I was asked recently why I’m an LGBTQ ally. Here’s what I said:
I am an ally because I love my daughter more than I love my dogma*.
The youngest of our four daughters, Kat, came out as gay to my wife and me around 2001 when she was 15 years old. At the time, we were very committed, very conservative Christians, and to say that this was uncomfortable would be a huge understatement. We were devastated!
Our first thought was that we needed to correct this problem. I got lots of literature from a group that was committed to fighting the “gay agenda,” and we sent her to counselors who we hoped could “fix” her. I am not proud of that initial response, but it was motivated by love and was the best response we could manage at that time.
After much anguish, I realized that if she were ever going to change, it would not be in a pressured environment. I decided that the best thing I could do would be to accept that this is who she is instead of trying to change her. In this way, I hoped that she would be able to see her own brokenness and begin to change back to the girl that we knew.
I was partly right. When we stopped trying to change her, she did stop fighting us. However, it was we, not Kat, who changed. Her confidence in who she was remained constant. Everything about her said unequivocally, “This is who I am, and it has nothing to do with you.” We had convinced ourselves that if she were gay, it reflected badly on our parenting. Much of our journey was coming to understand that it was not “our fault.”
The first part of our journey was accepting Kat. The last leg of our journey was embracing her exactly as she was and acknowledging that there was no “fault” with which to be concerned. The reward was realizing that she was still the same wonderful woman we always knew.
Sadly, in 2011, Kat was struck by a very rare cancer which she fought bravely for a year and a half. We lost her on September 23, 2012. It is still hard to write those words. Three years ago (at the suggestion of our wonderful grief counselor), my wife and I joined PFLAG to help us focus our grief in a way that helps us and helps others. Each time I attend a meeting, I am inspired by the love and raw courage of the folks who show up looking for support.
Many from our former community think that we have been deceived and have “gone off the deep end.” We have jumped into the deep end of the pool, that’s for sure. However, what I have found in the “deep end” are people who are deeply and utterly full of love and pain, people who are too busy loving their LGBTQ family to pretend that they have their lives together, and real people who just want a friend.
This is the community I have longed for my whole life!
* Some folks are offended by this word, dogma. Here’s what I mean… My religious faith dictated to me that homosexuality was a sinful abomination. That dogmatic declaration stood between me and loving my daughter well. I chose to love my daughter regardless of what my faith dictated, but over time, I became an ally for the LGBTQ community because I just don’t believe it is true. For me it was a dogma and that is why I say, “I loved my daughter more than I loved my dogma”.
Jim Anderson is a proud, long-time PFLAG member who has his own blog at http://www.jimazing.com. Visit and subscribe today!