Well. Leave it to Facebook to ruin someone's day as soon as it starts.
Yesterday, I respectfully asked that no one say anything nasty to me regarding the #SCOTUS ruling. This ruling DOES affect my life, as I am the parent of a gay teen. In our home, we are celebrating the fact that our child can do something that all of us take for granted. Not now, of course, but when the time comes. My son, like all other LGBT folks, is a human being. He matters. His life matters. His future matters. His happiness matters. He deserves to have every chance at a happy, fulfilling life. We ALL do.
I have witnessed my son get bullied, ridiculed, and persecuted for simply existing. Yes, he is gay. Yes, he is comfortable in his own skin. We teach him to be proud of who he is, and to never be ashamed. We teach him that his "gayness" is only a tiny part of who he is, and that it does not define him. We teach him that no matter what anyone says or does to him, it's a reflection of their fears, insecurities, or lack of understanding. We teach him to treat these folks, and everyone else, with kindness. My son cares about other people. He stands up for other people. He doesn't judge based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability. We teach our kids that we are ALL human beings, and that we are ALL deserving of respect and kindness.
Yes, I understand not everyone is happy about this ruling, and that is your right. I won't tell you you're wrong for having different beliefs. I won't tell you how to live your life. Your beliefs are just that, and I do not have to agree with them to like or respect you. I have plenty of friends with VERY different beliefs than mine, and it has never been a problem...
You see, I am an adult, and I realize that not everyone is going to agree on everything 100% of the time. I am completely and totally okay with that. In fact, I respect the differences I have with people, and try to take them as an opportunity to learn something new, or at least have a broader understanding of life and people in general. Having an open mind and caring for people from all walks of life has allowed me to become a kinder, more compassionate person. I am grateful for that. If I only talked to people who were "like me", I would be missing out on a lot. I like learning from others, or at least broadening my own perspective in ways I wouldn't have considered otherwise.
When I see something posted that I might not agree with personally, I don't freak out....I don't respond with hate...And I don't tell anyone that they are wrong. If I don't have something nice to say, I simply don't say anything. I do not have to agree with you to like, respect, or care about you.
This morning, I woke up to several inbox messages that really hurt me. Some from people I don't even know. I would like to publicly address some of the things that were said to me. Not because I want to "fight" with anyone...Simply because I would really like people to understand what it's like to be in MY shoes, as the mom of a gay kid. It's not always easy. Loving and supporting my son is the easiest thing in the world...It comes as easily as breathing....
What's NOT easy is knowing that because my son is gay, he will be hated. Put down. Discriminated against. Bullied. Hit. Threatened. Shamed...And I cannot protect him from it all. THAT is the hard part. When I see adults participating in such activities, it breaks this mother's heart.
So here are some of the things I have been told, as well as my response to them:
"Why do you allow your kid to be gay?"
Well. What exactly do you mean by "allow"? We didn't have a family meeting one day and decide "Hey, it would be really fun if Kyle decided he likes dudes. Kyle, your job is to be as relentlessly gay as possible from this day forward."
No. It doesn't work that way. My son was born this way. He didn't choose it. No one encouraged it. It simply IS. And it's okay.
I have known or at least strongly suspected my son was gay from the time he was very, very young. I have had time to "prepare" for this. By the time he came out to us, I already knew....When your child comes to you in tears because they are truly afraid they won't be loved anymore, it's gut-wrenching. Sadly, a lot of LGBT kids don't have understanding and acceptance at home. This often ends in tragedy. I do NOT want my son to end up a sad statistic.
We didn't choose Kyle's orientation, but we did choose to handle it with love.
We didn't shame him or tell him he needed to try and be something he's not. We didn't try to pray the gay away, because we believe God doesn't make mistakes, and the God I know loves ALL of us. So did we "allow" him to be gay? No. We simply allow him to be who he is, who he has always been...No hiding...No shame. No judgement. We love our child, just as we've always loved him. I cannot, as a mother, turn my back on a child I carried for 9 months, whose diapers I changed and boo-boo's I kissed, simply because he is gay. I can't do it. This is still my baby, and I wouldn't change a single thing about him, even if I could. His "gayness" is a part of him, and in my eyes, he is beautiful. Just the way he is.
