For the next two weeks I, Kevin Harris Director of Community Relations at The Marin Foundation, will be posting interviews with individuals that have been gracious enough to share part of their journey for those of you that read this blog. In interviewing individuals that are coming from very different places regarding their beliefs, experiences, and sexuality, my intention is simply to shed some light on unfolding stories from diverse backgrounds that you may not hear on a regular basis. As the individuals that I have spoken with have differing views on faith and sexuality, I can assure you that you will disagree with some of them so I ask that your questions and comments try to honor the vulnerability entailed in sharing personal matters. Since I will be conducting more interviews later this year, this first round will not cover the entire spectrum of LGBT and conservative/liberal heterosexual individuals but will start to share stories and beliefs from that spectrum that hopefully you will be able to glean something from.
The first interview is with Robbin Hill, a mother whose son recently came out to her as gay. If you are a parent coming from a similar place and would like to connect with Robbin (not for professional counseling services but just to talk) send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org as she has agreed to share more about her experience with other parents that are looking for someone to relate to.
What was your initial reaction when you found out your son was gay?
It was certainly one of shock. After the initial reaction of shock, a flood of emotions bombarded me like anger and then embarrassment. Then I said, “Okay, so you think you are gay? Look, I’m not sure about all this. All I know is what the Bible says. Just keep it away from me. Don’t expose me or your brother to any of it. Don’t bring it here to my house.” It was harsh, but that’s exactly what I said.
How did you treat him in the weeks following your discovery?
This is where the mother in me came out. It’s hard for a mother not to love her children. I work in a felony court and if any parent is present, it is almost always the mother sitting in the audience with a son or a daughter facing felony charges and I mean tough stuff like robbery, murder, rape, and molestation. So at first I treated my son like he had an illness and I didn’t accept it as true. I wanted to say, “This is just a phase and he will grow out of it.” Then, I felt sorry for him because this lifestyle seemed so hard and he was going full speed ahead into the gay lifestyle.
I went to him, after a few weeks, and shared with him in the Bible where it talked about homosexuality. Sharing the Word of God at that point in his life didn’t give him any more insight…it only made him feel confused. As I shared the Word with him, I said, “I don’t know where this leaves you.” In the back of my mind I felt that maybe all that was needed there was knowledge of the Word of God. I told him that it was a choice, which I NOW know was not very intelligent or insightful of me.
Also at this time I was trying to help my younger son with his reaction and feelings about his brother. I had to set boundaries, not only for his sake but for my sanity.
What aspects about yourself and your attitude towards your son do you feel God started to change following your discovery about his sexuality?
God started with my heart. I actually went through a circumcision of the heart…a tearing away of “stuff.” Even though I thought this was all about my son, God had ME doing a self-evaluation. I had to look in the mirror and that was extremely hard. My walk with God was challenged because this was something I could not change, make better, or fix. I was completely inadequate. And since most people I knew had a rather negative look upon gay inidividuals, I certainly couldn’t share this with just anybody. I kept looking back at what I could have done, should have done and believe me, Honey, I saw a lot of areas that could have been done differently. I thought I could handle a lot, but this one took the cake, icing, and ice cream.
My relationship with God is rather unique. I just talk to him, sometimes rather frank, like if we were playing cards together or something. So I was very honest and open with God about how I felt and He was very open with me.
When you are in a place like this, you realize all you have is God because no one else knows about it and no one has an answer.
If you wouldn’t mind sharing, how has this whole process influenced your relationship with your son?
From my initial reaction to now, both sons and I have grown very close and we are able to talk about anything. That’s the most fulfilling part. My son knows that I’m writing booklets for parents dealing with homosexual children and his first reaction was “Go for it, mom. This will help people.”
What are a couple of recommendations that you would like to pass on to other parents coming from a more conservative interpretation of scripture as it relates to homosexuality whose child just came out to them?
The first thing that comes to mind is this: it’s not all about sex. Separate the behavior from the person. I totally know what you are thinking, feeling and imagining. If you believe the Word of God, then you have to believe that your son or daughter was born in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 tells us that.
So now what?
My first recommendation is to ask God to help you see your son or daughter the way He sees your son or daughter. Your image of your son or daughter needs to be filtered through the blood of Jesus, not your own human image.
God will change your perception of your child. What you can do right now is start blessing your child. Stop cursing him or her and everything they do. Adam was given the task of naming most of God’s creation. You, dad, gave your child your name at birth and that means something. Throughout the Bible, the heads of families would bless their children and generations to follow. Just because there’s a situation that is out of our control does not mean they are not our children. Listen, whether you are conservative, liberal or somewhere in between, God knows the iniquities of his children and he provided his son Jesus to die for it. So speak life into your child whenever you get a chance. Hold him or her and share with them your concerns and let them know you love them no matter what. Isn’t that what we want from our own Heavenly Father…No matter what, God said I will not leave you nor forsake you. Don’t forsake them, but bless them every day.
How do you do that? Be intentional and every day pray, “May the Lord bless and keep my child/children (call out their names). Father, make your face to shine upon them and be gracious unto them. Turn your face toward them and give them peace.” This kind of love will break down strongholds and light can enter in.