Thursday, May 13, 2010

Letter from a mother

This link has been spreading through a lot of my friends on facebook today. It is so awesome that I decided to cut and paste it here.


The Best Thing I've Read All Year

Published on May 04, 2000

Sunday, April 30, 2000
By SHARON UNDERWOOD
For the Valley News (White River Junction, VT)

Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a gay son and I've taken enough from you good people.

I'm tired of your foolish rhetoric about the "homosexual agenda" and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.

My firstborn son started suffering at the hands of the moral little thugs from your moral, upright families from the time he was in the first grade. He was physically and verbally abused from first grade straight through high school because he was perceived to be gay.

He never professed to be gay or had any association with anything gay, but he had the misfortune not to walk or have gestures like the other boys. He was called "fag" incessantly, starting when he was 6.

In high school, while your children were doing what kids that age should be doing, mine labored over a suicide note, drafting and redrafting it to be sure his family knew how much he loved them. My sobbing 17-year-old tore the heart out of me as he choked out that he just couldn't bear to continue living any longer, that he didn't want to be gay and that he couldn't face a life without dignity.

You have the audacity to talk about protecting families and children from the homosexual menace, while you yourselves tear apart families and drive children to despair. I don't know why my son is gay, but I do know that God didn't put him, and millions like him, on this Earth to give you someone to abuse. God gave you brains so that you could think, and it's about time you started doing that.

At the core of all your misguided beliefs is the belief that this could never happen to you, that there is some kind of subculture out there that people have chosen to join. The fact is that if it can happen to my family, it can happen to yours, and you won't get to choose. Whether it is genetic or whether something occurs during a critical time of fetal development, I don't know. I can only tell you with an absolute certainty that it is inborn.

If you want to tout your own morality, you'd best come up with something more substantive than your heterosexuality. You did nothing to earn it; it was given to you. If you disagree, I would be interested in hearing your story, because my own heterosexuality was a blessing I received with no effort whatsoever on my part. It is so woven into the very soul of me that nothing could ever change it. For those of you who reduce sexual orientation to a simple choice, a character issue, a bad habit or something that can be changed by a 10-step program, I'm puzzled. Are you saying that your own sexual orientation is nothing more than something you have chosen, that you could change it at will? If that's not the case, then why would you suggest that someone else can?

A popular theme in your letters is that Vermont has been infiltrated by outsiders. Both sides of my family have lived in Vermont for generations. I am heart and soul a Vermonter, so I'll thank you to stop saying that you are speaking for "true Vermonters."

You invoke the memory of the brave people who have fought on the battlefield for this great country, saying that they didn't give their lives so that the "homosexual agenda" could tear down the principles they died defending. My 83-year-old father fought in some of the most horrific battles of World War II, was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart.

He shakes his head in sadness at the life his grandson has had to live. He says he fought alongside homosexuals in those battles, that they did their part and bothered no one. One of his best friends in the service was gay, and he never knew it until the end, and when he did find out, it mattered not at all. That wasn't the measure of the man.

You religious folk just can't bear the thought that as my son emerges from the hell that was his childhood he might like to find a lifelong companion and have a measure of happiness. It offends your sensibilities that he should request the right to visit that companion in the hospital, to make medical decisions for him or to benefit from tax laws governing inheritance.

How dare he? you say. These outrageous requests would threaten the very existence of your family, would undermine the sanctity of marriage.

You use religion to abdicate your responsibility to be thinking human beings. There are vast numbers of religious people who find your attitudes repugnant. God is not for the privileged majority, and God knows my son has committed no sin.

The deep-thinking author of a letter to the April 12 Valley News who lectures about homosexual sin and tells us about "those of us who have been blessed with the benefits of a religious upbringing" asks: "What ever happened to the idea of striving . . . to be better human beings than we are?"

Indeed, sir, what ever happened to that?

*****

I had the chance to speak with her yesterday. Her son is doing fine now, the first in his family to graduate from college.

