Horribly sad story of a mom who regrets how she handled her now-dead son’s coming-out

A real blockbuster of a piece by Linda Robertson over at Huffington Post, published a bit over a week ago. She’s a mom who accepted her 12 year old son coming out to her as gay, but only just. She proceeded to talk to him, as a Christian mom, about how he needed to follow Jesus, and how embracing his sexuality was not an option.

Ryan ended up in a downward spiral that led to, drugs, including crack and heroin, made him suicidal, and then led to his death from a heroin overdose at the age of 20.

It’s a horrible story. And includes a photo of the mom kissing her presumably-brain-dead son in the hospital before saying goodbye to him for good (anyone who’s been through one of these will immediately recognize the photo).

Ryan-Robertson

The mom now works on HIV/AIDS issues, and she and her husband spoke at the final Exodus International conference on June 20, 2013 – this was the day Exodus renounced “ex-gay therapy” and closed its doors for good.  First, a snippet of what the mom told her 12 year old son when he came out to her:

We said all the things that we thought loving Christian parents who believed the Bible, the Word of God, should say:

We love you. We will always love you. And this is hard. Really hard. But we know what God says about this, so you are going to have to make some really difficult choices.

We love you. We couldn’t love you more. But there are other men who have faced this same struggle, and God has worked in them to change their desires. We’ll get you their books; you can listen to their testimonies. And we will trust God with this.

We love you. We are so glad you are our son. But you are young, and your sexual orientation is still developing. The feelings you’ve had for other guys don’t make you gay. So please don’t tell anyone that you are gay. You don’t know who you are yet. Your identity is not that you are gay; it is that you are a child of God.

We love you. Nothing will change that. But if you are going to follow Jesus, holiness is your only option. You are going to have to choose to follow Jesus, no matter what. And since you know what the Bible says, and since you want to follow God, embracing your sexuality is not an option.

Clearly, from the rest of the story, the parents now get it.  But, as they note, it’s now too late:

[W]e lost the ability to love our gay son, because we no longer had a gay son. What we had wished for, prayed for, hoped for — that we would not have a gay son — came true. But not at all in the way we had envisioned.

Now, when I think back on the fear that governed all my reactions during those first six years after Ryan told us he was gay, I cringe as I realize how foolish I was. I was afraid of all the wrong things. And I grieve, not only for my oldest son, whom I will miss every day for the rest of my life, but for the mistakes I made. I grieve for what could have been, had we been walking by faith instead of by fear. Now, whenever Rob and I join our gay friends for an evening, I think about how much I would love to be visiting with Ryan and his partner over dinner. But instead, we visit Ryan’s gravestone. We celebrate anniversaries: the would-have-been birthdays and the unforgettable day of his death. We wear orange, his color. We hoard memories: pictures, clothing he wore, handwritten notes, lists of things he loved, tokens of his passions, recollections of the funny songs he invented, his Curious George and baseball blankey, anything, really, that reminds us of our beautiful boy, for that is all we have left, and there will be no new memories. We rejoice in our adult children, and in our growing family as they marry, but we ache for the one of our “gang of four” who is missing. We mark life by the days B.C. (before coma) and A.D. (after death), because we are different people now; our life was irrevocably changed in a million ways by his death.

Here are a series of photos of Ryan, from birth to death, that his parents have posted on Vimeo:

And here’s the video from the parents’ appearance at the Exodus conference – basically they’re reading the post Linda publish at HuffPo.  I’ll give them credit for doing all they can to now right this terrible wrong.  But geez.  Be forewarned, they’re a bit too peppy-Christian at the beginning of the video.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Karen Lynn Svensson Andresen

    If a person is turned on by the opposite sex, they are gay. If you are turned on by both, you are bi, and then one can choose who they want to marry. You need to come to terms with your sexuality. My son is gay and has always been attracted to boys from an early age. He cannot be changed, I would not want him to be changed, and I would not want him to “choose” to live a lie and marry a female while he is not attracted to her. This is not fair to anyone involved. People should embrace who they are and live the life they want, anything less is wrong, and should never be an issue. Our youth is fragile when dealing with a homophobic society. MANY gay teens feel VERY bad about themselves and it is enough to push them over the edge. I have a fragile gay teen and understand what the world can do and say to them. Are you blind to all the suicides? Are you blind to the suicides from cyber bullying in the straight population? In the LGBT population, suicide is the number one cause of death. It was not just the mother, but many factors in society, like the church, community, school, that contribute to the self hate. At the very least, many of these kids exhibit self harming behaviors. If you don’t have experience with this population, you should not even comment, it is very hurtful. Please get some education.

  • StevesWeb

    If a person is willing to let their religion drive a wedge between them and a family member, they need a new religion that does not drive wedges. Or better yet, no religion.

  • Rob Conrad

    Ya got that right. This pushes a lot of yuck buttons.

  • Rob Conrad

    Good for you, daffyd. Well played. It can’t have been easy.

