That’s a wrap…

Where do I even begin?  How can I put so many emotions into words?  I’m not sure that I can do it.  At the very least, I can let you know why I’ve been silent for a few months.

If you’ve been a follower for some time, you know that I’ve gone to Baltimore Pride the last 3 years and have given out mom hugs.  When I did it in 2018, I knew that something bigger was brewing.  I wasn’t able to share it then and honestly it’s been such a whirlwind I’m not even sure if I mentioned it here when I could (smile).

In October 2018, I started an official Free Mom Hugs Maryland chapter.  Free Mom Hugs is a non-profit that was started in Oklahoma and it became so popular that state chapters began to form.  I got permission to start the Maryland chapter.  Boy what a ride that has been!  For our first year, we attended 10 Pride events throughout Maryland (in just a month and a half!).  We had 406 volunteers that marched in parades, gave out information at our table, and of course gave hugs.  It’s been amazing!  Our last event was on Sunday.  I’ve been one tired mama ever since!

Some of my takeaways…

I hugged way too many people who told me their mom or parents don’t accept them because they are religious.

I had several young people approach my table tentatively.  The first thing they asked was, “Is this a religious organization?”  When I said no, they hugged me…hard.  When I told them that there were moms who were Christians, but they were affirming, they hugged me again.  And thanked me over and over again.

It’s interesting how things work out.  So many of the people who approach me have lost their mom.  Some have had supportive moms and miss their only cheerleaders, and some were never able to reconcile their relationships.  Maybe they sense that I know what it’s like to have lost a mom.  Then there was the event where a mom, who just a year ago could not accept that she had a gay child because of her faith, came out to volunteer because she became affirming and wanted to help out. She had a young lady…I would say early 20’s…approach her and when she hugged her the girl just sobbed….for what seemed like forever.  She couldn’t even speak.  Her friends told us that this girl’s mom tells her every day that she is going to hell.  She got several hugs that day.  As she walked away, my co-leader and I looked at each other…we just grabbed each other and hugged and cried.  We just can’t wrap our brains around how any parent can do that to their child.  Just thinking about it brings those tears back.

We don’t just have moms at our events.  We have dads that hug too!  There was a dad that joined us this past Saturday.  It was the first time he’d ever come to a pride event and therefore the first time he ever offered hugs.  Every time he tried to thank me for allowing him to participate he got emotional and couldn’t speak.  He knew that kids were rejected, but he had no idea the scope of what that looks like.  He said he would be at lots of events next year to let these kids/adults know that they are loved.

Due to the protesters at the last two events, I can assure you that there are dozens of young people that will never step foot into a church.  It will be a miracle if they ever give God a chance.  The protesters (some of them middle school aged children) held signs that had to do with God and faith and how they needed to repent and change.  They weren’t the worst signs I’ve ever seen, but the damage was the same.   At each event, there was a man with a speaker that read Bible passages and told the crowd how God’s love was conditional and if they didn’t change they were going to hell.  At one of the events, myself and two other moms stood at the barrier that was placed between the protesters and the entrance to the event.  We tried our best to block them and give hugs to the hurting people who had to pass them to get into the event.  We stood there for hours.  There was a young man who was there the entire time yelling at the protesters to the point where he lost his voice.  We tried to get the kids to ignore them and go have fun, but you could tell they just wanted to be heard.  There was a young girl who stood in front of one of the men.  He was talking to her and she stood there for about 15 minutes and listened to him.  She was very respectful (I will admit that not everyone was).  When he was finished, she tried to speak and he shut her down.  She came to us in tears.  She told us that she always listens to what they have to say, but they never want to hear her side of things.

Standing there was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  I kept my back to them and faced the crowd to let them know I was there to support them.  It took every ounce of self control I could muster to not say something to those men.  I knew without a doubt that it would not have made one iota of difference.  It makes me not want to associate with anything Christian.  I struggle with that a lot because of the pain and damage I see done in the name of God.

Pride events are supposed to be safe spaces.

I think the faces of the people I hugged this year (and every year for that matter) will be imprinted on my mind and heart forever.  I am humbled that I am allowed into this sacred space.  The pain I feel radiate off of these precious humans is palpable.  My hope is for that brief moment they can feel that they are loved just as they are without conditions or strings attached.

