Our Mothers Knew It

box-02by Bryan Hendrickson

Alma 56:47-48

47 Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

48 And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.

One of the most challenging and complex aspects of coming out as a gay Latter-day Saint is often our relationships with parents. Many of us come from a place where we, either now or in the past, held a treasured faith in God and the Gospel and a deep love for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Each of us navigates the potential maelstrom of conflicts surrounding faith and orientation. Many of our parents face this same maelstrom, perhaps in different ways, but when we come out to our parents and other family members we sometimes force them to face issues that can strike at the core of their faith, worldviews, and their feelings about us as their beloved daughter, son, brother, sister, niece, nephew, cousin, etc.. Sorting it out can be complex, and for many, it takes time.

I sometimes think it’s been a rather unfair process to my own family. I spent nearly a decade of prayer and processing to find some understanding, and then in a moment I made my family aware and wanted them to find the same understanding. It’s sometimes said that when you come out to your family, they go into the closet. They may suddenly have deal with conflict and shame you once carried, but that to them, the day before, was unknown. They may want to withdraw, or avoid, or may even feel threatened or afraid. It may take some time to even begin to ask questions or be able to move at all. For my own parents, I think, it must have felt like the ground was pulled out from under them in those first few moments. I will always be grateful that their first reaction in that moment was to make sure I knew they still loved me.

I wish there was a way for us to engage on these issues without bringing the conflicts that sometimes seem inevitable. They manifest and affect our families in so many different and often painful ways. I know for me I have not enjoyed placing my mother, my father, and my siblings in a situation where they feel like they somehow have to make a choice between me or their faith. With the outpouring of love that has been there at times, there has also been conflict, and that conflict has not always shown the best coming out of us. But, I hope and believe that we will reach a point where love somehow overrides whatever conflicts and questions exist.

What I love about the Sons of Helaman is that they loved and respected their parent’s covenants. They themselves hadn’t sworn the oath, born out of repentance and faith, to bury their weapons of war, but when they saw their parents considering breaking those covenants, digging out those weapons to defend their families, they placed their parents covenants above their own lives and took up swords on their parents’ behalf. They hadn’t adopted the same covenants with God, but they were willing to give their lives to protect the covenants of their parents. Then, when they confronted whatever doubts they may have had personally, they referenced their Mother’s belief, and that was enough for them, “saying, we do not doubt our mothers knew it”.

As a son of a faithful LDS mother, I think one of the hardest parts of my journey has been to see my Mother, the one who taught me everything about Faith, face an internal conflict from what has seemed to be a choice between loving God and loving her son. When put that way, it’s a terrible choice, and at times, I feel heartbroken to think I have in some ways forced these potential questions of doubt.

I want my Mom and my family to know that others have found a way to navigate these challenging experiences, and to find a place where they can walk without fear of losing their child, or their faith. Included below is a list of experiences LDS mothers and families have shared in navigating their experiences.

The Sons of Helaman were victorious in defending their families, and in doing so, allowed their families to keep their faith and covenants. It is my sincere hope that all LGBT Mormons can have the same outcome.  I love my Family, I love my Mother, and I want nothing else in this life, or the next, to walk with them hand in hand through the sorrows and joys of life and to support them in their faith journey as I walk along my own.

Two scriptures come to mind.

box-03“Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” D&C 6:36

“If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” D&C 38:30

I truly believe that Christ taught us the way to deal with all of the issues we encounter when it comes to the intersection of our faith and our family who are LGBT. The way he showed us was love.

To the Mother and Family I love and always will,

Happy Mothers Day

Bryan Hendrickson

A collection of thoughts shared by LDS mothers, fathers, and others, about their journeys with LGBT family members.

LDS Walk With You

A website dedicated to sharing the messages of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) who encourage love for our LGBT brothers and sisters.

more videos available at www.ldswalkwithyou.org

Maybe this post is too sensitive of a topic…

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“I have a father and brother who are both gay. My father was born and raised in the LDS church, served a mission, and married my mother in the Salt Lake LDS Temple. After 35 years of marriage (and knowing he was gay his whole life) he and my mom divorced

It’s Complex

“On one occasion Jesus came upon a group arguing vehemently with His disciples

My Contribution to I’ll Walk With You

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24 Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed.

