What Do You Do When Your Son is Gay?


“Mom, I’m gay.” Earth-shattering words to many conservative Christian parents — tragically, many view it as right up there with, “Your child has a brain tumor.” Actually, Christians will empathize with a brain tumor, but just try telling the church your child is gay and you will find the limit of grace withheld not only from gay Christians but from their accepting families. Not only what is said but unsaid can be oppressive for a family seeking love and truth.

I do not blame the parents in these situations for one nanosecond. Lord knows, they are trying to respond, with the wind knocked out of them, in an area where the church at large allows no breathing room. Parents blame themselves and Christians blame them. Seriously. No sooner do we hear the word gay or lesbian than we brace for impact — because we know the attack is coming.

This story was posted on FB. My daughter went to school with his brother. The mother, Linda, gave me kind permission to post this  in the hope of impacting lives and preventing tragedy. This is why our response as a Christian community matters. A real person with a real story.

The photo above is of Linda and Ryan Robertson.

Just Because He Breathes
by Linda Mueller Robertson (Notes) on Monday, April 1, 2013 at 12:35am
Written on December 5th, 2012
First posted on January 14, 2013 – Ryan’s would-have-been-24 birthday

On the night of November 20, 2001, a conversation held over Instant Messenger changed our lives forever. Our twelve year old son messaged me in my office from the computer in his bedroom.

Ryan says: can i tell u something
Mom says: Yes I am listening
Ryan says: well i don’t know how to say this really but, well……, i can’t keep lying to you about myself. I have been hiding this for too long and i sorta have to tell u now. By now u probably have an idea of what i am about to say.
Ryan says: I am gay
Ryan says: i can’t believe i just told you
Mom says: Are you joking?
Ryan says: no
Ryan says: i thought you would understand because of uncle don
Mom says: of course I would
Mom says: but what makes you think you are?
Ryan says: i know i am
Ryan says: i don’t like hannah
Ryan says: it’s just a cover-up
Mom says: but that doesn’t make you gay…
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: but u don’t understand
Ryan says: i am gay
Mom says: tell me more
Ryan says: it’s just the way i am and it’s something i know
Ryan says: u r not a lesbian and u know that it is the same thing
Mom says: what do you mean?
Ryan says: i am just gay
Ryan says: i am that
Mom says: I love you no matter what
Ryan says: i am white not black
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: i am a boy not a girl
Ryan says: i am attracted to boys not girls
Ryan says: u know that about yourself and i know this
Mom says: what about what God thinks about acting on these desires?
Ryan says: i know
Mom says: thank you for telling me
Ryan says: and i am very confused about that right now
Mom says: I love you more for being honest
Ryan says: i know
Ryan says: thanx

We were completely shocked. Not that we didn’t know and love gay people – my only brother had come out to us several years before, and we adored him. But Ryan? He was unafraid of anything, tough as nails, and ALL boy. We had not seen this coming, and the emotion that overwhelmed us, kept us awake at night and, sadly, influenced all of our reactions over the next six years, was FEAR.
We said all the things that we thought loving Christian parents who believed the Bible to be the Word of God should say:
We love you. We will ALWAYS love you. And this is hard. REALLY hard. But we know what God says about this, and so you are going to have to make some really difficult choices.
We love you. But there are other men who have faced this same struggle, and God has worked in them to change their desires. We’ll get you their books…you can listen to their testimonies. And we will trust God with this.
We love you. But you are young, and your sexual orientation is still developing. The feelings you’ve had for other guys don’t make you gay. So please don’t tell anyone that you ARE gay. You don’t know who you are yet. Your identity is not that you are gay – it is that you are a child of God.

We love you. We will ALWAYS love you. But if you are going to follow Jesus, holiness is your only option. You are going to have to choose to follow Jesus, no matter what. And since you know what the Bible says, and since you want to follow God, embracing your sexuality is NOT an option.

Basically, we told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. We forced him to make a choice between God and being a sexual person. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime of loneliness (never to fall in love, have his first kiss, hold hands, share intimacy companionship, experience romance), but it also meant the abundant life, perfect peace and eternal rewards.  So, for the first six years, he tried to choose Jesus. Like so many others before him, he pleaded with God to help him be attracted to girls. He memorized Scripture, met with his youth pastor weekly, enthusiastically participated in all the church youth group events and Bible Studies, got baptized, read all the books that claimed to know where his gay feelings came from, dove into counseling to further discover the “why’s” of his unwanted attraction to other guys, worked through painful conflict resolution with my husband and I, and built strong friendships with other guys – straight guys – just like he was told to. He even came out to his entire youth group, giving his testimony of how God had rescued him from the traps of the enemy, and sharing – by memory – verse after verse that God had used to draw Ryan to Himself.

But nothing changed. God didn’t answer his prayer – or ours – though we were all believing with faith that the God of the Universe – the God for whom NOTHING is impossible – could easily make Ryan straight. But He did not.

Though our hearts may have been good (we truly thought what we were doing was loving), we did not even give Ryan a chance to wrestle with God, to figure out what HE believed God was telling him through scripture about his sexuality. We had believed firmly in giving each of our four children the space to question Christianity, to decide for themselves if they wanted to follow Jesus, to truly OWN their own faith. But we were too afraid to give Ryan that room when it came to his sexuality, for fear that he’d make the wrong choice.

And so, just before his 18th birthday, Ryan, depressed, suicidal, disillusioned and convinced that he would never be able to be loved by God, made a new choice. He decided to throw out his Bible and his faith at the same time, and to try searching for what he desperately wanted – peace – another way. And the way he chose to try first was drugs.

We had – unintentionally – taught Ryan to hate his sexuality. And since sexuality cannot be separated from the self, we had taught Ryan to hate himself. So as he began to use drugs, he did so with a recklessness and a lack of caution for his own safety that was alarming to everyone who knew him.

Suddenly our fear of Ryan someday having a boyfriend (a possibility that honestly terrified me) seemed trivial in contrast to our fear of Ryan’s death, especially in light of his recent rejection of Christianity, and his mounting anger at God.

Ryan started with weed and beer…but in six short months was using cocaine, crack and heroin. He was hooked from the beginning, and his self-loathing and rage at God only fueled his addiction. Shortly after, we lost contact with him. For the next year and a half we didn’t know where he was, or even if he was dead or alive. And during that horrific time, God had our full attention. We stopped praying for Ryan to become straight. We started praying for him to know that God loved him. We stopped praying for him never to have a boyfriend. We started praying that someday he’d come back to Jesus. We even stopped praying for him to come home to us…we only wanted him to come home to God.

By the time our son called us, after 18 long months of silence, God had completely changed our perspective. Because Ryan had done some pretty terrible things while using drugs, the first thing he asked me was this:

Do you think you can ever forgive me? (I told him of course, he was already forgiven. He had ALWAYS been forgiven.)

Do you think you could ever love me again? (I told him that we had never stopped loving him, not for one second. We loved him then more than we had ever loved him.)

Do you think you could even love me with a boyfriend? (Crying, I told him that we could love him with fifteen boyfriends. We just wanted him back in our lives. We just wanted to have a relationship with him again…AND with his boyfriend.)

And a new journey was begun. One of healing, restoration, open communication and grace. LOTS of grace. And God was present every step of the way, leading and guiding us, gently reminding us simply to love our son, and leave the rest up to Him.

Over the next ten months, we learned to love our son. Period. No buts. No conditions. Just because he breathes. We learned to love whoever our son loved. And it was easy. What I had been so afraid of became a blessing. The journey wasn’t without mistakes, but we had grace for each other, and the language of apology and forgiveness became a natural part of our relationship. As our son pursued recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, we pursued him. God taught us how to love him, to rejoice over him, to be proud of the man he was becoming. We were all healing…and most importantly, Ryan began to think that if WE could forgive him and love him, then maybe God could, too.

And then Ryan made the classic mistake of a recovering addict…he got back together with his old friends…his using friends. And one evening that was supposed to simply be a night at the movies turned out to be the first time he had shot up in ten months…and the last time. Ryan died on July 16, 2009. And we lost the ability to love our gay son…because we no longer had a gay son. What we had wished for…prayed for…hoped for…that we would NOT have a gay son, came true. But not at all in the way we used to envision.

Now, when I think back on the fear that governed all my reactions during those first six years after Ryan told us he was gay, I cringe as I realize how foolish I was. I was afraid of all the wrong things. And I grieve, not only for my oldest son, who I will miss every day for the rest of my life, but for the mistakes I made. I grieve for what could have been, had we been walking by FAITH instead of by FEAR. Now, whenever Rob and I join our gay friends for an evening, I think about how much I would love to be visiting with Ryan and his partner over dinner. But instead, we visit Ryan’s gravestone. We celebrate anniversaries: the would-have-been birthdays and the unforgettable day of his death. We wear orange – his color. We hoard memories: pictures, clothing he wore, handwritten notes, lists of things he loved, tokens of his passions, recollections of the funny songs he invented, his Curious George and baseball blankey, anything, really, that reminds us of our beautiful boy…for that is all we have left, and there will be no new memories.  We rejoice in our adult children, and in our growing family as they marry…but ache for the one of our “gang of four” who is missing. We mark life by the days BC (before coma) and AD (after death), because we are different people now; our life was irrevocably changed – in a million ways – by his death. We treasure friendships with others who “get it”…because they, too, have lost a child.