At the events, we have a board where we post notes of affirmation.  People are encouraged to take a note that speaks to them.  They are also encouraged to leave a note for someone else.   This note was left by a gay man who lost his mom recently.  She was supportive and he appreciated that we were at the event.  If you would like to get involved with a group by you, go to Facebook and do a search for Free Mom Hugs – with your state name.  Or you can go to the Free Mom Hugs website that I linked above and search for a chapter near you.

Sometimes the simplest act can have a lasting impact.

These events are a reminder to me that love matters more than ever.  Be that love to someone.

Just one is too many…

Sometimes songs just hit you right in the heart…especially when sung on a Sunday morning during worship time at church.  For me, there is something special about being with a big group of people all singing along.  This past Sunday for Easter that song was Worth by Anthony Brown and Group.  We had the added bonus of members of our congregation forming a choir and joining our worship band to sing it.  They did an AMAZING job.  The song is powerful and they brought it!  There weren’t many dry eyes when they were finished.

This is how the song starts out…

You thought I was worth saving
So you came and changed my life

You thought I was worth keeping
So you cleaned me up inside

You thought I was to die for
So you sacrificed your life

So I could be free
So I could be whole
So I could tell everyone I know

Like I said…it’s a powerful song.  You could feel an appreciation in the room.  An appreciation for being loved by God…even in our messiness.  You could feel an appreciation for being loved even though at times we don’t feel worthy of that love.

I think a lot of Christians would say that they aren’t worthy of the grace they receive from God.  It’s given to us freely.  It’s one thing to examine ourselves and converse with God about what He might want to change in us.  It’s something totally different when we look around and start to judge what someone needs to change or who is or isn’t worthy of that same grace.

Unfortunately there are Christians out there that don’t feel that the same love that is extended to them should be extended to the LGBTQ community.  I see it every single day.  They think that the community needs to change, that they need to be cleaned up, and that Jesus didn’t die for them.  They will say that Jesus died for everyone, but their actions surely do not show it.

I have this box on the shelf in my office.  It’s full of cards.  Birthday cards.  Graduation cards.  Congratulation cards.  Welcome baby cards.  Wedding cards.  Sympathy cards.  These cards don’t go to people I know.  They go to people who reach out for help.  Sometimes it’s from total strangers and sometimes it’s from fellow mama bears.

There are people who reach out to our private FB mom group asking for support because their church and family have abandoned them.  They aren’t asking for money or anything physical.  They are asking for love so the moms in our group send cards to let them know they aren’t alone and they are loved. Then there are the cards that go out to fellow mama bear’s children.  You see…when their child comes out there are no longer cards from grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, etc.  Birthdays, graduations, weddings all come and go without any acknowledgement from the people who once professed to love them.

This week the Supreme Court agreed to hear a trio of cases about whether anti-discrimination workplace laws apply to LGBTQ employees.  Federal appeals courts are divided about whether anti-discrimination laws protect LGBTQ individuals.  As these things are posted on social media, the posts from professing Christians are quite honestly shocking.  They write about how they are praying that the courts rule in favor of discriminating against this community (although the language they use to describe the community is not something I feel comfortable repeating).  On top of workplace discrimination, my trans friends have to worry about regulations that could allow health care providers, hospitals, and insurers to discriminate against transgender patients.  Again, the “cheers” online in favor of this are appalling.

We literally wake up everyday and wonder what fresh new hell awaits our kids.  Will it be from our own family and friends, the government, the church, or strangers on the internet?  And yes I know that not ALL Christians ascribe to this kind of behavior and beliefs.  The fact that even one Christian thinks any of this is ok is one too many for me.  They don’t bother taking the time to educate themselves and they make too many assumptions.

These behaviors are horrifying coming from anyone, but you certainly don’t expect to see if from Christians.  At least you shouldn’t, but sadly it’s what I expect these days.  Children are taking their lives because their families are kicking them out, or just simply pretending like they no longer exist.  People are leaving the church in droves and sadly some are leaving their belief in God behind.  If you need to turn your back on family, deny services to your fellow humans, discriminate in the workplace and healthcare field to secure your spot in heaven, quite frankly that’s not a heaven I want any part of.  Everyone of course has their own beliefs.  When we profess to be followers of Jesus, I don’t think those beliefs should be used to harm others.

“You will know me by my discrimination,” is not something Jesus ever said.  I think instead he would say…

You are worth saving.
You are worth keeping.
You are to die for.
So you can be free, you can be whole, you can tell everyone you know.

And I think he would say, “You are worth loving.”

Because love matters….




