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.
It’s been almost 23 years since I had my last child. He came two weeks early, ready to make his mark on the world, and on me. When the Doctor handed him to me, I had this crazy, fleeting thought come out of nowhere; he’s gay. I had given birth to three other children before him, and that thought had never entered my mind. I had no idea where it came from or why, so I buried it just as quickly as I’d had it. I remember our first Sunday back to Church, after he was born our Preacher took him from my arms, stood in front of our small congregation, and dedicated him to God. I was a proud Mother. I still am.
I was born and raised in Church, and had studied the Bible quite a bit. In fact, I had become a little stubborn and arrogant about it. I sadly remember one time when my children were very small, I pulled into my local bank and they had a big banner hanging out front that read, “We support the United Way.” I had just recently read an article in Time magizine about the United Way pulling their support from The Boy Scouts because the Boy Scouts would not allow gays. So I, in my self righteous Christian arrogance, let the poor little Teller know just how wrong it was that they would support Untied Way. I am now mortified when I think back about that. Nonetheless, by the time Matt was four, there was not a doubt in my mind that my sweet boy was gay. He wasn’t feminine, didn’t play with dolls, or do any of the things one might associate with being gay, but somehow I knew and I was scared to death. It wasn’t something I could say out loud, or talk to anyone about, so I did everything I could think of to “ungay” him to make him normal. I prayed day and night begging God to not let any of my children grow up to be gay. I couldn’t specifically say Matt’s name in my prayers, because that would be like admitting it. Even though I knew I still couldn’t say it out loud, not even in prayer. We went to church on Sundays, and like my other children, he was baptized. I did everything and anything I could think of to make him straight, and I certainly never missed a chance to tell him that being gay was a choice, a very bad, sinful, choice.
When Matt was 15 I found some notes in his room written between he and his friends that confirmed my worst fear, he’s gay. I lost my mind. When he came home from school that day I showed him what I’d found, it’s a blur, but I remember crying and screaming at him. The worst part was telling him he was going to hell. At one point I asked him if he had ever been sexually molested. I was grasping at straws, I figured there had to be a reason he wanted to be gay and if he had been molested, a good therapist could fix that, fix what I couldn’t. He was never molested, so there went that theory. My heart was shattered in a million pieces. I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. I had to stay off Facebook during all of this, because it was the same time that the Chick Fil A fiasco was going on. Then shortly after that, It was the Duck Dynasty posts. I couldn’t handle it. All I saw when people were posting these things on Facebook were signs that said, Hey Tammie, I hate your son, he’s a faggot. So I would start crying and just go to bed. There were days I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t function. With my religious background, this was a one-way ticket to hell. How does a Mother live with that? So I would just lay in bed and sob. I was so angry at God. My life had never been a picnic, but this?! This was a deal breaker. This was God hitting below the belt, if there even was a God. I wasn’t sure anymore. This was faith shattering. One day while lying in bed sobbing, I jumped up like a crazy woman and started screaming at Satan to leave my babies the hell alone, to pick on me. I could handle it, they couldn’t!
Then I started screaming at God. All of these years I’ve been doing everything in my power to make him straight, where have you been?! Why haven’t you helped me?! How did those thousands of prayers escape you?! Where have you been all these years when we needed you most?! Then I asked, why did you even give me this information when Matt was a baby if you weren’t going to help me change him? God spoke to me in that moment saying, I didn’t give you that information to change Matt, I gave you that information to change you! I dropped to my knees. I didn’t know where to go from there. I walked around like a zombie for a few weeks, and then I picked my Bible back up. I of course knew the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and had read the few other scriptures about homosexuality, but that was it. So I took it a bit further, I studied the original Greek/Hebrew texts of the Bible, and WOW. I learned not only what those scriptures actually meant, what the stories were actually about, but also that so many of the words used actually have a different meaning then how we know them to mean today. God opened my eyes and my very narrow-minded heart.
I look back now, and wish so much I would have started studying about this when Matt was little, when God first gave me those first few glimpses. There’s so many things I would do differently, but everything happens for a reason, and this has turned out to be a wonderful, albeit very difficult part of my journey. Being gay isn’t the one-way ticket to hell as I had been taught and as I had believed. My children, ALL of my children are exactly who God lovingly made them to be, and I couldn’t be prouder. In the words of my friend Susan Cottrell (and I paraphrase), I do not not support my gay child and his rights in spite of my faith, I support my gay child and his rights BECAUSE of my faith.
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 set up so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted there. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,900 members. For more info email email@example.com