Tag Archives: Same-sex Attraction

Why The Tears?

I wrote this article for Northern Lights, another blog site in which I contribute monthly, but I want to also share it with you, my readers at Becky Mack’s Blog of Mild Chaos.

Why the tears

A flood of questions raced through my head as I read my son’s words, “I’m gay“. What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? Who did this to him? How can I fix him? What will others think?

That very first night as I sat with my son on the couch and listened, really listened, trying to make sense of what I was hearing, I felt his pain, his sorrow and his hope for a better tomorrow. I told him I loved him and that my love would never change. I shared what I thought were words of comfort and hope, not realizing they were really daggers in my son’s heart. They were things he already knew – he’d heard them a hundred times growing up – this night he needed me to listen and to love him the same as I did yesterday.

I wish I could say it was easy and natural for me to just listen and love, but it took awhile to figure those two things out. I thought I was listening and I thought I was loving, but as time went on I learned I could do better, much better. I am grateful for my patient son. He cried a lot and I didn’t know why. I was telling him I loved him, so why the tears?

Recently, I came across an email that I sent my son early on in our journey, it was filled with scriptures and quotes from church leaders that I was certain would bring him comfort and help him get back on track. This time I read the words with new eyes and a new perspective.

Now, I understood his tears.

I was focused on fixing my son verses loving him. When I changed my focus to loving him, REALLY loving him, mingled with lots of listening, REALLY listening, things changed. Our relationship improved. The tears stopped.

What I learned from my son…

As I reflect back on my journey the last four years, I can see the many things God taught me through my son. He answered my prayers the only way a loving Heavenly Father could do. As I turned to Him for understanding, guidance and answers, He gave me more to learn and more reasons to lean on him and to trust him. He stretched my faith in ways I never thought possible or thought I needed. He taught me what it really means to have compassion, empathy, charity and love unfeigned. He taught me that if I focused on the positive and approached difficult situations – every situation – from a place of love I would see beauty and wonder instead of disaster.

Love is the answer – love is also the question.

No one is perfect, but we can be perfect at trying to be perfectly kind, perfectly loving – and always responding from a place of love. As I have opened my heart and arms wider than I ever thought possible – my heart has grown a hundred fold.

Love – is – a – choice. It is the choice.

Dear Mom and Dad, I am gay.

dear-mom-and-dad

Once a month I blog for Northern Lights, an LDS blog site for Mormon conversations on Sexuality, Gender Identity and Faith. If you follow Becky’s Mack’s Blog of Mild Chaos, or follow me on Facebook or perhaps know me in real life, you know I am very passionate about my religion, faith and family. They are the foundation and core of who I am.  Today I once again speak from my heart sharing my latest Northern Lights blog post with my readers here…

dear-mom-and-dad

Dear mom and Dad,

I am gay…

This blog post is to all the mothers who are grateful none of their children are gay. And also, to the fathers who know all the gay jokes and don’t hold back letting their sons know how they feel about gays. “Can you imagine anyone choosing to be gay?” they gasp.  I’m embarrassed to admit, I once shared those same views.

I write to you parents because my inbox is filled with messages from young men describing all the reasons why they fear telling you – their own mom and dad.  They have gone over every possible scenario of coming out verses continuing to keep their same-gender attraction a secret. They have come to the conclusion that taking their life is the better option.  Then as a one last ditch effort to find answers, they stumble upon my video and feel a pull to reach out.

We talk. We cry. I do all I can to give them hope, sharing resources and reasons to live one more day, week, month  But unfortunately I can NOT promise them that their father will not beat them.  I can not promise them that they will not be kicked out onto the streets.  I can not promise they will be accepted and loved by their family.  Why? Because this is happening right here in our communities.

If people just simply lived the golden rule, my job would be so much easier. People often ask me, “What do you do?” I rattle off, “I’m a mom, grandmother, speaker, author, BUT do you REALLY want to know what do? I SAVE lives”  

AND…

It might be YOUR son, daughter, brother, sister, father, son-in-law that I am corresponding with – YOU don’t know and I will never tell, but I promise you if you REALLY knew them and you REALLY loved them you would see them as God sees them and you would LOVE them all the more, AND they would not be wondering if checking out of this life is a better option than telling you of their struggles.

They are some of the most spiritual, compassionate human beings I know.  If I had the means and the way, there would be no homeless teens living on the street, they would all live in my home, feel loved, needed and valued.

Our Savior Jesus Christ showed us the way – He forgave the repentant, healed the sick, and served without ceasing.

Above all, Jesus was the perfect example of love. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you. …” (John 13:34.)

When was the last time you put your arm around someone you know is gay, and asked, “How are you doing?”

When was the last time you invited someone you know is gay and their boyfriend or girlfriend over for dinner?

They are NOT contagious, they are NOT pedophiles, they will not teach your children to be gay – they are people – Just like YOU! They fear you as much as you fear them – they don’t know how you are going to respond – will you react with kindness and Christlike love or hatred and fear?

One of the most asked question I get from same-gender attracted young men is, “Why did God make me Mormon and Gay?”  a seemingly no-win situation that they have contemplated, pleaded and prayed over.  When I don’t know the answer, I resort to what I do know, “I know God lives and I know He loves all of His children.  He did not send anyone to earth to fail or to carry an unbearable cross. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that Thomas S. Monson is a true and living Prophet today. I know that Christ bled from every pore for me, you and yes, even our gay brothers and sisters.”  God has not given us all the answers, and I’m okay with that, I trust Him.

An Eternal Perspective  As stated on the official church website mormonsandgays.org“We live in an imperfect world. Not all the pieces of the puzzle seem to fit. But having an eternal perspective and believing in a just and merciful God gives us hope that all will work out in the end.”     

