From StoryCorps (NPR) - audio available too!:
For A Mom, Learning To Accept A Gay Son Was 'Nonnegotiable'
When Samuel came out, Connie says, she blamed herself. "It's because I'm a single-parent mom, and I don't know how to raise a son and there needs to be a man around here," she thought at the time. "Somehow I did this to you. And now you were going to be relegated to a life of horror."[...]
When Samuel came home again after his sophomore year, he noticed a magnet on the fridge. "And on the magnet was a rainbow heart that says, 'Love is spoken here.' And so, what kind of advice could you give to a parent who has not come to that same conclusion?"
"I guess the overriding feeling is that, no matter how strongly you think you believe something, at the end of the day, you just always have to love and accept your kid," Connie says. "It's nonnegotiable as far as I'm concerned."
"I don't think I've ever told you that I completely and 100 percent forgive you," Samuel tells his mother... "I'm so sorry, and I could not be more proud of the human being that you are," Connie responds. "You're just an amazing, awesome human being."
From Huffington Post:
Just Because He Breathes: Learning to Truly Love Our Gay Son
or the blog:
Basically, we told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. We forced him to make a choice between God and being a sexual person. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime condemned to being alone. He would never have the chance to fall in love, have his first kiss, hold hands, share intimacy and companionship or experience romance.And so, just before his 18th birthday, Ryan, depressed, suicidal, disillusioned and convinced that he would never be able to be loved by God, made a new choice. He decided to throw out his Bible and his faith at the same time, and to try searching for what he desperately wanted – peace – another way. And the way he chose to try first was drugs...By the time our son called us, after 18 long months of silence, God had completely changed our perspective...
All of this reminds me of a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu:And a new journey was begun. One of healing, restoration, open communication and grace. LOTS of grace. And God was present every step of the way, leading and guiding us, gently reminding us simply to love our son, and leave the rest up to Him.
Over the next ten months, we learned to truly love our son. Period. No buts. No conditions. Just because he breathes. We learned to love whoever our son loved. And it was easy. What I had been so afraid of became a blessing. The journey wasn’t without mistakes, but we had grace for each other, and the language of apology and forgiveness became a natural part of our relationship...
And then Ryan made the classic mistake of a recovering addict…he got back together with his old friends…his using friends. And one evening that was supposed to simply be a night at the movies turned out to be the first time he had shot up in ten months…and the last time. We got a phone call from a social worker at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle asking us to come identify our son – that he had arrived there in a coma, in critical condition...[17 days later], Ryan died on July 16, 2009. And we lost the ability to love our gay son…because we no longer had a gay son. What we had wished for…prayed for…hoped for…that we would NOT have a gay son, came true. But not at all in the way we used to envision.
Now, when I think back on the fear that governed all my reactions during those first six years after Ryan told us he was gay, I cringe as I realize how foolish I was. I was afraid of all the wrong things. And I grieve, not only for my oldest son, who I will miss every day for the rest of my life, but for the mistakes I made. I grieve for what could have been, had we been walking by FAITH instead of by FEAR...
We weep. We seek Heaven for grace and mercy and redemption as we try – not to get better but to be better. And we pray that God can somehow use our story to help other parents learn to truly love their children. Just because they breathe.
"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them."