Calling All Parents

“Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you…I’m gay”. One of the most difficult and life changing statements a parent can hear is that of their child coming out to them.  Like a bomb being dropped, this revelation has the potential to tear families apart. Parents often feel scared, angry, confused, anxious, hopeless, and very alone.  Their hopes and dreams for their children are shaken and replaced with fears of AIDS, discrimination, and stigma. What do you do? To whom do you turn?  For parents of the Christian faith, the questions may be even more complicated. What does the Bible say? How will my church react? Will my child go to hell? What does this mean for my faith?

Over the years The Marin Foundation has received numerous requests for help, guidance, and advice from the parents and families of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and questioning children. Many of these parents identify as Christian and are struggling to reconcile their faith and the sexuality of their child. Although many resources exist for the parents and families of LGBT children, few of these resources offer a framework for exploring this issue from a loving Christ-like perspective. Therefore, the Marin Foundation is launching a Parent Resource Initiative to identify the needs of Christian parents of LGBT children and develop resources to help them through the experience of their child’s coming out.

WE NEED YOUR HELP!!! If you are a parent of a LGBT child, a family therapist, or a parent support group leader, we need your help. In the next couple of months, our goal is to interview and survey two hundred or more Christian parents of LGBT children as well as others involved in supporting families.  We want to hear your story!

We are looking for a representative sample of parents from all over the United States, of all ages, ethnicities and ranges of Christian beliefs. Whether your child came out to you two days ago or twenty years ago, we would love to hear about your experience.

Participants will be interviewed and asked to fill out a survey form. The interviews generally take 1 to 2 hours and can be done in person (within Chicago area), over the phone, or through Skype at your convenience.  All information is kept confidential.

The Marin Foundation believes, as Billy Graham once stated, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and it’s my job to love”. We would like to provide a safe space for you to share your story without fear of condemnation or judgment. Regardless of your religious, cultural, political, or other views on this subject, we want to know what this experience has been like for you.

To Participate:
Please contact Laura Statesir at The Marin Foundation for more information. You can email her at Laura@themarinfoundation.org or call 773-572-5983.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • L.S

    Andrew, maybe it is time to stop quoting Billy Graham. His words are good ones for all of us to remember, but his actions have spoken much louder than his words in recent days, so that quote loses credibility, especially when tied to Billy Graham. I was very disappointed when I heard he had supported verbally AND financially the campaign against same sex marriage in NC. I had hoped he was above such recourse. Very sad indeed.

  • Judy Volkar

    As the very proud Christian mother of a Christian gay son, I was going to volunteer to help. I am already a resource for parents on gaychristian.net. And then I came to the phrase celebrating Billy Graham. How could you? How could you? He denigrated all that my child is, encouraged NC to continue to treat him all LGBT as second class citizens. I have heard Andrew speak and while I appreciated the whole bridge building,there comes a time when enough is enough! Jesus did not mince words when he spoke of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, calling them vipers and whited sepulchres. It is time for Christian straight allies to quit being so namby pamby nice and take a stand for what is right and righteous and fair.God loves my son and the entire LGBT community no less than He loves me and they are just as worthy of total inclusion in the church.

    • Kevin Harris

      Judy – Thanks for taking the time to pass along your thoughts. Like you mentioned, Billy Graham’s words were unfortunate and not helpful given his history of being a voice that has not used his clout to politically rally against the LGBT community. While we will definitely take this into consideration when it comes to using that quote in the future, I’m left wondering about how people (including everything they have done and said in the past) are quickly cast as completely good or bad depending upon one action they end up taking.

      While I did not agree with his choice to make a statement to help put discrimination into North Carolina’s constitution when marriage equality was already not legal (really just adding insult to injury), does that automatically invalidate anything and everything he has said or done in the past even if any of those statements possessed some type of goodness or truth? Maybe it does to an extent, but it seems like people and morality are not necessarily that simple as we all of are a combination of positive and negative things we have done and continue to do.

      So I guess my question is……when someone does something we disagree with that may even be harmful, can we still find worth and truth in other things they have done or said or should we disregard other things they have done and render prior statements unacceptable?

      • Steven

        Let me offer an explanation: trust. Just like religious believers, people of other philosophies value this concept, as well as others it hinges on, like integrity, sincerity, honesty, acceptance…

        Sadly, trust is destroyed far more quickly than it is built, by behaviour counter to those virtues: hypocrisy, insincerity, dishonesty, rejection. Unfortunately, quoting Billy Graham, in light of the dire politico-religious circumstances for LGBT people in many parts of the world (including the US), on a website that purports to build bridges between religion and LGBT, is all of the above.

        So instead of an answer I have the question: how should people interpret “and it’s my job to love” or any other statements of goodness and truth you may mean, in the face of Graham’s advocacy for the North Carolina amendment to deny any union but the traditional/religious marriage? Does this love not extend outside that limited interpretation? How is denying some people the same joys and benefits as married couples a sign of love?

        I’m sure the LGBT community would love to be truly accepted by religious communities, but it needs to be unconditional and sincere in actions and words. No “love the sinner, hate the sin” duplicity.
        Until that day, distrusting insincerity is an easy solution that I cannot blame anybody, including myself, taking.
        Until that day also, I sincerely hope LGBT youth growing up in a religious environment are as lucky as Judy Volkar’s son to at least feel accepted by their parents. This is incredibly important.

  • Caring Heart

    The following letter (for the letter please continue to read after the break)
    is what I wish parents would say to their children.
    http://momastery.com/blog/2010/10/14/a-mountain-im-willing-to-die-on/

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    The Billy Graham quotes — long used by TMF — are unfortunate given his recent high-profile attack on GLBT North Carolinians in the days leading up to the Amendment 1 election. Marriage equality wasn’t legal in North Carolina, but people like him made sure that it was doubly not legal by amending their state consistitution. Not only that, but they amended the constitution in such a way that it is unsure whether or not exisiting domestic partnership benefits are still valid. It’s not even clear if non-married North Carolinians are even covered by domestic violence laws anymore.

    Billy Graham USED to be apolitical. He’s not anymore. And most in the GLBT communities are aware of this because his words and his actions — as well as the words and the actions of his family and ministry — really cut us to the core. There was no need for him to attack us or our families.

    I appreciate his old statement and the sentiment behind it (“It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and it’s my job to love”) back when he was supporting Clinton during a time when he was violating his own family. It’s too bad that he violated those very same sentiments by convicting and judging GLBT families and not showing us much love.

  • Jack Harris

    I have been thinking about the alleged words of Billy Graham, and call me a cynic if you like, but I know that he is in VERY poor health. Given the very radical fundamentalist nature of his son who apparently is control of Graham Ministries, I wonder if its possible that those are HIS words and not his fathers’? Just something to ponder.


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