My Child Just Came out – What Do We Do Now?
From Jim and Merrie Smithson, LDS parents of a gay son:
We found ourselves asking that question–on Christmas night, 2011–and almost immediately started looking for good information to guide us. What we found were hundreds of pages of reading material, many hours of video recordings, and several websites, all representing a very wide range of perspectives and experiences. It was just too much. What we needed was one simple, clear place to start.
Now, thanks to the tireless efforts of many good people, this website brings together the kind of information we wish we had found when we needed it in 2011. If you are asking now what we were asking then, we think you’ll find this website is a good place for you to start.
You should know that we are active members of the Church; we believe and put our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We also love our son and want him to live a full and rich life now and for eternity; our feelings toward our son have not changed because he is gay. If you share our perspective, we think you will resonate with the information on this website. Although this is not an official Church website, it includes a lot of material from the Church, plus other material we feel you can trust.
- First, look carefully at the section, “How Can I Protect My Child?” Here you’ll learn that your absolute love and support for your gay child will dramatically reduce his or her risk for depression, drug abuse, and suicide. Conversely, your criticism and rejection will increase those same risks. Unless you make every effort to protect your child NOW, the rest of the information in this website will not be useful!
- Second, read the section, “What Does The Church Say?” This will introduce you to the New Church Website, “MormonsAndGays.org,” which was launched in December, 2012. You can usefully spend 2-3 hours on the website. There you’ll find a clear message: Our Heavenly Father dearly loves his gay sons and daughters–and so should we! This section also contains–and you might want to print-out–a four-page summary of the website we helped prepare to use as a handy reference. In this section you’ll also find answers based on Church teachings to four key questions: (1) Is having same-sex attraction a sin? (2) Is this a choice; who is to blame? (3) Can my child get rid of his or her same-sex attraction? and (4) Is my gay son or daughter welcome at church?
- The section, “What is the Science?,” will introduce you to current science-based information on same-sex attraction. Depending on your interest, you may find this information very useful and informative; or you may want to skim through it now, then refer back to it as questions arise.
- The section, “Where Can I Find Information And Support?,” includes descriptions and links to additional resource materials and support groups. You’ll want to explore, read, and maybe attend some events so you can find the things that best meet your needs now and into the future. Remember, families are forever, so we’re in this for the long haul.
- In the final section, “Videos and Stories,” you’ll read and view personal messages that offer valuable perspectives.
Love and Patience Are Crucial
When our son came out we did two things right–both of which we attribute to God’s grace more than our own good sense. Both are reinforced throughout this website.
First, we focused on our son, not on our immediate emotions (surprise, confusion, disbelief, all jumbled together). We told him we loved him and would always love him. We told him God loved him and would always love him.
Second, we reached out to other parents that had already gone through a similar experience. They supported us. They shared their stories with us. They encouraged us to be patient with ourselves. This told us this would be a new experience for us–we would make mistakes; we would experience setbacks. But through it all, if we absolutely loved our son and let him know it, we would make it.
Of course, your child is unique, so your experience will be different from any other’s experience. That means, for one thing, that the information on this site will not all be equally relevant or useful for you. And remember, your child will ultimately exercise his or her own agency regarding the long-term future. But focus on RIGHT NOW, because what you learn and what you do NOW will make a profound difference for you and your child. We’re confident that the ideas and resources here can help you.