  • Rob Conrad

    Thankful for what? If this is what it takes to change the attitudes of churches (going through dead gay people) I say shut the churches down. I’d be happy if every copy of the Bible was mysteriously vanished from the face of the earth. And the Quran. We need a reset on our basic humanity.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    All other issues and subtext aside, this makes me cry.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    I like the photos of father and son posing like tough guys with their rifles squatting over their prey, a pair of raccoons. Raccoons. Real tough hunt, that one.

  • Tricia Starrr

    She didn’t kill him. It’s tragic that he turned to drugs in his despair; but, she didn’t kill him. She is entitled to her opinion, whether someone thinks it’s wrong or right. She is entitled to her beliefs and just because you love someone it does’t mean you have to give up your beliefs. It’s sad that he died and she’s, of course, missing her son; but, do you folks really believe he died simply because his parents didn’t want to accept that their 12 year old thought he was gay? I know he was 20 when he passed. I happen to agree with a couple of the points she made and while I’m not homophobic or a hate-monger I probably have an opinion about the CHOICE of being gay that will ruffle a few feathers.

    Firstly, I totally agree with her assessment that at 12, there is no way a kid KNOWS that they are gay, especially if they are still virginal. Having crushes on boys if you’re a boy or girls if you’re a girl..does not make you gay…especially not at the age of 12. It is just as possible that the curiosiity about sexuality that is present for some at that age is just that…a curiousity about the unknown. If someone has thoughts about the same sex, it doesn’t mean they are gay.
    A person is gay when they become involved sexually with a person of the same sex continuously and enjoy it.

    Now as far as the “choice”..in essence it is just that a choice. No, one can’t “choose” whether or not the feelings come, but, one can certainly CHOOSE to not act on them. It’s a choice that needs to be made after weighing all the consequences of the action of acting on the feelings. I’m not saying what the choice should be as that’s up to the individual person. But, it seems that people are always looking for an excuse or a reason to legitimize something that may be controversial unacceptable to some.
    My point is to own who you are. You do what you do because you want to do it. You like to do it. You’ve decided to go with your feelings and you don’t care what society or your relatives think. That is most certainly a choice.

    Sometimes a young person is uncertain about whatever feelings they have. Because you feel something, it doesn’t mean that you should act on it. That’s what separates us from the animals. It happens sometimes that, who have never engaged in a sexual act with anyone same sex or not, have sexual feelings or curiosities about the same sex, but they CHOOSE, not to act on them. Years later they KNOW who they are and are glad that they didn’t explore those curiosities. They realize that’s not who they were. They knew it wasn’t a lifestyle they wanted to have to live and they’re comfortable with their sexuality after growing up some. They DECIDED not to do something that they thought they may later regret.

    I know the argument is…..”Well then you are suggesting people walk around not being who they are.”…No, I’m not suggesting that. I’m just saying this to YOUNG PEOPLE…who really don’t KNOW who they are at that age, that it’s okay to WAIT..and not act on any sexual feelings until you are adult enough to face the consequences of the CHOICE to live that lifestyle. Pre-teens and teens shouldn’t be having sex in the first place with the same or opposite sex. That’s the message that needs to be taught. Those are the values that need to be instilled. I know some 20 year olds who are not mature enough to get involved in sexual relationships.

    I don’t suggest eveyrone wait as long as I did; but, I definitely think that teen pregnancy and babies at an age where you can’t support yourself , let alone a child is an epidemic. I think that there are a lot of young people running around professing to be gay because it’s somehow a “trendy” thing; but, they really should be focusing how their life skills and who they are as people and not as sexual beings. That shouldn’t even be in the mind of a teenager.

    I’m just saying …young people..especially at an age like 12…shouldn’t be making decisions about their sexuality based on hormonal fluctuation and crushes that are just part of growing up. I’m saying that this mother should not blame herself because her child decided to do drugs. He could just as easily have chosen to do drugs had he not been gay.

    Of course I understand that there are people who are gay and happy. There are young people who in the long run, are gay and okay with it…They are at peace with their decision to live that lifestyle. I believe as long as they don’t hurt anyone and they are happy, then good for them.
    I would also guess that his drug use had more to do with his inner struggle, than it did with angst over his parents not accepting his lifestyle.

    We always want to place blame and feel that we could have done this or we could have done that. Who knows if anything would have changed had they said to him that it was okay for him to be gay.
    I do understand the trouble with the religious aspect of it. If he were raised ultra religious and all kinds of guilt was places on him for having such feelings. There comes a point where people do and say things in the name of “the lord” that really don’t agree l with what the supposed teachings of christianity are.

    I’m not a religious person, though I once labeled myself as Christian. I used to pray a lot…and…believe. I can’t really say that I’m an atheist as I don’t know that I actually believe that there is no God. I just feel that I’ve lost my faith in the God that I once trusted in. I do still believe in doing unto others as I would have them do unto me, though we all know that is difficult to do sometimes and we don’t always follow that golden rule. That’s what makes us human.

