Today has been an interesting day. Some of you might have noticed that our son Ryan announced today on social media that he is gay. This has been a long time coming, but is still a bit of a roller-coaster of emotions to process.
We feel the need to share some feelings with those of you who are concerned for him and our family, which we appreciate. (Rest assured, I speak for Chrissie here, too. we are on the exact same page.) I know I have shared many personal things on my blog over the years, but they all pale in comparison to the intimacy of what I will try to say. I count on your kindness and goodness. I will be filtering the comments guardedly and will not tolerate any rudeness or agendas beyond my own.
Where to start…?
• I love my son. In fact, I love him more now than I did before I knew of his struggles with same-sex attraction. Knowing about the war he has been battling inside, and the questions and pain he has wrestled with for many years has pulled me closer to him. I feel a higher degree of unconditional love for a child than I have ever experienced before.
• This is not out-of-the-blue for us. We have known of his struggles for a couple of years, as have his siblings and a few trusted friends. It has not been our story to share, but knew that one day, he would share it. He first sat us down to talk about two years ago. Can you fathom the courage that took? (I know I’m a squishy marshmallow inside, but I also know that I can be a wee bit intimidating.)
• I feel like I know Ryan better than any of my other children. Because of his birth order, (He was our caboose – last of five kids, and five years after the next youngest.) I have spent more one-on-one time with him than with any of my other children. When he was the last one in our home, we spent countless hours traveling, playing chess, talking, debating, and just being together. We both love cooking, and have shared great times together in the kitchen. I have missed him since he went away to school this past year. His absence has left a hole in our home.
• I understand why he felt the need to “come out publicly,” and I welcome it. Doling out such personal information a bit at a time is taxing. Pulling the band-aid off all at once is, in the long run, much more effective and needed. I’d rather he tell the world than have his life become the fodder for gossipers.
• Ryan is experiencing something I have never experienced. I cannot pretend to understand the things he is going through emotionally, socially, spiritually or mentally. Also, we have never experienced something so soul-wrenching and difficult, either. All of us require patience, understanding, and acceptance.
• I believe my son’s sexuality should not define him – to me, to his family, to his associates, and mostly, to himself.
• I understand how someone with same-gender attraction could perceive the Church and it’s policies as a dead-end for them. While I desperately hope my son tries to stay on the covenant path, I understand that the perceived unfairness and limits before him would be a bitter pill to swallow all the days of his life.
• I understand how it is human nature to draw pull away from things that create cognitive dissonance in our lives. I know that in these instances the anxiety can be overwhelming. Because of this I understand why so many with these same struggles find ways to slowly back away from the Church, its teachings and demands.
• I know that if you want to step back from the Church and its teachings, there are a million reasons, websites and people out there who are more than happy to help. Sadly, truth takes a beating on social media, Reddit, or ex-mormon websites. I believe what President Nelson taught this past April Conference, “Take your questions to the Lord and to other faithful sources. Study with the desire to believe rather than with the hope that you can find a flaw in the fabric of a prophet’s life or a discrepancy in the scriptures. Stop increasing your doubts by rehearsing them with other doubters.” (link)
• I understand the Ryan and I have very deep disagreements on important – eternal – concepts. We have always engaged in healthy debates about many topics. Those debates continue. We both believe what we believe, but we still talk about important things. I know what he thinks, he knows what I think. We understand that there is a gulf there, but are still there for each other. I am grateful for that.
• I find it hard to believe – and stomach – that some parents withdraw their love from their own children when they disclose that they are gay. Who does that? As Christ taught, “What man among you, having a son, and he shall be standing out, and shall say, Father, open thy house that I may come in and sup with thee, will not say, Come in, my son; for mine is thine, and thine is mine?” (link)
• I still believe, endorse and testify of truthfulness of the tenets of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Every word of it. However, I do acknowledge that testifying of its truthfulness hurts my heart now in a way it had not before. I still stand firmly with the prophets of God as they teach, challenge and instruct us. I cherish them.
• I understand that there are a lot of unanswered questions about homosexuality. I love Heavenly Father with all my heart, but I guarantee that, given the opportunity, I will have a backpack full of unanswered questions to dump on His eternal desk. The lack of revelation from God regarding the how’s, why’s and what’s to become of regarding homosexuality, and the Church’s flailing while desperately trying to address this issue does not build faith, it requires additional faith. I find it all so unfair and unexplained.
• I find solace and wisdom in the words of Elder Renlund last conference when he said, “When faced with unfairness, we can push ourselves away from God or we can be drawn toward Him for help and support… Do not let unfairness harden you or corrode your faith in God. Instead, ask God for help. Increase your appreciation for and reliance on the Savior. Rather than becoming bitter, let Him help you become better.” (link) I hope to embrace this counsel, and wish the same for Ryan and anyone who struggles with similar feelings.
• I understand that Ryan and we, as his family, are in uncharted territory for us. We are doing our best at absorbing, seeking understanding, and accepting. It is a process that takes time and patience.
• Last, to know Ryan is to love Ryan. He is a joy. He is wildly talented in so many areas. He is compassionate, and loves deeply. He has had his share of bullying and alienation already in his young life, and I will not tolerate it in any of my circles.
Ryan is my son. We love him, and he loves us. He has been ours since before he was born, and will be for eternity. He was sealed to Chrissie and me by sacred priesthood keys before he was even born. He is ours. He is an important part of our family. He will continue to be ours, forever.
As the fog of the unknown, and the sophistries of men blur our vision, Chrissie and I can see, with dazzling clarity, the faces of our children – all of our children. They are ours -all of them. We are theirs.
Thank you for your love and support.