Dear Perfect Family… From Your Son (Or From Anyone Who Has Been Rejected)

Photo courtesy of Ed Sackett
Photo courtesy of Ed Sackett

I’m writing with a heavy heart about our family, the family I grew up in, which no longer accepts me. It’s so strange, this outside looking in. I’d never really considered that to be a possibility, that our family is negotiable—you can be born in it, but that doesn’t secure your place.

What’s more, I don’t expect you to change. Apparently, the preachers in your church and on TBN have more clout with you than I do—even though I’ve lived it, even though I’m your son. I admit that’s hard to take. I am beyond hoping that you will one day accept me…at least I think I’m beyond it. I’m not sure hoping to be restored to the family you grew up in ever leaves. But I write in hopes that you may be able to clear up some misunderstandings for me.

You have told me I am not welcome because I am gay. You’ve made that very clear. Even though I did not choose this (no matter what you may believe about that), even though I cannot change it (you and I both have prayed feverishly that this would change, but it has not), and even though I am not dating anyone (and all those years, I didn’t have a boyfriend), you still have your “standards.” You told me again and again. It just came as a shock to discover that these standards come above your flesh-and-blood son. I tell you, I really didn’t expect that. But far be it from me to ask you to overthrow your standards for the likes of me.

Help me understand, so that as I lay in my bed, alone and apart from all of you, I know what has happened here, why you decided I am not worthy to be part of the family.

As you know, your firstborn Jim has had multiple affairs, even getting another woman pregnant while he was married to his wife. (In fact, he’d divorced his first wife before he married her.) Yet, he is still welcome at the dinner table. You embrace him, not only after his divorce as you did, but despite his blatant and repeated “sexual sin.” Don’t get me wrong—I think you should embrace him! Because that is what family does. But please, help me understand why you embrace him and not me.

As you also know, my beloved sister—your daughter Gina—is an alcoholic. You’ve “rescued” her many times, you even sent her to rehab for her own good. But no matter how many times she stumbles and falls, you have never once suggest excluding her from family events…events where you serve wine! (Sorry! I was just laughing at the irony there.)

Jeremy was born with many physical ailments, which you have taken in stride. You have sacrificed greatly to provide opportunity for him. The surgeries, the physical therapy, the special equipment—none of that did you begrudge your son because he needed it. Of course you would provide it. Not many years ago people like him are shuttered away. I cringe to imagine it. I’m so glad that never happened to Jeremy—I love that sweet guy with all my heart. Thank God you’re there for him! Still, I’m left to reconcile your overextension of love for him that you couldn’t see clear to offer me.

And of course there was the porn you found on the basement computer, Mom. No one ever owned up to it, and you were never really sure if it was Jim or Dad—none of us suspected Jeremy and it wasn’t Gina. And you knew for sure it wasn’t me because, as I’ve been saying since I was 12, I am not attracted to girls. But whoever it was still sits at the family table for meals. And they should—we’re family. But why are they there and not me?

I don’t even want to mention the things you two went through, Mom and Dad, things that nearly cost your marriage. It was rough for those couple of years. Yet here you are! Still loving and supporting each other while all the, well, the incidents between you are all water under the bridge. I’m happy for you! I’m not begrudging a single act of grace and forgiveness! That is what family is supposed to be about.

I just don’t understand why you can’t extend that to me as well! Why, for the love of God, do you have grace and understanding and acceptance for EVERYONE but me? It makes no sense. And don’t blame God—YOU are the ones who have cut me out. It is your choice. Why? If you could answer that for me, it would help me sleep better. Because I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve cried my eyes out…I’m tired of crying.

And remember, by the way, this is not even about anything I am DOING wrong. It is about WHO I AM at the very core of my being. You are not upset with me, rejecting me, condemning me because of what I do—it is because who I am.

Personally, I don’t know how you can sleep at night. I don’t know how you can cut one of your children out of your lives and then carry on as if that is normal. IT’S NOT NORMAL TO CUT A CHILD OUT OF YOUR LIFE! Ask Aunt Joan if she would do anything to have her son back, drugs and all, instead of putting flowers on his grave. You know the answer to that. What is the matter with you people?

So you’ve left me to move on and to try not to think about you. You’ve left me to develop a life of my own. So when there is news to tell, like a boyfriend…or a wedding, rest assured I won’t be bothering you with it.

God has given me absolute peace and assurance in my heart that I am exactly who God made me to be—assurance I had to fight for, in the face of your ongoing condemnation, betrayal and rejection. Are you not able to just trust God with that, or do you think you know better?

If you only knew how big God’s love really is, if that love flowed freely through you, you wouldn’t reject me. You would accept me, embrace me, and unconditionally love me… as God has done with you… if you really grasped that love, deep in your bones.

You talk about God’s love but you don’t begin to understand it.

If you ever have a change of heart, if you ever want me at the family table, you can let me know. I’ll be the one over here living my own life apart from you.

From Your Son  (or daughter, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, grandchild…)

For information on Susan’s book to help parents love their LGBTQ kids without sacrificing their faith, click here.

For information on Susan’s book to help LGBTQ heal from family wounds, click here.

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