June 25, 2013

This Mormon Mom Fought to Get Prop 8 Now She Fights For Human Rights For Her Son

Mormon Mom Who Fought for Prop 8, Now Fights for Gay Son
Ryan said an analysis of adolescent studies shows that gay youth are three times more likely to report a suicide attempt and four times as likely to make a "medically serious" attempt than heterosexual youth.
"What we found across religious groups in conflict with homosexuality is many parents feel like they have to choose between their child and their faith," she said. "We've seen a lot of LGBT kids out of their homes and on the streets. Research shows high levels of negative reactions to homosexuality and risk for suicidal behavior and a sense of hopelessness. Jordan's greatest fear is that he felt he would be thrown out."
A 2008 study in the journal Pediatrics suggests that acceptance, and even neutrality, about a child's sexual orientation rather than rejection, can reduce those rates. suggests that acceptance, and even neutrality, about a child's sexual orientation rather than rejection, can reduce those rates.
In the short video, Jordan, a dark-haired boy with guileless eyes, explains that before his parents found out he was gay, he had considered taking "lots pills. ..."
"I was mortified at the idea of being disowned by my parents," Jordan says in "Families Are Forever." "I was like, I do not want to be thrown out of my home. I definitely expected to be excommunicated and restricted from church. But I still wanted to be with the church, like, I'd grown up with it, it was my life … until now."
Until about age 13, Jordan had been the "happiest, most exuberant child," according to his mother, but then he began to withdraw from friends and family. Looking for answers, she found an entry in his journal describing his attraction to other boys, though he had never acted on those urges.
The discovery shook his mother to the core.
"I felt like what I saw his life would be – what I expected his life to be – as a Mormon boy was now gone," she says in the video. "I saw him preparing for a mission for our church – gone. I saw a temple wedding – gone. I saw him being a father – gone."
Suddenly their son's conflict and depression made sense to the Montgomerys. But the church's view on homosexuality confused her: "God views it as a sin," she says in "Families Are Forever." "But I looked at a boy who had never done anything wrong, a pure innocent child, no way sinning or choosing this."
After leaving the family for several days, Montgomery said she and her husband, after saying a prayer, sat closely on their bed, and asked Jordan directly "Are you struggling?"
"I could feel him start to tremble and he nodded," says Montgomery. "We sat that way for two hours, and I hugged him and said, 'Jordan, this changes nothing. … You are perfect in our eyes. ... We will figure this out.'"
With what for her was shocking news about her son, Montgomery said she became a "master researcher."
"There were times when I wasn't eating or sleeping," she said. "I needed to find answers to help him."
She first bought books from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was told that her son's homosexuality was a "choice," a "popular thing to do," and a "phase" he would outgrow. "None of that applied to my son," she said.
Finding nothing that would help her, she turned to the medical community and learned that homosexuality was not a choice but an identity. Eventually, she came across research from the Family Acceptance Project and learned she didn't have to choose between her faith and her son.
"It felt like a ray of sunshine in the middle of the darkest period of my life," said Montgomery. "It gave me hope."
Her husband agreed: "You can't just leave some void for a young child to [think], 'God doesn't have a plan for me anymore,'" Tom Montgomery, 41, says in the documentary. "I need to fill him with purpose. And give him, show him, this is not the end of the world, this is the beginning of your world."
Mitch Mayne, an openly gay active member of the Church of Latter-day Saints who currently holds a priesthood leadership position in his congregation in San Francisco, helped develop the Project's intervention kit – films and research materials – for Mormons like the Montgomerys, who were struggling.
"What we are seeing is very much a cultural change within the Mormon faith," said Mayne, who is in his 40s. "Sadly, Prop 8 branded Mormons as a hateful religion for the LGBT community. … We deserve a black eye for that, because it is one of the most un-Christ like things we have done as a religion. But the beautiful thing in the last few years is that we have seen tremendous change of heart."
But until now, Mayne said, there were few resource materials available to Mormons to educate themselves about homosexuality. Mayne said the Book of Mormon makes no mention of homosexuality.
Wendy Montgomery, too, went back to Scripture and said she felt good about her decision to acceptJordan for who he was: "Christ's most basic commandments were 'love god' and' love your neighbor,'" she said.
"I am a better person for having a gay son," she said. "I love differently, and I love more openly. I didn't realize the judgment I had before I realized that having a gay son was a great blessing and not a burden.” 
Today, Jordan is in the Boy Scouts working toward his Eagle Scout badge. The church has accepted aBoy Scout policy to allow openly gay youth. Because Jordan is not sexually active, he holds an Aaronic priesthood in the church, which means he can pass the sacrament in a ceremony akin to a Catholic communion.
He still faces some "rocky" times at his conservative public school, according to his mother. "I am on a first-name basis with the dean and am constantly fighting for him.
"For him, it's a double-edged sword – being open and at the same time he doesn't have the shame and self-hatred that comes with closeted," said his mother. "But he says, 'Mom, I can trust my friendships now. They know who I really am.'"

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