We weep. We seek Heaven for grace and mercy and redemption as we try – not to get better but to be better. And we pray that God can somehow use our story to help other parents learn to truly love their children. Just because they breathe.

Linda Diane Robertson, robertson.family@frontier.com

Written on December 5th, 2012
Posted on January 14, 2013 – Ryan’s would-have-been-24 birthday

Book Presentation

Susan’s new book:  “Mom I’m Gay” – Loving Your LGBTQ Child Without Sacrificing Your Faith is NOW AVAILABLE! Just click here for more information.



Click here to watch Linda & Rob Robertson speak at Exodus International Conference 2013

197 thoughts on “What Do You Do When Your Son is Gay?

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  20. Thank you for your many comments. It’s clear this issue runs deep, and is far from over. We here at FreedHearts believe the discussion on this post has run its course and are closing comments accordingly. Please feel free to contact us with any other thoughts or questions via the contact link at the top of page. I look forward to discussion on future posts.

  21. Love. Your gay and straight children just want to know you still love them, unconditionally. There is a beautiful website about this simple concept: http://www.anotetomykid.com

    I am lucky enough to have notes written there by both of my parents and even as a secure, happy, thriving adult, these notes were wonderfully moving for me. And then other people read their notes; my friends, other parents, and most importantly other struggling kids.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story.

  22. This is a beautiful story and I’m a little shocked to see some of the comments on here. What Ryan’s parents did was wrong, but it was the only thing they knew. As things progressed so did they. They know that what they did was wrong but there’s no way to go back and change it now. I don’t think it’s okay to try and make their guilt worse when I’m sure they are already filled with it. I think they’re doing the right thing though, using their story to teach others not to make the same choices they did.

  23. Well, homosexuality is no big deal to me. I really dont care. They dont bother me and i dont bother them. The truth is to many people play god, they think god wont except them cause someone or society say so. Wrong, you cant play god. If a man or women chooses to do something, thats now between them and god. And thats just what i believe. I could go on but im sorry about your lose. If your son truly believed in god im sure him and god will work things out. Good luck.

  24. I cannot believe the arguments here. I couldn’t argue more. All I wanna say is, please accept the gay people around you as a person like you especially if he is part of your family. We existed by choice, yes, but all we want is to be happy for what we are and not be lonely just to please the people around us.

  25. This is a beautiful story and I want to thank you for sharing it. You are a wonderful mother and the love you have for your son inspiring. His story, your story, is touching so many people and I hope this brings you some peace.

  26. My reaction to this story is equal parts sadness and anger.

    This story is a perfect descriptor for what forms my sometimes antagonistic attitude about religion. This family maintains a belief system that utterly failed their loved one, yet they continue on in the faith. Through the whole painful ordeal of his coming out, they all continue on in a state of neurosis like all the praying in the world is going to change who he is… because they let some people tell them from childhood that the words written by men in a book over thousands of years have some divine provenance. They were unequipped to deal either rationally or thoughtfully with the fact that their son didn’t fit into the box he was supposed to. Their religion failed them in the worst of ways. They failed him. If they truly loved him they’d have put him before the belief system that put his mental well-being last. They loved him the best they could I suppose, but it wasn’t enough. But hey, religion. People shouldn’t have to face the emotional abandonment he did.

    I am grateful for a family that’s always accepted me just as I am.

    And it’s not even just that their religion failed them … their religion actively caused his unhappiness and resulting suicide. That is absurd. My attitude about religion is ambivalent until it’s responsible for stuff like this, then it’s antagonism. If your belief system is so callous as to force unhappiness like this on people then get with the program and truly learn to love and accept the people around you. If that means modifying your beliefs then do it, otherwise you’re complicit. I repeat… you failed him. His death is on you.

    • I agree, it is a travesty, and it is not Jesus. It’s man’s distortion – that’s the worst travesty of all. Read Jesus’ interactions to see how different he is from these misrepresentations. He defended the defenseless, always. When a woman was brought out for being caught in adultery, and the law of the day required her stoning, Jesus sent all her accusers away, talked with her himself, and set her free! What?? His tender compassion is beyond compare. I am heart-broken for anyone to mistake Jesus “representatives” for Jesus.

  27. Linda,

    God AND Matt are smiling down on you with nothing but love for you and your family. Ryan is a gift given to you by God. Your story WILL shift the hearts and minds of many others… it has mine. We are all worthy of God’s love… Never forget that. Matt’s life and your story will provide comfort and healing to many people struggling to accept themselves and others.

    Take comfort my dear friend, your courage to share your story has made a difference in many lives, mine included.

  28. What a heart wrenching story. May Ryan be at peace now. Sorry he didn’t get the love he deserved in this life. Being gay is life. A parent should love unconditionally and always be a parent first.

  29. I’m glad you realized you were wrong, and I’m sorry it was too late. I also feel that you deserve to hurt for the rest of your life. Your disapproval drove a teenager to drugs. If someone commits murder they are locked up for life (generally).. in a way, your pain is your punishment for your actions.

    • Brenden, as a gay Christian, I feel that you’re being way to harsh to the family. No one deserves to mourn the loss of a loved one for the rest of their lives AND have strangers finger-pointing, placing blame, and causing more hurt.
      She admitted her mistakes, they did their best to right their wrongs & love their son when he returned to them. She readily admits that everyone made some bad choices, including Ryan (falling back into the wrong crowd & doing drugs again). This is a testimony of contrition AND LOVE! We’re not in any position to judge them, and I think she wrote this in order to help those who are experiencing similar family situations.

      • You’re right and I do give her credit… but it’s people like her.. well the previous her… that lead to the hate and intolerance. Just because someone “changes” doesn’t mean their damaging actions in the past should be forgiven. A convicted murderer doesn’t get released from prison because he suddenly realizes what he did was wrong. She, and others, need to get over shoving their religious dogma in everyone’s faces, and I think she has.

  30. The scripture also says we are made in “His” image. To me that image embodies love, kindness, respect, loving thy neighbor as thy self…..if we do these things we won’t have time to hate or judge someone because of their sexuality, infedility, or any other act that WE may consider immoral. There is nothing new under the sun! Let us lift one another up in love. I have a child that is gay and I thank God that he is still alive, healthy, and is able to walk thru my door and give his mama a big hug and kiss and tell me that he loves me. Time and maturity and the love for my child and others have gotten me to this point where I can say let’s live and let live….help others along the way if we can.

  31. I’ve seen this happen to countless families. In fact, I see dozens of homeless LGBT youth everyday in my neighborhood. I only avoided their fate because my of my family. We struggled a lot, we shared, we fought like crazy and eventually we agreed to disagree on something that we all found to be important. Even though I do not consider myself a Christian, I feel blessed to have such parents. I still don’t quite know how we all got through it. We are very different, but how they conduct themselves still serves as a model for my own life.

    I admire the strength and bravery it took for you to tell this story. I hope it reaches the hearts of other parents going through the same ordeal. We’re all only here for a short, precious time.

  32. Some of these comments are so ignorant and ferocious, that it hurts. Let’s put aside the fact that the son was gay. Let’s put aside the fact that the family was evangelical Christian. There are so many 18-24 year olds (as in this case) who turn to drugs, and end up dying (gay, straight, atheist, religious, fat, skinny, black, white). Do we blame the parents, for the acts of their offspring? Do we attack people who are seriously injured for life, and probably blame themselves? Especially when they share their personal story to try and help others possibly do things differently, or bring awareness to what they obviously thought were mistakes. Nobody blames him? Nobody blames his user ‘friends’? Nobody blames a drug riddled gay ‘community’, for not getting him support (and probably fueling his drug use)? Aghast (and angry) at how ruthless people can be with their commentary.

    • Your comment that the gay community is “drug riddled” is pretty ignorant and ruthless. That’s a pretty broad statement to apply to a whole community of people.

    • Drug riddled? Seriously? Have you been to a recovery centre. So basicaly you are saying his user friends were all gay? Do you know if the LBGT community was not the one who assisted him ? Do you? Strange you feel the right to judge others who may have walked in those same shoes and have been treated in the very same way. A 12 year old opened up to who he thought were loving , caring parents and was met with not only disapproval and hyprociritcal actions. Seriously, they accepted his uncle.??

      • No, they didn’t. Theirs is an incurable neurosis. They think they love, but they don’t. No matter what you tell them, they’ll go on thinking their belief system is fine the way it is.

    • “Drug riddled gay community” that’s exactly the point of the story. It’s because of treatment like this that so many young LGBT turn to Drugs and Alcohol. It’s People like you that cause the drug problem. I myself am gay, I came out of the closet at 15, I’m now 43. I have a loving Husband. Luckily I was strong enough not to turn to drugs. My mother died when I was 10 and my father abandon me at 14. I know the struggles and have paid for them. You should re-examine your comment and think about what you are actually saying.

