Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Oh dear god, please forgive me, but I am feeling so very hateful right now - I just don't know where to direct it

Ryan
We have been home for a few days now, but I am exhausted and a bit too busy to blog right now. I've been running around with my daughter in a crazy frenzy trying to get her settled in her new place and ready for med school, which starts this Monday. And the unbearable Arizona heat has not made things any easier, especially for her. She has lived the past 6 years in Seattle and she is having a heck of a time re-acclimating to the brutal Arizona summer and its unbearable heat.

With that said, my exhaustion may be playing a role in my immediate and visceral reaction to a story Andrew Sullivan referenced and linked to titled, "Just Because He Breathes: Learning to Truly Love Our Gay Son". 

I am horrified, devastated, and filled with a seething rage. And the worst part is I have no idea how to sort these feelings or who or what to be most angry with. All I seem to be able to do is cry, which has caused my sunscreen to melt into my eyes, causing them to burn like crazy, making it almost impossible to see, and compounding my misery and fury.

I'd suggest going over to Andrew's first and reading his intro and then following his embedded link to the full story over at the Huffington Post since I may be the last person from whom you would want to get an opinion right now since I am tired, cranky, and have absolutely nothing to good to say about the brand of Christianity that hates in the name of god.

I knew the story would not end well after reading the first third of the article. In fact I became physically sick to my stomach. I knew where the story was headed when mom, Linda Robertson, described how she and her husband, good Christians, reacted after they learned their son Ryan was gay:

We said all the things that we thought loving Christian parents who believed the Bible, the Word of God, should say:
We love you. We will always love you. And this is hard. Really hard. But we know what God says about this, so you are going to have to make some really difficult choices.
We love you. We couldn't love you more. But there are other men who have faced this same struggle, and God has worked in them to change their desires. We'll get you their books; you can listen to their testimonies. And we will trust God with this.
We love you. We are so glad you are our son. But you are young, and your sexual orientation is still developing. The feelings you've had for other guys don't make you gay. So please don't tell anyone that you are gay. You don't know who you are yet. Your identity is not that you are gay; it is that you are a child of God.
We love you. Nothing will change that. But if you are going to follow Jesus, holiness is your only option. You are going to have to choose to follow Jesus, no matter what. And since you know what the Bible says, and since you want to follow God, embracing your sexuality is not an option.
I am afraid to say too much more right now. I am so tired and upset and well ... most of you know how I feel about so-called "good Christians" who use twisted, ancient bible passages to justify their rejection of gay people --- even if one of them happens to be their child.

I am so conflicted. I feel such sadness for these parents and I do believe they loved their son (just not for who he was), but I am also furious with them too. Their ignorance and efforts to be "loving Christian parents who believed the Bible" literally tortured and ultimately killed him. But on the other hand, they will live the rest of their lives buried in guilt and regret. So in the end, I go back to having nothing but pure contempt and disdain for the kind of religion that dupes the gullible into believing that rejecting your gay kid because of who he or she is equals being a loving Christian parent in the eyes of god.


  
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2 comments:

Jarred said...

So in the end, I go back to having nothing but pure contempt and disdain for the kind of religion that dupes the gullible into believing that rejecting your gay kid because of who he or she is equals being a loving Christian parent in the eyes of god.

This is where I am, personally. Ryan came out to his parents approximately five years after I came out, and my memories of what the Christian culture with regards to homosexuality was like back then. This was before groups like Exodus started "clarifying" what they meant by "change is possible," let alone move away from the idea of change altogether. There was no Beyond eX-Gay or other forum for survivors of such therapies to share their stories. Justin Lee was just forming the Gay Christian Network, so there was not yet a place for struggling gay Christians (or their family members) to turn to that wasn't steeped in "pray away the gay" and "gays who aren't trying to change are wicked, horrible perverts" rhetoric.

Well, that's not entirely true. There was always secular organizations like PFLAG. But I'm sure you know what "good Christian families" were constantly told about those organizations.

What I find really tragic about this story is that it seems to me that everyone failed Ryan. Yes, his parents pushed him into self-loathing which led to his self-destructive choices. But I assume that he was also going to church at this time. Where was his minister and other church leaders in all this? (I'll note that nowhere in her article does Linda Robertson mention seeking guidance from church leadership, and I wonder if that's simply a simple omission on her part or suggestive of something that deserves much attention.) Where were his friends? Where were responsible members of his local LGBT community that might have said, "Hey man, we're glad you decided to accept yourself for who you are, but I think you're on the path to self-destruction"?

Seething Mom said...

I suppose what bothered me most as a mom of a gay child myself was the absolute lack of doubt these parents had when initially handling this: "we know what God says about this, so you are going to have to make some really difficult choices." and " if you are going to follow Jesus, holiness is your only option. You are going to have to choose to follow Jesus, no matter what. And since you know what the Bible says, and since you want to follow God, embracing your sexuality is not an option." If only they had stopped and asked themselves, could we have this all wrong? This is our child and we know him better than anyone else. Why would he choose to be something that would make him a pariah with his parents and his God?

I don't think I am being too harsh here. I was there once myself. Maybe not as rigid a Christian as these parents, but at least I recognized that what I initially said and how I initially reacted had the potential to save or destroy my child. Was my response perfect when we found out? Hardly, but I certainly used caution. I relied on my gut instincts and NOT the ancient bible passages pounded into me as a child. And my son is alive, happy, an well-adjusted today because of it.

I simply cannot believe how many people have no trust in their own guts so they allow some blowhard preacher dictate to them in absolutes what to believe and how to live their lives. No deviations, no doubts, no wiggle room, no nothing. Black or white. All or nothing. But life is too full of gray to navigate in that kind of belief system. Something will give, and in these parents' case, it was Ryan.

I hate to pile on, these parents have obviously suffered a horrible loss and now see the error of their early handling of the situation, but they will never get their beloved son back. And what about the crazy fundamentalist churches who are at the root of so much this evil? When will people wise up and truly hold them accountable? Probably never. So we will see this tragic story repeat itself again and again.