Updated: Jul 28, 2021
By Karen Eddington
I am the mother of four sons, no daughters. Our house was one filled with testosterone and activity. All of my sons were “normal” kids with active and social lives…fairly well adjusted and balanced. They were all born and raised in Las Vegas, and participated in the LDS church all their lives, three of the four becoming Eagle Scouts. Our family was by no means perfect, but together we stuck things out and made our way through.
Most of my sons had addiction issues with porn during their teenage years. I think this is pretty normal, and they were certainly not shamed because of it by our family, but all of them wanted to overcome the issue and went to counseling provided by the Church. Our sons worked with the bishop of our ward, and each had good experiences being supported and helped by a loving leader. Support instead of shame; I am so thankful for that.
My third son went to counseling for what seemed like a long time to me…several years. One morning in 2017 (he was 18 years old) he and I were in the house alone and I asked him about the continuation of counseling. “Son, is counseling really helping you anymore? Are they giving you helpful tools to overcome your issues, or has this just become a regular complaint session about our family or your life?” I explained further that I felt like my marriage counseling had become ineffective after a while and that all I did was complain about life with no progress. He listened and then wandered off to the other room. He texted me from the other room: “I continue counseling because I am dealing with same sex attraction.” I was stunned. I yelled out from my seat, “Are you serious?” No reply. I got up and moved to the room that he was in and sat next to him. In that moment, I knew it was true, and although I rarely cry, I started crying. My brain was literally like a building being imploded…all of those dreams and visions I had for my son having a “normal” life started to fall away like the parts of the building blown up from within. Also, thoughts of any persecution, being treated differently, or being hurt were racing through my mind, continuing to make the “normal life” vision fall apart further.
To be honest, having a gay son was never even a thought. I had no idea. I immediately asked him how long he had felt that way? “Mom, I remember being outside for recess in elementary school, and while all the boys wanted to chase the girls, I wanted to chase the boys.” I was stunned again, and my heart ached at the fact that this son, who I felt I was so very close to, had never confided in me until this moment. That his whole life he had carried this burden, this secret, these feelings that conflicted with his religion and with the moral beliefs that he was taught. I remembered so many times his older brother had called him faggot, or so many times my husband had changed the channel on the tv because of a show with a gay character or anything relating to homosexuality. My heart continued to ache and my mind raced as I thought of all the years this secret had been kept and all the things that had transpired and had undoubtedly hurt my sweet son along the way. It was a long, sad day.
The next day was my son’s scheduled counseling appointment and I asked to come along. The three of us discussed Blake’s journey and I asked for the correct way to proceed. I was scared for Blake to tell his father and brothers, as was Blake, and I wondered if I could break it to them. The counselor said, “This is Blake’s truth, and he will need to share it when he is ready.” So I respected that, and kept his secret close to my heart. Soon after, Blake left to serve a two-year, full-time mission in the Philippines for the LDS Church. I knew this would be a challenge in so many ways, but I was proud of his willingness to serve his God and to have this experience. While Blake was gone, he kept his truth secret from the rest of the family, but I was thankful that he at least had me to confide in.
While Blake was away for those two years, I went on a journey of my own. I struggled with many religious doctrinal thoughts. I talked to my friends who had gay children also. We spoke of overcoming trials, a life of celibacy, the percentages of success of those who tried to have hetero marriages and families, the dynamics of the family, and so much more. I also learned about Mama Dragons and joined. I was soaking up knowledge and understanding as fast as I could. I appreciated the openness and the sharing of experiences.
There were awkward or uncomfortable moments during the next couple of years for me. Moments when my mom or other people would talk about Blake’s future wife, how he would make such a wonderful husband. One time at a ward party, the parents of one of Blake’s girl friends said that they thought Blake and their daughter were going to be like a Hallmark movie…that they would end up falling in love and marrying. I wonder what the look on my face was, as I nodded and smiled, but knew in my heart someday their daughter’s heart would be hurt knowing that Blake’s love for her could never be like that. I was thankful when Blake told this girl, and others, so that the girls could stop analyzing themselves as to why he was not responsive or romantic like they wanted him to be. They then realized it was none of their imperfections, which young women so often focus on. Now they continue to be dear friends.
As the years have passed, I can honestly say that I am so thankful for the opportunity for growth that I have had as I walk with my son down this road. I am more empathetic, more understanding, and more loving towards all people. I understand more wholly who Christ is and how he loves people. I am blessed to see the growth in my other family members also. It was hard for some of them…they had their own implosions, but we are all rebuilding in better and more loving ways, accepting and loving each other as best we can.
Blake continues to work on his personal journey, and just came out last month. I am not going to lie, I held my breath a bit, hoping he would receive love and support, and he did. In fact, he was overwhelmed with love and supportive friendship, which I was so thankful for. I know that this is not the experience for everyone, which makes me sad, and because of this I have become a stronger and more active ally for the LGTBQ community. With love we continue.