    I think it’s understandable that she regrets the stance she took with her son. I’m not sure to what extent they shunned him. I don’t know if he was banned from the house or treated coldly, etc. That’s not what she says in the article. The implication is just that she blames herself for her son’s death because she didn’t like the fact that he was gay. I don’t know the particulars of the situation; but, if she didn’t show him love or was not here for him as a mother because he was gay, then yes her regret is understandable; but, if it’s just about her not liking the fact that he was gay, then no, I don’t think she should be carrying the burden of thinking she killed her son because he made a couple of decisions that made his life tougher and couldn’t face the consequences of his actions.

    I think he is unfortunately not here anymore due to emotional issues attributed to any number of things and not because his mom didn’t like that he way gay.

  • Bill

    People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.

    ~James A. Baldwin

  • Butch1

    I recall nurses who would refuse to even bring a food tray into the rooms. The Cafeteria staff wouldn’t go in because at that time the patients were in isolation and all personnel had to gown up with masks etc. They would leave the trays out side of a closed door. The nurse would open the door and shove the tray in and close the door.

    We had a talk about that and it didn’t happen again. The nurse gowned up and went into the room with the tray and placed it beside the patient’s bed on the table. If the patient needed feeding then they were fed. If someone had a problem with that they didn’t belong in that field. There were many who used religion etc., to try and get out of doing their jobs but, it all boiled down to you were hired to do what you were trained to do and you do not get to select which patients you will and will not treat. Some quit but most followed isolation techniques and eventually got used to it.

    I realize everyone was anxious about how this disease was spread. Was it even airborne? No one knew in the early 1980s. AIDS patients were pariahs and even President Reagan couldn’t say the abbreviation until his very last months in office and even then he had to take a swipe at gays with an off handed remark by talking that those poor children who acquired this disease through NO FAULT of their own because they were Hemophiliacs who had taken tainted medication. If Reagan had been on this from the beginning we may have had a chance at educating the public and curbing a pandemic but he was into ignoring it and placing the blame upon us with the rest of the country. As you well know, these were horrible times for us all. I blame him for this disease getting out of control and the government essentially doing nothing about it.

    Many wonder how we survived without acquiring the disease. Perhaps if I may borrow a few words from the late writer and folk singer, Phil Ochs, “There, but for fortune go you or I.”

  • Butch1

    He should have lost his license to practice medicine!

  • Butch1

    I think he must have disliked himself enough to go down this path as well. Many choose drugs and alcohol to take their minds off of the fact that they cannot deal with who or what they are in the eyes of their religion instead of looking at it from another perspective that if you are going to believe in a god then why not believe that god doesn’t make any mistakes and he/she made you perfect. It is man that is imperfect and cannot get it right and is trying to change you instead to be like THEY want you to be.

    The problem at this point was his parents and their influence in his life. He wasn’t strong enough to fight them and mistake what they were calling “love” was actually a disguise for manipulating him to do their will and change his orientation to what they thought he should be and not what their son actually was. It was evil of them to use that word “love” to screw around with him. It really messed him up and finally he ended up overdosing.

    Not everyone that experiences this is this weak willed. Many fight back and tell their parents to “go to hell” or that they are NOT going to change. He fought this battle with what those old chestnut scriptures they manage to throw at us say and couldn’t battle them or come back with any proper retort to fight back. He needed reinforcements and didn’t have them.

    ” We love you, that’s why we want you to go see this person who is going to cure you.”
    Damned them for doing this to him. They could have loved him more by accepting him for the beautiful person he was and would have been.

  • Butch1

    One hopes your brother is very happy all alone with all that money he knows he should have shared with you. There is a deep hidden guilt there whether he will admit it or not and the rest of your clan knows just how greedy your brother is by taking it all and not being the real Christian in this by doing the right thing after your parents died by sharing it with you.

    How does that phrase go about it being easier to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man enter the kingdom of God? One can hope that he is sitting in the middle of his acquired wealth saying that it is all his and gloating about the fact that you didn’t get one dime. But, is he really happy? Your cousins and other family members don’t respect him at all. It is obvious what he treasures more than anything else and he got it. You got the respect you deserved.

  • Butch1

    Perhaps, but as this past decade has shown us, many people have changed their opinions and it is only those very right winged haters who will not budge like the Pat Robertson’s and others who have an investment in hate and make their living at it. Take away their living and I wonder if they would be so energetic at trying to draw every last dollar out of their hateful “flock.” ;-)

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    http://www.logicalfallacies.info/presumption/no-true-scotsman/

    There you go. Yes, all Christians ignore parts of the Bible for various reasons. Their cherry-picking is no more or less valid than anyone else’s. It’s actually not possible to assemble a coherent theology without ignoring some sections. Example: The statements on divorce attributed to Jesus in the gospels contradict themselves. In order to have a position on divorce supposedly based on the gospels, one would have to ignore certain passages. All Christians do it. Some are just more honest about it than others. Yes, I agree with you about the hypocrisy but rationalizing the teachings of the Bible without indulging in such hypocrisy is impossible.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    I’m not certain that we need to commend or condemn them. We just need to hope that they are able to change the minds of other parents who’s children are still with us.

