Sunday, March 23, 2014

Abuse, Christian Parenting and The Question "Can You Pray The Gay Away?"

In reading the reviews of Pray The Gay Away a few people have brought up questions about the way Jack and Andrew were treated by their parents. These boys go through a lot. Some of the things that happen in Pray The Gay Away may seem farfetched. Parents locking the pantry, kids being watched like a hawk, all liberty taken away until the kids submit. Only crazy parents would do stuff like that. Yes, that's true.

For years I've been involved with Christian home school groups and churches. I've met all types of people. I knew the family that had the lock on their pantry and their refrigerator and freezer. The family that didn't allow their children to talk to other children unless they were approved by the parents, yes they were in one of the groups. The family that locked their eleven-year-old son in his room and forced him to stay there even when they had guest over, knew them. There were parents who did all sorts of things to put distance in their relationship with their kids. These kids were taught that they must obey their parents in all circumstances, even if that obedience meant the child would be harmed.

Yes, some of these actions are so close to abuse it's scary. But many Christian parenting books and programs promote abuse, encouraging the parent to force the child into obedience in all situations. This blind obedience warps the child into thinking that they are doing wrong when that is far from the truth. Blind obedience from these children promotes the parents and pastor to God like status, leaving the children at risk. Children are induced to perform sexual activities with pastors and parents and are told that it's biblical. Those instances are less common, but when the news media picks up on a story like this the population at large is horrified, and rightly so. But the abuses don't stop there and they may be less horrifying, but many kids brought up in these environments have learned to accept the abuse willingly, believing that they are defective.

Gay children brought up by Christian parents are so manipulated by their parents into believing that they are flawed that they have no ability to stand up for themselves. They take the abuse their parents offer, believing that they have done something wrong. Many gay children in Christian environments try hard to hide the truth, praying for God to change them. As more states accept gay marriage and more people in positions of authority come out of the closet the pressure on these kids lessens. However, there are still kids out there, lost in the lies that pastors and parents tell them, thinking that there is something wrong with them. For those kids, they only see one option. This book is for them. This book is for those people who are wondering what it's like to grow up gay in a family that doesn't accept you. This book is for parents of gay kids wanting to know how they can help. It's also for those who wonder if you can pray the gay away. The answer is no, you can't pray the gay away and being hateful towards your kids isn't helping anyone. And finally, this book is for people who embrace love and goodness. Because in the end, love is what matters most and the gender of the couple in love doesn't matter, because love is love.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Southern Thing - Pray The Gay Away

Pray The Gay Away - Why did I name the book with such a controversial name? Too many young kids have been told they could pray the gay away. When they search for information on the Internet, these kids find links supporting the theory that being gay is a sin and can be prayed away. But it is not a sin and it can't be prayed away.

The story of Jack and Andrew touches on the abuse both boys suffer when their parents choose intolerance over acceptance. Too many religious families turn their backs on their kids instead of trying to understand their perspective and love their children. What's worse is these families don't consider it abuse. Churches and others support their corrections and punishments, telling the families that abusive behaviors are an acceptable form of parenting. Abusing a child because of their sexual orientation is reprehensible.

Pick up and share Pray The Gay Away. Spread the word that the right way to deal with their gay children is not through hate and intolerance but love and kindness.

Excerpt from Pray The Gay Away

Lucy took off to the kitchen and Jack followed. His dad blocked their path, halting their progress. "Jack, Lucy, I hope you have a productive day at school. Jack, I need you to drop by the church on the way home today. A new family is moving into town and the parents want to make sure their son meets with the right kind of people. He's not starting school today, but waiting until tomorrow. And Jack, I know you're the right type of boy to show this kid how to be a real man."

Warning bells went off in his head, but he hid his reaction. Guilt chiseled away at his confidence, leaving him adrift in a family full of homophobes. "Yes, sir, I'll be there right after school. Football practice ends at four today, and I'll need to shower first."

His dad nodded. "Sounds good." He winked at Lucy and patted her on her head. "Do me proud, girl, and look pretty all day."

Jack gritted his teeth as Lucy giggled and swished by. He moved to follow his sister, but his dad grabbed his arm. "On the team, I'm just making sure, you know"— Nathaniel glanced over his shoulder then nodded to the kitchen door. "Let's step outside."

Jack didn't want to have this conversation with his father. He had a feeling what it would be about and his breakfast threatened to come up. Once the door was closed, Nathaniel turned to him, his brows bunched together. Finding something funny to say wouldn’t work this time. His father seemed to be on a mission.

"I just wanted to make sure that there were no boys on your team into funny business."

"Funny business?" Jack asked. His heart hammered and he wanted to scream, telling his dad to shut up, but he stuffed his anger down, breathing calmly and trying to look like he had no idea what his dad was talking about.

"You know, those freaky girly boys—faggots—sissy boys. None of them are on your team, right?"

Inside, Jack felt like he was going to explode. I'm one of those freaks, as you like to call them. Yeah, me, your precious oldest child, the one destined to be the pastoral heir to the Miller family church. But seriously, fuck you.

Jack shook his head, his mouth turned down in a frown. "No, sir." The truth longed to spill out, finally allowing him to come clean about how he really felt. He wanted to talk about the issues he was living with since he realized he wanted a man, not a woman, to spend the rest of his life with. Prince Charming would save him, not a princess. Well, maybe not save him, but at least look at him and think Wow, he's cute.

But living in this small town where his father was the pastor of the largest church in the county, being gay wasn't an option. So he hid, waiting for salvation that was a bit different than what his dad preached. He'd heard of gay pride events because some of the parishioners wanted to drive into Atlanta and picket. He thanked God over and over again that his dad called them off, claiming they needed to focus on prayer this year, then next, they would go picket if God wanted them to.

Jack was sure God would be against First Congregational protesting gay pride, but so much of church was random. Usually, they were stuck doing what his father wanted instead of following scriptures. He was sick of bending to the leader's will instead of actually using biblical principles. It wasn't something he could ever say to his father. He'd toe the line, living as his dad wanted until he was free. Then, he'd find a boy he could love, holding him close and keeping him safe. They'd both keep each other safe in a real family where each member was valued. But that was a long time off in the future. Right now, Jack needed to tell his dad what he wanted to hear.

"No, sir, everyone on the team is a good guy."

"Good, we need to keep this town pure. If you hear of any of their type, I need to know. We can take care of it, showing them right from wrong."

Jack's stomach turned again. His world was a mess. He shook his father's hand and turned to leave.

"Don't forget, stop by the church after school."

"Yes, sir."