The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.
I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church. I taught every group there was to teach, sang in the choir, worked tirelessly in the youth department, and truly believed in every pat answer we were given for the “whys” within Christianity. The most hurtful and shameful part is that I swallowed the beliefs about the “gay lifestyle” hook, line and sinker. I will grieve over that for the rest of my life because this belief came through in raising my own wonderful children, and I would give anything to take a GIANT eraser and erase every careless, painful thought, statement and word from their lives. I take some solace in knowing that now that I know better, I am doing better!!
I believed these teachings fervently and, therefore, refused to allow the questions in my heart to bubble up to the surface of my soul for so very long. I saw small things in our son that may or may not lead one to think their child is gay, but since he isn’t effeminate, I kept telling myself not to stereotype. I spoke with several youth ministers about my slight concerns but didn’t find much help or insight from them. Although they were called to work with our youth, they were typically uncomfortable discussing anything to do with sexuality. The advice I remember receiving was to pray over him and “this” will go away. At home I continued to teach our children that homosexuality was wrong. If the subject came up on a television show or in a conversation I would take the opportunity to remind them. In my mind, I truly believed it was a choice.
As time went on, and our son entered college, I began to feel more uneasy about his lack of interest in dating and in girls in general. I felt something wasn’t right, but never once gave him a place of grace or mercy to lay his precious tortured soul. That still TEARS ME UP to write or say that —but it is the truth and I know it. UGH!!! Our son waited until he was 25 years old to tell us he was gay. TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OLD to come to his CHRISTIAN mother who PRIDED herself on ALWAYS being able to talk to young people so easily. We didn’t blow a fuse, but as much as my husband and I had discussed this possibility, it still came as quite a blow. Ultimately, in our world, his coming out of the closet meant us going in. We totally shut down for a while and found each other crying in closets and walking the floors at night with broken hearts.
We found out our son was gay on November 5th 2011, and then he came home for a visit during the Christmas holidays. I have actually laughed about this with him recently, but at the time, I was so backwards when it came to this issue that I was trying to prepare my face in the airport for the moment our eyes would meet as he walked toward me in the terminal. I had promised myself if he walked towards me in a checkered Britney Spears outfit I would run towards him. LOL!! I laugh at myself and NOT at transgender people. I was so uninformed at the time that I didn’t know the difference in gender identity and sexual orientation. I thought it was all one and the same. But when he walked off of the plane and towards me he was the same person I had always knows. He was still my very handsome 6’5″ chiseled bone structured son! He was that same ADORABLE PRECIOUS baby I was absolutely in love with from the moment he was placed in my arms. He was the same son who loved to aggravate and torture his sisters with his hilariously funny pranks. He was the same teenager who tried so desperately to find his place in this world. He was the young man who had endured a grueling schedule at a very demanding vocal program at a well-known School of the Arts. He was and IS an amazingly articulate, caring, funny, hard-working, intelligent and sensitive young man.
One night, when I was still trying hard to understand everything, he and I stayed up talking late into the night. At one point he looked at me with his penetratingly beautiful blue eyes and used two words that I have never heard him use in his entire life. He just doesn’t speak like this at all, but he frustratingly said, “Mom, if you suspected that I might be gay, why couldn’t you ever give me a place of ‘mercy or grace’ to share?” I still get cold chills when I remember that night because It wasn’t just my son speaking, but Jesus speaking through him in the only way HE knew I would ever be able to hear. From that very moment on, something began to change inside me and I began to read and study EVERYTHING I could put my hands on. Not conservative Christian literature where James Dobson says, this is a choice and has to do with the father/son relationship. Our son couldn’t have a father who loves him any more than my husband does; a father who took all of the children camping all by himself while I went back to college and even coached our son’s ball teams. There are differences in their personalities and they are not always interested in the same things, but I see MANY father/sons with different interests who aren’t gay. This theory makes no sense whatsoever and doesn’t account for single parents
As I began to study this topic, I learned that I had been VERY WRONG. I know there are people who haven’t experienced this journey with a person they are willing to die for who will continue to struggle with this issue because as much as it breaks my heart to say this, I am afraid, had I not been blessed with our son, I would still be that same person I was before–ugh! But I do have a son who is gay and it has helped me be free of that! As the majority of young people do, our son struggled with coming to terms with being gay. He NEVER CHOSE this–it’s who he is. I too am looking forward to finding a way to work with this type of ministry. It GRIEVES my heart to no end, but I want to make it very clear, that as I took this journey, there was an EVER ABIDING PRESENCE on every walk I took and every prayer I prayed. God gave me glimpses of Himself that I have never before seen. There are so many unanswered questions when it comes to Christianity, but there is one thing I KNOW with certainty … I KNOW that God LOVES all of HIS children and HIS heart aches when ours does.
Our son isn’t involved in church and my husband and I have found ourselves somewhat distant too lately. Why in the world would he want to go to a place where HE IS TURNED AWAY unless of course he denounces who he is, and why would his mother and father want to be in a place that would not accept our son for who he is—especially if, as some Christians believe, WE were the ones to make him gay? Many churches literally believe they have the right to turn one of God’s children away from GOD’S HOUSE! That is so very wrong and I believe there will be a day of reckoning over this!! How in the world are LGBT people supposed to come to know who Jesus is when they aren’t allowed on the membership roll? There is an ENTIRE generation of people running as fast as they can from knowing their creator because of Christians? WOW! I MISS church and never in a million years thought I would ever be anything but Baptist, but honestly, I just can’t do it anymore. We plan to look for a church where you can be made in any shape and fit in for the simple reason that we are all children of God.
One more thing, to all of you LGBT people, I ask your forgiveness from the deepest part of my heart, and I want you to know that I believe you are the BRAVEST most COURAGEOUS people in the world. You are here for a reason, and you have truly taught me how to LOVE, and for that I will be forever grateful.
** A recent update: We have found the most amazing Inclusive Progressive Christian Church, and this past Christmas, our son actually brought someone he is dating home for Christmas. It was the BEST Christmas ever because for the first time, I was able to see my son sharing his life with someone rather than standing in the background while everybody else is coupled up. We are all different people and wouldn’t change our lives for anything. This journey has taught us all to LOVE BETTER. God is bigger than I ever dreamed and I have such a beautiful peace in my heart and soul.
Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,500 members. For more info email firstname.lastname@example.org