  • sane37

    I can’t commend them. If their son were still alive they would still be trying to “save” him. It took his death to change them.

  • Patty

    Sorry, but I’m unfamiliar with the ‘No true Scotsman’ reference, but I am familiar with people picking one line of Leviticus out of a bible while chowing down on cheeseburgers and wearing mixed fiber clothes. What is a ‘true’ Christian? Is it someone who out of fear and ignorance blindly follows a book and the letter of the law, even to destroying his own child, or is it someone who is able to see beyond Leviticus and love unconditionally?

    There’s very, very little about sexuality referenced in the gospels, but a whole lot about hypocrisy and marginalized people, plus references to parents loving their children, the kid who asks for a fish and gets a snake, to name just one example.When a kid comes out to his parent he’s expecting and deserves love, not a ‘snake’.

  • maildude39

    You and your husband are blessed to have loving in-laws/parents in spite of what the Church taught them. Hopefully, someday all parents will love and accept their children regardless of their sexual orientation. Your story gives me hope.

  • Butch1

    This is why there is no god. People have been so cruel for too many years and for no real reasons other than invisible sky faeries and made up folklore. It really has to stop.

  • Butch1

    I also shows that even their attempts at trying to make a man out of him didn’t work. You are what you are and no amount of male bonding and doing male things is going to change a boy’s orientation. They learned this lesson too late and essentially killed their own son by forcing him to make a choice over his life or “going to heaven.” He couldn’t handle it and went the route of taking drugs and drinking to ease his troubled mind. He either overdosed or ended his life which was in pain thanks to his parents.

    They were correct after the fact. It took having him going into an irreversible coma to understand that orientation does not change and there was nothing wrong with their son in the first place. The problem was with them. By then it was too late. What a loss because of their myopic stupidity. Now they lament and are trying to make amends and I do commend them for at least that.

  • Butch1

    ” . . .but Ryan? He was as tough as nails . . .” The typical stereotypical thinking of what a gay person should be like and if you do not look like that or measure up to be on the effeminate side of things then you couldn’t possibly be a “homosexual.”

    What would God say? Perhaps they should read their bible more. Jesus says nothing about gays.

    They also continue to misquote the bible.
    It should be: “For we walk by faith and not by sight.” – II Corinthians 5: 7.
    ( ” . . . not by fear. ” is incorrect.)

    ( I know this and I’m an atheist. ) ;-)

  • Stev84

    The really sick thing is that it’s really just standard Christian theology taken to its logical extreme. Shows you you that it’s really all rotten at the core.

  • rich1103

    Now let them suffer its what they deserve. They basically killed their son.

  • davidinchelseama

    I guess there must be SOME religions, like Unitarianism, perhaps, that are less intolerant, and there are religious institutions that help poor people, but you don’t need a religious institution for the poor to be helped. And yes, most religions are rigid and horrible. And of course, even Unitarians believe in the magic guy in the sky.

  • http://buddybest.tripod.com/index.html BuddyNovinski

    Lets’ see: Jesus Christ hung around with twelve guys, had no problem with female prostitutes, and did not marry. Could he have been gay all along? If we accept the premise — which came centuries later — that he was a god, why would he need sex anyway? The more I find out about the first centuries of Christianity, the more I think we really don’t know who Christ was nor what his mission was.

  • http://buddybest.tripod.com/index.html BuddyNovinski

    I wouldn’t go that far. I was reared in Catholicism, so imagine my shock when I was learning about the Reformation in my third year at Penn State after nearly twelve years of Catholic doctrine. It took me many years to understand such a heartless theology and from where Calvin took it. My point is that practically no one believes in predestination, even though it’s the second of the five points of Calvinism. Furthermore, one cannot understand the Founding Fathers without knowing this doctrine. Most of them rejected it and were Deists in any case.
    Most Americans have no idea about the history of their own country, and they show this ignorance by worshiping the god Ronald Reagan, listening only to Faux News, and believing anything the corporate whore Rushed Limpback tells them.
    However, I will concede that I don’t know of any other pure form of Christian evil, but I will leave open that there may be one out there. You could be right.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Yes, been through all that. I was present when a Dr. told a patient that he had AIDS because his lifestyle was immoral and evil and in essence he deserved to suffer God’s judgement. That was at Presbyterian in SF.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    F’k them, who needs their condescending Jesusy guilt therapy.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Agree: Calvinist theology is the purest form of Christian evil imaginable.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Couldn’t agree more (see comment below)

  • guest

    Also, a lot of the photos seem like an attempt to show how macho the father is and what a good father he was. I’m barfing.

  • guest

    Are we supposed to pretend she didn’t kill him?