  33. The God I know loves each one of us with a pure love, unconditionally. The purpose of our earthly existence is to be tested with trials & afflictions and to learn & grow in spirituality & knowledge. To accomplish this test, HE gave us the greatest gift known to mankind; our agency to choose! Dear Linda, Ryan made choices; You made choices; I’ve made choices and they all carry consequences whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. The Atonement of Jesus Christ gave us healing.
    Too many comments here are hateful! I am sorry for your loss of a son. God bless you to find that healing.

  34. I’m really sorry for your families loss…my deepest condolences. We are all faced with blessings, challenges and choices in life. These are many time presented to us in the form of another person. How we respect and love these people are the true measure of grace in our lives.

  35. God would never forgive Ryan because there was nothing to forgive. God made Ryan and always loved him. Any true Christian knows that God made gays and there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. The fake Christians just don’t get that. They say the Bible says the word of God says that ‘being gay” is wrong. If we are going to use this reasoning, Then you must accept everything that is in the Bible as the word of God. Therefore any woman who is not a virgin when she marries, must be executed. If your brother dies, you must marry his wife. No? Well you don’t get to pick and choose to suit your own beliefs.

  36. I’m sorry for your loss, but don’t you think your faith and your religion was the problem in the first place? If you had been secular parents, his orientation wouldn’t have been an issue.

  37. What a sorrowful story. I feel just awful for everyone involved. But here’s the takeaway the way I see it…

    If Linda is wrong, and there is no god, her belief in religious nonsense and hate directly led to the death of her son.

    If Linda is RIGHT, and there IS a god, her son is burning in hell for being a sinning homosexual.

    You see, religion is the worst plague man has ever known. It is a sham, a con – and it kills. It has killed for thousands of years, millions upon millions of people. And it will continue to do so until humans grow up and reject these horrible fantasies of magic men in the sky.

    Lets reverse engineer what I said earlier for more clarification:

    Had there been no religion –

    Her son would have come out, and she would have said – “Great. We love you and hope you’re happy.” And she would most probably have enjoyed many dinner parties at her son and his partner’s home. (I bet the food would be fabulous – stereotype or not, those gay guys make great dinner parties!)

    And no, her son would not burn in hell, because A) there would have been no religion to say it was ‘wrong’, and B) there is no hell.

    The worst part about this story is that at the end, she is STILL invoking god and praying to him – the same god that was the direct result of her son’s death. Some people cant see the forest for the trees.

    • Regardless of whether Linda is right or wrong, her son still made his own choices. Choices made in and of his own free will. I do not doubt that Linda loved Ryan and I do not doubt that Ryan loved God. Fortunately for all of us, including Ryan, God extends grace to all children that love him and is the direct result of all of our deaths. If he is in Hell, then many of us believers that love God, yet still sin, will be joining him. I’m proud of Linda for exhibiting a faith and trust that so many people lack. I’m proud of Ryan for running and wrestling wtih God. Ryan didn’t decide to come back on his own, God brought him back to his parents one last time before it was time for God, through death, to call him home. Some folks really can’t see the forest for the trees. Linda, I hope you and your family are experiencing the peace that only Christ can provide.

    • What you missed was the part where she realized that she was misunderstanding what her god’s message truly was.

    • people should practise what they preach. If you don’t or if you do believe in a god then you should have a choice to live your life the way it makes you happy. You only live once, so live it and be happy for happiness is VERY hard to come bye.
      I believe in a higher power, but that doesn’t mean it is a GOD. It just means there is something out there. It’s called the UNIVERSE!!!
      You make your own life with what you believe in===not what other people think.
      You only live once so, live YOUR LIFE wheather it be gay or straight.
      Love every moment to it’s fullest ’cause tomorrow you may not be here.
      PEOPLE have NO RIGHT to judge other people. They say ”’HE WHO JUDGES WILL BE JUDGED”’ Judge yourself before judging others!!!!!

  38. “Choosing God, practically, meant ….perfect peace and eternal rewards.” – Forgot to strap a bomb to his chest and promise him 72 virgins. It would have been much quicker and to the point. Not only that, but it would have erased the one “Christian embarrassment” while taking out a few dozen other gays at a club to help out parents of fellow followers. Nice.

  39. Linda,

    I am heartbroken that your son is gone. I have never heard the story that you tell, which is so similar to many other stories, put quite this way before. Your words “what we had wished for…prayed for…hoped for…that we would NOT have a gay son, came true. But not at all in the way we used to envision,” are absolutely haunting, and went through me like ice.

    You see, I was in your son’s shoes. Petrified to come out to my parents for fear of losing my family. Scared that God would not want me, would cast me aside. Afraid that I would be condemned to a life of hell and a death that was worse. I count myself lucky above all things that my parents reacted the way they did.

    I do not blame you for your son’s death, nor do I blame him. Your son made his own decisions, as we all do. I’m finding it difficult to phrase a sentence capable of succinctly distilling my feelings, because I just keep thinking about my own mother, father, and brother. What if I hadn’t been as lucky? What if I had chosen drugs? I could just as easily have.

    I hope that God will continue to grant you peace. I’m a gay Christian, and I want nothing in the world more for you than peace. I hope that you can learn to not blame yourself. We all do the best we can. Your story is incredibly moving, and I thank you for sharing it.

  40. I cried like a baby reading this. The real tragedy here is that they learned the real lesson here after the damage had been done. I hope this can serve as a message to everyone that we are not perfect beings. Nor should we strive to be. God made us. All of us. We are exactly who He wants us to be. And I firmly believe He means for all of us to be happy in the people we are, and not the people everyone else wants us to be.

  41. All of you are pretty ridiculous. Acting as if it was ALL the mothers fault. Everyone makes mistakes. Clearly, all of your parents made mistakes too because no one is perfect. That mother didn’t choose for her son to die. It’s life. It happens. She did what she thought was RIGHT. It’s sad that many of you blame her. And your comments about God are, too, ridiculous. Christianity isn’t hate. Most people who “don’t believe in God” have been hurt by religion. Most people take stories like this and run with them, obviously. Making it seem like her son died because they prayed for him; the way they thought they should. Disgusting. Like I said most people don’t believe in God because they have been hurt by RELIGION not God. To me, you can either learn from this story or blow it out of proportion, which most of you already have. This world is heavy for us all. You shouldn’t point fingers and blame. Maybe, you should take a look at your own being. Step back and just look. Who are you, someone so high and mighty, to even JUDGE her? Oh wait, you aren’t. This story was shared to open people’s eyes up. Take a look around you and love one another.. Love God. Walk by faith. Try it. Have you ever, full heartily, said to God PROVE TO ME YOU ARE REAL! Because believe it or not, he’s willing to prove himself to you and it’s your job to accept him. If you don’t take anything away from this story, fine. But if you do, take the positive. The full story. The love. The faith. The mistakes. And through it all, they knew that God was there. He’s always there. So I, a nobody, same as you, challenge you to take a step of faith. Ask God to prove himself. Don’t do it out of anger. Wholeheartly do it. I have all the faith in God that he will help you through it. Through anything. You just have to take that first step. Once again, it’s sad that a mother lost her son but I assure you, it wasn’t her fault. If you talked to someone and they said I’m going to kill myself and you did nothing, would it be your fault? No. Think about it. Everything happens for a reason. It’s sad that most people can’t even FATHOM that saying, yet use it everyday. You can’t blame the mother. She shared this story to help people. So, take it in. If it effects you then great, if you don’t care then great. Judge yourself not others. Ask God to help and ask Him to show you to him. God will provide.

  42. Religion is not the factor that should decide what and who a person is. Being Gay is NOT a choice it’s just what it is- a sexuality that a person is born with! I’m so sorry Linda and her loved ones lost Ryan. There should be no blame here, life dealt this family the worst situation once drugs were involved. May everyone involved find peace and love in their lives.

  43. Thank you for sharing your heart wrenching story. Unfortunately, empathy is lacking in our society and I chastise every one of you readers who posted such vitriol, seething hatred and animosity against someone in such deep pain. I hope you never have to experience such grief as losing someone because you made a bad choice–find deliverance and gain them back again, only to still lose them after you begin to mend your relationship. To Linda, I feel for you, I truly do. I grew up in an evangelical, fundamental Christian home and church. I loved church for its pomp and circumstance and all the religious doctrine and entrapment made me feel superior to everyone else in the word. When I turned 23, I came out, out of desperation and I was suicidal over a break-up. My parents loved me regardless, and helped me over my break-up but didn’t accept the “sin.” They “wished I wasn’t ‘that way.'” Now we don’t talk about it. They want me to change, but I never share about who I date, where we went, what we did or bought together. I have no doubt they would be cordial if I brought him home, I won’t put them in that situation. For years, though, I went back and forth between my religion and my sexuality. Attending ex-gay camps, meetings, reading books, praying, fasting, crying, exorcisms (yes, exorcisms) to hating God, etc. I had to give up one or the other. I found an accepting and affirming church, but that wasn’t enough. But, I have since left religion behind, as I find no need in it. It was scary to leave behind something so ingrained in me, that was the very foundation of my belief system. Four years later, I do not regret leaving my religion in the dust. In fact, I accept who I am and love myself more after becoming a “non-believer,” and I find it easier to have empathy for someone who experiences the struggle between sexuality and religion. At times I hate the church with its lies, self righteousness, ruthlessness, and vitriol. I think they have it wrong about the Bible and homosexuality, because of dogma and tradition. What people perceive to be the voice of their God is merely the hoarse rantings of Middle-Eastern Clerics thousands of years ago–check your maps and atlas, folks. Jesus wasn’t white, clean-shaven and did not speak in red letters and with a British accent. If there is a God, then this God’s intentions were lost in translation. Nonetheless, I grieve with this mother, who lost everything in order to find herself and I hope you, dear readers, will show her some grace. Perhaps the anger and unforgiveness, you are projecting, belies some inner struggle you should come to terms with.