Closets are for Clothes

About two months ago, our 13 year old son, Jon, came to us and informed us that he was gay. He knows it. We know it. And there is no disputing it. In fact, he wants us to share how he did it. In my wife’s words: My son, Jon came out to me almost 2 months ago

Why — And How — We Accept Our Gay Son As Devout Mormon Parents

As a faithful LDS/Mormon family, we expected our son Will to follow a certain path. He would grow up, get married, start a family, and be a faithful and active member of the church. But for our family, a different story began around the time our son Will turned 2

The wisdom of little kids

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Christy wanted me to post a couple pictures of the family since some out there may not be interested in my ramblings…so here are a couple from a recent trip to the natural bridges beach in Santa Cruz and a couple from Disney World. Please take notice of Adam’s goatee. He’s quite the big man now

A Mother’s Wish

Do you remember your first stake dance? You are now 14 years old and you can go to your first stake dance. FINALLY! I remember mine. I could not wait to dance with as many boys as I possible could. I remember seeing one particular boy across the room

My Dad’s Testimony

During my recent trip to Utah, my dad and I had a talk the night before my husband Göran and I were to return to Minneapolis. We were discussing the problem of LGBT homeless youth. I mentioned that on the mormonsandgays.org website

Sarah to Quin

For about the past year and a half our relationship with Sarah was extremely challenging. There was a tangible darkness, perhaps not so much in her, but in our relationship with her. She hit some lows that no parent would ever want to see their child go through

Loving Our Gay Brothers and Sisters–(Ward Talk by Proud Mother)

From knowing my brother I had strong suspicions that sexual preference is not a choice for most people

The First Thing My Mom Did When She Learned I Was Gay… and the ‘Miracle’ That Occurred After

Growing up as a gay kid in the south was not easy. The constant fear of people discovering who you really were and the inevitable shame that would fall upon you and your family dictated how you lived your life everyday

It Didn’t Happen Overnight

Hi everyone. I have some news. My loving, talented, kind, beautiful, amazing, compassionate, smart son is gay. He came out to us on Friday. As you can imagine, this is very difficult for us, so I am not going to call you all personally and talk about it. I tried

From Mothers: On The Gift Of Having A Gay Child

I am blessed to receive almost daily emails from parents who are struggling with or celebrating the fact of learning that they have a gay child

I Am So Glad He is In the World and that He Is In My World!

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I first met Kade when he was in the 1st grade when my husband and I were teaching in the extreme rural community of Grouse Creek, Utah. Kade was one of 24 students grades K-10th. After he and his family moved, we lost track of Kade but facebook brought him back

Can I Confess Something?

I never wanted a son. I only wanted daughters. Is it poetic justice? Irony, maybe? Call it whatever you like. All I know is that I miss my son. I find myself crying over it as if he really died, as though I actually experienced a loss

So How Can We Utilize the New Website????

I sense that many people are pleased to see the new website the Church has created that brings a more open and kind conversation about our LGBT brothers and sisters

A Priceless Gift: Loving Our Mormon LGBT Children

I was one of the lucky ones. When I came out to my mom at the age of 22 (in a moving car, no less), her first reaction to my stammered “I’m gay, Mom” was to reach out, hold my hand, and say, “Honey, the only thing that matters to me is that you are happy

Who We Really Are–How I Learned About Love And Acceptance

I’m the oldest of six children, born in Utah and brought up moving all over the country. Two of my three brothers are gay

A-Typical Mormon Moms

Interviews and stories featuring typical Mormon moms (and families) who happen to have gay children

My Experience

It has been 10 years since I’ve known my oldest son Trevor is gay.  We did not find out until he was 18 and attending BYU.   He sent us a letter explaining how he felt and what was going on.  I didn’t have any idea he was gay up until this time

Unexpected Journey

It was February 25 2011, I night I will never forget and the day we embarked on a journey we never expected. That is the night we discovered our 2nd son Tyler was gay. We belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or as many know us as “Mormons”

Making It Better for Our LGBT Family Members

It’s my pleasure now to address you and express some of my feelings which are very tender here today as I look out and see so many people whom I love and other people I haven’t gotten to meet yet but whom I look forward to meeting

Guest Post: “Protecting our Gay/SSA Youth,” by Jim Smithson (includes downloadable Suicide Handout PDF)

Jim Smithson lives in Salt Lake City. He worked for over 20 years in social science research, until he retired for health reasons. He and his wife, Merrie, are the parents of 3 and the grandparents of 4. You can contact him at smithsonjb@gmail.com. My son—my only son—is 26

Love and the Christian imagination

Last month, Affirmation (LGBT Mormons and Mormon-affiliated individuals) held its annual conference in Seattle. As part of the conference, Bob Rees delivered the keynote I share with you here (with his permission)

Op-ed: Queer Eye for the Mormon Bishop Guy

Last year, as a sitting Mormon bishop, I came out publically as an ally to my LGBT sisters and brothers in and outside the church

A Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction

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Life was meant to be enJOYed, not just endured. What happens when someone in your family announces they have same-sex attraction? Do you kick them out? Do you love them unconditionally? This is a very difficult subject, one that brings much controversy no matter your backgroud

Mother’s of LGBT Youth Discuss Their Place in The Church

Meg These are great questions. I am only answering because I would love to hear everyone else’s answers too. My son came out 4 months ago. I haven’t worked it all out yet. I am following my heart, but I don’t think I am in a position to tell how I am working it out. I can relate, though

Because Today You Don’t Feel Mormon

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My friend looked at me from across a table with honest, vulnerable eyes as he slowly put together a string of words to tell me that he felt he could no longer be Mormon. The next few seconds were a blur as I thought about my good friend and others like him

Adam’s Mom: “You Must Be The Change You Wish To See In World.” Ghandi

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My last post featured Adam Maughan. There’s been so much interest in this young man, who just over a year ago, had thought his life wasn’t worth living. To see what a remarkable and positive outlook he now has, I knew he must have a great support system

Cool Tolerance

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My son came out to us (his parents) a little over a year ago. My wife and I, for some blessed reason, were able to rapidly traverse the landmine ridden, 180 degree, whiplash inducing evolution from Prop 8 campaigners to supportive, loving parents of a gay young man

Just Because He Breathes: Learning to Truly Love Our Gay Son

On the night of Nov. 20, 2001, a conversation held over Instant Messenger changed our lives forever. Our 12-year-old son messaged me in my office from the computer in his bedroom. Ryan says: well i don’t know how to say this really but, well……, i can’t keep lying to you about myself

The Heart of the Matter: Capstone Address at the Compassionate Care Conference

Over the past day and a half, we have had the opportunity to listen to and consider a wide range of opinions, beliefs, thoughts, arguments and propositions. We have been blessed to have had scholarly treatises, personal stories, panel discussions, workshops, and personal testimonies

Meet my mom!

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She and I have been on quite a journey together over the past eighteen years since I came out. We’ve had highs and lows, for sure

Grandmother accepts her gay grandson and his partner : No More Strangers : LGBT Mormon Forum

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of times spent at Grandpa Tuss & Grandma Carol’€™s. They lived in a little two-bedroom house on a third of an acre of property in Bountiful, Utah

My Integrity Won’t Allow Ignorance (A Mormon Daughter on Having Gay Father)

Sometimes I want to only share a pretty memory “book” that focuses only on the positive. Sometimes I want to stop writing anything personal at all, and just ramble, maybe even under a pseudo name so I can say whatever the heck I want and no one will know that that is how Hannah really feels

The Ministry of Homosexuality: Exploring the Heart of the Matter

Spiritualist Marianne Williamson might call time spent in laboring to birth this kind of transcendent love–tomb time

Church Talk 3.9.2014 A Mother’s Journey

Thanks for making me feel so welcome in your ward when I have not been very active in it. Many of you have visited me and brought me things. This has meant a lot to me

The Power of Empathy

There are some in this life who would seem to be naturally endowed with the ability to readily empathize with the struggles of others. In fact, my own patriarchal blessing mentions this as a gift worth expanding upon

Protecting Our Gay/SSA Youth

This blog and accompanying handout were posted first on North Star’s blog on March 30, 2013. The blog, with a link to the handout, is now cross-posted on Circling the Wagons, No More Strangers, and Affirmation.  My son—my only son—is 26. He’s a returned missionary and a college graduate

Peeling Back Layers of Ugly: The Gay Reality

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This was it. The expectant tension was building in our awkward phone conversation to an almost unbearable degree. I felt myself struggling to regulate my breath and appear nonchalant. He struggled for words, a way to open the door, for the very first time to anyone

Coming Out as a Christian Mom of a Gay Son

Three years I ago I signed a petition called “The Manhattan Declaration” where I vehemently and passionately put my name behind a creed that stated marriage is between a man and a woman. I ate up that creed. Hook, line and sinker

How Should I Respond?

WHAT DO WE DO NOW? (From Jim and Merrie Smithson, LDS parents of a gay son.) We found ourselves asking that question–on Christmas night, 2011–and almost immediately started looking for good information to guide us

It’s a bit dusty around here

Wow, nothing here for the last 4+ years. That’s real dedication I tell you. I guess I took a break from this technology and engaged in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. for a time so the digital overload had me giving up on blogging. I have to say I’ve missed it

Wendy Montgomery – A Mormon Mom of a Gay Teen

Yesterday was a horrid day at church for me, and also Jordan. It was the Sacrament Meeting following Young Men’s camp where many of the boys were asked to share their experiences