariotters."

"AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."

Jesse Helms (Sen. R-NC):

"Homosexuals are weak, morally sick wretches."

Pat Robertson (Christian Coalition):

When lawlessness is abroad in the land, the same thing will happen here that happened in Nazi Germany. Many of those people involved in Adolf Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals, the two things seem to go together, it is a pathology it is a sickness.”

It’s one thing to say, `We have rights to jobs...we have rights to be left alone in out little corner of the world to do our thing.’ It’s an entirely different thing to say, well, `We’re not only going to go into the schools and we’re going to take your children and your grandchildren and turn them into homosexuals.’ Now that’s wrong”

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."

"[Homosexuals] want to come into churches and disrupt church services and throw blood all around and try to give people AIDS and spit in the face of ministers."

"[Planned Parenthood] is teaching kids to fornicate, teaching people to have adultery, every kind of bestiality, homosexuality, lesbianism – everything that the Bible condemns."