    • Your choice is very understandable. But there are Christian religions where it’s easier to reconcile scripture with being gay (i.e. non evangelical Christian religions). “Christianity” in itself, is not a religion, it’s a belief. So when you say “the church”, you have to be more specific. I guess I’m lucky, I can dismiss the interpretations of scriptures, as wrong, without having to abandon the rest of my religion, and it’s fairly acceptable. I can reconcile what I believe to be ‘human error’, and nobody will pound it into my head, that it’s not. We are not evangelical or Pentecostal, or ‘witnesses’, but Catholic. As for “Jesus wasn’t white”, it’s irrelevant, and unknown. The Middle East, during and before his life, was multi-racial, ethnically diverse, just like it is today. Unlike today, the ruling class was ‘white’. The Roman Empire controlled most of what is Europe, the Mediterranean, Northern Africa, Western Asia (Middle East), since hundreds of years BC. Therefore, it is likely that the descriptions and portrayals of him, by his contemporaries, and artists from near those centuries is somewhat accurate. Anyway. I feel horrible for this family. Part of me wants to be angry, or accuse them of not choosing him over their religion. Part of me wishes they would have turned against their church, and found answers to their faith, elsewhere. But they didn’t know better.

  44. I’m very sorry that your son was murdered by your religion. I don’t blame you. But the twisted, evil faith you raised him in is 100% to blame. Conservative Christianity is a hate cult. A pure evil. Do yourself a favor and leave it forever.

    • Absolutely agree with you. This young man’s death can be laid directly on the altar of his parents’ church.

    • I agree entirely.

      You say you would have accepted your son if you had walked with faith.. BS. Your faith is what made you chose to hate instead of love, choose to judge instead of love, choose to push him to death instead of love. Your blind following of religious BS destroyed your son. You should always put your family above the religious garbage. I have anger for what you did and I don’t even know you. Religion brings more hatred, death and pain to this world then anything else, why are so many people so blind….

      I tried so hard to be open minded while reading this and my anger just grew.

      Open your eyes, step away from the conformity and religious cult and learn to see the world through better eyes.

  45. Wow. The only ignorance here is from the ones who don’t “get it” the way this mother does. For, above all else, God said, “Love one another.”

    Thank you for exposing it all. I felt every part of your truth and vulnerability. Although tragic, it’s an unforgettable lesson for any parent who unintentionally denies their child what they need most– unconditional acceptance and support– because of the way they interpret something we will never fully understand.

    Thank you, from someone who identifies most with Ryan. May you give others the encouragement and strength to love the way you do now.

  46. How unfortunate that an innocent child had to be lost because of idiotic parents. This mother must now live with the burden of knowing that she buried her own son. There is no Jesus, and there is no after life. You made the delusional decision of siding with fiction and now have to live with the weight of a child’s death on your shoulders. At least you have your fake stories and false hopes written in the bible to help you cope. At the end of the day you caused your child’s death and nothing you say or believe can spare your conscious. The most disgusting and inhumane thing is that you are probably still practicing Christians. You have indirectly taken your sons life in the name of religion and continue to embrace the indignant practices that helped you ruin your son’s life. Good luck with your life, you’re going to need it.

    • Wow. You’re way off. It’s easy to be angry at this family, for making wrong choices. But it’s not fair to blame them for their beliefs or for what happened to their son. I want to lash out, too, but that would be just as inhumane and ignorant, if not more, than what some could accuse them of being. Also, you can’t blame parents for the mistakes the “kid” made as an adult. He came out at 12. He turned to drugs as an adult (or just before 18th birthday), and 24 when he relapsed and died. Whatever his background, it’s not their fault (or God’s) that he got into drugs. We’ve all had it hard as gay kids. Yes, he had it tough, but his choices were his responsibility, to a large degree. I know a LOT of 18-24 year old, straight, atheists, that are right on the same track.

    • No, the family had no more choice about their belief than did the boy. People are born to a religion, and almost universally, it is the religion of the region, for better or worse. The religion is the root cause, and the society dependent upon that religion the main victim.

      Breaking free of a belief system, no matter how horrid or irrational, is almost beyond the typical person raised into and indoctrinated by a society steeped in the local version of belief. Just as we condemn, as extremist and irrational, a muslim willing to kill himself and others over an imagined slight to the prophet, any truly rational person must also condemn a christian willing to murder a doctor for a legal procedure, a hindu willing to murder his daughter over a breach of honor, or a family willing to abandon their child to misery over a 2,000 year old book written by misogynistic goat herders.

      But condemnation is not the point. The point is to take apply we learn; use the crisis to step back and evaluate the reality of our beliefs, and abandon those that create harm. In the case of religion, a crisis of faith may be the only chance one has to escape the horrible legacy of an ancient and irrational belief. Leave it now, and teach your children to think for themselves, and free them from a terrible tradition of intolerant hate.

      To those who quote Peter, “above all else, love one another…”: remember that the christian church has been enthusiastically burning homosexuals since at least 390 AD, and probably before, and the jews and muslims have been at it almost as long. And where religions pursue a violent and final end to homosexuality, so to does the culture. All the new age ‘friendly and loving’ presentations of the (very recent – less than 100 year old) concept of a loving and tolerant god cannot erase the 2,000 year old legacy of the ever burning lake of fire, the ultimate condemnation to utter misery unto eternity, and the absolute intolerance of any who do not believe. These alone are enough to make any rational person, not hopelessly indoctrinated into a hateful belief system, to recognize the xenophobic prejudice immediately.

      But even for those who cling to their religion by adding proviso after proviso to underplay the hatred, and thus make their belief palatable, it should eventually become obvious that it is not the interpretation that is wrong, but the act of believing in the first place, that is the problem. Historically, because of the political nature of religion, it has tended to fall on the side of the oppressor, as it did in the days of monarchies (making it a sin to disobey the king or his counselors), or slavery (admonishing slaves to honor their owners and accept their place), or women (be subservient to thy husband; stone a woman or daughter who fails to honor the husband or father), children (a disobedient child is to be stoned to death in public), interracial relationships (christians used old testament laws against miscegenation as the basis for banning interracial relationships for centuries), and on, and on. It is the nature of “unchanging belief” that it will, as humankind learns more and more, become less and less relevant, and eventually be exposed for what it truly is: an obsolete distillation of all the ignorance and prejudice of its originating society.

      Religions had their place when ignorance ruled the world, and people needed something to cling to to believe in the authority of their leaders. But we are no longer lost in the woods with nothing but questions and fear. We have grown wise enough to see that answers are there for the learning, not shrouded in mysterious scripture interpreted by the few. We no longer have to fear the dark, or eternity. We have plotted the timeline of the universe — a much larger universe than any religion ever envisioned — and we see our humble place in it. We no longer need to enslave ourselves to hurtfully ignorant belief systems that should have died centuries before. Even if we find it somehow comforting, surely our children do not need to carry the ancient, painful weight of our useless
      baggage forever.

  47. What a sad story, such a incredibly hard life lesson to learn. What a awful mother, may god forgive you.

  48. Pingback: A Mother’s Heartbreaking Tale Of Losing Her Gay Son | Truth Wins Out

  49. When I (finally) came out to my parents, my dad did two things: He told me that he would always love me (much like you did) and then proceeded to blame himself for what happened. And as he was blaming himself, saying that maybe I wouldn’t be gay if he had done something different, I realized one thing: someone, somewhere, had lied to us, and I told him as much.

    I told him that he didn’t “get it” because it doesn’t work the way they told us it does. They lied to us about it, and we (GLBT and our families) pay for it. Because your impulse is to love us, we have just have been lied to as to what that means. Hate the sin, love the sinner? But as you know now, the “sin” is very much a part of us.

    What I’m saying is, please, don’t blame yourself anymore. It wasn’t your fault: you’re only human, as we are all human, and if we don’t know, we don’t know. We are made to learn, and sometimes we are lied to, and sometimes we make mistakes. It was a horrible mistake, but your son did come back to you, and he did find his faith again, and he did know peace – he knew peace with you, knowing that you loved him. What happened was a tragic mistake: he certainly wasn’t trying to leave.

    You did one thing right, and that thing was HUGE: you loved him, and he knew that. And because you loved him, he was able to find himself spiritually, as well. That is peace, and it is wonderful, and you helped him get it.

    God bless you and your love. I’m sure your son is watching you now, with nothing but thank you’s in his heart. You know you will see him again. Remember that. In the meantime, this is a wonderful way to hold on to his memory.

