I posted this earlier, but it has been revised with the latest information.
This video hit the Internet earlier this week, and quickly becameviral; I probably can’t add much to what’s been said already, but I’m going to comment anyway. (It’s why I have a blog.) It is difficult to hear the horrible things that are said, or to grasp how bad this situation is for the young man. It is certainly a clear example of how NOT to handle your son’s coming out.
Viewing Note: There's not much we can actually see, but the audio is significantly disturbing! If you prefer not to watch, you can skip to my observations.
We learn in the video there have apparently been previous conversations on this subject, with both the mother and father, but we aren’t given the content, the circumstances nor the outcome. I can’t tell who called this “meeting” (or intervention), but both the young man and the mother seemed to have come prepared with what they wanted to say. There are numerous people in the room, including what we later learned is the father, the stepmother and the grandmother. We know the kid secretly recorded all of this.
Before I share my thoughts, let me say that we have very little context to this incident. We know nothing about the overall dynamics of this family. We don’t know much about what’s gone on prior to this encounter or what happened afterwards. There could much more going on that we are aware. (That doesn't mean I'm condoning what happened!) But even with those unknowns, allow me to point out several things that stood out clearly for me:
1. Conditional love. Love is affirmed by the mother, but not shown. Nothing about this woman’s response exhibits love, by any definition I can understand. This is nothing more than tiresome religious framing—insisting it’s in love that something bad is about to be said. (“Love the sinner, hate the sin” crap!) At one point, like so many others with similar views, she claims to have gay friends.
2. Indisputable truth. The Bible is used as the mother’s basis for rejecting the child. She states that the “Word of God” is her guide, and that God doesn’t make anyone gay. She also admits that she doesn’t care what experts say differently. Toward the end, it’s a scream-fest to get the kid to see that he is wrong and she is right.
One of the dangers of such belief systems is the complete disregard of any conflicting evidence. And as the video plays out, it’s clear to me that though she claims to believe the Bible, she is far from a model of righteous behavior.
3. Gay is a choice. The mother says she's known he was gay since he was a child, but also accuses him of making a choice to be gay. This is a common paradox in the Fundamental environment. Come on, folks. You can’t have it both ways!
4. Obey, or eviction. The boy is told he cannot stay in the home. Apparently, in her twisted version of love, the mother tells her son, “You have chosen that path, and we will not support you. You will need to move out and find where ever you can to live.” She seems unconcerned when her son agrees and informs that she will never see him again. (We have since learned that the boy was kicked out of the house, and is living with a relative.)
5. Maternal shame. The mother is ashamed to have a gay son. “I will not let people believe that I condone what you do.” It’s the old idea that it’s her fault, that somehow him being queer will reflect badly on her.
Here’s a revelation: Having a gay child does not make you a bad parent, but rejecting your gay child does!
6. Focus on behavior. There is the universally accepted Fundamentalist concept that being gay is all about behavior. The mother and others talk about what he “does” instead of who he is. One person calls it a “habit.” It’s essential for them to continue this mindset because as long as being gay is about what a person does, they can change. They can stop doing it. Like stealing or lying or adultery.
Of course, the truth is homosexuality, like heterosexuality, is a sexual orientation; the kid is gay regardless of whether he ever acts on that.
7. Cruelty. This is not a discussion, it's an altercation. In the end, the people in the room degenerate into anger, screaming, name-calling, shaming…and gang violence against this young man.
Without knowing these people (not that I want to) or all the other facts, I can say with conviction and certainty this is a heinous aberration of the role of parents. Regardless of who our children are, rejecting them for things they cannot change is not the correct response. They have failed as parents.
Also, it is a gross distortion of Scripture, and certainly a perversion of what the Christ of our Christian faith taught – love, compassion, mercy, justice. They have failed as Christians.
And above all else, this is child abuse!
They have failed as human beings!
If you think this is an isolated incident, or merely an example of extremism, I can only say you are wrong. And I will also contend that you are part of the problem. Get the facts!
This happens too often.
Even once is too many!
(Did you know that 40 percent of homeless runaways are LGBT kids? And that LGBT teens are four times more likely to commit suicide?)