God doesn’t make mistakes…

God doesn’t make mistakes.  Who knew that four little words could be so painful.  I have heard these words used for many different circumstances.  Maybe you yourself have used these words to console someone during a difficult time.  The words seem harmless enough right?  And I think most Christians would agree that God doesn’t make mistakes.

I have a few friends who have children with down syndrome.  They are some of the sweetest kids I have ever met.  Their innocence and joy for life is contagious.  And these parents love their kids fiercely.  But when they first got the diagnosis, their worlds were turned upside down.  They didn’t know what the future held for their children and it was scary.  Some even wondered…worried even…that maybe they had done something to cause it.  Time and again they would be reassured that it wasn’t anything they had done.  These things happen.  It’s out of our control.  And besides…God doesn’t make mistakes.  They are told that their child is special and unique and here for a reason.  They have a purpose in life that can only be fulfilled by them…and those people are right.

I had a friend in middle school that was born with a hole in her heart.  It was discovered when she was born.  Of course her mom didn’t do anything to cause it…it was just something that happened.  She had to wait until she was 13 years old before they could perform the surgery to fix it.  I remember being so worried about her when surgery time came around.  She came through it with flying colors and is living a happy, healthy life today.

There are so many parents who deal with unexpected news about their child when they are born.  Whether it be down syndrome, a heart defect, a cleft palate, a malformed limb, autism….the list goes on.  It’s a scary time.  Parents wonder what the future of their children will look like.  And when they wonder why it happened, and if they caused it, they are reassured that it wasn’t their fault.  They are told that God doesn’t make mistakes.  They are reminded that their child is special and has a specific purpose for their lives.

In these instances, the phrase “God doesn’t make mistakes” is used as a comfort.  They are words to let the person know that they have worth.  But too many times, these same words are used in a way that are hurtful.

I don’t believe that I know one transgender person, or parent of a transgender person, that wasn’t told “God doesn’t make mistakes.”  In these circumstances, however, it is used as a way to say that who they are is wrong.

“You can’t be transgender because God doesn’t make mistakes.”  This is what they are told.  In many cases, the person telling them this hasn’t done any research.   They haven’t truly listened to their story.  They make a quick judgement.  It doesn’t make sense to them.  They assume that the person is just choosing to be transgender and they see it as dishonoring to God.

This isn’t something that someone decides on a whim.  In fact, it isn’t something that they decide at all.  The only decision in this is what they choose to do about it.  Are they going to live a lie all of their lives, or are they going to take steps to become their authentic self?

I think it’s safe to say that we agree there are differences between men and women.  It’s discussed on relationship reality shows, written about in books, and talked about in marriage counseling.  When we discuss these differences, we don’t reference our genitals as being the reasons we are different.  We talk about our brains.  Men and women’s brains are different.  I don’t know about you, but no one had to tell me that I was a girl.  And I didn’t have to check what was between my legs to determine that I was a girl.  I just knew…I was a girl.  This is the same for transgender people.  The only difference is that their brain doesn’t match their birth assigned sex.

This is something that happens in the womb like all of the other things that are out of the mother’s control.  There is a lot of information on the internet that explains this if you are interested.  Or you can contact me and I’ll direct you where to look.  When you tell a transgender person that they are wrong to be themselves because “God doesn’t make mistakes,” you aren’t disagreeing with them.  You aren’t having a difference of opinion.  You are telling them that THEY are wrong…that their very being is wrong.  And it is harmful.

Yesterday was Transgender Day of Visibility, I want to let all of my transgender friends know that you are not a mistake.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  God has a purpose and plan for you.  I see the authentic you.  I’m here for you.  And I love you.

Because love matters…



Friend or foe…

I got the sad news recently that a classmate passed away last month.  We went to middle school together.  We had reconnected three years ago at Mike’s 30th high school reunion because they also went to school together.  We became Facebook friends and caught up via social media.  He got cancer about a year after the reunion.  He left behind a wife and young daughter.  He sure did love his girls.

I was going through my messages yesterday and saw a private message from him on FB that I had saved.  In the message, he asked if I had a gay child or a close loved one that was gay.  He knew something was up from my posts on social media.  I told him my son was gay and shared a little bit about our journey.  He shared that he was an ally.  He actually owned a barber shop and told me that they were LGBTQ friendly and actually helped transgender people with their transitions.  It was so sweet.  I saved it so I could refer people to his shop.