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    But it is what the Bible says. Sorry, I don’t buy into this “no true Scotsman” fallacy. Yes, I know many Christians have excised those parts of the Bible from their theology just like most have excised the other parts they don’t like (slavery, genocide, etc.) but you can’t claim people aren’t “true” Christians because they believe what their books tells them is true, especially when it’s the same book you use.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    No but their guilt over how they treated him while he was alive is well-deserved.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    I know others are finding this story moving but I find it revolting. The movie Heathers mocked this sort of thing a couple of decades ago (“I love my dead gay son!”) It was funny then as parody. The real thing is neither humorous nor moving. Your son died having been rejected by you. That can’t be undone. Perhaps this is useful as a cautionary tale, but the fact that people will chose their stone age religion over their children is deplorable.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Can they? Perhaps — I don’t know what constitutes ‘frivolous’ under California law.

    Will they? Probably not, since it doesn’t take that much for a judge to tell his or her clerk, “Write up a standard dismissal.”

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    My husband’s parents were members of the Missouri Synod. I’m certain it was very rough on them, but they chose their son over their church’s teachings. They always treated my husband lovingly, even if that meant accepting me as their son-in-law. People can rise above their church’s teachings.

  • maildude39

    I can totally relate to your story, and I hope that any parent who even thinks about rejecting their sons or daughters sexuality, at any age, will think twice before its too late. I lost my partner at age 41 due to suicide. He was bright, professionally successful, and well liked by all who had known him.

    When he was 19, his father died in a vehicle accident. He was out to his dad, and though his family professed their love to him, neither of his parents accepted the fact that he was gay. It was something that stuck with him for all of his way to shortened life. Probably more so than I even realized.

    Without going into all of the details, when he died, his mother had the funeral mass held at a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. To say that the Church is not “gay-friendly” would be an understatement to say the least. The obituary contained only one non-related survivor. It was that of a so-called “Special (female) Friend”.

    I miss him dearly every day.

  • Stev84

    Can’t they be punished and fined for filing frivolous lawsuits?

  • bbock

    I think they do, in their own sing-songy Jesus loves me way. I don’t think they internalize it as being their fault, but they know they should have accepted him. But I get the feeling they still believe being gay is a sin. I wanted to hate them for the first half of the video, but then I just felt sorry for them. And they are doing good in their own way. But notice how if Christians want to look good to gay people, they help out with HIV/AIDS. Because that’s how they relate to us.

  • http://buddybest.tripod.com/index.html BuddyNovinski

    The uncle was gay, too? This is yet another indication that sexual orientation is genetic. Following that idea, then we’re back to the orthodox Calvinism of predestination. God makes those gay to condemn them to hell before they were born. Now, isn’t that absurd? Even Presbyterians dropped the doctrine of predestination.
    For those who understand biology, nature continues to diversify for survival. Therefore, sexual orientation will continue to diversify. In fact, biology helped James Dewey Watson figure out the structure of DNA back in 1953. Now, can we please move on?

  • silas1898

    Like hyenas that won’t let go of corpse.

  • silas1898

    Very sad. Be careful what you wish for……

  • RussTX

    Don’t be so critical, John; try being thankful instead. It’s people like these who eventually are going to change the attitude of the churches.
    @Herod Antipaster – what a lousy thing to say. Nobody “deserves” to lose a son or any other family member, you self-righteous creep.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Sure seems like it, doesn’t it?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    After all, it’s obvious from a plain reading of the Bible, that either God changed his mind about slavery and the property status of women… or else we’re pissing him off.

    Or, more probably, men decided to make it ‘legal’ and ‘moral’ to own people by saying so in the book they themselves wrote, and then borrowed irrefutable authority to make it so.

  • FunMe

    PS: In the few minutes I saw of the 2nd video, I find out the woman’s brother is also gay. Her son came out to her via internet and reminded her of this. And YET she proceeded to pressure her son to find a way to follow Jesus and NOT be true to himself. Sorry, but I think the parents are to blame for what happened here. Do they not realize this?

  • kenthomes

    Me too…I have seen the devastation “religion” (man made control systems) has wrought. There have been thousands of “Gods” and none of them are any more real than the current ones of choice. It is all bullshit and designed to make people obedient – take away their critical thinking mechanism, and put them into a state of perpetual FEAR – where they worry about “heaven” more than actually and fully living for TODAY! GRRRRRRR!

  • kenthomes

    There is a lot of evidence “Jesus” never existed.

  • kenthomes

    Great comment, BeccaM.

  • kenthomes

    I am so sick of religion….It really is the cause of most of the problems in the world. It is ALL ABOUT CONTROL. People are so easily brainwashed into it by their parents and peers. It is ALL ABOUT NON-CRITICAL THINKING – and being a sheep, who does what their pastor, prophet, priest, tells them “GOD” wants them to do – hopefully without questioning.

  • kenthomes

    Most religions are toxic. They are there to control you and take away your own self-empowerment.

  • kenthomes

    This is what “religion” does to families. It tears them apart. They choose their cult over their own children. Religion is really the worst tragedy that ever happened to humanity.

  • Patty

    There’s very little following of Jesus among fundamentalists, and a lot of bibleolatry. Fundamentalists replaced Jesus with a book written thousands of years reflecting the culture and mores of those times. They used the bible and “The bible says it, so I believe it” as a weapon throughout history to justify slavery, capitol punishment, kill unbelievers, subjugate women, and a long list of other inhumane actions down through history. They’ve made God in their image: unforgiving, unloving, judgmental, a deity who is out to punish his children and this they use to keep others in line and condemn everyone else. The irony of Jesus condemning no one but hypocrites is utterly lost on fundamentalists.

