We Love Our Son

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.

Unconditionally.

Eternally.

Thank you for your love and support.

About the author

Comments

  1. Beautiful post Brad, thank you so much for your eloquence, for sharing and being vulnerable ! So many of us with opportunities to learn so much along our journey. I am grateful for this journey even though it comes with many unanswered questions 🙂 Love to you all

  2. You are truly gifted and blessed with your ability to convey your feelings in writing. And your feelings, for me, always are in complete alignment with mine. Still true. One of your best posts to date. And I need to remember to get you some cherries delivered again. You and your family are a treasure.

  3. Beautiful post. Your best so far. Jesus said it best: love one another. 🌈 Thank you for sharing.

  4. Brad, I don’t know you or your family personally, but I have loved reading your work (was tuned in to you a couple years ago by my friend Mike Taylor). I just wanted to say if your son is attending or thinking of attending BYU I would love to meet him. I am a dean at the BYU business school and work with a group of great LGBTQ+ students (and student, faculty, and administrative allies) in striving to create a more welcoming environment on campus. I would welcome the opportunity to visit with him and invite him to participate.

    Also, I’d like to recommend a podcast to you that as been a great help to me in my work and with some similar situations in our family. It is called “Questions from the Closet” hosted by two Church-active gay men, one of whom works in the BYU Honor Code office and the other is a graduate student in social work at BYU. I don’t agree with their take on everything, but it has certainly broadened my perspectives.

    Wishing the greatest of blessings for you and Ryan and your family.

    1. Thanks Eric. So generous. After a semester of COVID BYU, he headed north and is now an Aggie. It’s forgivable, but my Cougar Blue blood runs deep. Thanks for your kindness and the podcast recommendation.

  5. Your question about the lack of revelation explaining, the how’s, why’s and what’s to become of those we love, and which may have also ended the flailing of the Church is profound. I suspect the majority of families in the Church are confronted with this question either directly, as you have, or by someone close to them. My wife and my daughter-in-law have both had to address in their families.

    While we “wait upon the Lord,” perhaps there is a model we can rely on in how the revelation on Priesthood in 1978 came about. When I studied the history of it, I was amazed at how long the brethren had been grappling with challenges from the existing policy and and how long they were seeking revelation on it. However, none was forthcoming. The policy appeared unfair to everyone and is even still a trial of faith for the Church.

    As I pondered about why the Lord was silent for so long, D&C 101:2-5 and 3 Nephi 26:11 came to mind. Not as an answer to the original question, but as explanation for why it was left unanswered. You are right that it requires additional faith to deal with this. Perhaps that is the point. We prove to the Lord if we are a wheat or a tare, a prepared or unprepared virgin. We are being threshed and afflicted by the adversary. Do we hold our course.

    Maybe we can find hope in the example of Joseph’s experience in Liberty Jail. The Lord was silent for many months during that horrible experience. I wonder how the Lord must have felt watching the suffering of his prophet, yet he allowed it for his purposes. We can’t even begin to understand all of the Lord’s purposes, but we can agree we are so grateful that out of that horrible experience came some of the most sublime verses in all of scripture. Maybe we can find solace and comfort in the hope that if we endure well this “small moment,” all of it will be made right. Hold on tight to that hope. The Prophet has promised us it will be a very bumpy ride, but he also says it will be amazing and wonderful.

  6. Brother, my thoughts and prayers are with you. We truly walk by faith in this life.

  7. I, like you, believe church tenets… Saying that, long age in my youth I decided I was a broadminded prude….I am the way I am(straight) but I give you the right to be you… Whatever you are is the way God made you… Not mine to judge or “fix”. I figure Heavenly Father is a LOT better at that and He didn’t give me the job. I want the same respect I offer others.. I worked in mental health for 35 years.. The problems we cause each other goes way beyond our sexuality.. Tell Ryan to be th best human being he can and be happy.

  8. My heart goes out to Ryan, to all your family. While we all have special challenges to face on mortality, this particular one must rank with the tougher ones. It is so comforting to know that Heavenly Father’s and the Saviour’s love is unconditional and all encompassing. Heartfelt love to you all as you face mortality knit together in love and with the sealing power of the priesthood.

  9. Thank you for sharing your love and your testimony in such a sincere and heartfelt way.

  10. Thank you being a light on the hill for everyone to see. You are a true example of our Saviors love and how we all should be. Thank you for having the strength and courage to share so much of your life and wisdom with us.

