You don’t know me – I’m your son’s fag hag. Oh – I forgot – you don’t know anything about being gay – or about gay culture. Well, you know Leslie is gay: he told you and the rest of his family ten years ago. Therefore, he is a fag – and since I’m a natal woman, I’m a hag. I love him and he loves me: together we’re fag and fag hag. Because I love him enormously, I have something I need to tell you. I want to tell you so badly I’m having my message published. It is going to shock and affront you but it may change your life.
Your religion is tantamount to child abuse. How do I arrive at that conclusion? Please read on and you will find my logic is inescapable.
Leslie is gay: you have known he is gay since he came out ten years ago. I know you think Leslie is an exceptional person. So do I: I love him because he is spiritual; ethical; compassionate; funny; loving; intelligent; street smart; and highly intuitive. Moreover, he possesses a wicked and bizarre sense of humour; has excellent healing skills; and is wildly attractive. But Leslie is wonderful because he is gay: not in spite of the fact that he is gay. (In many cultures, being gay was considered a spiritual gift. Refer to a copy of Cassell’s Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol, and Spirit to find information on those cultures.)
But your fundamentalist religion has no truck with the notion that being gay is a spiritual gift. On the contrary, your religion oppresses gay people. Church doctrine teaches that being gay is a sickness! As a very young teen, Leslie watched a church sponsored and created video that stated being gay was an evil disease and a sin against God! The video also stated that shock therapy was the only way to “cure” gayness! Can you imagine how your son felt hearing that what he knew himself to be from a very early age was sick and evil? How could you permit your child to listen to that doctrine? After all, it is equivalent to preaching to people of colour that their innate skin quality is inferior, wrong, sick, and evil. Gay people are born lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered: it isn’t a choice. No-one converts to gayness! (Can you tell me why would anyone choose to be vilified, hated, and possibly killed?) And please don’t justify exposing Leslie to these hate –filled doctrines by stating that you did not know years ago that Leslie was gay. You ignored the fact that up to 10 % of the population is gay and you ignored any signs of gayness he showed as a child. In fact, by supporting your church doctrines, you harmed his mental health and emotional well being. Isn’t that a good definition of child abuse?
No wonder he tried to commit suicide at the age of sixteen. LGBTQ youth are up to seven times more likely to attempt suicide than their hetero peers. ( Suicide Prevention Resource Center, Suicide Risk and Prevention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth at http://www.sprc.org/. ) Youth whose family is not accepting of their sexual orientation are nine times more likely to commit suicide. (http://www.365gay.com/opinion/robbins-in-combating-gay-youth-suicide-acceptance-is-key/ ) You tell Leslie that you believe in the church. By accepting church doctrine to this day, you acquiesce in his oppression. Furthermore, by sending Leslie to church as a child, you participated in child abuse.
You cannot change the past. But couldn’t you change the present and the future? I know you love your Leslie: loving him, and knowing he is gayer than a picnic basket, how can you continue to support your church?
If you cannot leave your church, I want you to pressure the church to amend its policies on gay men and lesbians. Please don’t tell me that the church’s policies are unchangeable: the religion now accepts people of colour as members whereas it didn’t fifty years ago. Stop tithing ten per cent of your income to your church until they change their policies on the LGBT community. You are funding your son’s oppression with your donations!
If you want to support your son by leaving your present church, I recommend the Unitarian Universalist for its inclusion of and acceptance of diverse peoples. Their website is found at http://www.cuc.ca/ . You’ll find your local congregation at this site: the folks there will be friendly, funny, warm, and accepting.
If you want to support Leslie by learning about gay life and culture, please check out PFLAG: you’ll find very supportive and knowledgeable folks at their meetings. Just go to the “Parents and Families of Gays” website (http://www.pflagcanada.ca/en/index-e.asp) and you will find valuable information and the date and time of your local meeting. Read some books on being gay (not published by your church.) PFLAG has a list of books worth reading: click on Links to Rainbow Communities and then on Information, Studies, and Reference material. Get to know some lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered people on an individual basis: check out your local LGBT association for some breakfasts and coffee houses where you can meet us.
You’ll be well rewarded for your effort: my life is much richer since Leslie and I have been friends. Now that you’ve read my letter, you have a choice to make. You can make an effort to learn about gay culture and being gay. You may, of course, continue to let church doctrine rule your life. But, if you don’t care to make an effort to be truly supportive and understanding of your remarkably gifted son, you will lose him.