Monday, 27 August 2007

Open letter to homophobes: Gay boy's mama fights back

This letter (below) was written by mother of Vermont's (USA) teenage boy, tired of homophobic editorials in her local newspaper which contribute and promote anti-gay violence and abuse. The situation referred there was in Vermont but it can be recognised by everyone who grown up in an environment filled with homophobia, and therefore universal for that reason.

Many LGBT Armenians will associate themselves with the story of that young boy expressed in this letter. I just hope that at last we will be able to hear courageous voices of parents of gay Armenians who are sick of continuous ignorance and abuse they and their children suffer in everyday life. They should exist somewhere (!), although the examples of contrary are sadly much more evident. OK, if not open voices, at least PROVIDE SUPPORT TO YOUR CHILD, TALK TO HER/HIM, ACCEPT YOUR CHILD FOR WHO S/HE IS! I know quite a few examples of Armenian parents who usually after a short period of confusion and mixed feelings accept their gay children and support enormously. But sadly, in many cases, we evidence ignorance, intolerance and abuse from parents themselves... I know, many would argue that silence may be a safer option in the cirsumstances but there is only one step (half step? no step?) from silence to tragedy. It is essential to break the SILENCE!

This letter needs to be read by everyone:

"Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a gay son and I’ve taken enough from you good people. I’m tired of your foolish rhetoric about the “homosexual agenda” and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.

My firstborn son started suffering at the hands of the moral little thugs from your moral, upright families from the time he was in the first grade. He was physically and verbally abused from first grade straight through high school because he was perceived to be gay.

He never professed to be gay or had any association with anything gay, but he had the misfortune not to walk or have gestures like the other boys. He was called “fag” incessantly, starting when he was 6.

In high school, while your children were doing what kids that age should be doing, mine labored over a suicide note, drafting and redrafting it to be sure his family knew how much he loved them. My sobbing 17-year-old tore the heart out of me as he choked out that he just couldn’t bear to continue living any longer, that he didn’t want to be gay and that he couldn’t face a life without dignity.

You have the audacity to talk about protecting families and children from the homosexual menace, while you yourselves tear apart families and drive children to despair. I don’t know why my son is gay, but I do know that God didn’t put him, and millions like him, on this Earth to give you someone to abuse. God gave you brains so that you could think, and it’s about time you started doing that.

At the core of all your misguided beliefs is the belief that this could never happen to you, that there is some kind of subculture out there that people have chosen to join. The fact is that if it can happen to my family, it can happen to yours, and you won’t get to choose. Whether it is genetic or whether something occurs during a critical time of fetal development, I don’t know. I can only tell you with an absolute certainty that it is inborn.

If you want to tout your own morality, you’d best come up with something more substantive than your heterosexuality. You did nothing to earn it; it was given to you. If you disagree, I would be interested in hearing your story, because my own heterosexuality was a blessing I received with no effort whatsoever on my part. It is so woven into the very soul of me that nothing could ever change it. For those of you who reduce sexual orientation to a simple choice, a character issue, a bad habit or something that can be changed by a 10-step program, I’m puzzled. Are you saying that your own sexual orientation is nothing more than something you have chosen, that you could change it at will? If that’s not the case, then why would you suggest that someone else can?

A popular theme in your letters is that Vermont has been infiltrated by outsiders. Both sides of my family have lived in Vermont for generations. I am heart and soul a Vermonter, so I’ll thank you to stop saying that you are speaking for “true Vermonters.”

You invoke the memory of the brave people who have fought on the battlefield for this great country, saying that they didn’t give their lives so that the “homosexual agenda” could tear down the principles they died defending. My 83-year-old father fought in some of the most horrific battles of World War II, was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart.

He shakes his head in sadness at the life his grandson has had to live. He says he fought alongside homosexuals in those battles, that they did their part and bothered no one. One of his best friends in the service was gay, and he never knew it until the end, and when he did find out, it mattered not at all. That wasn’t the measure of the man.

You religious folk just can’t bear the thought that as my son emerges from the hell that was his childhood he might like to find a lifelong companion and have a measure of happiness. It offends your sensibilities that he should request the right to visit that companion in the hospital, to make medical decisions for him or to benefit from tax laws governing inheritance.