  50. Susan, I am so sorry for your loss. I grieve that so many people think that serving God means you have to hate some people. And I grieve that some of those who have turned against religion because of hate are still practicing hate, even when they have left religion behind.

  51. Thank you for sharing your story, freeheart. Please understand that many of the people angrily posting here here had lived that story, or are living it now. I’ve tried to write this reply a few times now, because I want to share your grief, not add to it. Many of us have walked your son’s path.

    We are generations of prodigal sons, dearly loved by our family, but never accepted quite for who we are, but rather for who we could be if we just prayed harder, denied ourselves more. We grow up to stories of Jesus loving us NO MATTER WHAT; we are given a dream if finding a perfect mate — “for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united…” only to then be told we must forsake that dream of love and unity with another soul, and that God’s love is very conditional indeed.

    The grace of Piety and the sin of Pride weave so seductively to religious families, making us prodigals reach ever hopefully and hopelessly for an impossibly goal. We know we are loved. But we are not accepted.

    We are generations of prodigals, leaving home because we cannot bear to stay. And instead of having that part of our life filled with God (because we are told over and over that he can’t love us as we are), and family (because we can never shape ourselves into something we never were), and friends (because the Church does not welcome us), where can we turn? If we limp home, the fatted calf is slain and we are welcome with open arms…for still, we are of course loved. But we are still what we have become.

    And religous leaders dare say that our homosexuality is why we are so miserable and unhappy. Our blood stains the alters of churches across this nation, and they dare? Pride and Piety were the downfall of the Pharisees, and so it is with our modern teachers.

    • Dear lostboyjim,
      Thank you for your comment. Very much. The story is actually a guest post, which I posted because this issue is terribly near to my heart, and because I ache for the pain that misteaching has wrought. You are exactly right — your families promised one thing but delivered another. They said Jesus loves you unconditionally and then you banged up against the condition they used to disqualify you. The purpose of the Freedhearts blog is to fight the pain that this conditional love has inflicted and to show Jesus as he really is.

    • Our modern teachers have failed us and have lied to us. But others are stepping up, and reaffirming that God’s love is pure, ever-reaching, and unconditional. They are reaffirming that love is good, and that we are good, because we, too, come from Him.

  52. While I feel badly for this woman’s suffering, I can’t believe it took all that for her to realize she was being a horrible, horrible mother. Horrible. Like… horrible. Would she have driven her son away had he been born, let’s say, a redhead? Because that’s basically the equivalent here. God help all the other gay boys and girls out there with a mother this horrible.


    • She has learned. She’s only human, and she trusted what she had been taught. She recognizes the horrible mistakes she made, and is brave enough to post them here, in the hopes other people don’t make them.

      • They’re sick people!!!! Where did they live? Some people should not have kids, and these are the same that would not allow marriage for gays or adoption because it is immoral and because church tells them kids in gay families would grow up wrongly, based on nonsense thoughts and things…..ha! But driving a son to death because he is gay ,( because despite what people say here this is what they did) is okay….
        Actually is church telling parents to do all these things, and they were as mad to hear and follow them! Absurd in the 21st Century!!!!
        Church and Bible says lots of idiocies, better say the interpretation given to certain stories is idiotic rather than stories..infact what they teach and preach is full of inconsistencies!
        Atheist here, I do respect religious people…..what I do not respect is the church ambient, that drives people crazy!
        You can be a good Christian by not going to Church…..Church may ruin people!
        Church drove him this family crazy, and Church killed him!

  53. Pingback: "What to Do When Your Son is Gay"... a touching story - Empty Closets - A safe online community for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people coming out

  54. While I would not wish Linda’s circumstances on anyone, having killed her own son out of ignorance, and truly hope she finds direction out of her sorrow, what has changed? How does she reconcile the fact that her personal faith clearly states that she did the right thing in killing her son, while she now knows better?

  55. As someone who is living a similar life as Ryan did, I know what he went through. I grew up in a very conservative, religious family and feared for my life everday. I knew that if my family found out I was gay, I’d be kicked out or worse. I’d likely be the victim of a tragic “hunting accident” or “accidentally fall of the tractor and into the plow.” My only recourse was to hide who I am.

    When my parents finally found out when I was in my 30s, it was bad. They disowned me, told me I’m going to hell, and that I am unwelcome in their house. As someone who grew up with a firm belief in God, the actions of my parents and others from the church have destroyed my faith. I no longer have any desire to set foot inside a church. My faith is gone.

    My life has been incredibly lonely. The rejection and fear I have had has led me to doubt anyone ever wanting me. I know that I’m unlovable because my family had made sure I know it. It is a daily challenge to move on.

    I know what it’s like to have a family chose the bible over their son. I hope my story and Ryan’s story become less common as the world moves forward.

    • You are lovable. Your family just sucked.
      I do hope the world moves forward and that people can change for the better. However, I am having doubts in humanity. I am not gay, but support them and believe that they are lovable, wanted, (can be) wonderful people that others are just afraid of.

    • Steven, I would like to second what Ashley says here. You are lovable! Many of us have families that let us down one way or another, and it can be very hard to overcome. You are not alone. Keep working on loving yourself and you will find someone to love.

  56. Linda’s story was very touching and I am deeply saddened by her loss. She sounds like a loving parent who just wanted the best for her son whom she loved dearly and was trying to guide him in the way she genuinely felt would be best for him.

    As a gay man myself who has know many other gay men, I cannot tell you how often I hear stories just like this one when we share our histories. It pains me to tell you that this experience follows the general framework for many GLBT youth from religious and conservative backgrounds. They do not all have such a tragic ending, but many gay and lesbian youth live with self-loathing, shame and estrangement from the people on whom they should always be able to rely on, their family.

    The problem is not with the family, but with the church, if they were more compassionate and caring in the way that they addressed homosexuality to their followers, then that belief and behavior would trickle down to the believers. The church should be alleviating suffering not creating it, yet that is not what is happening here.

    Thank you for sharing this blog post, I hope that it will help other families struggling with this issue and will hopefully alleviate some unnecessary suffering along the way.

    • Dear Clint, and Steven, and the many others going through this,
      I am terribly sorry for what you have endured. I posted Ryan’s story and I address these issues on my blog to help prevent this kind of rejection and hatred. The damage done by religion without Jesus has been devastating. He always defends the oppressed, he always comforts the broken-hearted, he always says, “You ARE lovable, I MADE you lovable.” My heart aches for you and your pain, and my prayer is to say as a mother, you do NOT deserve that.

  57. Wow… this was extremely sad for everyone. I am sorry for the loss of your son. Reading this definately hit close to home as I grew up in a christian home and came out as the only gay person our family has ever had. I tried everything to avoid telling my parents I even got married at 21 which led to a terrible divorce and by then I developed a severe drinking problem to cover up the pain of who I knew I was. I was more afraid of the convictions of my parents than I was of Gods, He created me He knows who I am why would I ever fear Him? But my parents would never understand. Basically after some detox and lots of therapy the whole family knew, it was hard but I am at peace knowing I did the right thing and I love my family more than anything regardless of their lack of acceptance. Ryan was very lucky to have such forgiving understanding parents. I hope in time I will have the same acceptance.

  58. If only these people viciously commenting knew this mother, not just a story to attack, but this real person. A beautiful, inspiring, caring person. This hurting human being, trying to help others out there. If only.

    • The comments attacking the mother are horribly misguided. Yes, there should be anger, and it should be toward the people who perpetuate the ideology that destroys families like Linda’s and make people like Linda feel that they are truly doing the right thing.

      Very rare is the parent who actively acts in anything other than what they, with the tools they have, feel is in the best interests of their children. Unfortunately, the tools the Religious Right sells are evil, and they destroy families.

  59. When I look back on my relation to this story, I can’t help but think about how those two little words (I’m gay) changed my life forever seven years ago. I often thought to myself how I’d present something like this to my parents, to tell them that I was living a life of lies.

    It was the hardest thing for me to comprehend, not only was I fearful for what would happen to my relationship with my family but I knew I could never take back those two little words once I said them.

    As children of God, we are all created in his eyes, both gay and straight. I can’t thank my family for not attempting to correct my sexuality, because there is and was nothing wrong with it.

  60. Such a lot of unnecessary grief and such a horrible burdening of a young man with guilt trying to justify a natural state of being with the supposed disapproval of an entity that doesn’t exist in the first place.

    • Regardless of whether or not you believe an entity exists in the first place, I’m sure there are some beliefs that “make sense” to atheists that cannot be proven as factual. Telling someone their “deity doesn’t exist”, however, is equivalent to them telling you “you’re going to hell” for not believing in their own religion. While I too lean towards the atheist slant, I also remain courteous to the beliefs of others who may not share my own view, in hopes they’ll return the same cordiality. Grow up, and show some courtesy to a grieving human who is opening up to the public about their experiences.

      • That’s not the same at all, you’re comparing Apples and Hand Grenades.

        Me saying that a fairy tale isn’t real, is not the same as you telling me I’ll go to hell.

        One is a person asking for proof of another’s supernatural beliefs. The other is saying I’m going to a fictional place taken from stories.

