I’m Mormon and I have a gay son. I love him with all my heart, might, and soul. And I love my religion with all my heart, might, and soul. It's the core of who I am. I will never, never, ever turn my back on my son, and I will never, never, ever leave my religious faith. Period. I’ve been asked how and why. It’s because God has made it clear to me that I am to love my son Xian unconditionally.
I admit it took me a while to truly understand what "unconditional love" meant. I confused “loving” with “condoning.”
But once I figured out what unconditional love really meant, my heart grew a hundred fold—not only for my son but also for every person everywhere. My faith runs deep. I cannot deny it. And I will never deny my deep love for my son, either.
As I reflect on our journey, I can see many things God has taught me through Xian. My faith has been stretched in ways I never thought possible. He taught me what it really means to have compassion, empathy, and love unfeigned. When Xian said to me, “Mom, I don’t know what my future is, but marrying a girl does not seem possible,” it was tough to hear, especially knowing my son was stepping away from the Church. And now that he’s in a relationship, our family has learned to extend our circle of love. Turning them away would not be in line with what the Savior teaches.
Love might seem like a question in situations like ours, but really, it’s the answer.
I’ve learned that my actions, facilitated by prayer, involve recognizing those around me who might be suffering. I have worked harder at coming from a place of love. I have learned that if I focus on the positive and approach difficult situations from a place of love, I see beauty and wonder instead of disaster and heartache.
While Xian was growing up, I wondered about him. It wasn’t anything I could put into words, and I didn’t want to give it much thought. I brushed away my thoughts by telling myself he just didn’t want to have a girlfriend before his mission. I was thrilled he wanted to serve a mission on his own accord, and he did. He served an honorable mission to the Detroit Michigan Mission. Upon returning from his mission, he went to school at BYU–Hawaii, majoring in social work. Then, Christmas break of his senior year in college, he sent me a message that included the statement, “Mom, I’m gay.” I do feel like the Lord was preparing me for that.
Several months prior to him coming out to us, I received some strong impressions that Xian was gay.
What I had feared was going to be a reality. Still, I didn’t want to believe it. Even after reading the words, “Mom, I’m gay,” I couldn’t quite believe it at first. It really took me aback.
As reality sunk in, a flood of questions raced through my mind. What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? How can I fix him? What will others think?
That first night as I sat with my son on the couch and 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. Then, I hate to admit it, but I started giving him advice—as if I knew anything about what he’d been going through. I shared what I thought were words of comfort and hope regarding the gospel, not realizing they were actually daggers piercing my son’s heart, over and over. They were things he already knew because he’d heard them a hundred times while growing up. At some point, I began to realize Xian needed me to listen and to love him, as if nothing had changed. After all, he was the same kid I’d grown to know and love.
I wish I could say it was easy and natural for me to simply listen and love. I didn’t really figure that out until much later. I thought I was listening and loving that night, but I realized I could do better. I am grateful for a patient son. He cried a lot, and I wasn’t sure why. I kept telling him I loved him, but there were so many tears.
When he went back to college, I was focused on trying to “fix” him rather than loving him.
More than anything, I wanted to hear him say that even though he was gay, he was staying committed to the gospel.
That way, my heart could feel peace and all would be well. I would send him emails filled with scriptures and quotes from Church leaders that I thought would bring him comfort and help him get back on track. They only made things more difficult for him and distanced our relationship.
As I changed my focus to loving Xian, really loving him, no matter what, and listening to him, really listening, our relationship improved. The tears subsided.
Not only is love the answer, it’s also a conscious choice, a choice the Lord wants us to make.
As I strive to be more loving, the Lord fills in the gaps—and then some.
Nobody is perfect, but I can be perfect at trying to be perfectly kind, perfectly loving, and responding from a place of love.
As I have opened my heart and arms wider than I ever thought I could, my heart has grown a hundred fold. My door is open to everyone and anyone.
God hasn’t given me all the answers. That would be too easy. Rather, He has answered my prayers as only a loving Heavenly Father can. As I have turned to Him for understanding and guidance, He has given me more reasons to trust Him and lean on Him. He has also given me more to learn.
Maybe I should be curled up in a ball crying and thinking, “What’s happened to my eternal family?” But I’ve learned the importance of letting it go. I lay it all at the Savior’s feet, again and again. Then it feels like this huge load is lifted, and I have peace.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.(John 14:27)
I continue to trust and let the Spirit guide me, remembering that He loves our children far more than we can. Everyone wants to be loved and accepted, respected and trusted, valued for who they are. We are all brothers and sisters. I feel fortunate to know we have a loving Heavenly Father, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, works through a living prophet who guides and directs us and will never lead us astray. As I follow His counsel and guidance, remembering the family is central to the plan of salvation, I’m able to keep loving and keep the lines of communication open.
Elder Richard G. Scott states:
You become an instrument through which the Lord can bless another. The Spirit will let you feel the Savior’s concern and interest, then the warmth and strength of His love.(“To Be Healed,” Ensign, May 1994, 9)
I have found this to be true as I have sincerely strived to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands.
I trust that as I love Xian and all my children and others completely, all will work out according to God’s perfect judgment.
I hope we can all reach out in love and kindness to our SSA/LGBT neighbors, family members, and friends. We can help each other, be understanding, and show love, just like our Savior does for us. We can reach out, send a text, give a hug, take a plate of cookies, send flowers, or invite someone to dinner. Love is the answer. Kindness is the way—it’s the Savior’s way.