How dare he? you say. These outrageous requests would threaten the very existence of your family, would undermine the sanctity of marriage. You use religion to abdicate your responsibility to be thinking human beings. There are vast numbers of religious people who find your attitudes repugnant. God is not for the privileged majority, and God knows my son has committed no sin.

The deep-thinking author of a letter to the April 12 ‘05 Valley News who lectures about homosexual sin and tells us about “those of us who have been blessed with the benefits of a religious upbringing” asks: “What ever happened to the idea of striving . . . to be better human beings than we are?”

Indeed, sir, what ever happened to that?"

*via Queerty; Russian version of this letter is published today in


Anonymous said...

Well, from what i heard in Russia, (from my gay friends), most gays there don't even tell their parents, so i guess the parents wouldn't be writing for that reason. :( thanks for posting that, i might put it on my blog too. :)

artmika said...

I would not worry much if there is no homophobic abuse and parents do not know that their child is gay. Fair enough, it's up to the person to tell his or her mother or father whenever s/he feels comfortable or not tell at all.

But we need to hear voices of parents when their children suffer emotionally or physically, being bullied at schools or elsewhere for being perceived gay (I am not even mentioning here about "for being gay" because being out in schools is non-existent in our society). Even if children do not tell parents about such abuses, which is normally would be the case for understandable reasons, parents should be able to notice that something is wrong with their child, and I am sure in many cases they would be able to find out the reasons. Not always an easy task, I know, but achievable nonetheless. These are the cases when we do not hear voices.

And I want to refer here not only to homophobic abuses per se, but for bullying in general, say for being ‘not manly enough’ (or ‘not feminine enough’ for girls), or simply different. Not only we do not here voices, but sometimes parents blame their children or themselves for ‘not manly/feminine enough’ offspring. Society values ‘manliness’, being macho is considered a norm for men, and feminine - for women.

These voices are essential to provoke social debates which may result in changes. Otherwise, everything is muted around... and many children continue living under enormous emotional stress, being bullied and abused... And not only children...

It’s a complex issue, and voices from parents may not be enough, there need to be complex approach to try to change gender perceptions or gay-related attitudes in traditional societies and it won’t be a quick process, but it needs to start - sooner, the better...

I realised that I wrote too much, there is definitely a material here for many posts to come. Thanks for re-posting, Rhiannon!

Anonymous said...

Well, i mean that Russian gays don't usually tell their parents (or siblings, often, i believe) because they feel that their family would disown them if they knew (certainly my friends felt that - i think the mother of one of them knew, but most didn't).
i know all about bullying because i suffered that at school too just because i was a bit different and i still have problems because of it. So i wish it was possible to make it so there was no more bullying of any kind...i guess there always will be some though. :(
anyway, interesting comment from you too...

The Fitch-Jenett Family said...

I recently saw this letter and loved it. A month or so ago, I wrote a letter to a local homophobe in our neighborhood about why Proposition 8 (California anti-gay marriage initiative) hurts us all.


Jonasfabulous said...

Thank you for posting this. I am a bisexual girl going into 9th grade. Today I was teased and taunted by a group of girls for being bisexual. I wasn't comfortable enough to tell the counculours because I feel uncomfortable telling adults about my sexuality. I haven't even told my parents about it yet. My friends and a lot of my school knows but my parents and brother do not.

What I don't understand is why people feel the need to bully others for being different. Parents, schools, and most adults they meet encourage their children to be different but when they are they are bullied by other kids. I think it is kind of stupid/silly for people to bully others just because they don't wear the right clothes, or the right shoes. They don't have the most popular shoe or the cool house or if they are poor. People don't know what is going on in someone elses life and something that someone does could change someones life. It could make them suicidal, it can make them cut, it can make them abuse drugs. It can do so many things to screw up someone. So
What I'm saying is why hurt someone so badly just to kill them in the end. You will then have that on your head and it can make you feel guilt, it will make you remorse. So let's not bully so you don't have to remorse or feel guilt.