If you have friends who think Jesus would have been a Republican -- on the side of billionaire Pat Robertson, et al, in opposing Hate Crimes Legislation, opposing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and, yes, opposing Vermont's extension of economic benefits to same-sex couples -- please feel free to forward this column to as many of them as you like. Can't you just see it? Jesus arm-in-arm with the NRA trying to maintain the gun-show loophole? Stumping the Holy Land in favor of a massive tax cut for the rich, while opposing a hike in the minimum wage? Somehow, I think not.

© 1998, 1999, 2000, Andrew Tobias

10 comments:

lanabanana said...

Sarah, the writer of this letter is a mom in my local PFLAG group. It's been 10 yrs since she wrote that and Vermont is a completely different place today than it was then. It's kind of amazing to see the evolution. Actually, our local PFLAG group rarely meets because there just isn't much need of it anymore.

Alanna

Sarah said...

That's awesome, Alanna. I noticed how old it was. It might not be needed so much in Vermont any more, but here in ultra conservative utah, more of us need to continue to stand up and write bold letters like this one.

Konrad said...

@lanabanana: Thats awesome that she was so involved (as you were) and that things have changed so much since then.

Good for this Mother for speaking out. I agree with her wholeheartedly.

Kengo Biddles said...

This resonates with me. Thanks for sharing it!

Kari said...

I totally agree - the hate is wrong.

I wonder though, is there a happy medium? Sometimes I think opinions like the authors create kind of an either/or decision: either you hate gays and antagonize them or you have to accept homosexuality as moral. Is there a middle ground where we love gay people and accept them as our brothers and sisters but still believe that homosexual behavior is wrong?

Scott said...

@Kari,

No, not really...

Of course, most gay people couldn't care less what you think about the morality of their decisions as long as you don't try to enact laws based on those opinions.

But that aside, let's look at what you're saying:

"I love you and accept you as a brother/sister, but you can't be in love. You can't find romance or share your life with someone or raise a family. And if you do any of those things you're a sinner. Wicked. Evil."

You're saying "you don't get the same opportunities as me", which inherently implies "you're not as good as me, or as worthy".

I don't believe God sees His gay children as less worthy, so I can't believe that homosexual behavior is any less moral in His eyes than heterosexual behavior. Those who do are displaying some prejudice, no matter how mild and disguised with love and compassion it might be.

Kari said...

Scott,

I'm don't quite agree with your characterization of my statement. I'm not saying people attracted to members of their own sex are less worthy. But, I do believe God has set boundaries for what behaviors are OK and what behaviors are not, and I believe those boundaries apply to all. In other words, sin is sin, no matter who you are or what your desires might be, right?

Honestly, I think it comes down to being willing to separate the person from the behavior. I have a family member who lives a homosexual lifestyle. I love her and always have. But, I still believe her behavior is wrong. That does not mean that I think any less of her or that I think God thinks any less of her.

Sarah said...

Kari,

I understand what you are trying to say. It actually reminds me a lot of an article in the ensign back in September. This is something that Scott and I both fretted about for many months after he came out and our circle of friendship began to include many gay people in many different circumstances. We prayed to reconcile our feelings on this subject with the teachings of the church. The result we saw from those prayers was an amazing ability to love all of our friends without any judgement at all. There was no "love the sinner but hate the sin" for us. It didn't matter if our friends were married with children, celebate, or in a gay relationship. We were at peace--a peace we felt came from God, in loving and rejoicing in our friends' committed gay relationships.

Might I recommend a movie that might help you understand our point of view? It is called "Prayers for Bobby."

I firmly believe that even if gay sex is a sin, that God takes each of our specific situations into account, as well things how we live our lives in other ways, and that the atonement will take care of the "sin". Regardless, it is not for me to judge. So I love these friends, completely without judgement.

Does that make sense?

Kari said...

Sarah,

Thank you. You seem like a wonderful person and I admire you more than I can express.

I do believe that God is the ultimate judge and that He will take our specific situation into account. I guess maybe it's a matter of loving those members of our family who may face this situation and helping them any way we can.

Sarah said...

Kari, sounds like a good plan. Easier said than done sometimes if we have strong feelings about it, but I think we can heed the spirit for help with what to say and do, and to show Christlike love for all of god's children.

Thanks for your question. Even if a lot of gays feel like there is no middle ground, there still is. And it begins with people like you and questions like yours.

Good luck!