This is not technically “new” news. I read about it some time ago but have been letting it percolate. Some time in August a young man posted a letter on Reddit. It was a letter from his father in response to him “coming out.”
The first time I read this my heart broke. I thought about how my own family would have responded if I had come to them with a similar conversation. Would they have been as angry, hateful, and ready to throw out our relationship? Or would they have responded with love and acceptance? Those are not the only two options, they are the extreme ends of the spectrum, and the ones we hear most often about. We hear the stories like the one above, where loved ones are quick to judge and slow to understand. Or we hear the stories where life goes on pretty much the same as before, families respond with open arms and wonder why the child/brother/sister/friend/etc. waited so long to share that piece of their life. Based on how my family has reacted in the face of other things I have shared with them I want to believe that they would lean more towards the acceptance side. Though they may not understand, and it would probably challenge some of their beliefs I would still be welcome in their home. They would not disown me as their daughter/sister/niece/granddaughter/cousin. But that is not something that I will ever have to deal with. This is not a struggle we will have to face as a family, at least not from me. I can only speak in hypotheticals.
Speaking of hypothetical, another blogger saw the letter I posted above and wrote his own letter in response. He wrote the letter to his hypothetically gay son. At the time he wrote the letter his wife was still pregnant with their child. It tells a much different story than the first one.
“Let me be perfectly clear. I love you. I will always love you. Since being gay is part of who you are, I love that you’re gay. I’m just trying to wrap my head around the idea. If you sensed any sadness in my silence last night, it was because I was surprised that I was surprised. Ideally, I would have already known. Since you were an embryo, my intent has always been to really know you for who you are and not who I expect you to be. And yet, I was taken by surprise at last night’s dinner. Have I said “surprise” enough in this paragraph? One more time… surprise!”
The father goes on to state that their house will always be a place of love and that if necessary he would go to war to advocate for his son. It is a beautiful piece and I encourage you to read the whole thing.
If your child came out to you, how would you respond? If this is not a hypothetical situation for you what did the conversation look like? Do you wish you (or your family) would have responded differently?
What would your letter say?