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How A Father Went from Homophobic to Loving His Gay Son.

HOW A FATHER WENT FROM HOMOPHOBIC TO LOVING HIS GAY SON

By Scott Mackintosh, the Father

In June of 2011, I attended an annual company sales meeting eager to learn how to better my sales skills. In a classroom setting my mind usually wanders, but this day I was all ears listening to a story; a true story, of a sportscaster named Charlie Jones. Charlie was assigned to announce the 1996 Olympic rowing, canoeing and kayaking events – an assignment that left him less than thrilled, because he thought, “Who watches the rowing, canoeing and kayaking events? Only the rowers, canoers and kayakers …and their families!”

8+ rowing team

What he discovered, however, was that it ended up being one the most memorable interviews of his career. AND what I didn’t know is that two and a half years later, this story would significantly change my life. Preparing for the broadcast, Charlie Jones interviewed the rowing team starting with the basic questions such as “What if it’s raining?” “What if the wind blows you off course?” “What if you break an oar?” The answer to every question was the same,

“That’s outside my boat.”

Finally Charlie asked the rowing team what they meant by their repeated answer “That’s outside my boat?” They explained that they focused only on what they could control, and that was what was going on INSIDE their boat. They refused to waste energy focusing on things OUTSIDE their control.

When the sales meeting concluded it was obvious by the chatter in the room that everyone was impacted by the story. I seriously thought; “Great story, but it doesn’t really apply to me.” I dismissed it and that was that.

Seven months later my entire family was home for the Christmas holidays. I have seven children; three sons, four daughters, and four are married. I was happy to have them all home for the holidays. My son Sean is number three in the family and the middle son – his three
week holiday dedicated to the family, was quickly coming to an end and he would soon be heading back to college in Hawaii.

On the night before he was to leave, precisely at 11:11 pm, my wife and I received a personal message via Facebook from my son Sean. I opened it and began to read. He cut to the chase pretty quickly after telling me and my wife how much he loved us, he dropped a bomb, he told us that there was no sense in beating around the bush and might as well come right out and let us know that he is gay.

I went FREAKAZOID!

I blurted out some things that in retrospect I am very glad that he was not around to hear. (The damage may have taken many years to repair) I didn’t care about his feelings; he obviously didn’t care about mine! He most certainly didn’t care about anyone in our family and obviously the ONLY person that he cared about was himself! In my uneducated way of thinking on this topic, selfishness had to be the single cause and I was sure that this sort of thing was brought on from delving into pornography or other ill meant materials. Why else would he “choose” such a vial and disgusting way of life? (I’m now embarrassed of my ignorant thinking.)

I messaged him back ordering him to come home immediately so we could talk. I was furious and again told him to get home NOW! He said he would gladly talk to me, but that it would still be a little while before he’d be home. He was out visiting friends and saying his goodbyes for another year.

I anxiously paced the floor waiting his return. By midnight he was not home and I angrily went to bed.

I woke up at 4:00 am as my wife crawled into bed next to me. She had been talking to my son for the past few hours. She briefed me a bit on their conversation and then I got up to go see him. She begged me as I left the room to be kind and considerate. I assured her that I would.

I knocked on my son’s door and he opened it to find my outstretched arms offering a heartfelt hug. I spoke only for a moment and made a slight joke about something to ease the tension and then said, “We can talk another time, it’s late.” I went back to bed and tossed and turned for a while trying to figure out what I was going to do to “fix my son”.

Hours later, I was at work and he was on a flight for Hawaii. Every-so- often over the next year, I would send him an email suggesting that he give God equal time and to study “good things” instead of filling his head with the gay articles that he was reading. I had it all figured out that he should get rid of these silly notions that he had conjured up in his head and get married and raise a family. We weren’t getting any closer in our relationship and I was spending my time on deaf ears. They seemed deaf anyway because every scenario that I could come up with, he would answer with a comment like; “Dad, don’t you think that I know about that? Don’t you think that I have read and studied about this? I have known that I was like this for nearly my entire life and you think that these emails that you keep sending me are going to fix me?”

I had not taken into consideration that this was new to me, but that he had been dealing with it for many years.