Sometimes you find allies in the least expected ways or places.  Looking back at our time together in school, I would have never guessed he would become an ally.  In fairness, my memories of him were of being a bit of a trouble maker in school.  Not in a mean way…but he tended to be mischievous.  You kind of forget that people grow up and mature (smile).  It is also equally surprising where you find opposition.

Being harassed at work seems to be a theme lately.  I know a young man down in Florida who was treated poorly by a customer he was helping.  She had overheard he and a co-worker talking about their significant others.  He mentioned the name of who he was dating.  His love interest has a name that could be male or female so the customer asked him if this person was a boy or a girl.  He replied boy and she proceeded to tell him that he was going to hell and she did not want him to ring her up.  She got the manager involved and caused a scene right in front of this young man.  Luckily his manager told the customer that they don’t discriminate at their store.

I know another young man who was loudly shamed at his place of employment by a customer.  In this case, however, the manager did not stand up for him.  Things became so miserable for him there that eventually he quit.  These are both disturbing incidents, but I think the most disturbing is from a friend who lives in Virginia.  Her daughter has been harassed at work by former church members.  They come into the store and ask her how her walk with the Lord is going and then proceed to tell her that she is going to hell.  While she is at work!  She has come home more than once in tears.

What makes someone think it is ok to talk to a child this way?  How is that Christlike?  It isn’t.  And people wonder why the LGBTQ community is angry at the church…why many have stepped away?  It’s no mystery to me.  Did God really task them with being judge and jury?  And where does it stop…just with the LGBTQ community?

I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager and young adult it took me time to develop confidence in myself.  Those first jobs were nerve-wracking.  I can’t imagine having someone confront me in this way while I was at work.  It is wrong on so many levels.  It is disturbing and shameful.

This is one of the reasons that allies are important.  Thank you to those of you who have searched God.  Done your own research.  Realized that many are going about things the wrong way.  Your kindness…your love…could literally save a life.

And I hope if you ever encounter one of these horrific scenes in person, you will stand up for the person being shamed.  Show them that not everyone is like that.  Show them some love….because love matters.


Expecting the unexpected…

It’s been a while since I’ve been here.  As I mentioned last year, I left my admin job at my church. The young gal who took my place had a baby in October so I’ve been filling in and will be there until early January.  That’s part of the reason why I’ve been extra busy lately.  It seems like there have been lots of babies born or announcements of babies coming next year.  It brings back so many memories of when I was expecting.  I heard SO MANY stories…some good and some horrific…to the point where I was afraid to give birth (smile).

When I was pregnant with my son, my go to book was “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”  Not sure if that book is still around, but it was chock full of information from the day you found out you were expecting until you gave birth.  But I have to say…no person and no book can really prepare you for what’s to come.  You realize that you are going to be sleep deprived.  You realize that your time is not going to be your own any longer.  You realize that you are going to love your child.  But there really isn’t any amount of preparation that can truly get you ready.  Mainly because every body and every baby is unique.

I had no idea that my baby boy would be so stubborn about being born.  I didn’t know that I was going to have to be induced…twice.  I didn’t know that my labor was going to take 22 hours…that I would push for 4 of those hours.  I didn’t know that the doctor would have several young residents in the delivery room showing them how to deliver a baby with forceps.  I didn’t know that my little baby boy would have colic so bad that he would cry for hours on most days.  I felt so helpless and many days cried along with him as I paced the floors with him.  I didn’t know what tired was until I had my baby boy.  I didn’t know that I would feel the intense protective feelings that I had for him.  I didn’t know that I could love someone with such fierceness.  It’s a different kind of love.

No amount of reading, video watching, or people talking prepared me for what it was like to be a mom.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t do all of those things because it is helpful.  Just expect the unexpected along the way.

I can tell you that I never expected the journey that I’ve been on once that little baby boy got to adolescence.  Talk about being unprepared!  I’ve shared the beginning of that journey with you already, but there is a part of that journey that I haven’t shared.  My husband and I didn’t know what to do with the information we learned about our son.  We wanted to help him because it was so obvious that he was in desperate need of help.  So we read books, and visited websites, and talked to elders in the Christian faith.  The thing that was recommended over and over again is what we later learned to be called conversion therapy (or reparative therapy).  A simple definition of it is this:

Conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions.

Specifically what was recommended to us was an organization called Exodus International:

Exodus International was a non-profit, interdenominational ex-gay Christian umbrella organization connecting organizations that sought to “help people who wished to limit their homosexual desires”. It was founded in 1976 and ceased activities in June 2013.

