A Mother’s Gratitude and Plea ~ Parents, come out

August 4, 2010.  My daughter Amanda’s text said it all:  “What a great day to be alive, to be gay, to be a woman, to be human.  This feeling inside of me is indescribable!  To be equal!  WOW!”

Just hours later I saw my son Tyler, with a tear rolling down his cheek, pictured with his husband Spencer on the cover of The Huffington Post with the title “EL8TED!”.  The picture was taken as they stood outside the federal courthouse, where Judge Walker’s decision had just been handed down ruling that Proposition 8 — California’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage — was unconstitutional.

YES!  That is exactly what I was feeling, on that historic and triumphant day:  elated, ecstatic, jumping for joy!  I was filled with renewed hope for my children, their children, and all those to come.  As a mother and a grandmother, I believed that all of my children are equally deserving of the rights and protections provided by our government.  It was euphoric to have a federal judge, for the first time, validate that, and reach the same conclusion.

My mind reflects back on the emotional ride of the past two years.  From the invigorating high of June 17, 2008, when Tyler married Spencer in the San Francisco city hall rotunda with Harvey Milk’s bust looking over his shoulder, to the utter shock, disbelief, and heartbreak of November 5, 2008, when we watched equality be overruled by voters in California motivated by fear and misinformation.  The grief I felt due to the loss of the dream of marriage equality for all my children was horrific.  In addition, the realization, which quickly came that, my pain was in large part caused by my own Mormon faith, the leaders of which were men I once trusted for all of my guidance and solace, was unbearable.  As documented in the recent documentary 8:  The Mormon Proposition and elsewhere, Mormon members accounted for as much as 71% of the monetary contributions used to fund Prop 8 and 90% of its volunteers.

Yet today, nearly two years later, I am grateful to the Mormon Church leaders for forcing me to examine what I truly believe in and stand for.  Their hurtful acts stirred within me the passion and courage of a mother bear protecting her cubs.  It gave me the courage to “come out” of my hiding place, behind church doors, and declare to the world that my family is most important, our values count, and choosing love over fear, children over dogma, and equality over discrimination is what God would have me do.

As people gathered in my small town of St. George, Utah this past week for a rally celebrating the Prop 8 court decision, I was sadly reminded that not many parents stand as firmly by their children.  In fact, my husband Steve and I were the only parents in the group of almost 100 people!  Thinking back on this, I cannot help asking:  “Why?  Where are you, parents?”  As long as you stay hidden, you leave your children standing alone.  If you believe, as I do, that all our children deserve fairness and equal rights, then I beg you to have the courage of your children and show yourselves, your love, and your support.

Full equality will come when we normalize “gay” — normalize gay families, gay marriages, and gay children.  Parents who refuse to embrace this part of their child, or choose to ignore it, miss a beautiful world of amazing people full of goodness and love.  I know it is not easy.  As I have stepped into the rainbow light these past two years, many have rejected me — including family members, business associates, and friends.  However, the many new people that have come into my life and encircled me with their love have filled that gap one hundred fold!

The journey for full equality took an exciting step forward with Judge Walker’s ruling to overturn Proposition 8.  I believe he arrived at many of his conclusions by witnessing the personal and real life nature of the damage done to families by society’s refusal to afford equal treatment to our gay and lesbian children.

Therefore, I take this opportunity to put out this plea:  parents, join this march for equality.  I ask you to put a human face on this movement.  Share who your children are with your friends, your co-workers, your siblings, with everyone.  When you hear derogatory comments about gay or lesbian people, or the rampant propaganda and misinformation that are out there regarding them, all you need to say is, “I have a gay son or a lesbian daughter.  If you knew them, you would love them.”  It is that simple.

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Linda is a former fifth generation Mormon, who with her husband Steve, started MomsForEquality.com or DadsForEquality.com to encourage parents to “come out” and be vocal on behalf their children’s rights.  She refers to herself as an “accidental activist” and is featured with her family in the recent documentary film 8: The Mormon Proposition, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance film festival.

9 thoughts on “A Mother’s Gratitude and Plea ~ Parents, come out

  1. Kim Funk

    You are such an inspiration to me. I live in St. George and am proud to say I have a gay son. If there is anything I can do to help with this endeavor let me know!

    Reply
  2. Sheri

    Absolutely heartwearming and touching article. Thank you for speaking out. I am a straight ally with no gay children, and I am a former Mormon whose three children who are still active members of the church. They also supported Prop 8 much to my dismay. My heart and my conscience would not allow me to remain attached to a church who used such false and hurtful tactics to push an un-Christlike agenda to exclude so many of their own beautiful children, sisters, brothers and other family members from experiencing the joys of full equality.

    Blessings to you and your beautiful children.

    Sheri Lawson

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Parent Pride: Coming Out as a Parent of a Gay Child | GayABC.com

  4. Amy

    Thank you so much. Your message is beautiful and your children are so fortunate. I wish my parents were as supportive as you. I wish my sisters would have attended the celebration in St. George with you. Perhaps, through the your efforts and example, and the influences of others like you, someday they will.

    Until then, I rely on the support of wonderful people like yourself. Thank you for sustaining me and believing I am still important. It means more than you will ever know.

    Reply
  5. Kim

    I have been making this same plea to parents of gay children for years. We parents must, must, must come out and stand up for our beloved gay sons and daughters. Visibility and education are our best weapons. And though it is quite natural for many of us to slip quietly into the same closet our gay children have just exited, we must resist the temptation to stay there. Our children need us out there with them.

    Now is the time for all parents to come out, loud and proud and fighting. We need to harness all of the momentum and energy that this Prop 8 decision has created. We can win this battle.

    There is no better gift we can give our children than our unconditional love, support, and visibility.

    Reply
  6. Moms Post author

    Thank you all for leaving your comments here. I would love to get your “coming out” stories to feature here. If you feel so inclined email them to MomsForEquality@gmail.com

    Kim, it does take more than just love and support from behind closed doors. As you said, we must be visible!!

    Reply
  7. Gayle Risley-Dintelmann

    Thank you for calling ‘out’ all parents of gay children. I have a gay daughter and I’m saddened to find no other parents out supporting their children, other than me. I’m an ordained Reverend who had the honor of officiating at her daughter’s commitment ceremony on April 24, 2010, and thanks to the Honorable Vaughn Walker I will be officiating at her official wedding ceremony as soon as the stay is lifted. It’s been a long, hard, fight for equality — a struggle all Americans should be participating in. Hopefully, soon, the bigotry and hate will be a thing of the past.

    Thank you for such a beautiful site, and thank you for coming out in favor of your children.

    Reply
  8. Julie Adiutori

    Being a very proud mother of a young gay man, I would like to connect with other “mother bears” such as myself that want to step up to help our children. I’m very grateful to have found this website!
    I am in the California Bay Area.I can be reached on FB at
    http://www.facebook.com/julie.adiutori
    Let me know that you found me from Moms For Equality.

    Reply
  9. Jamie

    You are such an inspiration. Living in southern Idaho, I often hear derogatory comments about gays and lesbians. My brother and his partner are so brave and strong, and every time they are stared at or someone makes a rude comment, I simply say…’the love that they have for each other and that our family feels for them is a love that I will not tolerate being attacked and ridiculed. If you knew them you would love them just as much as I do.’ Because Idaho is so intolerant, our family is very close-knit and defensive of their relationship. I hope that one day we won’t have to defend their relationship, but until that day, I will defend it every moment.

    Reply

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