  • Sweetie

    “Or that maybe the sexual orientation isn’t a choice, but it’s perfectly reasonable to expect and require gays and lesbians to spend our lives entirely celibate.”

    Beyond being unscientific and logically corrupt, it’s just plainly a matter of heterosexual superiority BS. Perhaps they can explain how their sex lives are dreadfully impacted by us “biological errors” getting it on. It’s not enough for them to believe that they’re better than us, fully human versus subhuman. They want us to worship them. They are their own deity.

  • Sweetie

    It’s always fun to be bashed and have the police laugh at you… then threaten you if you decided to be uppity and “go downtown”. As a kid, I always hit back as hard as possible. As a young adult I learned that the magic word for bashers is the f word. It apparently does wonders with police.

  • Patty

    My point was at least these two experienced remorse for what they did to their son in the name of religion, and will for the rest of their lives because of that. My utmost contempt is reserved for “parents” who destroy their kids emotionally, abandon them or kick them out and never look back or care if they’re alive or dead, sick or injured. They deserve a special place in hell.

  • Herod Antipaster

    I’m glad when godmongers get what they deserve. Unfortunately, it comes at the price of good people.

  • Daffyd

    Grew up with family who used their money to try to blackmail me into being straight… I’m amazed looking back that I survived and turned out pretty great in spite of them…

    After many years of being called “disgusting” by my mother, I finally told her on the phone one day that if she couldn’t respect me, then not to bother calling me any more… Which she never did… for the next 20 years until she died.

    I didn’t get invited to either her or my father’s funeral by my “born-again” brother. He inherited everything, but I stayed true to myself knowing that I wasn’t the one with the problem – they were… I’d rather be Gay and “poor”, than a hate filled “Christian” with money…

    Found out later that my mother told some cousins just before she died that she actually admired me for standing up for myself.

  • http://poodyheads.wordpress.com/ zorbear

    “To go against the Church is to go against God!” from the movie “Priest”…or a pulpit from any Christian church, any denomination, any Sunday…

    Change the words “the Church” to “ME”, and you’ve got virtually all the crazy parents I’ve ever heard of…

    :-(

  • quax

    Yes, it is.

  • FunMe

    I just viewed the photos of the young man. That is so sad. Tears in my eyes. :-(

    There is NO reason that young man should have not been still with us. How people can be so cruel is beyond my understanding.

  • Bob Niemic

    Thanks for posting this.

  • docsterx

    No, Mrs. Robinson, you don’t know what GOD says about this. God didn’t speak to you. You are mistaking what you read, and interpreted in your own way, in the bible. And you’re listening to what other men and women are saying about the bible. They aren’t “God” either.

    No, Mrs. Robinson, your son DIDN’T need to make more difficult choices. He made one, he told you he was gay. YOU forced him to make additional choices. (We will love you BUT you need to do this).

    No, Mrs. Robinson, you DIDN’T trust God with this. You decided that YOU wanted your son to be straight. You forced the issue – God didn’t. Maybe God was just fine with your son’s gayness. No biblical evidence otherwise. And, even if their were, that was 2000 years ago.. Maybe God changed his mind and just didn’t tell you. Or maybe he did and you refused to hear him.

    No, Mrs. Robinson, you don’t need to delve into your son’s psyche, you’re not qualified. You say that if he has feelings for other men, that doesn’t make him gay (or, presumably, bisexual). You can’t know that. And the person who does know that was already enough of a man to tell you that.

    No, Mrs. Robinson, he should tell people he’s gay, or not – HIS choice, not yours. Why not tell? Because it would embarrass you, cause conflict with your beliefs and church, make you ashamed that you had produced an “abnormal” son.

    No, Mrs. Robinson, holiness is not his only option. How many of you are “holy?” Don’t all of us commit sins? And doesn’t one of the tenets of Christianity say that sins can be forgiven?

    Yes, Mrs. Robinson, he is a child of God. You felt the need to shape him into what you thought was the perfect Christian. If god made him, and you really believed that he was a child of God, why did you need to try to alter God’s work based on your views?

    Thank you, Mrs. Robinson, for sharing what you put your son through. How your efforts at forcing him to conform to your preconcieved mold made him miserable and lead to his death. Thank you for finally getting a glimpse of what you did. Thank you for sharing your pain and anguish. I only hope that other families, who have a similar mindset to yours will read this and at least stop and think.

  • http://blogvader.tumblr.com/ Blogvader

    I’m only 32 years old and I’ve known two gay people in my life who killed themselves.

    All because of hateful people like this. It’s sickening.

  • docsterx

    I was in medical school then doing residency when an AIDS diagnosis was an almost immediate death sentence. I spent a month seeing patients on one hospital’s AIDS unit. Guys in their teens to 50s died daily. Many were not only disowned by their families, but some family members even came to the hospital to “get” them (attack them physically or verbally). Some tried exorcisms because gays had to be demon-possessed. Some patients requested clergy. Many clergy refused to come in, either in fear of catching the disease or because they wanted no part of these men who were abominations.

