Embracing The Gift Of A Child
"I have also come to understand how our response as people of faith is critically important to not only the spiritual but also the emotional and psychological well-being of those gay and lesbian people around us – whether it is our children, friends, co-workers or peers."
Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi killed himself on Sept. 22, 2010, three days after his roommate secretly videotaped him kissing another man. The suicide became part of a nationwide debate about the bullying of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender students on campus. Clementi’s parents created a foundation in their son’s name to raise consciousness and increase acceptance. Read more about this story in the words of Tyler's parents, Jane and Joe Clementi, as published recently in the New York Daily News.
The Tyler Clementi Foundation, guided by the life and story of Tyler Clementi, promotes safe, inclusive and respectful social, environments in homes, schools, campuses, churches and the digital world for LGBT youth and their allies. Visit the web site.
Watch the Clementis in their most recent interview with NBC's Thomas Roberts which aired Oct. 9.
Chely Wright Shares Her Powerful Story
"I am a songwriter. "I am a singer of my songs –
and I have a story to tell. As I've traveled this
path that has delivered me to where I am today,
my monument of thanks, paying honor to God,
remains. I will do all I can with what I have been
Chely Wright, writing in "Like Me"
Chely Wright, singer, songwriter and country music star in her a moving and telling memoir about her life and her career; about growing up in America's heartland, the youngest of three children; about barely remembering a time when she didn't know she was different. She writes about her parents, putting down roots in their twenties in the farming town of Wellsville, Kansas, Old Glory flying atop the poles on the town's manicured lawns, and being raised to believe that hard work, honesty, and determination would take her far. She writes of making up her mind at a young age to become a country music star, knowing then that her feelings and crushes on girls were "sinful" and hoping and praying that she would somehow be "fixed." Chely’s LIKE ME Organization.
A Catholic Father's Love For His Son
When Tom Nelson tells his story, he describes himself as having had a “certitude about religion and morality.”
“I was brought up a strict, traditional type of Catholic and I went through 16 years of formal Catholic education, through college,” Tom says. “I knew all the rules and I thought I knew the reasons too, for those rules.”
An engineer at Ford Motor Company and a father of six children—five daughters and one son—Tom worked hard to shape the values of each of his children. He and his wife, Trish, encouraged family discussions at dinner as a way to shape those values.
One evening, one of his daughters broached the subject of gay people. “It was my time to climb on the podium and pontificate the church’s doctrine. It was very negative and demeaning if you were a gay person sitting there listening to me,” Tom recalls.
In fact, there was a gay person sitting at his dinner table: his son, Mark. Because of his upbringing, Mark believed being gay was the worst possible secret he could have. In his eyes, being open and honest with his family could mean being permanently ostracized.
“He went away to college as a freshman—800 miles from home,” says Tom. “Because he couldn’t tell his family who he really was, and there was no one he could talk to...he decided to end his life.”
Sitting in his dorm room, having made the decision that committing suicide would be easier than telling his family that he was gay, Mark swallowed a bottle of prescription painkillers.
Mark climbed into bed and waited for the pills to do their work. Then, something came over him. In that instant, he could feel God reaching out to him. He realized that God had created him just as he was. And if God accepted him as He had created him, then Mark should accept himself as well.
Fifteen minutes after taking the pills, Mark forced himself to vomit up the pills. His life had been saved.
Mark eventually came out to his father, and revealed the suicide attempt. The story devastated Tom. So as Mark’s emotional trauma began to subside, Tom’s was just beginning to grow.
“I knew that something was wrong with my intellect because this was my son who was perfect in every way,” Tom says, his voice beginning to crack with emotion. “He was a perfect son and I had failed him. I went out and got myself educated.”
Tom scoured libraries across Detroit and checked out every available book about homosexuality. He read and re-read his Bible. After much study, soul searching and prayer, Tom came to see his son and his sexual orientation in an entirely new light.
“He has turned out to be the greatest blessing in my life,” Tom says about Mark. “He really has. The things he has taught me most of all is what Jesus has tried to teach us all. And that is love. It supersedes every other thing in life. I learned that from my son. Wow.”
Read the riveting article published in Notre Dame Magazine.
Rejecting a child can have horrific consequences
Mary Lou Wallner Talks About
The Loss Of Her Daughter
It started with a phone call late on a Friday night in February 1997. The call was from my ex-husband, informing me that our 29-year- old daughter, Anna, had committed suicide. She had been found late that afternoon after hanging from the bar in her closet for fifteen hours.
As we drove the 550 miles to the town where Anna had lived and died to plan and attend her funeral, I said to my husband, Bob, that I did not want Anna’s death to be in vain. I had no idea what I could do, however, because there was one major complicating factor: Anna was a Christian and a lesbian. And I was a fundamentalist Christian who had been taught all my life that homosexuality was a sin. I learned of Anna’s homosexuality in a “coming-out” letter she wrote to us from college in December 1988. Here is an excerpt from the letter I sent her a few weeks later in response:
Undoubtedly, the most difficult part of your letter was the gay thing. I will never accept that in you. I feel it’s a terrible waste, besides being spiritually and morally wrong. For a reason I don’t quite fathom, I have a harder time deal- ing with that issue than almost anything in the world. I do and will continue to love you, but I will always hate that, and will pray every day that you will change your mind and attitude.
The years after our letter exchange were stormy at best. I didn’t want her to be a lesbian, and I continued to firmly believe it was a choice she’d made.
What made Anna’s death even more difficult was that in August 1996— eight years after she had first come out to us and just six months before she died—I received an angry letter from her, cutting off all contact with me. She told me that I was her mother only in a biological way, that I had done colossal damage to her soul with my sham- ing words, and that she did not want to, and did not have to, forgive me. I was at a loss. I sought counsel from family and friends, and they all told me to respect Anna’s wishes and give her the space she was asking for. So I did. Read More