The following commentary by Scott Mikesh appeared in the October 20 “Faith and Values Forum” of the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper.
As you’ll see, it’s a powerful testimony and one which makes me all the more grateful for my own loving and supportive family, and for all families and friends who love and support their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) loved ones.
This particular testimony also makes me regret never coming out to either of my grandmothers – or indeed to any of my relatives of their generation. Looking back, I think my rationale was that I didn’t want to make them uncomfortable with such a truth. They were, after all, of another generation, I'd tell myself; a generation that didn’t talk about such things.
Of course, such a rationale was bullshit, and cowardly bullshit at that. The bottom line was that I was fearful that my grandmothers and others would be disapproving of me; that I would be a disappointment to them
Yet such a fear was completely groundless. I have no doubt that, given the opportunity, my grandmothers would have accepted me for the person I was and whom they, in their hearts, knew and loved me to be.
My greatest regret, then, is really to do with failing to offer my grandmothers and others an opportunity by which they could choose to express their support and love for me. And don’t ever doubt that this is what ultimately coming out is all about: the expressing of love.
That’s why it is so important for LGBT people to take the risk and not only express their love for their deepest truest selves by coming out, but also give those they love a wonderful gift: the chance to transcend their own fears and uncertainties and to likewise choose to simply embody and express love.
Grandma Knows Best
By Scott Mikesh
Star Tribune, October 20, 2006
As my grandmother knew, being gay does not mean being immoral.
I am a moral gay man. It’s very upsetting to me when people like James Dobson and Michele Bachmann team up to judge me and try to write my hopes and dreams out of our Constitution simply because they can’t accept this fact.
I’m tired of people who don't even know me telling me that I chose to be gay, that I could change if I wanted to, that God does not accept gay people and that I am a threat to marriage, families and children. When I was a boy dealing with the shame of being gay, it was people like them who I was most afraid of. As a proud gay man, I am no longer afraid, and I do not want any other child to feel ashamed or afraid of being who they are.
I stood outside Xcel Center in the misty rain with over 200 others last week, holding a sign that said “Family, Freedom and Fairness,” while around the corner at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, 3,000 others with James Dobson called me immoral, narcissistic and incapable of being a good parent because I am gay.
I believe in God. Above all else I believe God is love, and therefore true love cannot be a sin. I also believe it is one’s character and ability to love unconditionally that makes them a good role model and parent, not simply their gender.
I still want to get married one day in front of my friends, family and God. One day I will, regardless of what Dobson's followers think, because the only people I plan to invite to my wedding are the people who know me and love me.
I have the strength to stand up to the Dobsons and Bachmanns of the world today because I was blessed with family and friends who love me and have always supported me in my pursuit of happiness – some of them Republicans, some Democrats. Even my dear Lutheran, Republican grandmother wrote words of love and encouragement after I came out to my family nearly nine years ago. She was a housewife who lived on a family farm in rural Minnesota with my grandpa. They had been married 61 years when he died in 1996. She passed away a few years later.
Her words say it best:
“I want you to know that I want you to keep being the wonderful person you have always been. You are what you are, and I do hope that talking with your mom has lightened your load. And I appreciate so much my dear one that you wanted your grandma to know. It meant so much to me. God loves you and I do too dear grandson.”
Scott Mikesh lives in St. Louis Park.
See also the previous Wild Reed posts: Catholic Rainbow (Australian) Parents, One of These Boys . . ., A Lesson from Play School, Confronting Classroom Homophobia, Out at a Catholic University, Those Europeans are at it Again, Making Sure All Families Matter, and Remembering Nanna Smith