Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Letters to the Editor IV

Here are the most current responses to the July 15, 2007 article in the Muskegon Chronicle entitled "Parents Choose to Accept Son Over Church and Friends."

God knows what a 'real' Christian is
(second letter down)
Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On the sixth week anniversary of the article's publication, SEVEN letters to the editor appeared:

Pastor's letter re-ignites gay controversy
Sunday, August 26, 2007

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Letters to the Editor III

Here are the responses to the July 15, 2007 article in the Muskegon Chronicle entitled "Parents Choose to Accept Son Over Church and Friends."

Don't try to teach love by hating others
Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Jesus would have been saddened (third letter down)
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hate the sin but love the sinner
Friday, August 17, 2007

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Letters to the Editor II

Here are more responses to the July 15, 2007 article in the Muskegon Chronicle entitled "Parents Choose to Accept Son Over Church and Friends."

Homosexuality is there at birth
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hopes pastor's God is the right one
Monday, August 13, 2007

Real Christians do love homosexuals
Wednesday, August 8, 2007

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Sunday, August 5, 2007

Letters to the Editor

Here are the responses to the July 15, 2007 article in the Muskegon Chronicle entitled "Parents Choose to Accept Son Over Church and Friends."

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

In Our Face? No Place… Create a Space.

We have received overwhelming support since the Chronicle article appeared. We have filled a binder with hundreds of responses to the article. It was truly amazing. However, one venue where individuals seemed to feel comfortable expressing their negativity about the story (while enjoying complete anonymity!) was on the Chronicle’s blog. I’d like to address a recurring comment that appeared in that forum and that members of the LGBT community have heard countless times:

“Why do gays have to be IN OUR FACE about their sexuality?”

There is something comical about that question. When you looked at that story on the Chronicle’s front page, there was a photo of the Beighley family – David and I with four of our kids. Clearly it is HETEROSEXUAL sexuality that is put in the readers’ faces! But we don’t see that because heterosexuals hold the privilege in our society. So we wash right over their sexuality without notice.

There have been many people over the past 2 ½ years who have wondered why our family had to turn up the volume so loudly about having a gay son. Isn’t that “in your face” behavior?

After our son came out to us, I gave him a card and in it I wrote,

“Your coming out has created a crisis in our family. The crisis is not that you are gay. The crisis is that we have to ask ourselves why our lives are not more supportive of the gay community and that is very painful.”

Even more painful was realizing that there was NO PLACE for a family such as ours. There was NO PLACE for us to be completely open about having a gay child with no big deal and, certainly, no shame.

Over my fifteen years in West Michigan, I had seen several individuals come out. Without exception these individuals ended up leaving the area shrouded in a cloud of shame, heartbreak, and ostracism. When these folks did return home for family events such as weddings or funerals, they were met with the same response even a decade later. I will never forget after Ari came out one parent telling me she had a gay son. I thought to myself,

“I’ve gone to church with you for FIFTEEN years and you have never once mentioned him!!!”

As I considered my son’s situation, I fervently believed this misinformed shame response would await him and our family. How could I CLEAR A SPACE for our child to be genuinely himself and for our embrace of him?

It certainly would’ve been easiest to say, “OK, you’re gay. Just be quiet about it.” But what kind of message would that have sent? I believe being quiet would’ve sent toxic messages such as

· Our comfort as parents is more important than you being your genuine self
· We will not upset the majority point of view (even if it is wrong and oppressive)
· Who you are is embarrassing to us
· You must be who we need you to be
· You must manage our anxiety
· We are silent in the face of injustice

Neither my husband nor I were willing to send any of those messages to our son or other children. The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. rang through my head,

“A time comes when silence is betrayal.”

In order to send a different message, an accepting message, we needed to not be silent. We needed to find our voices around the cultural bigotry and spiritual violence our LGBT brothers and sisters experience. We needed to CREATE A SPACE – one that had not previously existed – for a family with a gay child … a family that lived openly, honestly, and respected each one for who they are.

We speak openly about our son Nate and his wife Sarah. We will speak openly about Ari and his partner when the time comes. We get to that place by speaking openly today – even when there are consequences. This is CREATING A SPACE.

It is this family’s hope -- since CREATING A SPACE has required considerable volume -- that, as a result, many others will be able to feel more comfortable living authentically in their own skins.

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