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Fridays With Fathers

For the rest of the summer we’ll be posting stories from parents of LGBTQ daughters and sons. On Mondays we’ll hear from moms and on Fridays, from fathers. Perhaps the alliteration is a bit cheesy, but I assure you, we can glean much wisdom from these parents of all ages! We asked parents to share just one thing they wished they had known when their child first came out to them – something that they’ve since learned that would’ve made a difference in the way they responded.  We’ll all grow in our understanding of what families experience when a child comes out, as we listen to these stories over the next few months.

Maybe this could be a good conversation starter to share with family members or friends. Maybe this could be a catalyst to open conversation in our churches, to grow in our efforts to minister to families in our midst, as well as outside our doors. May these stories from the hearts of moms and dads who love God and love their children inspire us all to create safety for our children to open up to us about anything, including their sexuality. Most of all, may we convey a picture of God’s love that is without end.

Our first guest post is from my friend, Morley Robinson, a graduate of Lipscomb University, a successful businessman from Oklahoma, a retired entrepreneur who now lives with his wife, J.R., in Dallas. A long time faithful member of the Highland Oaks Church of Christ in Dallas, Morley loves God and loves his family. Morley’s sense of humor is surpassed only by the size of his heart. I love him dearly.  

As dawn draws near on this Father’s Day weekend, I sit alone on the front porch rocking in my favorite chair. Memories of prior Father’s Days compete with one another for a place in my consciousness.

Considering that I am seventy-seven years old means that there is a rich variety of memories flashing around in my head. Most of them are wonderful. Many memories of my Dad and of my four boys. Two of the boys are themselves fathers.

The predawn light drives away the darkness revealing the beautiful, green, hundreds-of-years-old pecan trees.  Four generations of my family have worked and played splashing in the creek beneath these majestic giants.

Today, as the sun rises defining the shapes and making the colors more vivid, my scrambling thoughts settled on one of my boys. Morley was my oldest. He was the one named after both my father and me. On April 1, 1979, Morley revealed to me that he was gay.

Morley & Morley, Jr. Sea of Galilee

Father & Son, Morley, III (left) & Morley, Jr. (right), on a trip to the Holy Land, looking out on the Sea of Galilee

That turning point of my life was 38 years ago. My life as I had known it ended. My new life rushed in to engulf me in a subject beyond by comprehension. My understanding of same sex attraction was about as brilliant as total darkness. I felt responsible, helpless, empty, guilty, embarrassed, ashamed, deserted and devastated. Shutting out everyone, I created my own closet, climbed in and closed the door behind me.

Between 1979 and 1993, when Morley died of AIDS, very few people who shared my value system were available to support me. Most people who had dealt with a family member’s same sex attraction kept their struggle secret. Only those who had never experienced it knew everything!  On my own and with the help of these people, I made many mistakes.

However, my search for knowledge has continued during the twenty-four years since we buried Morley.  If you would like to access my thirty-eight years of experience as a loving family member of one with same sex attraction, let us know and we can get more specific.

But for now, I stand by this: Most, if not all, of our loved ones did NOT choose to be gay. May LOVE dwell in you richly!   What a beautiful day with which to start your Father’s Day weekend.

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