        One person wants facts and evidence, one believes in mystical stories of people with super powers

        Don’t get me wrong, flogging this woman for choosing fairy tales over her dead son won’t help anything. But let’s be rational here, if you have proof to back your super hero Jesus claims, please share them, we’d all love to see it.

        But if you say I’m going to hell, I’m going to need you to provide me something a little more factual than stories some white men collected a long, long time ago friend.

  61. if you only knew how many gay people I know have gone through this and know all of this. this story broke my heart.. simply because of the truth the lies within it. if the world only new here today even now this moment how many young gay people are going through the same thing… it takes power and strength to Forster and to move forward… and not all of us have that in power meant. they look for something less difficult

  62. Beautiful letter. I share a birthday with your Ryan, although I’m quite a bit older. I’m sorry for any negative posts you’ve received on this, and so sorry for your loss. I have a few gay friends who have been completely abandoned by their christian families and I find it horrific. My same-sex partner and I are raising a fabulous 5-year-old daughter together, and I cannot imagine losing her in any way, by our own choices or by anything else. Hopefully what you have shared will wake up some other parents before they make the same mistakes. I’m so glad you were able to rejoin with your son before he died. Peace to you and your family.

  63. Hello Susan,
    It takes a certain bravery to put your “dirty laundry” out there for the world to see and be judged by others so, as a gay man and a suicide survivor, I want to say “Thank You”. I understand the anger in many of the posts here and, after reading, I had to send up a prayer on your behalf for the grace to absorb the vitriol and still know that sharing this story was the right thing to do. For those that have answered with ONLY hate, I challenge you to use this forum to give constructive ways to promote healing among LGBTQ youth and young adults. I took my anger at the injustice of the way these young people were taught to self-hate and created a yearly empowerment summit called Y.E.S. San Diego with another colleague that went through a similar experience.
    We have a choice between hate and healing – just sayin’!

      • Dear Ian, thank you so much for your kind words. My heart’s desire is to use my blog to promote healing among LGBTQ youth and young adults, particularly those who have been rejected by the church or their families. I am happy to hear about your Y.E.S. summit and look forward to learning more about it. We absolutely want to choose healing instead of hate — that’s what drives me to do what I do. Susan

  64. What most “Christians” don’t seem to understand is, the bible says a LOT of things and it’s how they have been interpreted over the years that makes people believe such things. My point is, I 100% believe that god loves all people including gay people who have relationships with other gay people, meaning intimate loving people. GOD is the one who created all people the way they are, gay and straight. You can be gay, you can love another person intimately (same sex or not) and if there is such a place as heaven, and you have been a kind caring person otherwise, you WILL go there. I think true “Christians” get this because there are many such churches that accept and love all people (gay or straight) and tell them this too. You don’t have to believe that, but I think that IF there really is a god, he or she would agree!

    • True Believer,

      I completely agree with all you said. The bible says so many things and people have interpreted it over the years to what people know now. Well, there are also those people that pick and choose what to believe in the bible or what to follow. They believe doing that is OK, but loving another human being (no matter the sex) is not? I cannot understand that way of thinking. I believe in God. But I do not truly, wholeheartedly believe in the Bible and all it says.

  65. That is so sad. And what a brave story for those parents to share. What a tragic mistake they made. I hope they can feel comforted by their later actions and the love they shared. So many people would not let their hearts be softened and I’m touched by the courage and love of these parents. I loved this sentence: “As our son pursued recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, we pursued him.”

  66. People take their children for granted. “God” did not give my body the ability to have children, so I wish I had some gay children, you know… People are blessed with precious children and they insist on fixing them because they are not “perfect.” You have no idea how many of us would be grateful to have those gay children you are so intent on erradicating, and how many of us would love them more than anything in the world.

    • You may not be able to have children. But, you obviously have the ability to raise and love a child to be the best he can be. I love the line where you say parents insist on ‘fixing’ there children!
      You can’t fix what isn’t broken! Like trying to turn a car into a motorcycle. Why bother trying, They both can get you where you’re going. Just different ways

      • Enid,

        I understand a little bit where you are coming from. I do suggest you adopt and raise those children with the same thinking of what you said.

  67. I am so sorry that you lost your boy. None of us are perfect parents. I appreciate that you are trying to help other parents who may be going through the same struggle so that they don’t have the same pain. This is a good thing to do. I wish you and yours as much healing as can be found.

  68. From a kid who’s been there. Thank you. For the sons and daughters lost to the world because of rejection, thank you. To those castigating this woman because she didn’t reject her faith immediately, something so personal, I criticize you. They made a mistake. BUt they learned from it. And the story, just like others out there, is what makes the difference. They learned. You know how many parents out there never learn even after a tragedy such as this? Many. This woman learned and is giving a testimony to that fact which, in my opinion, makes her more Christian. Again, thank you.

    • Being Christian is only a fraction of the problem-many religions do not accept those who are gay into their communities, but then again many sects of Christianity (and other religions) do.
      There is a difference between quoting a book written thousands of years ago, and living in the world as Jesus did. It’s very sad that this woman had to learn this way, but being negative only creates a greater pain for her.
      Instead of being hateful, try to be empathetic. Instead of being judgmental, try being understanding. Because hate and judgement are whats causing these problems, no matter what religion you are.

      • Thank you for this. As a Christian who would rather try to live as Jesus did than follow frankly outdated laws given in Leviticus (which, actually, we are freed from following BECAUSE of Jesus and His sacrifice and teachings, but that is a very long rant of mine that has no place here), I see too much hatred spewed both disguised as “the word of God” and at all who believe. It is not faith or belief that causes problems, or even a lack thereof. It is intolerance, hatred, and anger, all of which are sneaky, insidious, and much easier to hang on to than a non-judgmental, all-encompassing love.

  69. I can’t believe how unkind some of these comments are! This whole story is about how a loving mother regrets her initial reaction and how long it took her to change this reaction. The fact that she once felt that her son telling her he was gay was worse than getting news of him having a tumour is just a statement of the fact of how it was. And it was so not because of lack of love but because of generations of a disgusting attitude from society to homosexuality… The rest of the story is about how she regrets that she felt that way, and wished her feelings had changed sooner. And she’s sharing her immense grief in an effort to help others not to repeat this mistake! It is incredibly brave!

    To Ryan’s mom and family: Don’t worry too much about God’s mercy and redemption. I’m sure that His answer to your prayers will be exactly what you wrote about your answers to your son when he came back asked you for forgiveness: that there was no need to ask, for it had been given from the very start! I am so sorry for your loss, and thank you so much for sharing your story and for you wish and efforts for it to never repeat itself on another family…

    • If she is being forgiven right from the very start then why are gay people treated like s***. Surely this great and powerful God will love everyone no matter what. And yet no, Christians still think it’s acceptable to pick and choose what they want from the Bible like it’s some buffet religion.

      • People do that to EVERYONE, not just gays. People mistreat others everyday. Do not pick and choose which you will point out as wrong. It’s all over the world. People are treated horribly for other reasons; color, sex, love, money, etc. I believe in God, but I also believe gays are people and that they should NOT be treated any differently than others. They should be free to love whomever they want.

        • What you are doing is not helpful. A mother lost her son! How arrogant do you have to be to turn this into a debate about God? Everyone has a right to their beliefs and no one has a right to knock it down. You cannot fight for the rights of the gay community and then in the same breathe say that Christians do not have a right to their beliefs. I have an 11 yr old daughter who just told me on Friday that she believes she is gay, we are Christians, and I love her. I want nothing but happiness for her and if that means all her firsts will be with another girl I am willing to take that over losing her. As long as she becomes a loving respectable woman with good intentions I will be the happiest mom on earth. To the blogger: Thank you so much for sharing this, I needed it more than anyone here will ever know.

          • GoodTriumphs, There are a lot of good resources out there for your daughter and your family. I highly recommend the It gets better project (http://www.itgetsbetter.org/), The Trevor Project (http://www.thetrevorproject.org/), and PFLAG (http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=194&srcid=-2).

            The It gets better project has a book out by the same name with excerpts from regular people, celebrities, politicians, and families of GLBT. It is available in most local libraries, your daughter would appreciate knowing that there are other people like her, and that they have gone through the same struggles she is/will be.

            PFLAG has local chapters all over the US. They have highly qualified people available to help you and your family.

            Your showing your love for your daughter is the most important thing for her. I love that you are being supportive and seeking out information now. It will help you continue to have a special bond with your daughter. 🙂 More parents with GLBT children should follow your example.

          • Dear GoodTriumphs,
            Thank you so much for sharing. I’m so grateful. I have been down this road and I understand the external pressure a Christian parent can go through. I would love to talk more with you about it. What a great gift you’re giving your daughter by loving her, loving her, loving her. It’s the best thing you can possibly do. Love, Susan

          • GoodTriumphs,

            I commend you! That’s wonderful that you feel that way and are doing the right thing. I may not claim to be a Christian, I believe in God, but I wholeheartedly wish you, your daughter, and family so much happiness in the future.
            I feel the same way with my children. I have two girls, planning on a boy hopefully, and I would not care if they all told me they are gay. I’d love them no matter what and I’d love them fully.

