Updated: Aug 17
We attended a Southern Baptist church from early in our marriage because that was the faith my husband had grown up in. From the beginning there were parts of the Southern Baptist theology that I really didn’t agree with. The teaching that being gay was a choice never quite made sense to me but I accepted it for many years. Nothing in my life experience up to that point had given me reason to question it.
Things began to change for me when my oldest child became a teenager. Kids in her friend group began to come out as gay and bi and trans. I knew these kids, I knew their parents, and I knew how they had been raised. It became clear to me that being LGBT+ was not something these children had chosen. It was what they WERE; it was how they were MADE.
I spent a lot of time wrestling with the dilemma that this realization presented: If people are born to be LGBT+, then God created them that way. Why would a loving God do that if it was so abhorrent to Him? The only possible answer is that He wouldn’t. The only possible answer is that all people – ALL people – are beloved children of God and deserving of the same human rights. I eventually left my Southern Baptist church – for multiple reasons although this was certainly one of the major reasons – and began attending a United Methodist church. I won’t delve into the recent divisiveness within the denomination. I am simply going to say that my local church is loving and affirming and truly lives up to their motto of “Open hearts, open minds, open doors.”
At the age of 15 my younger child, my son, came out as bisexual. And at age 17 he shared that he was actually gay. I am endlessly grateful that I had seen the light before he came out. As I sit here trying to imagine how differently things would have turned out if I hadn’t, I am drawing a blank. I thank my loving God that my heart and mind were prepared before I found out I had been given a LGBT+ child.
In January of this year I got a message from my lovely friend Juliet inviting me to join Mama Dragons. She said, “I think you’d feel welcome there.” She was right (of course). I loved feeling that I was part of a large community rather than an isolated mom who occasionally happened to bump into another isolated mom of a LGBT+ young person. I loved feeling the encouragement to be a fierce advocate for my child in situations where I might be inclined to be a meek one. Being mom to a gay son had of course had its challenges, but I mostly felt equipped to face them.
That all changed in April of this year. My younger child, who was now 19 years old and whom I had fully supported when he came out as bisexual and as a gay man, tearfully asked if I could accept him (her!) as a female. There was only one possible response: “I love you and I will support you and help you wherever I can.” And even though those words were completely true, I was terrified and grief-stricken for the son I loved with all my heart, and I felt terribly alone. I didn’t understand why I felt so sad and angry now over having a trans child when I hadn’t felt this way when he – now she – had come out as gay. This challenged my belief that I truly was an open-minded and affirming person.
I would lie awake at night in tears, trying to pray but having no idea what I should even be asking God for. My child had only told me and no one else in the family at first, so in those first days I couldn’t even turn to my husband to help me bear the load. Suddenly Mama Dragons and T-Mamas were my lifeline. Having someone who had been there before, to tell me that everything I was feeling was normal, helped me tremendously. I let my feelings out in the only safe space I had at that point in time, and over and over again T-Mamas told me yes, those feelings are normal. You can do this. You are not alone.
It’s been a couple months now since I found out that I have two daughters instead of a daughter and a son. She is now out to the rest of the immediate family and we are all getting used to our new reality although we know it will be a long process. Every day I continue to lean on and learn from the Mamas who walked this road before me. I have no doubt that God led me to Mama Dragons because I was soon going to need them. That means that Juliet (an amazing Mama Dragon herself) plays the role of angel in my story for being the one who actually invited me.
As I type this, I’m having trouble figuring out how to end the story. I realize that this is because we are still living the beginning of the story and there is so much still unwritten. I guess I will close with these two truths: one, that my faith in a loving God has been tested but is unshaken; and two, my love for both my daughters is unending. Now it’s time to go find out what happens in our next chapter.