"You are going to Hell for encouraging your kid to be gay."
Oh boy. First of all, I don't encourage Kyle to be gay. I encourage him to be the best version of himself that he can be. He just happens to be gay. IT JUST IS. And we accept him for who he is, rainbows and unicorns included.
What we DO encourage from our son is that he act with kindness. That he never judges anyone for something they have no control over, even though he himself sees such judgement on a daily basis. When he sees someone being picked on, we encourage him to step in and be a friend to the person being bullied. We teach him that no matter a person's color, religion, disability, or orientation, we all have value and that every single person he meets has something valuable to contribute to the world. We teach him to treat everyone the way that he would like to be treated.
We encourage him to be honest. To be brave. To be compassionate. To have empathy. To help others. To love. Being gay is just part of who he is...Not ALL that he is. And we think he's a pretty amazing kid.
As far as going to Hell? Well, obviously, I am not the final judge. I don't know for sure what eternity has in store for me, for Kyle, or for anyone, for that matter. NO ONE KNOWS THIS.
Do I believe that a God who loves ALL of His children would condemn a rather large population of folks to fire and brimstone simply for existing? For something they did not choose?
No. I don't. I'm sorry, I just don't.
Jesus commands us to love. Not to judge. Not to hate. To be humble. To be kind. I think God is FAR more concerned with the goodness inside of us and how we treat others than whether or not someone was born gay. God wants us to make the best choices in this life, and being gay is not a choice. So do I think that when my son receives his "Final Report Card" he will be condemned or penalized for loving another man, even if he lived his life as a kind and giving person? No. I don't. I can't. That goes against everything I believe in my heart about God.
"You can't believe in God and support gayness."
Sigh. This is sad. While I may not subscribe to one single organized religion, I DO believe in God. Very strongly, actually. The reason we don't attend church? Well, unfortunately, a lot of churches aren't very welcoming to my family. We have been told we wouldn't "fit in" because of my son's sexuality and the fact that we support him 100%, without apology.
This is going to get me a lot of shit for saying it, but I truly believe that people have got certain things all wrong....The Bible is a wonderful tool...It gives a lot of good advice about how to live life. It was also written thousands of years ago, and it was written by MAN. Actually, several men. And according to God, man is flawed.
Maybe it's time to revisit or reinterpret the scriptures for more modern times. We don't think the world is flat anymore...We don't burn suspected witches on the stake or in cages...We don't condemn mentally ill or disabled people to rot away in institutions for decades with very little care...Why don't we do these things anymore? Because we know better.
Yes, the Bible states certain things about homosexuality. It also states things about planting crops next to each other, wearing mixed fabrics, touching pig skin without gloves, divorce, sex before marriage, adorning one's self with gold, tattoos, killing your own brother, selling your children off as slaves, and justifiable rape. Just to mention a few things. (Yes, I have actually read the Bible, in its entirety, more than once.I am not pulling this info out of my ass.)
I wonder if the people sending such hateful messages are guilty of any of those things...Have they been divorced? Do they have tattoos? Do they eat pork or shellfish? Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp, perhaps? There's a double-whammy of a sin! Have they played football or any other sport that involves touching a ball made from pig skin with their bare hands? Do they wear jeans with a rayon or polyester top? Or maybe their tomatoes are planted right next to their carrots. Oh, and better take off that golden wedding ring. We are not to adorn ourselves with gold!
After all, these things are ALL sins according to the Bible, and according to God, all sin is the same.
When did it become okay to cherry pick which parts of the Bible someone wants to follow? Isn't that hypocritical? Do you really think God would approve of this? Why take one part of the Bible and get SO worked up over it while ignoring TONS of other Biblical instruction because it doesn't suit you?
In the words of Jesus Himself, who actually NEVER spoke about homosexuality, "He who is without sin, cast the first stone."