Remember the feelings of protecting my child I mentioned earlier?  Well I was willing to do whatever it took to help him change… because that had been his prayer for years.  I’ve mentioned before that I never thought being gay was a choice.  I had known too many gay people along the way to hold that belief.  I did, however, think that something happened along the way to cause them to be gay.  The problem was that I had been wracking my brain for how this happened to my son and I was coming up empty.  So some help from an organization that dealt with this issue seemed reasonable.  My husband spoke to someone from Exodus for several hours one evening.  He relayed the conversation to me and something in our spirit told us this was not the route we should take with our son.

This type of therapy comes in many different forms.  It wasn’t until years later when I actually met people who had been through conversion therapy that I realized the disaster we had avoided.

I know a young man who went to his pastor and told him of his same-sex attractions.  His pastor told him to attend a meeting at his church.  Here he met other men from his congregation that struggled…with pornography.  He was confused because he didn’t struggle with pornography.  It wasn’t helpful to him at all.  He was told that his “sexual sin” would be cured if he would just marry a woman.  “Fake to you make it” school of thought.  So, he started dating a young lady from his church and they did get married.  He stayed in the marriage for several years until he just couldn’t take it any longer.  He loved his wife…but not in the way a wife should be loved.  She was more of a friend.  He had zero sexual desire for her.  She was devastated when he asked for a divorce.  It wasn’t easy on him either.  He felt terrible hurting her.  Yet his church is what got him into this mess.  It’s what his pastor recommended he do.  When he went to his pastor to let him know he could no longer pretend, he was promptly told he could no longer worship there.

I know a woman who went to counseling for same-sex attraction and gender confusion.  This was many years ago.  The solution they had for her was shock therapy.  Imagine signing up for that!  Yet she did.  She was desperate to change and her prayers weren’t working so she didn’t know what else to do.  She trusted the therapist.  I forget how long she subjected herself to the therapy, but it didn’t work.  It took her decades to step into another therapist office.  She was terrified.  But hiding her identity was killing her, so she felt like she had no choice.  Thankfully she got one that knew conversion therapy is harmful and she is doing much better today trying to live out her last years as her authentic self.  She is in her sixties.

I know of another person that went through 30 exorcisms to not be gay.  30.

If you look, you will find very severe cases of conversion therapy and then some that seem less harmful.  They are all harmful.  It has been proven to not work.  Yet this practice is still legal in many states…even for minors.  Alan Chambers, one of the leaders of Exodus International issued this apology when they closed their doors.

Last month, I went to see the movie Boy Erased based on the book by the same name written by Garrard Conley.  I found myself holding my breath as I watched knowing that we came so close to exposing our son to this kind of treatment.  The program was called “Love In Action.”  Sounds good right?  It wasn’t.  I’ve read articles whose authors say that the movie took liberties and it was over-dramatic.  In an interview, Garrard tells the audience that they left things out because they didn’t think people would believe it.  In fact, he said the scene where his mom comes to take him out of the program was much more dramatic in real life.  In the movie, his mom played by Nicole Kidman, says, “A mother knows when something isn’t right.”  I totally agree with that statement.  It was an informative movie.  It was hard to watch, but I think it’s important for the information to be out there.

The critics say that there are people who have changed.  I say check with them several years from now.  Alan Chambers from Exodus admits that he still has same-sex attractions even though he is married to a woman.  And John Smid, the leader of Love in Action, left the program and married a man.  Mel White, the author of “Stranger at the Gate,” was married to a woman for 25 years.  He was counseled, exorcised, electric shocked, prayed for, and nearly driven to suicide trying to be straight.

Praying the gay away looks good on paper.  It seems simple.  Love God, believe that He can guide you, have faith that He can change you and you are good to go.  Follow these steps and you will be on the path to happiness.  What works on paper or in theory doesn’t always translate to an expected outcome.  Sometimes we are faced with the unexpected.  Like when a person embraces how God made them to be and the bad fruit is cleared away and good fruit sprouts and grows.

There really is SO much to this topic.  Even I don’t completely understand it because I have never been through it.  I can tell you that I’ve seen first hand the damage that it has done.  I’ve seen people try their best to do what was expected of them and it brought them nothing but pain and almost (and in some cases did) destroy their relationships with God and their families.  Let’s let God be God and not assume we know His plan.  Let’s expect the unexpected.  And let’s love with an expectation that it will heal those who have been hurt.

Because love matters…