The following Christmas we didn’t get around to talking about I didn’t want to bring it up and maybe if I didn’t – it would go away.

Two years from receiving this shocking news, Sean was home once again for Christmas. I’m a big outdoorsman and an avid hunter so like any good father would do, I took Sean and my younger son Skye coyote hunting across the state line. (No hate mail please, we didn’t shoot anything, they out smarted us) On our four-hour drive back home we talked about hunting, school and life in general, but I could tell that he wanted to talk about “it”. Finally Sean said “Dad I thought we were going to talk – really talk.” I don’t remember who started what, but all of a sudden we were delving into everything we had both held in for the past two years.

I wanted so badly to fix the situation. That’s what I did as a father. I fixed everything, that was my job, and this was just another “fix-it” project. At one point in our conversation, I asked; “Why would you choose this lifestyle?” I was met with a look of shock as he replied,

“Are you serious? Why on earth would I CHOOSE to be associated with one of the most misunderstood and hated groups on the planet?”

His answer resonated deeper than anything said in our prior two years of sending messages back and forth. This made sense! Although I had read many articles stating that same-gender attraction is NOT chosen but is something they are born with, I couldn’t get it through my thick skull until that moment. FINALLY we were actually able to have a really good conversation where we really talked and listened.

That is when it hit me….

A light came on in my head and the story of Charlie Jones that I had heard several years prior came flooding back and NOW it made perfect sense to me. It applied to this situation. It was a game changer.

For the next few days, I began to take an inventory of what was actually IN my boat. I had focused my energy on fixing my son only to discover that I had done a great job of raising a wonderful young man and the things that he was going through were outside my boat. Nothing that I could say to him would “fix” him and would most likely do father-son- relationship damage. Therefore, I took my fears and worry out of my boat and placed them in my son’s boat.

Next, I pondered on my ability to judge. I was his father and felt that I had that right. My mind reflected back on my Christian upbringing that taught Jesus Christ is the judge.

I realized that I needed to STOP judging him – it wasn’t my job to judge, Jesus Christ had taken that role upon himself, so I took that out of my boat and placed it in my Savior’s boat.

As I focused on what was in my boat, I realized that I had only ONE item left and that was my ability to ACT instead of REACT. I then split it into two categories: to act harshly or to act with love, and because I had placed “judgment” into Christ’s boat, I realized that the ONLY thing left in my boat was to ACT with LOVE! I thought to myself, “I CAN do that!”

I have a wonderful son whom I love dearly and our relationship has drastically changed for the better. It is now stronger than ever, because I no longer focus on what’s outside my boat, instead I focus on what’s INSIDE my boat…. LOVE!

P.S. To read my wife Becky’s journey along with a video of my son Sean telling his own story, click here.

The Meanest Mother In The World

I had the meanest mother in the world …

As a teenager I was asked to give talk in church on Mother’s Day.  I remember rummaging through a book of poems and short stories (this was long before the internet and “google”) and coming across one that described my mother perfectly. With a few minor changes the story became ‘my story’.

“The Meanest Mother”

I have the meanest mother in the whole world.  While other kids ate candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs or toast. When others had soda and candy for lunch, I had to eat a sandwich.  As you can guess, dinner was also different than the other kids. But at least, I wasn’t alone in my sufferings.  My two sisters and two brothers had the same mean mother as I did.

My mother insisted upon knowing where we were at ALL times.   You’d think we were on a chain gang.  She had to know who our friends were and where we were going.  She insisted if we said we’d be gone an hour, that we be gone one hour or less–not one hour and one minute.

I am embarrassed to admit it, but she actually spanked us.  Not once, but each time we had a mind of our own and did as we pleased.   Can you imagine someone actually spanking a child just because he disobeyed?  Now you can begin to see how mean she really was.

We had to wear clean clothes and take a bath. The other kids could wear their  clothes for days.  We reached the height of insults because she often made our clothes herself, just to save money.  

The worst is yet to come.  We had to be in bed by nine each night and up early the next morning.  We couldn’t sleep ’til noon like our friends.  So while they slept-my-mother actually had the nerve to break the child-labor law.  She made us WORK!  We washed dishes, made our beds, learned to cook and all sorts of cruel things.  