  11. Thank your for sharing, may God bless your family, much love to Ryan, love is always the answer.

  12. Sending love to you and your family, Brad. Your desire to keep your eternal family together on the covenant path through Christlike love is beautiful and powerful.

    I will never forget meeting with a young woman in my ward who came out to me with experiencing same-sex attraction after Young Women’s one Sunday. I had taught a lesson using this landmark talk by Elder Kim B. Clark, and there was one section that hit her with the Spirit like lightening. The doctrine about eternal identity as a son or daughter *and* the eternal identity of each of us as a father and mother in an eternal family is powerful doctrine. It may be one of the finest talks about identity a General Authority has given—I might recommend watching it first and then keeping a copy on hand to study:

    Identity and Purpose in God’s Eternal Plan -Elder Kim B. Clark, Church Commissioner of Education

    https://www.byui.edu/devotionals/president-kim-b-clark-spring-2014

  13. This was so awesome! My son was a little older before he disclosed his feelings. I used to wonder why he would stand in front of our large framed copy or the Proclamation and cry. I used to be just as lacking in understanding as many people with the thought that “they don’t have to be that way unless they want”. No, my son would never want to be in this situation. He is a much beloved uncle and mourns over the idea of not being a father. While technically his feelings are a perversion of “normal” sexuality, he is not a pervert and nothing gets him more riled up than the idea of someone abusing a child. He is a kind and gentle human being and probably one of my most creative and intelligent children. Unfortunately, he spent too many years feeling worthless and that he was not able to fulfill the measure of his creation. After two type A highly successful older brothers, he has not accomplished much of “earthly success” but he lovingly takes care of his father and I who are both partially disabled. I just wish he had let us know sooner so we could have helped him with a little more encouragement. And as one of your commenters said above, maybe there is some reason for this but we just haven’t figured it out yet? I love all my children but I feel privileged to have really learned unconditional love.

  14. Your observation about the requirement of faith as opposed to the building of faith has made me think… please forgive my fumbling efforts here.

    Can so many families learning to deal with this kind of change to their mental models of family and love and expectations be our next “pioneer handcart trek” form of Exodus (capitalization intended)? While faith was certainly built in the Saints as they undertook the covenant path and were obedient to a living prophet… their obedience was accompanied by little to no comprehension of what they were heading into. Don’t forget that for many Saints the Exodus west did not miraculously end at the Salt Lake Valley. They were called to continue on to places like Arizona, Eastern Idaho, Mexico, Alberta each of which were worse/harder to settle than Salt Lake was.

    Today we have the benefit of hindsight to see a little of God’s purposes in what He required of those people. At the time, though? To use your idea, they were required to have faith to even begin. And it’s not like things were okay in a few years. Generations of hardship and suffering and loss and poverty fill those family journals.

    Perhaps your new Exodus is the next step in God’s method of raising a planet called Zion, not just a city? We know with certainty we can create a haven for covenant living through generations of family commitment to gritty determined unstoppable love of God. But now, with that same grit and determination I will now learn to love unconditionally, with no answers to the backpack full of questions or any real comprehension of where we are going… because Ryan needs you now, and your family needs Ryan now there is no time to build faith or love. You just have to have it. Your struggle will be every bit as epic and fraught-filled as was that of your forebears who turned Arizona into an Eden where Temples dot the land.

    If the Lord’s pattern holds here, surely you will know joy in the midst of the suffering… but this will define you for your great great grandchildren. They will read great grandpa (uncle? I don’t know either) Ryan’s journals and yours and Ryan’s siblings and marvel at everything you all went through to learn to love like God loves, and they will praise Ryan’s name for the legacy he left them, where his very real suffering is truly an artifact of history.

    Our people will no longer live in Eden. Our world will BE Zion in its deepest, most intimate, everlasting sense of the word… because your family has begun it’s Exodus not knowing if you will ever see Canaan.

    My own family is having its own version of, “It’s time.” The period for preparation and building faith for us is over. Your idea of “required” resonates profoundly in my heart. With whatever armor of God I possess the loins have been girded and it is time to deliver on my covenant.

    Thank you for letting me wonder out loud… maybe we will meet in Canaan someday?

  15. I am in the same boat. Last year my 16yo son came out to us, (although we’ve suspected for years). He just came out publicly on social media today, which is a big relief. We love him, accept him, and pretty much have the same thoughts, challenges, and questions you’ve shared. We’re not sure where to go from here but our faith is strong that God will sort everything out, and that for our son to continue to develop a relationship with Christ is the top priority.

