The choice we made

We chose our gay daughter, and we choose her still

The author (right, with her daughter) is a registered nurse who lives in Oroville.

Re “Tearing down a ‘big tall wall’” (Cover story, by Jerry Olenyn, May 5):

Until three years ago, we sat in church, amened the one-man, one-woman rhetoric, voted yes on Proposition 8 and thought being gay was a choice. Then our youngest child came out to us.

Initially, there was pain for what was lost … expectations we had of who our child would be. Then fear set in for what she might suffer at the hands of hateful people. Would she be lonely? Would she be accepted? Would she find a loving relationship?

At this early point, we knew we were at a fork in the road and our relationship with our daughter was at stake. We could “tough love” her, “pray her gay away” and stand firm in what we thought was the truth. Or we could learn more about the world she was part of. We chose the latter.

We knew we did not really know much about homosexuality. So we started reading everything we could, watching movies that dealt with real people and their stories, and started attending PFLAG meetings in Chico. We left our old church and started attending a gay-affirming church in Chico.

At one point, my husband asked our daughter when she knew she was gay. She replied, “Dad, when did you know you were straight?” She helped us see that her homosexuality is who she is, not what she is. It is not a choice. We chose to have her, the fourth baby, prayed for her, and she was given to us. How could we ask her to be any less than she really is?

In the last few years, we have heard story after story of gays and lesbians being rejected by the very people who should be their most avid supporters: their parents, their siblings, their friends. My encouragement to the rejecters is to stop fearing and start asking. Start learning. Start loving. For those of you who don’t have any homosexuals in your world, remember to use your words carefully. Someone (a grandchild, a niece or nephew) is listening, and that someone may have yet to declare their sexuality to the world. Be a safe person for them.

We chose our daughter 19 years ago, and we choose her still, just as she is.