I was raised as a conservative Southern Baptist and even went to a Southern Baptist college. My whole family was involved with the church. We attended morning and evening services. My mother taught Sunday school and my father was a deacon. After college I served in the U.S. Navy, married and started raising a family. I chose a new church at that time because I didn’t want my children to hear the hellfire that I had heard every week. I especially didn’t want them to hear the kind of racism that my all-white home church promoted.
One day I learned that my son was gay. (My wife had asked him and she then told me.) Not only was my son gay but I also learned that he’d met a boyfriend in college and they had already spent three years together. I had met my son’s friend, but hadn’t then known the role he played in my son’s life.
I wasn’t excited to learn that I had a gay son. I had dreams for him that I worried wouldn’t come true. Could he get a job? Would he be successful? Would he spend all of his time in bars? Would he ever be happy? Would he always be alone?
I pretty quickly realized that my son was happy. I learned that he could still find a job and he could be successful in whatever he chose to do. Soon there was even an openly gay lawyer in the firm where I worked. It was a different day from when I grew up.
I also realized that I was glad I left the church that I was raised in. My son never had to listen to the racism that I did and he was not a racist. He also felt good about himself, which I think would have been a lot more difficult for him to figure out if he went to the church I did when I was growing up.
I wouldn’t have chosen for my son to be gay. But I would have chosen him. I’m glad that he’s figured out how to be happy and that maybe my own choices have helped him.