I believe she laid awake at night thinking up mean things to do to us.

She always insisted upon us telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, even if it killed us-and sometimes it nearly did.

By the time we were teenagers, she was  much wiser, and our life became even more unbearable.  None of this tooting the horn of a car for us to come running.  She embarrassed us to no end by making our dates and friends come to the door to get us.  While my friends were dating at the mature age of 13 or 14, my old fashioned mother refused to let me date until I was 16.

Through the years, things didn’t improve a bit.  We were expected to be honest, dependable, trustworthy and kind to others. As the years rolled by, first one and then the other of us was put to shame.  We graduated from high school and went on to further our education.                                              

     My mother was a complete failure as a mother. 

Each of my siblings went on to marry and raise children in the same horrible conditions.  And whom do we have to blame for the terrible way we turned out?  You’re right, our mean mother!  Look at the things we missed; we never got to march in a protest parade, take part in a riot, burn draft cards, and a million and one other things that our friends did.                                                                                                                                                                                               

She forced us to grow up with a testimony of a loving Heavenly Father and to know our Savior Jesus Christ.  She taught us the power of prayer.  She taught us the importance of families and to love and serve and love one another.                           

NOW YEARS LATER ….

I confess!  I have raised my seven children in the same MEAN way that my mother raised me.  Six of my children have graduated from High School, the youngest at home is on track to do the same.  Three have their bachelors degrees, two daughters have their cosmetology license. (they keep my gray hairs covered)  Four are married and are raising their children in the same mean way.  

Thank you mom for smothering me with your love and most of all for your example of  living life with integrity,  dignity and for the courage to teach morals and values that I pray  will carry on for generations to come.

THANK YOU MOM for being the meanest mother in the whole world!                                                                                                 

IMAG1541

This blog post is dedicated to my mother, who I love with all my heart.  I owe who I am today to her.  She passed away March 12, 2014.  Until we meet again mom.  I Love You!                         

A Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction

Watch this short video… it’s a great intro to the blog post.

A Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction

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 background. 

The purpose of this video and post is to invite families, and society in general, to reinvest in kindness.  When we look around at the amount of judgment and hatred in the world, the honest response is that we all could do better. It is my belief that we, the human race, are to LOVE one another, SERVE one another and do our very best to HELP one another with the challenges and trials that come our way.  

It doesn’t matter where you live or what your religious beliefs are; if you are rich, poor, brown, black, white, pink or green – we all have the same basic needs. We all want to feel we belong, are loved and valued.  God said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  He wasn’t just talking to your neighbor.  He was talking to you and me and even those in our families that may make different choices than we would. Intolerance is why there is so much hate, war and bullying in this world. It needs to stop.  Things need to change.

Gandhi said it best; “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

It was January 9, 2012, when my 24-year-old son Sean, told his father Scott and I that he was gay, in the best way he knew how.  Precisely at 11:11 pm, he sent us a private message saying;

“Hey so I’m not gonna beat around the bush too much, I’m just going to tell you something that I’m sure you already know or it has at least crossed your mind plenty of times.  I’m gay. I’m sure this isn’t the best news a parent could hear, but I feel like it’s not right for me to Not talk to you about something very real to me. I want you to know I’m very much the same weird Sean. Ha! I love you and dad so much and you’re the best parents a kid could ask for. This is why it’s taken me so long to tell you, I’m fine with the pain it can bring me at times but, I just didn’t want to hurt you cause you don’t deserve it. Once again I love you very much, but I want to keep this brief cause I am sure you’d rather talk in person and I am 100 percent fine with that. I haven’t told anyone ever, I wanted you and dad to be the first to know.”

The sting of reading the words “I’m gay,” was masked by the last sentence: “I haven’t told anyone ever, I wanted you and dad to be the first to know” – to me that validated how awesome, amazing and considerate my son is!  It also shed light on the fact that my son had closeted his most conflicted and torn feelings with lock and key – alone. That, I was not proud of.

