Every year, at the Gay Christian Network's annual conference, scores of parents walk the halls wearing buttons that read “Free Mom Hugs” or “Free Dad Hugs.” Many of them are there with their children, but some attend on their own. They wear the buttons because they want to make themselves available to attendees who have been rejected by their parents. They sit with them, hug them, listen to their stories—they are agents of healing and love for people who just need “a mom,” or “a dad,” to tell them they are loved.
I love this tradition, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the conference. In that spirit, David and I asked several moms we know to write messages to a young man who wrote to us using the pseudonym PK. His father is a fundamentalist pastor who has made clear in subtle ways that homosexuality is cause for expulsion from the family. Recently, PK came out to his mom, and her response was hurtful. We thought it was important for this young man—and so many others like him—to get a few virtual “mom hugs.”
Family rejection is the main cause for homelessness among LGBTQ youth, and the statistics on this are alarming. The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ—this is highly disproportionate, considering that gay people do not make up anywhere near 40% of the population. Even more distressing is the fact that gay and lesbian youth are four times more likely than their straight peers to attempt suicide.
We’re sharing our reader’s letter, along with the replies of some wonderful moms, in the hopes of reaching others like him; to let them know that even if their parents don’t immediately react well to their reality, there is hope, there are adults who will love them, and that life does get better. The last two letters include contact information for moms of LGBTQ children who have graciously made themselves available to anyone—child or parent—who may need support or guidance.
If you are a parent, please consider adding your own message for PK in the comments.
A bad thing has happened recently. My mother went through my YouTube history. She found coming out videos and a gay wedding. She and my father confronted me when I got home. She asked me if I was gay or if I had any interest in homosexuality. I tried to lie my way through it but she told me to just tell her the truth and, unfortunately, I listened. I simply said, "I'm gay." It was brave. I didn't shed a tear. I've learned not to show weakness or feeling in these situations. But underneath I was scared, angry, and sad.
She broke out into tears. "But you know it's wrong? If you believe it's wrong how could you be gay?" A lot of painful things were said that if they had come from anyone else but my crying mother, I would have said, "You’re stupid and you don't know what you’re talking about." But it's my mom. I've always had this strong instinct to "fix it" whenever she was sad. If something is making Mom cry, you kill it. But I can't kill this thing because this thing is a part of me.
She told me she would rather me be dead than be gay. Then she cried and I held her in my arms. No one was there to hold me when she said those words. I guess this is what being a man is. She said I'm gay because a friend showed me his penis when I was 9. I didn't know penises were that powerful. She also said that I'm gay because I'm socially backward. I have lots of friends. I wasn't aware I was socially backward. That hurt. She then threatened that if I'm gay they can't be in the ministry anymore, so I backtracked and said that I'm not really gay, just confused.
How do I cope? When I leave home, how do I have a relationship with them? Do I have to?
You were brave to tell your parents the truth. Even though it causes pain, the truth should prevail. Your mother's words broke my heart. I wish I could give you a big hug right now. In the midst of shock and pain, people sometimes say horrible things they don't mean. I am a mom who loves her children with all of her heart. I think that your mother loves you too and regrets those hateful words. When my son came out, I was in shock—completely paralyzed with bewilderment, grief, and fear. It was a horrible time for our family, but we got through it with compassion and love. I pray that your parents will walk with you on this journey, but if they don't now… it is not the end of the journey. Things do get better.
Don't ever think that you are anything less than perfect. You were wonderfully made by God who makes no mistakes and who loves ALL of his children. Christ was all about love, so the people who wrap themselves in the cloak of religion while spewing hate are not true followers. Jesus must be weeping when he sees that.
Stay strong and know that you are loved.
Wow, I’m so glad you reached out. Tino asked me to write you because I’m a mom. My mom used to tell me “God doesn’t make junk” and she was right. You were made and given life by God and he doesn’t make mistakes. I admire you for being honest with your parents about who you are. I can only imagine how hard it was for you.
Jesus is truth and as believers we should be truthful. It’s important to be honest going forward. Some may reject you or take personal offense but that’s on them. You being gay is not a choice and how people respond is on them.
I hope you will pray and ask for guidance on whether to continue a relationship with your parents. Only you can decide. Please take one day at a time, find a good local church that truly loves. There are many gay Christians out there for support and a lot of us who are straight Christians who are happy to love and support too. If you were in front of me, I would give you a big hug and hold you as you grieve. Since I cannot, I will let you know that I will be praying for you as you walk this new and scary road as a gay Christian man.