We are not here to judge. We are not here to condemn. We are not here to hate.
As a matter of fact, if Jesus were here among us, chances are, many so-called Christians wouldn't accept Him, either. Back in Biblical times, Jesus was an outlaw...A rebel. He did not conform, and he actually hated religion. He spent his time with drunkards, whores, and the "low-lives" of society. He loved them and accepted them, and faced tons of hatred for doing so. Ultimately, he lost his life at the hands of those who feared things that were different...Things that they did not understand.
So if Jesus showed up at your church or doorstep, would you actually let Him in? Chances are, you wouldn't.
Jesus loved EVERYONE. The underdog included. And that is what Christians are called on to do. To love. To forgive. Not to hate. Not to judge. Not to condemn or hurt others. Just to love, and to be the best people we can be.
So do I believe that I can live a life that God would be proud of, even though I support my son and others like him? Yes. Yes, I do. In the words of Ghandi: "I like your Christ. I like your Christ very much. I don't like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."
And finally...This one is the worst....
"I hope your son gets AIDS and dies. The world needs less fags. Our country is going to Hell because of people like HIM."
Well. I don't even know what to say to this one. I am in tears as I type this, because I am just so shocked that someone would wish death on my child, who has never hurt anyone in his life.
Obviously, I DON'T wish these things for my son. I don't want him to get AIDS and die. Last time I checked, AIDS is NOT just a "gay disease", by the way.
AIDS is spread through any kind of sexual contact, whether it's straight, bi, gay....It doesn't discriminate. AIDS also doesn't make a person "bad" or "dirty". There are many people who have gotten AIDS or HIV during their FIRST sexual encounter. Or through a blood transfusion...Or a needle...Or they could have even been BORN with it.
I will not judge someone because they have a horrible disease. I do not assume they are awful, worthless, immoral human beings who "deserve what they got". Yes, choices we make could end up giving diseases like AIDS. Choices are not the only factor here, though, and to lump everyone who suffers from HIV or AIDS into some glittery, rainbow colored box is insulting, ignorant, and wrong. My son does not deserve a fatal disease simply because he is gay. Just like the baby born HIV+ doesn't deserve it, either. No one does.
Speaking of choices, which gayness is not, my son makes amazing choices for a teen. He actually TALKS to his parents, and about everything...Even the "tough stuff". We have an open line of communication, and because we treat him with unconditional love and acceptance, he feels comfortable enough to come to us for guidance. How many teens do this? I know I sure didn't! And because of that, as a teen, I made HORRIBLE choices because I lacked parental guidance and support at home.
Kyle is also an honor roll student. Studying doesn't come easily to him, either. He struggles to learn. He works hard. He devotes a lot of time and energy to his studies. He cares about his future. A lot of kids would get discouraged and just give up. It's easier to do so. What's easy isn't always right, though, and my son understands that at just 15. He works his ass off to ensure he has a bright future. We are very proud.
Kyle also stays away from drugs and alcohol, and is NOT sexually active, even though he has several friends who drink, smoke, do drugs, and have sex. Peer pressure is very hard to deal with at his age, but he consistently makes wise choices. He understands that substance abuse won't do him any favors in life, and would get in the way of reaching his goals. He understands that while his body might seem ready for sex, his heart and mind are not.
WHY does he realize these things and base his actions accordingly? Because he can come and talk to us without fear of judgement. We talk about these things, openly and honestly, and we allow him to make his own decisions, within reason, of course.
As far as teenagers go, my son is an angel. No, he's not perfect. None of us are. But he tries his best in everything he does, and most importantly, he always tries to do the RIGHT thing. He makes GOOD choices. Sound choices. Choices that will serve him very well as he heads into adulthood. He will certainly be a valuable member of society one day.
We are PROUD of who he is. We are PROUD to be his family. We are PROUD of the wonderful person he is turning out to be. We are proud....Even if he is gay. It simply does not matter to us.
I am a better, kinder, more compassionate person because of my son. In many ways, being his Mom saved MY life.
