August 11th, 2011, was the hardest day of my life. And there’s not a close second.
That’s the day I drove across several states to my mom’s house near Louisville, Kentucky. She wasn’t expecting me, so, naturally, she was surprised when she opened the door to find me standing on her front porch.
I was there on a very specific mission. This mission was simple, but it wasn’t easy. I’d spent years—decades, really—dreading the moment when I’d tell my Christian mom the one thing I never wanted her to know: that I was gay.
That initial conversation was tough, but we survived it. She assured me she still loved me and that that would never change. Relief.
But the years that followed were tougher than that first conversation. We argued and debated over email. We made bad-faith assumptions of each other. We said things to each other that we regretted.
In 2016, I published a blog and podcast about my life as a closeted, gay Christian. I called it Blue Babies Pink. In all, about 100,000 people read or listened to some part of Blue Babies Pink. And hundreds of them reached out personally over email or Facebook. Many of those messages turned in to conversations, and many of those conversations were with Christian parents of LGBTQ people.
Since then, I've had conversations with parents over coffee and dinner.
I've spoken to groups of parents at churches.
I've met with small groups of moms and listened to them recount the moment their child came out to them. Some of them told me they always remember the date—a date that changed life as they knew it. Others told me the moment was so burned into their minds, they can remember what their child was wearing. I'll never forget what one dad told me…
“Everything has changed and nothing has changed.”
In all these conversations, I noticed lots of recurring themes. I noticed so many families—in the fog of emotion—stumbling over the same challenges in communication.
I wanted to see if what I was hearing anecdotally was more widespread. So in late 2017, I created two questionnaires—one for LGBT folks and one for Christian parents of LGBT folks. More than 1,000 people completed it, and I spent several months analyzing the results.
Each family's story is very different, but I learned that the struggles they deal with are very, very similar. And so in 2017, I began researching, listening, planning, and creating. I immersed myself in the stories of LGBT folks and their Christian parents. I embedded myself in their challenges, concerns, and pain.
Shortly after that, I launched Harbor, an online support program for the Christian parents of LGBTQ children. The last couple of years has been filled with joy as I’ve gotten to know hundreds of parents all over America & Canada. Though their theologies are diverse, they’re united in their unwavering commitment to love, support, and understand their children better each day.
Over the next few weeks, I want to share a bit more of what I’ve learned from these amazing parents. I’ll be sharing, “6 Things I Wish Every Christian Parent of an LGBTQ Child Knew.” I realize this is an impossibly broad topic as the parents of these children come from an infinite number of backgrounds, and family dynamics vary greatly. Nevertheless, I’ll do my best.