I have my father’s hands. I feel a connection and affection for my dad every time I look at my fingers, the shape of my knuckles and nail beds. I feel much of who I am today is because of ways he guided and taught me. He is a good man and I could not have asked for a better dad. And yet, I still stayed hidden from him for many years. I distanced my true heart and ultimately distrusted his heart for me.
As I think back I remember desperately wanting to be known by
my family and mostly by my dad. There
was deep heartache in keeping this intimate part of myself hidden from my
parents, brother, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles…all of them. You might be wondering what could be so scary
about me that I kept it hidden from those whom I loved the most. I am gay, is the thing I couldn’t say. The coming out process takes time and courage
and usually means you carefully select those safest to tell first. It’s part a conscious process and part gut
belief of who will respond with the least amount of judgment and most amount of
support. For me that meant telling my
brother first, then grandma and mom to follow.
There were beautiful and painful parts within those conversations, but what
I had hoped for from them was help in coming out to my dad. But for many reasons that didn’t happen. And so I stayed silent. I waited and waited and waited. I waited to tell my dad the truth until I
realized I was so tired of hiding that parts of me were going to be relieved if
my dad ever died. It was a hard truth to
admit to myself then, and even difficult to now write in black and white. But I knew part of me would be relieved when
my dad died so I could finally fully be myself.
It was only 3 days after realizing this that I decided to tell my dad.
I was convinced he’d be the harshest on me. My dad is THE BEST Christian I know. As long as I can remember he has had daily
morning devotions where he spends time praying and studying the Bible. He has always generously supported the local
churches and abroad missionaries. He’s
the kind of guy who always gives money to the homeless man on the streets and
the church youth group going on a mission’s trip. He treats everyone with dignity and respect
and likes to give out tracts of how to find peace with God when he’s moved to
do so. At the time I thought all this also
meant he would completely reject me if I told him I was gay. I mean doesn’t the Bible say to hate
The day had finally come to tell him. I was visiting my family from out of state
and my dad and I were in the car, about 2 hours away from the airport where I’d
be flying back to where I was living.
Talk about waiting till the last possible moment. I was shaking and felt like I was going to
pass out. I truly thought he might pull
the car over and tell me to get out.
Instead I experienced a love like I’ve never had before. He expressed feelings of pride towards the
person I had become and a trust and belief in knowing my heart for God. He never once said anything close to “I love
you, but I hate your sin”. Instead he
reminded me of what it means to be a Christian, love. Love for God, love for yourself and love for
others. I remember him talking about how
the church pews are filled with people whose hearts aren’t for God. And reminded me it’s about our heart and love
for God and his confidence in knowing my heart. To say you love the person, but
hate the sin only communicates a lack of love and support. The “but” in the sentence erases everything
you said before it. Wow, my dad not only
isn’t kicking me out of the car, but he’s calling me to a deeper love for God,
myself and others. In that moment I believed
more deeply in the love God had for me than ever before.
I want to thank my dad because when I doubt my worth, or
Gods love for me, I think of that conversation.
When I feel tempted to leave the church I remember there are people like
my dad in the pews and it drives me to want to connect with God and those who
My hope is that one of you out there who’s reading this will
hear my story and feel even just an ounce more of hope. Hope that maybe one day someone in your life
will also celebrate and trust your heart even though you’re gay. My other hope and almost more importantly is
that a parent will read this and feel something deep inside of them shift to
loving and supporting their gay child more deeply than ever before. If you didn’t know this before, I’m telling
you now; you the parents have the biggest impact on your child life more than
anyone else in the world. We need you in
our lives. Your rejection of your child
does nothing to change them from being gay, it only deepens their already
hopeless hearts driving them deeper into depression and isolation and father
from you and God. Your rejection of them
only confirms their worst fear, that God hates them and that there’s no hope to
really be a Christian. I pray that
you’ll allow the spirit of God to soften your heart and that no matter what
your theology you’ll open your arms and heart to your child. Tell them you love and support them and don’t
use the word “but” anywhere. And when
you do, something inside of them just might open to God in a way that’s deeper
and truer than ever before.