Father and Pastor

As a pastor and father, faith and family intertwined.

  • Briefly describe how your child first came out to you and your first reactions.

  • Our daughter came out to my wife and me as she was finishing her college years. I was surprised only because it had not occurred to me that she might be lesbian. By the time that she came out to us, I had already come to a place in my own life journey that I was accepting of LGBTQ persons. As a Christian and as a United Methodist pastor, I was supportive of the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the church and in society. Even more so, I was ready to accept my daughter when she came out. She has said that she waited to tell us until she was ready to be on her own in case we did not accept her. So she was fearful of our reaction even though I don’t think we had ever given her any reason to think that we did not love her. We did reassure her that we do love her and that we accept her and love her unconditionally as our daughter and as a child of God.

  • What concerns did you experience over the first weeks or months? How did you deal with them?

  • I was aware that many in our culture and in the church were not accepting of LGBTQ persons, so I was concerned what the future might hold for her. I wondered if she would find someone to be her life partner. I would be supportive of her, but I realized that I had to allow her to work these things out as the adult that she was. I also had to begin to think about how I would come out as a parent. I was tentative at first as the pastor of a United Methodist congregation, but I was determined that I would not hide the fact that my daughter was lesbian. So at some point fairly early on, I began to use the descriptive that my daughter was lesbian. Later after she developed a loving relationship with her partner, I began to talk about “our daughter and her partner (or as we like to call her partner “our daughter-in-love.”)

  • If your child came to other family members, describe who, when and what was their reaction?

  • I think we shared with my family about her coming out to us. I do remember that before Lisa first brought her partner home for a visit with my family, she wrote to my parents (they were in their eighties) and my two brothers and their families to let them know that she would be bringing her partner home during her next visit. My parents and my brothers all embraced our daughter and supported her and said that she and her partner would be welcome in their homes.

  • What is the hardest thing about knowing their LGBTQ identity?

  • I had fears about how she would be accepted in society and by others with whom she came in contact. I wondered how her life journey would go.

  • What are some challenges have you faced concerning your LGBTQ child? How did you deal with these?

  • As the pastor of a United Methodist congregation, I had to decide how I would deal with the fact that my daughter was lesbian in a church where some folks were welcoming and others held more traditional views on sexuality. I decided that I would not make any big announcements about my daughter’s sexual orientation. However, I would not seek to hide the fact that she was gay if anyone ask me about our children. I was willing to share that our daughter was lesbian and later I would refer to our daughter and her partner.

  • What is the best thing about knowing your child's LGBTQ identity?

  • We are able to have an open and loving relationship. She knows that her mother and I are supportive of her, and we want the best for her and her life. We welcome our daughter and her partner into our home and into our family. I share about my daughter and her partner when I talk with others about our family (we have two daughters). She knows that we love her unconditionally.

  • Knowing what you know today, would you want your child to “stay in the closet”? Why?

  • No. If she was ready to come out to us, then I am glad that she is out. She deserves to her life to the fullest as the person God has created her to be.

  • What would you say to other parents learning the LGBTQ identity of their child?

  • I would encourage parents to let their child know that they love their LBGTQ child has come out. Don’t turn them away or think that this is “just a phase.” Your child needs to know that you love them unconditionally. If parents do have questions or concerns, I would encourage them to find someone with whom they can talk about these issues in a safe environment. If the parents are in a church, they will need to discern if their pastor is willing to be accepting of them and their child. The parents may need to find someone outside of their church with whom they can talk if they cannot find someone with whom they can have a safe conversation in their church. There is also a support group in the United Methodist Church called the Parents Reconciling Network in which parents can also find helpful information and support. Groups such as PFLAG are another resource along with websites such as this one.

  • What would you say to youth coming out to their families?

  • While many children fear the risk of rejection by their parents, I would encourage to come out to their parents unless they feel that it would be dangerous for them to do so. It would be helpful if youth coming out can find someone in their church or in their school or community with whom they could share or talk out what they are experiencing as they are coming out.

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Strong Family Alliance seeks to share stories that illustrate the wide variety of experiences families and LGBTQ youth experience, so other parents will know they’re not alone in their journey.

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