There are Mormons out there who have heard these words from their own kids. I think we tend to convince ourselves that this is one of those things that happens to "other families." Families that are maybe weaker in the Gospel or parents who haven't raised their kids right. But I don't think that could be further from the truth. Have you ever thought about what you would do if it happened to you?
I've enjoyed reading the thoughts and experiences of active Mormons who happen to be gay. A couple of blogs that stand out are www.soymademegay.com and http://gayldsactor.blogspot.com. Even though no one in my immediate family has ever "come out," I have often thought about how I would react and how it would affect my relationship with that person. Both of these blogs made an impression on me and taught me a lesson in compassion and understanding. I encourage all Mormons, regardless of your feelings regarding homosexuality, to read them. If you read their experiences with an open heart and mind, I think you will be as impressed as I was with their humble attitudes and dedication to the Gospel, despite their struggles.
When I was much younger, I was a very conservative, black and white thinker. Back then, I was pretty sure what I would do if I had a child that had chosen to be gay. (Because back then I was pretty sure it was a choice.) I think that my approach would have been somewhere between a serious chastisement and an ultimatum and/or disowning that child.
Now that I'm older and see the world in technicolour, rather than black and white, I think I would approach such a situation with a lot more understanding and compassion. Still, there are still a few technicalities that I don't know how I would handle. After hearing about a family I knew from my old ward and their compassionate reaction to their return-missionary son's "coming out," along with their struggle to know how much they should accept or not accept, I've done some thinking about it. I'm going to make a list of the dilemmas that such families face and it would be interesting to hear how others in the Bloggernacle would handle such a situation in their families. I'm sure some of you have actually experienced it for real, so it would be interesting to hear your perspective. So, here are some possible challenges for Mormons with gay family members:
- First, when your loved one says that he or she is gay, how do you respond? With anger? Disgust? Disappointment? A desire to change them? Partial acceptance? Or total acceptance?
- If you have a son or daughter who is still a minor and says that they are gay, do you try to change them? Do you suggest counselling?
- Do you encourage them to keep their sexuality a secret?
- Would you attend the same-sex civil union/wedding of your child? Would you welcome their partner into your family as an "in-law?"
- If your child is an adult, has moved out of your home, and has a partner do you allow them to bring their partner to your home? If they are in a committed partnership, perhaps even married under the law where possible, would you let them sleep together in the same room?
So, your child says, "Mom, Dad. I'm gay." What do you do?