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Home > 2014 > May Web Exclusives > When My Daughter Said, 'I'm Gay'

It was Saturday night on Valentine's Day weekend, and my wife and I were watching the late news. Our daughter Tess walked into the room, handed us a note, and walked away.

The note said, "I am gay. I am happy this way. And if you really love me, you won't try to change me, and you will not try to talk with me about this."

Tess was 16, a junior in high school. The dreams we had for her life changed dramatically that night. Our lives did too.

She never chose to be a pastor's kid, but she was one. And she had experienced some significant struggles. Now, with one bold stroke, she let us know that whatever choices we had made in life so far, she was making her own choices from here on out.

That night was harder for me than the nights when either of my parents died. Something truly died within me that night. And yet something new was born.

After reading the note, tears flowed. Cheryl and I looked at each other and knew we had to respond. No matter what the note said, we had to reach out to our daughter. We had to communicate what was most important. Each of us went separately to Tess's room to say what needed to be said.

"Tess, we're not going to try to talk you out of this, but we'd like to talk." She let each of us us in the room. We both hugged her and said, "We are so proud of you for telling us. We know this was a hard thing for you to do. You are our daughter and we have always loved you and we always will."

We told her that we would respect her wishes and not try to talk her out of this. Those were the right words to say. Did we really understand what was happening to our family right at that moment? I don't fully know.

I cried more that night than at any other time of my life. I feared for Tess's future. She'd had serious struggles over the last few years and had talked about suicide. Would this path only be more dangerous for her? She'd told us many times she wasn't sure she wanted God in her life, and I suspected that her announcement was her way of telling us that she was walking away from God, though I hoped it wasn't.

That night I shook with a trembling that I could not control. It felt like someone had kicked me in the gut. My wife and I prayed because it was all we could do. We prayed because there was no where else to go. We didn't know how this was going to turn out, but we both knew that our world had suddenly changed.

Day one of our new reality

When morning came, I got up and headed to the church. Work had always been my solace, but not this day. Despite the complete absence of sleep, it was Sunday and I still had to stand in front of our church, open God's word, and speak to 500 people who wanted to hear what God had to say through me.

Somehow I got through two services. But instead of being energized by worship, I was emotionally and physically exhausted.

After the service, I responded to some paperwork on my desk, and I was the last one out of the building. A good escape, I thought.

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Related Topics:ChildrenCultureHomosexualityParentingYouth
Posted: May 5, 2014

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Displaying 1–5 of 23 comments


January 06, 2015  8:24am

Thankyou to the author for sharing so personally. It is sad to see that so much fear and judgment about same sex attraction exists within the evangelical community but also good to see in this story the avenues for support and encouragment that are emerging. As i read, I couldnt help but think that we all need to learn how to grow in friendship and acceptance of each other. Isn't the atonement of Christ meant to re-establish community between humanity and God as well as to give us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5).

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December 31, 2014  10:55am

Great article, of course, as everyone has stated. My daughter is studying to be in the ministry and attending seminary ~ fully convinced that her lifestyle is reconciled through scripture. This lends a whole new set of relational/discussion difficulties and keeps all conversations at the surface. This also lends a fair amount of confusion to this mama's mind and heart ~ am I thinking wrong? Is my theology/interpretation of scripture incorrect? This question makes me lose sleep.

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Jared Eugene Kenning

December 30, 2014  6:31am

Thank you for this article.

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RUSTY Reiter

August 26, 2014  11:00am

Your whole family can watch the touching, true movie about a family with a gay child (that has more scripture verses in it than any movie I have ever seen). It is called "Prayers for Bobby" and is very well done. Somebody downloaded it to Youtube and you can watch it free if you type in "prayers for bobby whole movie."

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Praying Mom

August 07, 2014  2:18pm

A google search led me to this article and, as I sit here in uncontrollable tears, I am so grateful for your transparency and for sharing your story. My 14 year old daughter has same-sex attraction and recently told me, after lying about it for months, that she doesn't, in fact, have any attraction to boys. While she's not outright "boyish," she carries herself like a boy and has many masculine tendencies, but she doesn't see it. She says that she wants to please God, but in the same breath, mourns over not being able to do the things that make her happy. Learning to minister to her is my number one priority right now. I want to love and encourage her in her walk with the Lord and also be an example to her of biblical femininity. But, most days (for the past 8 months), I find myself crying and being overall tormented by her sexuality and what this means for her life and her soul. today is one of those days. Pray for me and with me and pray for my daughter.

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