The Day Your Child Comes Out

The Day Your Child Comes Out August 14, 2022

On Twitter, the formerly Catholic talking head Joseph Sciambra had something to say about parenting.

You may recall that Joseph Sciambra is a former gay porn actor who got religion; he used to be a Catholic who wrote about how terrible it is to be gay in Catholic publications, but he’s apparently recently become Russian Orthodox without changing his shtick.

Sciambra wrote:

“The day your child comes out as LGBTQ-is the day your life changes. Start: 1. Praying. My dad prayed the Rosary 8X a day-that’s 424 Hail Marys; pray the Jesus Prayer non-stop. 2. Fast 3. Sacrifice 4. Endure-because hardship is coming your way. 5. Live with a joyous heart. Love.

What a miserable thing to say.

I certainly hope Sciambra doesn’t have any children.

I started to think what I’d do if my own child happens to come out as LGBTQ.

If Adrienne comes out as LGBTQ, I will say “Hey, me too!” and then we’ll talk about it.

We’ll talk about how taboo it was back in the nineties when I was growing up. We’ll talk about the way the kids in Catholic school sometimes said “gay” in a derisive tone, and I went home and asked my mother why they thought an archaism for “happy” was an insult. I’ll talk about my mother refusing to say anything at first, and then telling me how horrible LGBTQ people were, how they were no better than pedophiles.

I will remind her of what my answer was, back in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was raging and Adrienne couldn’t play with her friends. She asked “was there a pandemic when you were a kid?” and I said “yes, there was,” and I told her about the HIV virus and the way everyone claimed it was “gay cancer.” I told her about the ridiculous superstitions, the notion that it was God’s punishment, my mother telling me that it jumped the species barrier when a “male airline steward” had sex with a chimpanzee because gay men have no self control. I told her about my mother not letting us watch Captain Planet  or that one episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy we watched when we studied the immune system, because she didn’t want us to know what AIDS was. I told her about going to a secular university for undergrad, taking a course on AIDS to fulfill a science requirement because it fit into my schedule, learning all kinds of things I’d never known before. I watched the video of a nun reading the names of AIDS-afflicted children she’d cared for aloud. I saw the patch from the AIDS quilt with a teddy bear sewn on, a memorial for a dead baby. And I said in my heart that God didn’t do this. We would talk about all of that again.

I will tell her that in the Charismatic Renewal we were told the Virgin Mary cries because of LGBTQ people and the chastisement that was coming would cleanse them from our society. Tolerance of LGBTQ people was a sign that we were in the end times. Besides, it was disgusting, because gay men have sex through the rear end.

I will tell her that one day, after keeping it in for a long time, I confessed to my mother, “I think I’m homosexual,” hoping that she would send me to conversion therapy so I wouldn’t commit a sin. I said “homosexual” because I didn’t know a word for “bisexual.”

And my mother said “You’re not, because if you were I’d shoot you and put us both out of our misery.”

And then she smiled, so I’d know it was a joke, and explained to me that such feelings were just my teenage hormones. They’d go away with time.

And I didn’t talk about it anymore.

And I told myself I was straight.

And I believed it.

And I went to a Catholic school for graduate school, and I loved Jesus very much, and I married Daddy and then she was born, because being queer doesn’t actually make you a monster. You go on being human whether you’re LGBTQ or straight. You find love where you find it, and you talk to God and do what you think He wants, and good and bad things keep happening. But it was very hard for me to repress a big part of myself like that. It made me feel dirty all the time. It gave me nightmares I still don’t like to think about. And when I finally came out of the closet, to myself, I felt horrible. I felt like God couldn’t possibly love me.  I was angry at a God who would create something on purpose which He couldn’t love. And honestly I’m still here, feeling that terrible feeling and not knowing what it means. Sometimes I’m afraid to sleep at night.

No, on second thought, I won’t say all of that.

It’ll probably come out in conversation later, but I won’t say any of that at first.

If my daughter comes out as LGBTQ, I’ll just listen. And then I’ll tell her that she is my beloved daughter and I am proud of her, and I love her exactly the way she is.

And I will remind myself that, if God is any Father Who is worth my time, He is saying the same to me.



image via Pixabay

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.

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