Sean was correct in his assumption that this had “at least crossed my mind”.  I had often wondered about my strikingly, good-looking son that only dated when the girls took the initiative and asked him out.  It was a thought I kept very quiet, and secret, hardly daring to think it to myself.  It was something I “hoped” was not true!  But here it was in black and white – my son announcing that he was gay.  His father, on the other-hand, had no clue. Scott was honestly completely blind-sided by the news. It shook him to his core.  Not that he didn’t love Sean.  He simply had not seen this coming and it wasn’t something he’d even slightly acknowledged.

Immediately upon reading Sean’s message, I called him asking to hurry home so we could talk, face-to-face.  This was Sean’s final night before heading back to school in Hawaii. He was out visiting friends and saying his good-byes for another year. When he got home, he and I stayed up until 4am talking, crying and hugging before calling it a night and heading to the airport those few hours later. It was one of the most difficult things I’d ever done under the circumstances; giving him one last hug that would have to suffice for an entire year.

Going Through My Own Refiner’s Fire

As I look back on that very first conversation, I have to admit that I am not proud of everything I said. I said some things completely out of ignorance. I had never researched the subject – naively thinking that was a subject “other families” had to deal with — NOT me and my family.

First, I told Sean I loved him – and that my love would NEVER change.  I felt very strongly that he needed to know of my unconditional love for him.  But then I said some ignorant stuff, like “What are you going to do about it?” and “You are a fighter Sean – you can fight this.”  “Hang in there, this is your test, your challenge, and in the next life your feelings will match your body and all will be well.”  As these phrases spilled off my lips, I honestly thought I was giving words of comfort, not knowing each phrase was a dagger in my son’s heart.  The phrases weren’t new. He had grown up hearing them everywhere – and he had spent a lifetime trying to digest and understand why he felt the way he felt and what kind of life that meant for him.

What literally broke my heart that evening was looking at my 24-year-old son, and thinking my adorable little boy with the big smile had grown up dealing with this secret all alone – NO one to trust and talk to about it.  I cried then, and I cry still now.  Tears also come at the thought of thousands of kids and teens with same-sex attraction dealing with it ALONE, afraid to talk about their true feelings and contemplating suicide as the answer.  Death is NOT the answer.

As I have listened to my son tell of what it was like growing up “fighting an inward battle” trying to “fit in” in a world that frowns upon gays; belonging to a religion that is family-centered and strongly believes marriage is between a man and a woman, and in a family that teaches the same.  My heart breaks at the thought of my own flesh and blood growing up feeling like a misfit right in our home, in school, in society, and within the walls of our church.  Growing up he never let on to the sadness and confusion going on inside. He was a happy, active, fun-loving little boy and teenager. We just didn’t know. Even his friends didn’t know.  If an Oscar could be awarded, Sean would have won. He hid his feelings well.

The dagger in my heart are the piercing words of Sean telling of the years he contemplated ending his life so no one would ever know he was gay. It is my prayer and quest that NO ONE feels that way – Ever!

I am so thankful Sean never acted upon those dark feelings and is happy with the person he is, trying to live the best life he can,  just like everyone else.

I have Googled, read, fasted and prayed to become more educated. One startling fact that I learned in my quest to gain knowledge and understanding is that teens and young adults with same-sex attraction have one of the highest rates of suicide attempts…..THAT is unacceptable!  No one should go to bed at night thinking they are better off dead.  Never. Ever.   We need to be the change we wish to see in the world – LOVE one another, SERVE one another and HELP one another.

I have learned through the years that everyone is fighting some kind of battle. The gift this has given me is not to judge, to be more compassionate, kind and tolerant – and to treat all others the way I would want to be treated.

No matter where you stand on this sensitive subject, I pray that we may all respond with much more sensitivity and thoughtfulness in our families and in society when encountering same-sex attraction.

P.S. To my readers who are wondering about Sean’s father Scott’s reaction.  Scott had deep-rooted feelings of Homophobia, so Sean had grown up hearing his father’s unkind perception of gays, making the “coming out” all that more difficult. Once that table had been turned and Scott knew it, he blew me away with his quick quest to learn all he could about the elephant in the room. What I will tell you is that in his own due time, Scott will share his personal refiner’s fire to accepting and loving his son.  And it will be powerful and heartfelt.