          • Thank you all for your kind words. I love my daughter plain and simple. She hasn’t changed who she is, she has simply shared her whole person with me. I will do the best I can just as Linda did the best she could. That is all a mother can do, and for those out there who haven’t dealt with this you cannot tell us how you would do things differently or “better” you will NEVER know how you would handle the situation until it is on your lap. It would be like me presuming to understand what a single male goes through, I have no clue I am a married woman I have never been in their shoes. So stop judging and start supporting. That is truly what will make the world a better place, the support system of love and acceptance to EVERYONE.

          • If your daughter is at all like you, and you are the kind of person this comment makes you seem to be, she’ll turn out to be a wonderful person indeed.

  70. Our daughter came out to us last year, when she was 20. We had known for at least 8 years, but were waiting for her to come to terms with herself. During that 8 year wait, we were supportive and loving; and reassured her in other aspects of her life that we would love her no matter what she does or says. We are spiritual, but not overly religious. I’m a nurse, and have to be supportive and loving towards everyone I encounter, why would I be less so to my own child? I believe that God makes no mistakes, and that we are all formed in his image. That includes everyone, not just those whose lifestyles are palatable to me. I cannot imagine telling my child that she had to choose to go against her own conscience and belief system, to make it easier for others to accept her. I do not live vicariously through my children. They have their own soul that needs to find its own way in the world. My way is right for me, but may not be right for them. I believe that there are many, many paths; and that they all eventually lead to our Creator. Some paths may look like Billy from The Family Circle cartoon series, but if the child makes it to the same end point, who am I to judge the tortuous path they chose to get there?

  71. I am sorry for your loss and I hope you grieve for your son everyday of your life. YOU made him feel less than, YOU made him choose and YOU will have to live with that for the rest of your life. If you love your kids you love them, PERIOD!!! No ifs, ands or buts. I truly hope you learned your lesson, I hope you don’t have any gay grandchildren to ruin.It’s much easier to feel sorry for yourself, too bad you didn’t have that compassion for your son.

    • You’re being a jerk. You didn’t even read the article, did you? THey know they made mistakes, they know they can’t be taken back, they know they will never get to see him again or hold him, yet here you are, rubbing salt in the wound. You really are being a jerk, and I pray God forgives you for being so judgmental.

      • I read the entire article, all the way through. I think it is great that these people regret what they did to their son. I just wish it never happened. I would never EVER tell my daughters that they are less than anything. I tell them I love them just the way they are EVERY DAY. I let them choose their own path when it comes to religion and I teach them to love everyone, even homophobic bigots, racists and anyone else that is ignorant. That is unconditional love, what kids SHOULD get, not being told to change the most fundamental parts of themselves.

        • So keep kicking the parents, harder, no mercy…..because living with the guilt of loosing their child wasn’t enough. Nice.

        • Clearly, you are still missing a major point of the article. She never TOLD him that he was less than anything. In an attempt to help her son through a confusing time she offered what little instruction should could offer, which INDIRECTLY sent her son a message that was not intended to be sent. Your harsh words and critique of her actions are uncalled for.

          This mother sought to love her son the best way she could throughout his life. Yes, she is looking back with regrets on the situation, but I would venture to say that neither your or myself are experts at loving individuals. Loving another person is one of the most difficult skills to cultivate and I doubt it can ever be mastered.

          I am delighted that you teach your kids to attempt to practice unconditional love. Please do so now by unconditionally loving this mother who is grieving for her loss and by refraining from such language as “homophobic bigots” and “ruin”.

    • The son may have been driven to a self-destructive path because he had been rejected by his family, which was none of his fault …
      but his family had also been driven to reject their son by a destructive supernatural ideology that they had absorbed when they were children and that they didn’t really have a choice in either. Ryan and his mother are both victims of a homophobic strain of superstitious belief, and while we can look on appalled at how Linda failed to see that the god of Christianity is imaginary, failed to understand that this universe is completely incompatible with an omni-benevolent, all-powerful deity, nevertheless a bit of compassion for her wouldn’t go amiss. We don’t really get to choose our beliefs. Linda didn’t choose to be brought up to believe in an almost-certainly-non-existent god who hates homosexuality any more than her son chose to be gay.

  72. Sorry for his losses. His loss of trust in his parents, his loss of trust in a safe and loving environment, his loss of trust in himself, his loss of his families approval, his loss independence, his loss of self identification… and why? Because his parents chose an imaginary fairy tale over their own son. I have no empathy for them and they should take full r3sonsibility for his loss, and get over their own. BTW, how did that church of yours support your family when he died?

      • The church is extremely supportive actually. This tragedy shouldn’t be a place to soap box your angst against Christianity. There are discussion groups for that. I guess it’s ok to lack compassion if you feel justified. These people will live their entire lives feeling how you feel towards them about themselves. There is no need to further stab them with your judgement.

          • Linda,

            I am so sorry for your loss. I recently lost my mother — and I don’t know how or why, but I am certain that we are still together every single day. I personally don’t share your belief in God or in the afterlife, but I just know I feel her near. Somehow, I believe that a mother and her children are never separated. I know your son must be with you still as well.

            Linda, thank you for sharing your story. I am a gay man in his 20′s… so I’ve heard this story so many times from so many friends. I also lost one of my closest friends in a very similar way. Mistakes are made. Our circumstances are unclear… but one thing that always brings clarity is sharing your story. You and your family’s story is sad, yes, but it is also so clearly full of love that will touch others. Thank you.

            As for the negative comments on this thread, I hope that these men, who are also hurting in their own way, learn to love and forgive in the way they wish to be loved and forgiven. That is all we can do. Your son must be proud of you for sharing this story with others. He must be proud of you and thankful to you for helping other families accept and love their gay children, brothers, and sisters.

            Thanks, Linda.

            With much love,
            Matt P

  73. What a horrible story it makes me sad and angry. Religion does not belong to young people only education. tell that to the world

  74. I don’t agree with the pain and heartache I have put ur son thru, I understand it was unintentional but as a parent myself I would never be able to look at my child in such heartache and tell them to pray for a cure pretty much is a very selfish request, maybe u should have prayed for understanding. I am no long a Christian in part bc of things such as these. but above all else my parents did not care who I loved long as I was happy that is what brought them joy. but thank u for ur story maybe it will help someone.

  75. C’est triste pour Ryan, très triste puisqu’il a été incapable de trouver de l’amour chez ses parents qui sont les premiers à devoir l’aimer. Honte à ces mauvais parents de chercher dieu. Ils auraient dû aimer leur fils en premier. It’s very sad for Ryan, very sad because he was unable to find love with his parents who are the first to love. Shame on this very bad parents who where looking god instead of the love of their son. First love your son. La bible n’est pas la vie, ce n’est qu’un livre de mort. The bible is not life, it’s only a book about death.

  76. The pain that ignorance perpetuates is unnecessary and legend. I feel for this family’s loss, but have seen too many wonderful people crushed under similar circumstances. I hope people learn from this, to love unconditionally and just let everyone determine their ‘salvation’ themselves. Simple as that. Free will means people make alternate roads, but who are we to condemn them? Danielle Steel did the same thing to her amazing son….it was all about what people would think of her, until he was gone. When will people listen? Sorry for the family’s loss….but more sorry for him, and hope his death helps others see the futility of trying to dictate our children’s lives (in any way)

  77. No hateful comments, everyone makes mistakes and they were just trying to help him in there own way, she loved him even when he said he was gay but asked him to make a choice Jesus or his sexuality he tried To follow Jesus, he wasn’t forced to. I’m really sorry for lose and I hope people read this with understanding and not hate.

  78. Please, anyone who’s read this.. watch a movie by the name of “Prayers for Bobby”.

    I feel as though, if the parents of this young man who lost his life had seen it, maybe it would have gone a different way.

    Basically the movie is the same as this story, excluding the drug addiction.
    Bobby didn’t even go that route before choosing to end his own life.

    It’s based on/and is, a true story.

    I’m so tired of reading things like this now. If your child comes out to you, take the time to actually educate yourself on what it means. Don’t tell them they’re wrong. Don’t tell them they’re hated because of it, or their God hates them.

    Stop being so self-absorbed. Think about your CHILD !
    Think about how THEY think/feel about it instead of how You do.
    Rarely is a kid who comes out happy and confident about coming out. They do it because they’re tired of feeling trapped. They’re tired of hiding who they know they are.
    They’re scared, and they’re worried. They come out to you, because they think coming to their parents is the safest way to go. BE the safest option for them. CHOOSE to be.

    Don’t make them regret trusting in you.

  79. I was very moved by this story. As a openly gay individual who has a parent that used to think the same way, I commend you for opening up and telling this story for everyone to see. I personally identify with most of this story in the same way that my mother reacted to my coming out. My mother has really opened up to me and is a part of my life again and she even enjoys dinners with my occasional boyfriends. As I always say and also some trucker friends say “Keep on Truckin’ and never look back” Keep pushing on and remember his memory for life. You will one day see your son again in Heaven. 🙂

  80. This really disturbed me. Made me feel sick in fact. The fact that 2 parents can destroy their own son simply because of his sexuality, because of some stupid religion, because they are worried what their Christian friends will think, because they are ashamed. I hope the parents live with their guilt forever, it’s what they deserve. They are monsters, not human beings.

