Janet’s Story

I was totally shocked when my husband Bruce told me that one of our sons was gay, as I had no idea. Our son had agreed that Bruce could tell me. I then ran and found my son and told him that I loved him, but I was also crying and trying to understand how this could have come about and wondered what we had done to cause this to happen and how the situation could be remedied.

I realise now that that was quite an extreme reaction but I come from a religious background and grew up in a church that was very legalistic. When I was 7, my parents asked the church elders to pray for healing for me. My mother was advised to visit our doctor shortly afterwards and he informed her that there was no sign of the hole in my heart which had previously caused me to be out of breath and unable to walk very far. This convinced me from an early age that God was real and that the church we were in had all the answers. This church believed in taking the Bible literally and that it was the infallible word of God.

I don’t remember much being said about homosexuality in church – I don’t think it really got mentioned, but I somehow knew it was completely wrong and the Bible taught against it. I would never have watched any TV programmes about new understandings about homosexuality – in fact I would have quickly switched channels. I honestly thought that it was impossible for us to have a gay child; I thought it was a chosen life style and therefore if a child was brought up in a “godly” home they were safe from such things. How arrogant and ignorant I was!

After hearing about our son, I cried for about 2 days and went through various feelings of guilt, denial and confusion. I believe love is very powerful and it was this love for my son and knowing him that set me on a quest to discover the truth about the subject. I began to see that it definitely was not a choice for him. I wish I could say all my concerns were for our son but that wouldn’t be true – I also acted very selfishly because I cared desperately about what others thought and felt people in church would judge us. We had to have a major rethink and eventually changed

I was distressed to realise that my son knew from around age 11 that he was different, had hoped it was a phase he was going through, and later had prayed he’d be delivered from it. He had been going through something on his own for years and thought he might never be able to tell anyone. I’d hoped I was a good mother and yet I had been totally ignorant of all of this.

We discovered that when our son came out, we began the journey of coming out too. This involved our other children finding things hard because they also believed it was against Bible teachings to be gay. This hasn’t been easy but everyone has tried to be loving.

A few years after we found out about our son, Bruce and I went along to Bristol Families and Friends, which is affiliated to FFLAG. Actually Bruce had wanted to go along well before me, but I was still working through lots of stuff and probably was still going through some denial. I must say going along, was one of the best decisions we’ve made. I found a group of people who understood and accepted us. The first time I went along I think it would have been okay if I’d just cried the whole time because there’s been no expectation that I have to act in a certain way but just be myself and that is a very healing thing.