I am so sorry that you weren’t able to tell your story to your parents in your own way and in your own time. But as a mom and a Christian (and I am also a PK), I want to affirm the fact that you are fully and completely loved by God. You are his child and he delights in you. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. Nothing!
In time, I hope you are able to forgive your mom, for your own happiness. But don’t feel like you have to muster forgiveness out of your own effort. Ask our Lord to give you the ability to forgive her, and give you peace.
You are in my prayers, PK; I am carrying you before the throne of grace.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
I am so sorry you had this heartbreaking experience recently with your mom and I wish I could wrap you in a big hug. From what you shared it sounds like you love your mom a lot and have always tried to protect her... but maybe at the expense of your own feelings? Your feelings matter and you deserve a safe place to express them. I'm so glad you reached out and I hope you can find additional support through counseling or good friends.
I'm a Christian mother and one of my sons is gay. I'm so sorry that your mom didn't react well. Lots of parents make that mistake and then later go on to realize their mistake and I pray that your mother will be one of those. In the meantime, I want you to know that being gay is OK, you can be gay and a Christian, God loves you and you can have a full and happy life.
There are a lot of people in the world ready to support you while you strive to live into the person you were created to be. So, once you decide to live open and authentically be sure and look around for your tribe. They are out there...we are out here!
I'm keeping you in my prayers and sending lots of love and light your way.
I also want you to know that I have a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. There are more than 1,200 moms in the group. We love and support our LGBTQ kids and strive to do our part to make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all LGBTQ people. If your mom ever wants to connect with us she is welcome to contact me.
Here is a little bit about the group:
Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group created as an extension of the Serendipitydodah blog. The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. The group was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,200 members. The space was specifically created for open minded Christian moms who have LGBTQ kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBTQ kids. In addition to providing a space for members to share info and support one another, a special guest is added each month for a few days. The guests include authors, pastors, LGBTQ people, bloggers and public speakers.
Love and Light,
Dear Sweet Friend,
This is Susan Cottrell from FreedHearts. I have worked with countless LGBTQ people like you, with parents who cannot get their heads around having a gay child. It is the deadly fallout of toxic church teaching, unfortunately. I am terribly sorry for your experience with your mom. You stated it beautiful (ironically...) saying, "I didn't know penises were that powerful," and "No one was there to hold me when she said those words," and "I wasn't aware I was socially backward." So please, hear this mom's heart for you: your mom's words have NOTHING to do with you. She speaks those hurtful words from her own fear. She knows a harsh, vengeful God, who strikes terror in her heart. If she had love to freely give, she would. You're her son; you deserve it. But she doesn't have it. Her account is empty. She's scurrying around to pay down that massive debt of failure she fears she owes God. She has no spare grace to give.
Unfortunate, because God holds her in no debt whatsoever! It's fear-based teaching that has taught her this.
Sweet young man, YOU are perfectly fine. You are in a generation that is not bent out of shape about LGBTQ people. Your mom's generation is waning and yours is growing. You said, "I guess this is what being a man means." No, loving someone who can't love themselves is being a man... or a woman... but NOT to deny your own needs or your own truth. It is not to allow yourself to be abused either, if it comes to that.
Encouraging your mom because "she's my mom" is one thing—allowing yourself to be hurt because she's your mom is another.
I have a relative who was like a mom to me. She led me to Christ at 14 when I lived with her and her husband and kids. She has ALWAYS been there for me. Once I came out in support of my LGBTQ daughters, she stopped relationship with me. And though we still talk on occasion, the relationship is really done. It should really hurt. But I know down deep that "she knows not what she does." While she views God as "love"—that God loves her to pieces—she also subconsciously views God as a "sleeping giant" capable of destroying whole cities, including children. She's too, too fearful to do ANYTHING that might anger that wrathful, vengeful God. Your mom might have some variation of that theme, OK at rest but not willing to jeopardize her own "good" (but tenuous) standing. Though she loves you, she can't risk the wrath of God. You hear what I'm saying? It has nothing to do with you. You would think being her son would be enough for her to take a risk to protect you, and it should be. But not if it might awaken God's wrath.
Feel free to email me anytime if you have questions or need encouragement.