    One grandmother would call her dying grandson and shriek at him that he had to get on his knees and beg Jesus to forgive him. One father said to his son, “You’d better just die here (in the hospital) because you have no home with me. You won’t be buried in the family plot at the church. Even God won’t forgive you.” Some of the clergy would deliver hate-filled sermons to their congregations when they found out that one of theirs had AIDS. And then, word of that would invariably get back to the patient. That AIDS was God’s punishment for his sexuality.

    There were 24 beds on the unit, usually all full. Over one weekend, we had something like 16 or 17 patients die. There was only one man who would regularly come in to minister to anyone who wanted to pray. He was an immigrant Ethiopian, a Catholic priest. He’d come in anytime one of the staff or patients called. None of us knew if we could contract AIDS from caring for patients. This priest said, “If God chooses to take me back by giving me AIDS, then so be it.” He was about 5′ 2″ but was a tower of strength. Amazing man. He helped many of us, staff and patients, with his strength. Many religions are toxic, but some of their members can be very much moral heroes in spite of what their religions teach.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Keep telling the stories Becca. They are always new and one never knows when they just might be the lifeline that saves.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Wow,

  • emma852

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  • Jafafa Hots

    Religious indoctrination is child abuse.

  • Bose

    It’s important to remember that it’s not just the younger set, it’s LGBT folks of all ages who end up struggling after they come out.

    I lost my mid-40s partner to suicide in 2000; he was not long out of his 22-year marriage as well as a couple decades of exuberant, self-taught service as a church musician. He hadn’t come out to his church friends or the choir members he directed, so they were confused about his divorce and the two churches he had appeared to drop away from.

    But, he had approached pastors in both of the churches that had loved his musical gifts, telling them he was gay. The first responded with personal empathy but that it would be better for him to just walk away; the second hit him with full-on “come back when you’re celibate/ex-gay, and we might let you join us in the pews, but not at the piano.”

    As strong as his inclination was to walk away from it all, it was still tough. Multiple generations of the men in his family had helped form and guide their denomination in the state. Many of his best experiences had been with church music as a kid, and then the surprise at his music-leading skills. His elderly mother was still the active matriarch he could not imagine coming out to.

    My respect and appreciation for the Robertsons is driven by the fact that they had a similar opportunity as my partner’s family after losing Ryan: They could have let him go quietly, never letting anyone know their regret or their anguish.

    My partner’s funeral, at his mother’s request, proceeded as if his ex-wife was the widow and the divorce was non-existent. His church friends’ grief was heartfelt and moving, but they were grieving the loss of him 2 years prior, at the hands of church leaders who recommended that he not come out to them.

    Thanks, Linda, and family, for living with your pain, not hiding it or running from it.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I agree with you, but as far as I’m concerned, telling a 12 year old son that his choice is “be gay” or “do what God wants” is rather evil all by itself. It’s the ultimate in spiritual blackmail, because don’t forget how that particular malign equation comes with eternal damnation as the threatened consequence for one of those choices.

    As for me, I’m sick to death of telling and retelling my own story of credible death threats and years of having to hide like someone in a witness protection program. And ‘God’ was the cudgel my father wielded, too.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Their lawyers need the money.

  • Stephen

    To invoke Dan Savage from a few years ago:

    Maggie, Tony, Brian, and all the others on the professional anti-gay crowd, you have blood on your hands. This is what your messaging does.

  • quax

    Still prefer that they try to redeem themselves. Maybe they can set some parents rights that would not listen to anybody else.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Glad that you survived and thrived KB!

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Meanwhile in California, the bigots still haven’t given up on stopping the marriages:

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/07/12/19441850-prop-8-backers-make-long-shot-bid-to-stop-same-sex-marriage-in-california?lite

    The backers of Prop. 8, which amended the state Constitution to ban gay marriage, argue that when the smoke cleared after the U.S. Supreme Court shot down their appeal in late June, what was left was a victory only for the two gay couples who originally challenged the initiative in court. Now that those original plaintiffs are married, they argue, the state is free — in fact, required — to go right on enforcing Prop. 8′s ban on any further same-sex marriages.

    Their reasoning: When the U.S. Supreme Court booted the case, it left intact a 2010 ruling by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker that found Prop. 8 unconstitutional. Walker issued an order — directed to California’s governor, attorney general and state officials who oversee county clerks — barring them “and all persons under their control or supervision” from enforcing Prop. 8.

