We want to start out by saying this post is purely to educate. As mothers of gay sons, we have learned so much on this journey and would like to share thoughts and feelings from people who are near and dear to my heart. 💗 Our sons also chime in on this post, too!
“What should people NOT say when they find out you/your loved one has come out.”
• Don’t label sexuality a “temptation” or “problem” or advise on how to fix the “problem.” For example: “Don’t give attention to this and it will diminish,” or “Don’t hang around with other people with this “problem’.” OR “This is Satan tempting you. Be strong, you can do it.”
• Don’t quote scripture or prophets.
I already know what the Church teaches and if the person coming out is a member they know it too. Reminding them makes them feel judged, unworthy or weak.
• Don’t say: “Why do you feel the need to come out?”
This statement (and others to that effect) often implies that coming out is unnecessary and inconvenient for those around you, and turns a wonderful act of bravery into one of selfishness.
• Framing the “coming-out” as an act of rebellion. People tend to think that I am just following the current “trends” or saying I’m gay to get attention.
• Don’t imply that sexuality is the result of poor parenting practices or some terrible childhood trauma. Homosexuality isn’t a mental illness, or a ticking time bomb in my genes just waiting for outside stimuli to trigger it and turn me into an aberration. It’s something I was simply born with, just as I was born with brown hair.
• Don’t say: “But you don’t act/look/sound gay!”
I must have missed the memo saying that there was a script one has to follow in order to be truly “gay!” Is there one of those for straight people, too? Are there police walking around making sure that we accurately represent the stereotypical straight/gay human?🤦🏻♂️. Honestly, though, since when did your voice or fashion sense determine your sexuality? That’s one whopper of a logical fallacy right there, folks.
• Don’t see my homosexuality as a weakness to be purged or a problem in need of solving. Not only is it incredibly damaging to try to “fix” my sexuality (not to mention, impossible), but to even take that viewpoint is to deny a significant facet of my identity, leaving me broken and less-than-human in your eyes. It’s cruel (though, unfortunately, not unusual) for one human to do this to another, ESPECIALLY within one’s own family.
• It hurts when people say “Its fine to be gay BUT just don’t act on it.” Ugh ugh ugh! That just perpetuates the common misconception that gay people are always having sex. The sad thing is I know I’ve said those very words before because that’s the rhetoric I learned in church :*(
• It is very damaging when people say “It’s okay, you’ll be straight after the resurrection.” You NEVER tell someone they’re better off dead. EVER. Plus, we have NO CLUE what people will be like in the next life. Don’t assume everybody will be like you just because you’re a cisgender heterosexual. UGH UGH UGH (this one gets 3 ughs all in caps.) People may say this in an effort to comfort someone, but it is far from comforting. It sends a message that not only was I made broken, but I am set up to fail here on earth. I don’t get a shot till I’m gone.
• It gets on my nerves when someone tries to put certain labels on someone else. Here’s a short, very disorganized story… When I came out to a trusted adult he struggled to say the word gay. He told me it’s better to say I deal with same sex attraction. I replied pretty quickly, “Better than what?!” He said I really should use the term SSA because identifying as gay had implications such as… I sorta cut him off because I was done listening to him. Trying to label someone because you’re afraid of something is a big no. And not allowing someone to call themselves gay because it’s just an “earthly trial” they have to fight through really bugs me. I dont want to come across like I think other people should have to be labeled as gay if they aren’t comfy with that. If someone wants to label themselves as dealing with SSA rather than gay that is totally fine. I just didn’t like the fact that he was telling me there was something inherently more unrighteous about being gay rather than struggling with SSA.🙄
• Don’t say: “I’m fine with it, just don’t shove it down my throat.” Ooh ooh ooh this one is BADDD. Said sarcastically…Dang it, I guess I won’t spray paint your room rainbow anymore… I was planning on marching you down to pride and forcing you to watch all the smiling people… I wish you hadn’t said that, because I was going to transform all your heteronormative emojis into GAYYY ones so we would have more than 3 out of 2,823…👬👭🏳️🌈 BEHOLD THE GREAT GAY AGENDAAA😈 muahahaha *the skies turn rainbow* **muahahaha-ing intensifies.
• It really hurts/fires me up when people jump to the conclusion that gay=sinner, or gay=promiscuous, or my LEAST favorite and the most ignorant and damaging one to date… gay=pedophile. 😡😡😡
• I dislike when people say, “I always knew.” This statement makes the situation about them. It’s selfish. Not to mention, they were most likely stereotyping the person who came out.
• Never imply that “This is such a trial,” or “We are all given trials for a reason.” I would like to make one thing clear. Having a gay son is NOT a trial for me, it is a huge BLESSING. I have learned to love more deeply, show compassion more passionately, and educate myself more fervently than I have ever done in my entire life. What IS a trial is that my church does not have a place for my son if he chooses to be authentic to himself. A trial is when someone is unkind or hurtful toward my son because he is gay.
“What were you specifically needing/wanting when you or your loved one came out?” Their responses brought me to tears. 😭 They are real and raw emotions.
“The thing I most want is for people to start actively learning. People reached out with “I love you’s” but if they don’t try to put the action behind it by learning, it sometimes seems fake. For example: when I first came out in April-ish to my mom, I had no clue where we were on things until she started learning, and we had great conversations. That was when I knew she really did support me like she had told me from the beginning. And it goes the same for extended fam and friends. One of my grandmas and my aunt bought the book and are doing their best to gain an understanding different than what they’ve heard in church all their lives. It makes such a huge difference to me.” -Holden
“As for your second question, all I’m really looking for in coming out is the assurance that my sexuality doesn’t unduly change how people view me or my family, and the re-affirmation of love and acceptance from those I count as family, friends, and allies. In other words, I’m looking for consistency in a time of change.
To those who have supported me, whether implicitly or explicitly (or indeed both): Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve made me feel normal in a world where that point is still hotly debated, and yet so special for having your incredible support. I expect nothing less from such amazing individuals. 😍😍😍
To those who do not yet support me: First, I still love you. There’s very little you can do to change that. Second, if there’s one thing this experience has taught me, it’s that the human capacity for empathy and love is astounding. So while you may not currently be at a point in your life where you’re able or willing to set aside past experiences and opinions in favor of love and acceptance, I know for a fact that life will send other challenges like mine your way. And I’m optimistic that you’ll make the right choices–eventually.” -Joshua
“When Holden came out one thing I was seeking from others was that he was still loved, still the same person in their eyes. Those that helped me the most expressed that God doesn’t make mistakes and that he is not broken. This concept is especially important to understand and believe. Another thing I wanted was the ability to talk about it with them without feeling judged. Expressing my thoughts was very therapeutic and when my feelings were validated by my loved ones it brought a lot of peace.” -Heidi
“As Josh was slowly coming out to friends and family my prayer was that he would be shown LOVE. I knew that there would be conflicting opinions, but by showing an outpouring of love toward Josh it would let him know that he wasn’t “different” or looked down upon. I hope those who want to continue to be in our lives will eventually come to a place of peace and understanding, if they haven’t already. Leave everything else at Christ’s feet.” -Shawn
We are definitely all guilty of putting our foot in our mouths and not knowing what to say. We are still learning. We have not always had the best reactions to hurtful things people have asked or said, but appreciate your patience with us as we continue to navigate all of this. PLEASE don’t stop asking questions!! ❤️❤️
All our love,
Shawn, Joshua, Michael, Heidi, Holden
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This story is dedicated to helping people learn to love better, while fostering an atmosphere of understanding. When we know better, we do better.