So I got this email this morning…

Hi Alex,
and sinful Please do not send send those Gay Emails to our son!We are Catholic and do not attempt to tempt us!Thanks and will pray fro your conversion.

May God forgive you!

It’s actually surprisingly uncommon for me to get emails like this, considering how long I’ve been blogging about and creating gay comics. This is the second one of these I’ve gotten in maybe 3 years?

Now, I know for some folks, the fact this man is “praying for my conversion” and feeling it necessary to appeal to God to “forgive” me would be pretty triggering—I know lots of people for whom religion was used against them as a pretty hurtful weapon of oppression and shame growing up. But luckily, that was not my experience at all and I feel comfortable with my relationship to both my sexuality and my spirituality.

No, my main reaction to reading this is one of sadness. Of course, I don’t have any way to know who this “son” is. I’m assuming he’s one of the 30,000+ members of my double-opt-in mailing list, but Dad didn’t include which email he was referring to and even if Dad had included the son’s name (which he didn’t), not everyone gives their real name when they sign up.

I just can’t help thinking that whether this son is a teenager or adult, both of them are in for a fair amount of pain in the near future. Even if this father doesn’t subject his son to the pointless torture of conversion therapy, if his son actually has a non-100%-hetero sexuality (which would seem likely if he went through the steps of both signing up for my clearly described gay comics mailing list and clicking through an equally clearly descriptive confirmation email), then how will this man treat him when the truth comes out?

When I was a kid, I took Tae Kwon Do. My teacher, born in Korea, married a local girl in my home state and they had two beautiful grand-children together. Those kids were six year old when I joined and I soon found out that the young woman’s grandparents chose not to ever meet their beautiful grandchildren, not once, because they were half-Korean. It’s hard for me to think of anything more tragic than when ignorance triumphs over love.

I’m tempted to write to this guy and share him links of useful, balanced information about human sexuality. To connect him via PFLAG with other compassionate parents who are going through the same thing. To describe the ways his son is really at risk—not to burn in Hell, but to be teased, bullied and isolated, even by people who should be looking out for him. To appeal to his better nature to yes, talk to his pastor about this but also to realize that this is a time when his son needs him the most. And what he needs him to do is to love him fiercely enough to get good, accurate information so that as his father, he can protect him and stand by him against a world that often has no vested interest in overcoming ignorance. That right now, his boy needs the love and support of his parents more than most young people because he already gets plenty of messages that he’s unworthy of love. His home should be a refuge from bigots and bullies not a place where their messages are confirmed.

But if I write back and engage with this guy, then I might be confirming this kid’s sexuality at a time when he’s not ready for that. Maybe Dad found the email and the kid said “Gosh, Dad, I don’t know where that came from! This guy just keep sending them to me totally out of the blue!” Sometimes parents who find out their kid is gay refuse to pay for college, kick them out of of the house, all kinds of things. Sometimes the best and hardest way to be helpful is to do nothing and I believe this is one of those times. :/

But I can return a prayer with a prayer. I can pray that this son has good allies in his life who care for him and will support him, even if his parents turn their backs. I can pray that he is resourceful, as I was, and can find out that the truth of what it means to be gay has nothing to do with the ignorant lies he’s heard repeated again and again and that things really do get better. I can pray that in a few years he’s able to build a life for himself filled with love, happiness and acceptance, even if it looks different than what his parents expected from him.

And I can pray that the father has the strength to accept the things he cannot change and the compassion to take the time to find out that sexual orientation is almost always one of those things. That he develops the wisdom to recognize that what really matters is not whether his son finds love with someone different than he would, but that his son lives a happy, honest, honorable life. And that the father develops the grace to realize that the people we love often don’t turn out the way we expect, but that it rarely means they are bad people or making bad choices—that it is, instead, in the need for acceptance of these differences that we are truly challenged and called on to show our love.

May God grant him all of that and may he become the true protector of his child that I would like to think he desires to be.


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