    But Walker, the Prop. 8 proponents argue, lacked legal authority to order state officials to do anything except allow the four gay plaintiffs to get married. And even if he did have that authority, they say, county clerks are not under anyone’s supervision when it comes to issuing marriage licenses because the California Legislature gave clerks — and clerks alone — the authority to issue them.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Religion is the beauty of evil.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    “I’m not judging the parents,” I’ll be happy to that. In community work over the past two decades, I’ve seen too much unnecessary suffering and death caused by these religious bigots. Murdering their own children calls for judgement. Mercy comes later.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    These puffed up Christian bigots seem to forget the parable of the lost son: Luke 15:11-32.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Makes me sick at heart. We have been around since ground zero with AIDS/HIV/Gay rights. I have seen too many of these parents. They are worse than the blatantly evil religious ones who deliberately harm their GLTBQ kids. For example, there was a sixteen year old kid I knew, who fled to the Castro after his parents and pastor exposed him as a spawn of Satan before the congregation back in Moronville Kansas , drove him out of the church with a shunning and threw him out of the house. He was a great kid, sweet and good. When he found out he had AIDS two years later, he jumped off the Golden Gate bridge and died. I wish this story were unique, but it isn’t and it’s still happening. There is nothing, but nothing these parents can do to redeem themselves from destroying their child. To hell with them.

  • Jafafa Hots

    religion poisons everything.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I for one am very glad Exodus International gave up its quack ‘gay cures’ and shut down.

    Unfortunately, as we’ve learned from a few commenters over on the Mormon post thread from yesterday, there remain plenty of ignorant people out there — some polite, others less so, and some who are outright hateful bigots — who still think that being gay is a choice, and an immoral one. Or that maybe the sexual orientation isn’t a choice, but it’s perfectly reasonable to expect and require gays and lesbians to spend our lives entirely celibate. And also presumably childless, since they’d deny us that civil right as well.

    It’s sad how the worst things we do to each other are so often motivated by religious beliefs. I almost cannot imagine how a parent can tell their own child that it’s a choice between being gay or obeying God — as if ANY human can truly know what a supreme (and unprovable) deity (whose written pronouncements sound suspicious like a direct transcription of the desires of the men who wrote them) actually wants from us.

    The basic message from that Jesus fellow was the best one of all: Don’t judge each other, it’s not your place to do so. And love each other. Take care of each other.

    Yet the words all around that message, from men who never even knew that reformer, distort that message of compassion and acceptance. Turn it into, “Yeah, well, actually go ahead and judge people according to these arbitrary and archaic cultural rules, which you’re free to pick and choose among as you like depending on whoever you might want to oppress. It’s also okay to hate, hurt, and even kill people if you think it’s justified. Just say God wants you to do whatever it is, and it’s all great.”

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    And why I’m an agnostic-Wiccan-Buddhist who belongs to no organized religion, because it’s been my experience that when humans bring their own personal biases to the table and then ascribe them as coming directly from an unprovable, but 100% irrefutable deity, abuses and injustices are guaranteed.

  • cole3244

    another reason i am an atheist.

  • FLL

    Although it’s too late to help their son, these parents have finally rid themselves of the poison of fundamentalist religion. These parents mention that they came to know and befriend the very same liberal Christians that they had shielded their son from earlier, people who believe that God doesn’t hate based on sexuality. Too bad they couldn’t have been at that point when their son was twelve years old. I will always love being secular, but if the liberal Christians that these parents talk about can stop the madness of fundamentalist hate, fine. Whatever works.

    If there were contaminated water in a supply of water, you couldn’t make the water safe again just by adding lots of clean, fresh water. You have to remove the contaminated water first. Fundamentalist religion has contaminated the body politic of our country. The body politic will heal, like these parents, when the contaminated material is removed.

  • DonewithDems

    So very sad. This is why I think religion is so destructive.

  • Patty

    This is what inevitably happens when logic, commonsense and basic human instincts are handed over to blind faith in anything, much less a book written thousands of years ago before modern psychology. As tragic as the story is, and I’m not judging the parents, it illustrates just how compelling fear is as a means of keeping people in line that it would override a parent’s first instinct: to love her child unconditionally and protect him. Is it any wonder that places like the Ali Forney Center here in NY are filled with unwanted, unloved and rejected LGBT children? This is the major scandal of conservative Christianity, this unwillingness to accept homosexuality as an orientation, and not a sin or lifestyle choice.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Mind my asking if your parents ever came around?

  • kingstonbears

    So well put, thank you. I was one of those who was disowned by my Southern Baptist family when I was 18. I’m thankful for the support of my friends for whom my sexuality was not an issue. Who knows what would transpired if they had not been there. I hate to even consider the options. And 45 years later I am still in contact with my loving friends.

  • keirmeister

    I saw this story when it was at HuffPo. It’s incredibly sad, but also highlights the dangers (evil?) of blind religious devotion.

    What drives me nuts about these stories is that, despite the family culture Ryan grew up in, people, including his own parents at the time, still consider being gay a choice. Really?!?

  • rerutled

    This is a terribly sad story. Christian parents should be warned that they cannot love unconditionally if they place conditions; and that placing conditions which cannot be met, feels the same as rejection. 40% of all homeless youths are LGBT, and the vast majority are homeless either because their parents made clear they did not approve, or they simply were kicked out. And it’s horribly sad, and unnecessary. If there are any kids reading this who think their parents don’t understand — please know, the rest of us do.

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