So again, I beg of you, please don't flood my inbox with hate. Please don't tell me what God thinks of my family or my child. You don't know that info...You're judging and speculating, and doing everything that I know in my heart God would not approve of. Don't send me messages saying my child deserves to die simply for existing. Don't call me a bad mother because I accept him for who he is. Don't tell me how screwed our world is simply because my child can marry whomever he chooses. Don't. Please. Just don't. It is hurtful. It is wrong. Berating a CHILD is not something a real Christian would do.
Please. I am tired of crying. I am tired of feeling like people hate us for celebrating something that will allow our child a happier, more fulfilling life. I am tired of being called names, or more importantly, my son being called names, especially by grown adults. Please. Stop. Please. I feel SO alone sometimes because of the hateful words we hear on a regular basis.
Maybe people are hoping I stop vocally supporting my son? I don't know. That won't ever happen, though. When I told my son I am behind him, 100%, I meant it. Even if that means I am putting myself in the line of fire by doing so. I will gladly do that, if that is what it takes to be there for my kid. When I love, I love completely. I am my son's biggest cheerleader, and no one's hateful words will ever change that, nor will they silence me.
Anyone who knows me on most any level is well aware of the fact that I treat everyone with respect. I don't hate. I try my best to accept everyone, and I teach my kids to do the same. In my home, we are color-blind, we embrace people from all races, religions, etc. We see the value in everyone.
If someone makes choices that I might not make myself? Okay, great! It's not my place to make decisions in anyone's life but my own. For example: I HATE abortion. Hate it. However, if a friend had to make that very difficult decision to end a pregnancy, I would go with her and hold her hand the whole time. I wouldn't bombard her with all the reasons I believe it's wrong. I wouldn't shame her. I wouldn't stop caring about her. I would be there to offer my support as a friend during a difficult time.
It's not up to me to make choices for anyone else, or to tell them they're wrong simply because I wouldn't make the same choices in my life. I wish people would extend the same courtesy when it comes to my support of my fabulously gay son.
I don't judge people based on their appearance, their race or ethnicity, their religion, or even the morals that they have. What I DO judge people on is whether or not they're an asshole.
Who knew that #GayMarriage and #Equality would bring out so many assholes?
Yesterday, a message was sent to our nation, loud and clear, that#LoveWins Please, for the sake of my son and other kids like him, keep your hate to yourself.
I don't demand that everyone agree with this ruling, as everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. I respect that.
What I AM asking for is some compassion. Some understanding. We can disagree without resorting to hateful words and actions. We can disagree and still be kind, even if that means simply saying nothing at all.
What if it were YOUR child? I have a feeling you might see things differently in that case. And you know what? It MIGHT be your child....Gayness is not a choice. No family is immune, no matter how much preaching is involved or what kind of upbringing you have. ANYONE can have a gay child. ANYONE. That includes YOU.
Please, before saying hurtful, hateful things out of anger, realize that that child who you just tucked into bed and kissed goodnight might be gay, too. Kids see and hear everything that we say and do. When you rant about how awful "fags" are, it could be your own child you are hurting. They may be struggling with their own sexuality, or will one day, and hearing these things in the home can cause depression, self-loathing, and even suicide. Many of these sad things happen largely due to lack of support from those who are supposed to be the most loving and supportive: Parents and family.
Please, don't be your child's first bully. Don't allow your hate and disapproval to harden your heart.
And please don't continue to tell me that my son deserves to be bullied, ridiculed, or worse. Allow us to be happy right now. Allow us to be hopeful for our child's future in a world that can be incredibly cold. Allow us to rejoice at a very small victory in the fight against discrimination. There's a lot of hate in the world, and a lot that needs to change in peoples' minds and hearts. The fact that my son can get a legal piece of paper and marry who he wants one day? It won't get rid of the hate or the lack of understanding, but it's a damn good place to start.
Thanks for "listening", even though I wrote this mainly for ME so I could vent and not be upset all day long. Sometimes getting it out helps a lot!
Anyway, carry on......But please do so with kindness. The world needs more of that!