P.P.S.  In April of 2013, Sean graduated with honors from BYU-Hawaii with a degree in Social Work.  He recently completed an internship at an Orphanage in Thailand and has been accepted into the Masters Program at the University of Hawaii.  Sean is a happy, easy-going guy with a great sense of humor.  He’s an Eagle Scout and has always been a leader amongst his peers.  For example, Sean paid for his college education all by himself, without student loans!  He graduated with honors, wisely debt-free, and teaching others how to do the same. Coming out has not changed Sean — it’s Scott and I that have changed. And for that, I thank my Heavenly Father. He blessed us with the gift of learning about something we thought only others needed to worry about.  I love Sean today as much, if not more, than ever.

May God bless you in all of your experiences, discoveries and life lessons.

Yours,

Becky Mack:)

Sean

UPDATE June 2014:  My husband Scott FINALLY took the time to sit down and write about his journey;  How A Father Went From Homophobic to Loving His Gay Son. 

A follow-up to this blog post: “A Follow-up to a Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction

 

FYI:   Grab my eBook today for ONLY $2.97! “My Husband Wears The Short Shorts In THIS Family!” It’s parenting with humor, courage and a whole lot of love.  Also in paperback!  

 

An Answered Prayer

An Answered Prayer…

Today at church, I was asked to share a story in primary about PRAYER.  I knew the toughest part about fulfilling this request would be to do – it – without – crying! Prayer has helped me through some pretty tough stuff in my life.  It has been a means of comfort, inspiration and daily guidance.  Several prayer stories raced through my head making it somewhat difficult to choose just one.  The story I chose to share with those adorable 7-11 year olds was a story that took place last summer…..

My youngest daughter Myley, went on a three week LDS youth church historical tour called “Heritage Tours”  They traveled through 26 states in 21 days.  To document their experience, the one-hundred 18 year olds were asked to bring an actual hands-on camera, no cell phones were allowed.  About half way through the tour,  I got a frantic emergency phone call from Myley saying she had left her camera at their last stop…a truck stop…one state over from where she now was.  She gave me the name and location of the truck stop where she last used it.  I told her to pray that someone with integrity would find it. She said she already had. (thats music to a mother’s ears) The first thing I did was get on my knees and pray that somehow the camera would find it’s way back to Myley. Next I “googled” the truck-stop and called the number listed.  A lady answered, I explained our dilemma, she put me on hold as she went to check the  restroom, the adjourning fast food joint, and the lost-n-found.  No luck.  I thanked her and left my name and number just in case someone turned it in.  For several days I continued to pray for the return of the camera and made several calls to the truck stop.

Three weeks later, a package addressed to Myley, was delivered.  You guessed it!  It was the camera along with a letter from the lady who found it. She said she found the camera in the restroom and could tell from the pictures that these were teens traveling across the nation on some kind of tour.  She searched the truck stop looking for the girl in all the pictures.  She said she thought about turning it in, but decided against it, not knowing if they would be honest and see that it got back to the rightful owner. She then took the quest upon herself.  She searched the pictures one-by-one hoping for a clue of its owner….  then whaa-laaa…. she FOUND a clue!

While in Palmyra, New York at the Sacred Grove, Myley had taken a picture of her scriptures lying next to a special written blessing she had received.  The lady was able to zoom in enough on that picture to see Myley’s name, her parents names and state in which she lived. She used those clues to begin her search. For the next two weeks she was very diligent in searching facebook and calling all the Mackintosh’s listed in the whitepages until she finally found someone who still used a “home phone” …..an uncle who gave her my husband’s cell …..then she made the call.  My husband was elated at the news and knew Myley would be ecstatic.  He asked if we could send her a reward…. she said,  No, that she had had so much fun playing detective the past two weeks that her reward was being able to return it to the rightful owner.   How cool is that!

It’s a great feeling knowing there are good people in this world who are honest and desire to do the right thing under any circumstance.

The letter also told Myley to look at the LAST picture on the camera …..Image

Thank YOU Carol!  And Thank you Heavenly Father who heard and answered the prayers of a teen and her mother.