I had an interesting conversation with a very distressed mother today. First, some background. Picture the perfect Mormon family; father a bishop and served in a Stake Presidency and on the High Council for many years; Mother a Relief Society President; sons who are model Boy Scouts and go on missions, etc...
The mother of this family and I had a conversation today. Her oldest son came out as gay to his family on National Coming Out Day this year. He has been home from his mission for a number of years and honestly I've wondered silently about his sexuality. This is really a fine family who will be better off for this experience but it has shaken them to the core. She is past the stage of wanting to change her son and is just truly worried about him because of some self destructive behaviors he has adopted.
We talked about how self destructive behaviors, especially among gay men, can be a symptom of a deep self hatred. We talked about the need to love without judgement and the basic human need to have a companion. She seems to be alright with the idea of her son having a boyfriend. I believe she can now see, in a way she never before imagined, how the doctrine and ideas that were drilled into her son's head over the years, that conflicted with who he is, may be the basis for some of his self destructive behavior. I recommended some resources but mostly just listened.
This family's difficulty is particularly poignant for me because her husband was a principal player in my excommunication. He was one of the pompous blowhards who was so quick to judge me and so very slow to understand. I feel no animosity toward him. I'm glad he now has the opportunity to grow from this experience with his son. His wife told me how hard it has been for him to accept his son for who he is, but apparently he is slowing coming around.
In the end, I think this family will be OK. Love will win in the end. It's fascinating to see a family who never ever questioned anything that came down from Salt Lake now openly discuss that perhaps some of the church's positions and teachings might not be 100% correct. I'm sure similar situations are playing out by the hundreds across the Mormon population. This is one reason why I'm so confident that the church will change. I just wish it would happen sooner and faster.