  16. Unconditional love is rare. Ryan is blessed to have parents who love him so much.

  17. We love you McBride family!! All of you!! Many years ago, while you and Chrissie were out of town, we had all of your children over for dinner. They were wonderful, intelligent, and well mannered kids who were obviously taught well by their parents. We ended the night with Ryan reciting Alfalfa’s letter to Darla from memory!! I don’t know how old he was, but I know he was little. It was hilarious and we all laughed so hard. The older kids were pretty proud too, as I you could tell they had a hand in teaching him.

    Though not the same situation at all, I’m sure you remember our Family also had to deal with a big announcement, that was hard for us all to understand, work through, and was also destined to be public at some point. You taught us the importance of loving our children unconditionally as you have already shared above…you still “practice what you preach”. It has helped us immensely over the years and kept us all very close, and I am sure that you will find the same results as you learn how your differences can be put aside and come together as an extended family.

  18. I’m sure this was a very difficult blog to write. Bless you for your unconditional love, and bless Ryan for being honest with you and others. I’m sure it has given you increased love and understanding for our Heavenly Father and Mother, and losing some of their children. As the mother of 9, who are all from age 47 to almost 65 now, (I’m 86) we have 5 who are active, and 4 who are not — and in various stages of anti feelings. My oldest son is a Patriarch, and we have some who have no interest in the Church. So far, we have been able to have love in our family, but there are subjects we can’t discuss freely. So I do understand somewhat. My prayers are with you and your family.

  19. Brad my friend, welcome to the most blessed club. My life and learning has been so improved by having the blessing of a gay child. It was a struggle for a while, and then boom, it bloomed into the most awesome thing ever as I found clarity in full love and acceptance of getting to have one of the best of God’s creations. Some have wondered what the purpose of God is served by gay folks. I wonder if it is that they are the noble and great ones we are being tested on our capacity for love and acceptance.

  20. Prayers for you all as you navigate this difficult path. Your post is beautifully and I say AMEN. I attended a fireside two weeks ago that helped me as I try to understand how to be true to the doctrines of the church AND be compassionate and welcoming to those who fall into these marginalized categories. (like those who are LGBTQ+ ). Brother Ben Schilaty is a member of my stake and he was so great to listen to. I left that meeting wanting to be better. to be more loving. to be more like the Savior. I am sure you have resources coming out your ears, but just in case Bro Schilaty is not yet on your resource radar – I can personally recommend him. :). God Bless you all. https://www.ldsliving.com/Ben-Schilaty-Why-I-chose-to-stay-at-BYU-and-help-LGBTQ-students-as-an-Honor-Code-administrator/s/94189

  21. Yep, it’s a parent’s And A Grandparent’s God-given right and privilege to love their kids and grandkids. No matter what any differences exist. If something doesn’t pick my pocket or poke my eye out, my calling is to love, not necessarily to understand, and to trust our Heavenly Parents who just might be trying to teach us to love our children as they love theirs.

    I don’t have to agree with anyone to love them. Especially when they ARE mine forever.

  22. This was so well written.
    Your son is lucky and blessed to have the parents he has.

  23. I appreciate your words and your courage more than you can know. My answer has just been to love which never is difficult. The other struggles are real and demanding but such is the purpose of life.

  24. Prayers for you and for your family. This is a difficult, growing time for all of you. It shows how great of a family you have created, when your child can come to you with a problem knowing that while you will be hurt, and may not understand, they know they can trust that you love them and will be there for them. You will see amazing blessings and growth as you go through this together..

    1. You responded in such a loving, Christlike way. I like to believe I would react in a similar manner. God bless Ryan for his honesty and courage. Thank you for your teaching and your example.

  25. Hi Brad, I’ve been an avid reader of yours for a long time, but this is my first time commenting. I commend you on your stance here. Yes, Ryan is an eternal part of your family. I wish all of you love, joy, and happiness as you all do your utmost to stay on the covenant path and live the gospel. I invite God to generously bless all of you.

  26. Bless you, and Ryan! You have shown much faith & courage. Thank you for sharing!

  27. Thank you for making the most important part of this post front and center. My heart goes out to you and Chrissie (and Ryan). You’re on the same path my family trod more than 20 years ago…

    I, too, love my child unconditionally and eternally! You’ve joined a challenging path, littered with unseen obstructions along the way. Because you love your son, you’ll get through it. It will change the fabric of your family in subtle ways, though not insurmountable ones. It will be okay.

    I pray for comfort and peace for the journey ahead for all of you.

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