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Your Gay Child--Is There A Place For Him At the Table?

Aug 17, 2007
One of the hardest things for many parents to hear are the words, "Mom, Dad...I'm gay." Some parents, especially very religious parents, find themselves turning away from their child, believing somehow that God does the same. A man I know tells this story:
"At a meeting of gay university students, a former student of mine recognized my wife and me. We asked him how he was getting along in his life now that he had come out to his parents. He told us that he was the first of nine children and beloved of his parents. He was gifted academically, and a talented musician. However when he told his mother that he was gay, she told him to gather his belongings immediately, leave the house, and never return."

A different reaction came from my friend Sydna. When she received a letter from her son, telling that he was gay, she and her husband took the next available flight from their home in the West to the East coast in order to hug their son and assure him that he would always be deeply loved.

Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, says: "Some children will disappoint us by telling us they are gay and they won't give us grandchildren....The real question is not, what book can I read what technique can I use to raise a perfect child? The real question is how will you handle that gap between the child you dreamt of having and the real child growing up in your home?"

Advice to parents is given in this statement by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops: "How can you best express your love, itself a reflection of God's unconditional love, for your child? Don't break off contact; don't reject your child. A shocking number of homosexual youth end up on the streets because of rejection by their families....This child, who has always been God's gift to you, may now be the cause of another gift: your family becoming more honest, respectful, and supportive."

Jewish comedian Eddie Sarfaty, in When I Knew, tells of coming out to his grandmother and giving her a copy of Now That You Know, which he characterizes as Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Homosexuality But Were Afraid to Hear.
"Two weeks later I am home for a visit and to do some laundry. I see the book lying on the nightstand; the wrinkled spine and folded corners tell me it has been read. I turn to Granny who is busily working on yet another afghan.
'Hey, Granny, did you read that book?'
The crochet hook stops, she looks up and says point blank, 'Yes, and it's disgusting!'
"My heart sinks and my guard goes up. 'Disgusting?'
'Yes, it's disgusting! It says that some of the parents don't love their children anymore.'
"She makes me cry."

Many families are making plans now for the holidays. Will there be a place at the table for your gay child? Will there be "room at the inn" in your heart? Will each of your children feel truly welcome, respected and loved?
Mother Teresa spoke of all our children when she said, "Each one of them is Jesus in disguise."
About the Author
Carol Lynn Pearson, in her new book No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons around Our Gay Loved Ones, shares compelling stories of homosexual individuals dealing with families, religion, churches, and suicide. The book is available at http://www.nomoregoodbyes.com. Don L. Wright, publisher.
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