Sunday, June 23, 2013

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight is about a family who campaigned for the passage for Prop 8 in California. Why in the world would they be in the Out Spotlight? It is for what happened when their then 13 yr old son came out. Today's Out Spotlight it the Montgomery family and their son Jordan.

Wendy and Tom Montgomery are devout Mormons from California who pounded on doors in 2008 to support the passage of Proposition 8, the state referendum that overturned the ruling that allowed same-sex couples to marry in California, and is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

They did not know that their now 14-year-old son, Jordan, was gay and would later contemplate suicide because of the church's steadfast belief that homosexuality is a sin that would cut him off from his family not only here on earth but in the afterlife.

"One of core tenets we believe in as Mormons is that the family is eternal in nature," Wendy Montgomery, 37, told "Our family units are really strong."

Raised in a conservative community in California, the mother of six children said she often heard things like "gay people are disgusting and immoral" and "AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality."

Until about age 13, their son Jordan had been the "happiest, most exuberant child,"  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 mom 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.  I saw him preparing for a mission for our church – gone. I saw a temple wedding – gone. I saw him being a father – gone."

"To be honest, before my son came out, I didn't know any other families who had gay kids," s "It's one of the things that's not talked about in my church, which makes it so much harder to deal with and know who to go to for help."  

She found help from the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, . “It felt like a ray of sunshine in the middle of the darkest period of my life,” she said of the Family Acceptance Project. “It gave me hope.”

The Montgomery family's struggle to reconcile its faith with full acceptance of their son's sexual identity is at the heart of the video "Families Are Forever," which premiered at Frameline 37: the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival.

The 20-minute piece produced by the Family Acceptance Project, was part of a planned series of short documentaries that depict the journey of ethnically and religiously diverse families to support their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children.

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 the video, "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."

Jordan's parents who had fought against Prop 8 now fight for their gay son and have become advocates for acceptance and change.

At "Circling the Wagons" a Mormon LGBT conference in San Francisco,  Tom shared a poem he wrote a poem about his son after he came out.  (Read the poem here)

And mom Wendy summed up how having a gay child has changed her life this way:

 "I am a better person for having a gay son.  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."


prairiegirl said...

An incredible story. A great testament to those who are guided by love and not ruled by 'rules'.

I can't imagine what that boy went through nor his family until the mother found her son's journal entry. Truly inner agony. Thank goodness things changed for the better.

destiny said...

Great Spotlight today. He was lucky coming from a background like that to have such a supportive family.

Special K said...

It is a remarkable story. I wasn't just struck by the Wendy and Tom and how when it became a personal story for them, they began to understand, but also for their son. How compose and assure he is now. What a wonderful young man, and you can see how having the support of family change what was heading to be a tragic story into a story of triumph.

Jersey Tom said...

Got my fingers crossed waiting for the Supreme Court decision on Prop 8 and DOMA. A little nervous that the Court is waiting for the last minute to announce their decision.

Def very nice Spotlight. Kid has got a great chance to grow up to be a fine man.