Updated: Oct 17, 2021
It was September 2017. Our son, 16 yrs old and a sophomore in high school, sent a text to my husband and I on our family chat during his lunch. I had just had surgery, so I was recovering at home when I read, “I’m gay.”
I was shocked, but thankfully, realized the best way to reply was a simple, “Ok. We love you.” And leave it at that. When my husband came home for lunch, he wasn’t happy. He didn’t understand why I hadn’t said more. He had had a strong feeling that our son was gay, ever since he was in elementary school, but was still shocked by this seemingly random, out of the blue text. I reminded my sweet husband that this wasn’t a conversation we should have via text, because we didn’t know all the details surrounding it. But I did know the most important thing our son needed to hear, at that moment, no matter what, was that we loved him. I told my husband that we would talk that night, at dinner, as a family.
I’ll be honest. I was in shock for weeks. The recurring thought in my head, was “But this isn’t part of The Plan. This isn’t how life is supposed to go.” As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, our son is supposed to do what the other boys from church do after they graduate from high school, like go on a mission, come home, meet a girl, get married in the temple – that’s just how it goes. In my heart, and in the future I had always envisioned for our son, there was never a “Plan B”.
Let me clarify. My entire life, I have had three very distinct, very deep passions/beliefs in which I never doubted: my family, my faith in the Savior, and my testimony concerning my religion. However, a few months after our son came out, while I was sitting in the congregation at church, I could feel my heart splintering into two. All growing up, I had been taught that marriage only between a man and a woman was ordained of God, and that same sex attraction and homosexuality was wrong. While I’m sure no one flat out said that it was evil, that was the impression the teachings left on my heart.
Now, all of the sudden, the one person I loved more than life, more than anything, had told me he is included in that wrong and “evil” category, and it was far too much for my Mama heart to handle. I had NO IDEA how I was going to be able to continue being a faithful member of my church AND love and support my son. I just sat there and cried. In the depths of my heart, I pled to God, “I don’t know what to do…” That’s when I felt/heard the most beautiful, peaceful, calming voice… “Just love him like I love him. And oh, how I love Keith.” That answer was one of the sweetest, most tender moments of my life, AND has OFTEN been the ONLY thing that has gotten me out of bed in the morning. It also has been the one and only thread I have left of my testimony and faith, that I do not doubt, that I am clinging to. The last bit of hope and peace I found, when it comes to my testimony and faith.
It was then that I reached out about my son and the beginnings of my faith crisis to a very dear friend, the first person I told who was not family. This sweet friend, who is much more like a sister to me, has been there with me through some of the hardest challenges my family and I have faced. As it turned out, she understood the confusion and chaos within my heart. She too was on her own journey through this unfamiliar reality, and she directed me towards Mama Dragons. Sharing this somewhat similar, yet vastly different journey with her has only strengthened our bond together and has been one of my greatest blessings. As has my association with Mama Dragons and the friendships and sisterhood I have gained there. As I think of the deep love, concern and joy found within the members of Mama Dragons, especially when it comes to our children – hell, ALL CHILDREN (young and old) – it brings tears to my eyes.
I had no idea I was capable of loving and being so protective of children I never met. Being a Mama Dragon has given my life meaning and a deeper purpose. I am more aware of those around me. It has helped me forget myself and focus on helping others and being present and available at all times for those around me. While our stories are different, we are all in this together.
Two years later, my family is stronger and closer than ever. This journey has been full of tears, pain, laughter, joy, fear, anger, and hope. And, thanks to our son, our world is brighter, warmer, and more colorful than ever before. I often compare it to The Wizard of Oz. We were in black and white, until our son landed us in Oz. I wouldn’t change anything.