of our Board member, Linda Clark. Here is a copy of the speech that she gave at a press conference :
People of Faith Press Conference
Saturday, April 8, 2000
Good afternoon. My name is Linda Clark and I am the proud mother of two fine young men, one of whom just happens to be gay. Or to paraphrase Dr. Laura, "I’m my gay kid’s Mom"!
I am here this afternoon, not as an expert on homosexuality, but only as an expert on one mother’s love for her gay son. And, I am not here as a theologian – only a mainstream Protestant who knows in her heart that God made no extra, unnecessary or second class people. For I believe we are all equally sacred in the eyes of the Creator. And, I certainly do not understand any religious group espousing a doctrine of family values which tries to turn parent against child. What kind of family values do you represent without every member your family loved, accepted and valued?
When I was growing up in Omaha, Nebraska in the ‘50s, the word "pregnant" was not used in polite company. A woman might have "a child on the way", or she was "expecting". But the phrase that I remember most was that a woman was "in a family way". The quaint phrase came back to me one day while thinking of my own sons. It’s been three decades since my pregnancies – and although my sons and I are no longer connected by an umbilical cord, we are connected by heartstrings. A condition that will render me "in a family way" for a lifetime.
There are those that would tell me that my son is not "normal". To them, I would say that my son might be "different" from the majority – neither good nor bad – just different. It is a difference that to me is no more a significant characteristic than the fact that he left-handed and his brother is right-handed or that he has brown eyes and his brother has blue. And of course, to me, he’s not just different, he’s special!
There are those who would say that gay people are responsible for the destruction of the family unit. To them I would say that I am much more concerned about adultery, domestic violence, child abuse and high rates of divorce breaking down our families. It seems to me that straight people have done a bang-up job of wreaking havoc on families and we’ve done it with no help from the gay community.
There are those who say that gay advocates are asking for special rights. I would say to them that we ask not for special rights, just an end to special discrimination. I want nothing for my gay son that is not a guaranteed birth right for his younger brother.
There are those who say the gay community wishes to recruit children into the gay lifestyle. To them I would say that my son was not recruited into the gay life nor does he recruit anyone else. All current research points to the fact that gays are born. Sexual orientation is a discovery – it is not a decision.
There are those who would say that my son is an "abomination" before God. I’ll tell you what the abomination is: it’s having our children discouraged, verbally abused, thrown out of their own homes, beaten and murdered. It is an abomination that so many of our children cannot complete their education because of harassment and threats of violence. It is an abomination that our gay children are committing suicide in record numbers. It is an abomination that so many churches turn their back on our children who fail to change the unchangeable.
There are those that would tell me that my gay son will lead a pathetic, lonely and sad life – relegated to the fringes of society. To them I would say that my son happy, healthy and busy. He has a large circle of friends – gay and straight. He is an openly gay man – and the only one I might add - where he’s employed at a production and stage lighting company in Hollywood. His bosses and co-workers love and value him. Clients ask for him by name. His boss recently recognized his hard work and dedication by giving him an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.
He is a certified scuba diver who enjoys diving off Catalina Island and Hawaii. He’s saving up so that next year he can vacation in South Africa to dive with research scientists studying the Great White Shark.
He snowboards and often spends long weekends at Lake Tahoe indulging in this pastime.
He works out at Gold’s gym in Hollywood every morning before work. In his spare time, he works on his classic ’68 Camaro – a car built two years before he was born.
This is not the portrait of a pathetic and lonely gay man. Joel has made a wonderful life for himself in California. Back here in Michigan, he’s loved and embraced by a large extended family – his parents love him, his brother not only loves him – but looks up to him, and his aunts, uncles and cousins embrace him as an irreplaceable part of the family.
In fact, the only time he is "relegated to the fringes of society" is in the minds and hearts of those who do not know him and would seek to marginalize him by classifying him in the categories of sissy, queer or fag.
I would like everyone to know, that contrary to the messages that society sends, having a gay child is not a tragedy, but a great blessing. I would never met such wonderful people – both parents of gays and large numbers of the gay community itself – if not for my son’s homosexuality.
I would like to leave you with the words of a father of a gay son, a man of faith, Methodist Bishop, Mel Wheatly, "We were not wise enough to pray for gay children, but now we are smart enough to thank God for sending those gay children to us."
To that, I say AMEN!