Two of the most asked questions from parents with a gay son or daughter are, “How do I embrace both my gay child and my LDS faith?” and “Can members of the church support marriage equality and still hold a temple recommend?”  The first question for me is easy to answer, the second question not so much.

Elder Todd Christofferson of the quorum of the twelve apostles answered those questions and many others in an interview with KUTV, following the passing of the Utah Non-Discrimination Bill, March of 2015.

Parents, miracles happen when you emulate love and kindness – it heals hearts, reunites and strengthens families and truly saves lives…

Dear mom and dad,

I am gay. I love you.

Please walk with me.

 

 

*Visit LDS Voice(s) of Hope to hear our journey, along with many other Voices of Hope.

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.

One Word Can Make All The Difference!

Rich and his son Cole

Have you ever said something that didn’t quite come out right?  Boy I have, more than once!

The other day a friend, who was not afraid to be blunt and honest, sent me the following message:

“You mentioned in your video (A Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction) that ‘LIFE IS TO BE ENJOYED, NOT ENDURED’. While I like the concept and wish it were true all the time, I disagree with that, at least in part.”

FINALLY someone called me out on the one line that had bothered me from the very first time I viewed the video of my son Sean and me.  We started filming at 10:30pm without a script – we spoke from our heart.  It was late, we were tired, and it was our last night to get it done. My daughter Kelsey, who filmed the 35-minute interview, was visiting for Christmas and heading back to her home the following morning.  After hours of editing to condense the message, Kelsey sent us the now 6-minute video.   As I watched it, I felt good about the message; the only line that I was hesitant with was;

“Life is to be enjoyed, not endured”

What I thought I had said and what had actually come out, were two different things.  The option for a “do-over” was gone. I KNOW everyone has challenges both big and small and YES we are often asked to endure HARD things.  It’s what builds our character and makes us who we are.  Our option was to take the whole line out or leave it in. Obviously we opted to leave it in.  The blog article which accompanied the video got it right:

“Life is to be enJOYed, not JUST endured!”  

One word makes all the difference!

The friend who called me out on the line in the video, is my friend Rich, he’s someone who KNOWS the meaning of enduring hard things, he also know the sweet JOYS of life.

I replied to Rich’s email thanking him for his honesty and asked him to read my blog where I had adding the word “just” to my plea.  He immediately replied:

“OK, I definitely can get behind the “Life should be enjoyed not JUST endured.  That makes sense to me.  In fact, it’s been my experience that the traumas and challenges in life, are what give the enjoy part of life a much sweeter taste!  Besides, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced personal growth sitting on a white sandy beach, sipping on a drink.  Instead, it’s been life’s traumas that have been the catalyst to growth and what has molded my character.  There are parts of life that we all must endure.”

You see, Rich survived a solo plane crash; this is the account in his own words:

“On September 14, 1987, I was piloting a Piper Supercub (a bush plane), looking for stray cows for my brother Pete.  Pete is a cattle rancher and had cows turned out in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness area in Eastern Oregon.  Shortly after take off during my last flight of the day, the airplane developed engine problems and I crashed at the base of the mountain.  When the plane hit, the wing tanks burst (I had just fueled the airplane) and aviation fuel flooded the cockpit, soaking me and then exploded.  I was trapped in the airplane.  My father and brother were on horseback, saw the airplane go down, rode to the crash site and saw how bad it was.  To this day I do not know how I got out of the airplane, but I honestly suspect some kind of divine intervention.  My dad rode down the hill to a road, was able to flag down a car who took him to a house, and the people happened to be home.  He called the emergency number and an ambulance happened to be a few minutes away from me servicing a logging accident.  They got to me in record time, and took me to the a little hospital about 45 minutes away.  The last thing I remember is one of the doctors cutting off my wedding ring with a little saw of some kind. I remained in a coma for 10 days.  I was 30 years old.  My son was 9 months old.”

The results of the accident were as follows:

  • 3rd degree burns to 75% of my body

  • 47 days in critical condition

  • Major infection – cheated death twice

  • 90 days in intensive care

  • 18 months in a pressure suit

  • 2 years at the hospital

  • 33 major surgeries over 6 1/2 years

  • My wife left after 3 months (leaving my son with me)

The blessings of the accident have been many, and I almost do not have room to write about all of them.  Some of the highlights are:

  • I got to experience what it’s like to totally depend on God.

  • My priorities were instantly correct, I care deeply about people and not so much about things anymore.

  • I got to experience the deepest love, sacrifice and dedication of my family.

  • I got to spend 24/7/365 with my son for many years.  What father get’s to do that?  And because of this, my son and I are closer than any other father and son I know.  We have a tight bond between us.

  • I tend to enjoy life, including the simplest of things much more than people who have not endured a life threatening trauma.

  • I got to experience more pain than most people have.

  • I enjoyed additional depth of typical life challenges, including financial, physical, spiritual social (like how to get a date).

  • My faith in God increased, as did my confidence that even life’s biggest obstacles can be overcome.

  • I know I can get through almost anything.

  • I became very passionate about health.

  • I now have the opportunity to help others going through similar trauma’s.

Rich goes on to say:

“Today, 27 years later, my life is not without problems.  They continue to come, and I have even more great stories about the difficulties in life. However, My son, is healthy, my family is healthy, I am healthy, and I’m still very confident God is in control.  I don’t know if I would want to go through another life experience like my airplane crash again, but having already been through it, I know the benefits that came from it, it made the whole ordeal beyond worthwhile and I feel very fortunate I got to experience it.”

THANK YOU Rich for being real! Being you! And for being a living testament that “Life is to be enJOYed, not JUST endured.”

Cole_and_dadRich and his son Cole