It was about 6 years ago when I learned, quite by accident, that one of my three children was gay and living his life consumed with self-loathing and fear of discovery. It was about 6 years ago when I learned that he actually thought that we, his mom and dad, would stop loving him because he was gay. It was about 6 years ago when I realized that he had every reason to be so consumed by that fear, since it didn't take me long to learn that thousands of children are indeed thrown to the streets like trash when their parents learn their child is gay. And it was about 6 years ago when a seething anger was ignited deep within my soul when I discovered that many of those children discarded by their families were rejected because of the hate and ignorance preached at the pulpit of their families' churches in the name of God.
But probably the hardest thing in the world was reading my son's high school essay for the first time and realizing that I had failed at one of the most basic duties a parent has: being there for him when he needed me most. And I will never be able to let that fact stop haunting me. Nor will I ever forgive all of those homophobic churches and organizations responsible for him believing that he was unworthy of our love because he was gay. And I will go to my grave cursing those churches and organizations for causing so much agony, so much heartbreak, and so much devastation to the very entity they claim to want to protect: the family.
I sat down tonight and re-read my son's essay. And the pain is every bit as intense as it was all those years ago when I first read it for the first time. But this time I don't have to hurt for my son, he is ok. But now I hurt for all those gay and lesbian children whose parents will reject them, for their struggle to be ok will be much harder. And most of all I grieve for all those children who will end their lives because they are too fragile to survive their parent's rejection, for they will never know that it can be ok for them too.
An excerpt from my son's essay:
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!