Conditional Love (?)

James:

This is a difficult but necessary letter to write.
I hope your telephone call was not to receive my blessing for the degrading of your lifestyle. I have fond memories of our times together, but that is all in the past.
Don’t expect any further conversations with me. No communications at all. I will not come to visit, nor do I want you in my house.
You’ve made your choice though wrong it may be. God didn’t intend for this unnatural lifestyle.
If you choose not to attend my funeral, my friends, and family will understand.
Have a good birthday and good life.
No present exchanges will be accepted.
Goodbye,
Dad

This letter, only too common, was written by a prejudicial father to a recently out son, over five years ago. It just now has gone viral. (see http://”Shocking Letter From Father Disowning Gay Son Goes Viral,” Advocate.com., 8-8-12).

Beginning with LGBT ally Columbia University wrestler Hudson Taylor, it has spread, like a virus, to Huffpo’s Gay Voices, Towleroad, Pink News, The New Civil Rights Movement, and Truth Wins Out.

Rejection Hurts

For speaking the truth and sharing an important facet of his being with his father, James was rejected. He claims he never did drugs, was an excellent student, an obedient child…didn’t drink until he was 22 because it terrified him, and had just one speeding ticket in his life. “Yet, I am still seemingly deserving of this terrible act of hate and cowardice that one person can place on another.”

Why did James publish the letter?  He wanted to expose “persecution” from a homophobic parent.

Words Still Sting

Even though James says he is fine, he admits that the letter still bothers him.

Published online yesterday, with the title “This is how hate sounds,” the letter has been read by over 800,000 people. Using the name RegBarc, James told readers “to please pass your acceptance and love to the people you personally know who are going through this type of persecution and harm from their blindly religious parents/guardians.“

Find Your Family Elsewhere And They Will Come

Over 4,500 people have left messages of support that urge James to ‘stay strong.” Despite the sympathy, obviously James is still hurting. It has been five years since the letter was written, but as the studies from Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State bear out, the effect of  parental rejection carries on into adulthood.

The Family Acceptance Project

Family Rejection of GLBT Teens Has Dire Consequences

  • Did you know that 4 in 10 homeless youth are GLBT?
  • Over 40% of the homeless either were kicked out of their homes or ran away from home  due to abuse and because they were not accepted for their sexual orientation or gender identity?
  • LGB students in grades 7 through 12 were up to three times more likely than heterosexual teens to have experienced school expulsions, police stops, juvenile arrests, adult convictions?
  • Family rejection puts GLBT youth at high risk for social isolation and depression?
  • Rejected GLBT adolescents were over three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts?

Family Acceptance Makes All the Difference

These poor choices that depressed teens can make such as suicide and substance abuse can be counteracted by family acceptance. Caitlin Ryan, Ph.D., founder of the ongoing Family Acceptance Project at The Marian Wright Edelman Institute at San Francisco State (http://familyproject.sfsu.edu) found that LGBT children whose mothers and fathers showed them unconditional love had significantly higher levels of self-esteem, mental health and social support.

First Major Study of How Families Affect Their LGBT Children’s Risk and Resiliency

Dr. Ryan’s ongoing Family Acceptance Project (FAP) is directed and developed by Dr. Ryan and Rafael Diaz in 2002.  The project, which studies families in the U.S., Mexico, S. America, and Europe, is a Research and Intervention Initiative that studies the influence of family reactions on the health and mental health of LGBT adolescents and young adults. It is designed to:

  1. Study parents’ families and caregivers reactions and adjustment to an adolescent’s coming out and LGBT identity.
  2. Develop training and assessment materials for health, mental health, and school-based providers, child welfare, juvenile justice, family service workers and community service providers on working with LGBT youth and families.
  3. Develop resources to strengthen families to support LGBT children and adolescents.
  4. Develop a new model of family-related care to improve health and mental health outcomes for LGBT adolescents.

FAP Supportive Families, Healthy Children Voted No. 1

“Designated 1st “Best Practice Resources for Suicide Prevention for Gay & Transgender Youth” by National Registry. More than 100,000 copies of the family education booklets have been disseminated across the U.S. and other countries for use in schools, primary care and behavioral health programs, foster care and juvenile justice services, family service agencies, suicide prevention programs, pastoral counseling and faith-based organizations. They are also used in colleges, universities, professional training programs and by government agencies.

Agencies and community groups that use the Family Acceptance Project’s “Best Practice” materials and family intervention approach report substantial positive changes in prevention and practice.

Download their booklet “Supportive Families, Healthy Children at:http://familyproject/sfsu.edu/publications.