    • I agree with you. theses parents were more worried about their false christian friends. Shame on them and I hope they will have guilt. Lorsqu’on aime son enfant, on l’accepte aussi avec sa sexualité.

    • I wholeheartedly agree with you. I can’t imagine looking at one of my daughters and telling them they are not good enough or that they are not perfect just the way they are.

      • I dont understand why everyone has to be so mean! And, coming from a christain saying you “hope they will have guilt” i mean goodness!!! Who would ever HOPE that on someone. i feel very sorry for you. And we wonder why there is so much hate in the world. so devastating

          • and there is no redemption or forgiveness when you’re an athiest. You live your life right TODAY. Story’s like the above strengthen my views on religion. These parents are just as bad as the idiots that kill their kids when they pray for a cure rather than going to hospital.

          • oh excuse me, for any human being to HOPE that on someone is just down right evil. I dont HOPE that for anyone. Thank you for showing us again why the world is filled with so much hate.

    • Oh they do that never ending he heartache and pain, dont worry. Hope that makes you feel better. :/

    • If you ever feel like you are about to “go off the deep end,” as you say here, I implore you to please, PLEASE, seek out help. There are hotlines you can call–an upstream comment mentions the Trevor Project, and there are other places, as well. Someone cares about you, regardless of how your church or anyone else made have you feel.

  81. I am sorry for your loss. It’s a tragedy that your son lost his life, and it’s even worse that your ignorance on homosexuality was the cause.

    But seriously, comparing homosexuality to a brain tumor? Did you learn NOTHING from the loss of your oldest child?

    • Sam I think you missed the point of what she was saying. That’s how many Christian parents view the news that their child is gay. She wasn’t comparing it to a brain tumor, she was putting into context how many Christian parents feel. Why would you want to attack this woman after what she just shared?

  82. This could have been me if I’d made the wrong choices. While I admit, I’m not even remotely Christian (I’m Wiccan), I do want to say something.
    I was raised a Christian child, but realized just how wrong that path was for me at age 11. I formed my own beliefs, then did research on what path this was. I found it was Pagan… or, more specifically, Wiccan. Give your kids the choice to follow whatever path seems right to them.
    If I’d been forced to be Christian, I have zero doubt that, as a gay teen, I would have killed myself. Don’t force that on kids.

  83. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful son! I think the harsh comments here aren’t really fair. I understand that your reaction isn’t the “ideal” coming out reaction, but you always loved your child and made sure he knew that. You were on a journey, too, and I don’t think it’s fair to overlook that. I think (though I don’t have kids yet) that having a child come out to you must be so hard, because you have to give up the life you’ve pictured for them, and embrace a life that will unfortunately be more difficult, at least at this point in history. No parent wants their child’s life to be harder, or one that will subject them to more pain, and unfortunately being gay means both of those things a lot of the time. Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for being open about your imperfections and who you’ve become now. That’s Ryan’s legacy!

  84. As a gay Christian who went to a very conservative Christian university, I am grateful for the author’s willingness to share this story. It is an absolute tragedy, but that is all the more reason for people to hear it. This is so much more common than people realize. Most of my friends who came out to their conservative parents were rejected, ridiculed, and told they now belonged to a different religion (because their parents couldn’t fathom being gay and being Christian as compatible). Many of them would rather have no child than a gay one, so they choose rejection.

    If the parents who humbly recognize their mistakes are willing to share their stories, it can help to demonstrate the truth to those who are still in the dark about how devastating their actions are.

    So, thank you for sharing.

  85. I feel so strongly that Jesus came to show people a new way to be. He was a revolutionary and most people even his disciples didn’t understand him. Yes he was raised in the Jewish faith so new the old testament well but he did not set out to create a new religion or even attach his ways to the old testament. He came to show people that love is all there is and all that matters. To love with all your heart and that you are already forgiven for everything you have ever done. To open your hearts to those that are the outcasts and to be careful for who you judge. It was humans who decided to attach his teachings to the old testament and decide which one’s made the cut and which ones didn’t. If many of his closest followers often didn’t understand him, how could those hundreds of years later get it right? I know the belief is that the Bible is divinely inspired and the God wouldn’t let anything not of truth be bound, but we are human and we make mistakes. In the end it created a new religion that separates and doesn’t unite. Jesus was about Unity. That we are all divine and God’s children. That is what he tried to show us…teach us…and still does by reaching into our hearts and asks us to love and accept all, and to leave the judgment aside.

    Many blessings to you and this family. Thank you for reposting this story. I hope we humans at some point get that we don’t have to go through tragedy to see what God actually wants of us.

  86. The pain that ignorance perpetuates is unnecessary and legend. I feel for this family’s loss, but have seen too many wonderful people crushed under similar circumstances. I hope people learn from this, to love unconditionally and just let everyone determine their ‘salvation’ themselves. Simple as that. Free will means people make alternate roads, but who are we to condemn them? Danielle Steel did the same thing to her amazing son….it was all about what people would think of her, until he was gone. When will people listen? Sorry for the family’s loss….but more sorry for him, and hope his death helps others see the futility of trying to dictate our children’s lives (in any way)

  87. You make my skin crawl. You “learned” to love your own son? Maybe if you loved yourself more this story would have a different ending. Your fear for how others would judge YOU as a parent was your primary concern. People who TRULY follow God know that he made man in his own image.

    As for the person who wrote the intro- a child telling you that they are gay is NOT right up there with a brain tumor. Please stop describing it as such as it only spreads hate


    • Agreed, I’m glad these people changed (albeit through a horrible experience) but am disgusted that people would still think their child telling them they are gay is at the same level as their child telling them they have a brain tumour! What is wrong with these people?

    • Proud Successful Gay Man, don’t you get it? They are sharing their experience because they have learned and want to help other families so they dont make the same mistake. Instead of chastising them, show them love, show them they have made the right decision. Chastising them only shows hate and disrespect. That isn’t a positive contribution to the struggle.

    • I am glad you are a proud successful gay man but I think you have a lot to learn. This mother shared her extremely paid full story to help keep itfrom repeating in someone else’s life and you castigate her for not being enlightened at the beginning. Where is your compassion.

    • I totally agree with you, this whole article made me monstrously angry, to think that people still believe this bullshit that homosexuality is a sickness that can be ‘cured’, to be honest i am surprised he didn’t outright kill himself, yes they realised too late what they were really praying for, but their ‘God’ acctually answered their prayers as he saw fit, because if god made everybody, and hated gays, why would he make the ability to be gay? it sickens me when people try to justify hate, in my mind what they did amounts to child abuse

      • I don’t get how them sharing that they were wrong and blame themselves makes it easy for you to get on this soapbox of superiority. Disgusting.

    • And here you sit, judging others while comdemning them for judging others. Disgusting.

      Obviously you missed the part where the author stated, “For Christians…” in reference to the coming out being akin to a death sentence. For some, this is their truth. Is it wrong? Well, yes I think so, but I don’t live their life.

  88. I’m sorry Ryan lost his life but I am not sorry for your sorrow of his loss of life. Under the guise of “you thought this was best/correct” you taught him to hate himself. You guys were the catalyst for the rest of his life being a spiraling mess. And to your original question “what do you say when your son is gay”..you tell him you still love him, then you move forward in a positive manner like any other damn day.

    • Thank you, Ken. I agree, and that is the call on us as Christians – to love each other and move forward in a positive manner like any other damn day, no matter what the day presents. I appreciate Linda’s humility in being able to admit her mistakes, which every single parent has, and by her willingness to share, I hope with all my heart we can prevent Ryan’s tragedy from happening to other gay teens.

      • And should… every single day, religious, Christian, or not at all, you are human first. And I believe that as another human, to have compassion and humility and move through and past anger and hate, is what will really be the positive take-away from this post.
        No one wins or gets better when more venom is spewed. Hug it out, y’all.

    • Already there are responses that are condemning hate with venom…Don’t you think that they know what happened here? Don’t you think that people should be allowed the opportunity to be better than they were before? She spoke a great deal about grace, of which some of you show none. Were you born knowing all that you know now? Of course not. Have you made any exceptionally poor choices in your life? I’m sure you have. Have you ever directly or indirectly caused hurt or harm to another person? The odds are great that you have. Please, if you don’t want to be judged, stop being so judgmental.

      I’m an ally. All the way. I don’t speak hate. I get angry and I cry over the pain that others feel, but I don’t speak hate. It doesn’t help anyone, ever.

  89. Beautiful story. You are so brave to share it, and I think it will impact many people. Thank you.

    As an additional reference, I find it interesting that there are very few scriptures in the bible that actually condemn homosexuality. Modern-day media and interpretations in the church propagate the idea that homosexuality is against Christian beliefs. The Old Testament prohibits it, but the church chooses to ignore the other things the Old Testament prohibits such as eating pork, working on Sundays, and stoning people to death.

  90. what a beautiful way to honor your son. Thank you for sharing and spreading the message of acceptance. This really touched me.

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