This gay teen's very moving story of initial family rejection and ultimate salvation appears in today's Reno News & Review. His is just one of many other personal stories contributed by teens for the full article; but his is the only one telling of his family's rejection... but followed with love and acceptance expressed by an understanding grandparent!:
I have taken the liberty of extracting his story below...
“_I picture myself in the next four years finishing my bachelor’s degree in forensic child psychology and working in a mental health firm that specializes in the mental health of children. I want to make a difference in the lives of kids.”
All of my life, I always felt that I was out of place in my own family.
Being raised in a conservative, fundamentalist, non-denominational and later Southern Baptist home, I had a firm foundation on what was right and what was wrong. My father and I always had difficulty living under the same roof, and I could never define why. It was almost as if we were residing in two different realities, perpetually in conflict about the most insignificant things. My mother never felt it necessary to intervene, even though I would attempt to gather her thoughts on the situation, hoping to put my fingertips on some clarification.
On the 10th of April 2012, I told my parents that I was gay. They seemed to process the news with more support and acceptance than I expected. I was showered with hugs and told that not a single thing had changed—I was still their little Jeremiah, their little blonde-haired, green-eyed, intelligent boy. I would always be accepted, supported, loved and cared for. Though they did not agree with my lifestyle, they would help me with anything I might encounter on my journey to adulthood. I remember sitting on their bed in tears, shocked at being openly gay to my intensely Christian parents. It was astounding, and, for a moment, I felt appreciated and loved.
I noticed that my mother, who never spoke much to begin with, became unusually withdrawn and eerily quiet, as though she knew something was not right. She had the typical concerns about how my life was going to play out. Would being gay be more challenging? Would I be bullied in school? Would I be assaulted? Two days later, I think it literally hit my father, and he took a nose dive into the realm of severe hatred for homosexuals.
As I think back, I realize that this homosexual news shook his Christian beliefs, causing harmful outbursts. In a strained effort to “make me go straight,” my father began reading specific verses in the Bible that condemn homosexuality. As hurtful as this was, I listened because I felt it was appropriate to understand his perspective. Over time, my father became more hostile. He began saying things to me like: “You’re going to hell … God doesn’t love you … You’re not my son …You’re such a disappointment … No one will love you … I never asked for a gay kid … There’s nowhere in the Bible where it says you have to love your kids unconditionally … I can’t stand to be around you anymore … What did I do wrong …” and many, many, many more.
We had just moved to a city outside Portland in February because my father had found a job in Oregon. I left all my friends in Reno. Moving to a new place I hadn’t visited, leaving all my friends and family, my school, my job and all that I had known my whole life was hard. I needed someone to talk to. This is when I became quite close with my grandmother.
My grandmother made it clear if I needed to leave, I would have a place to live in Reno with her. There were times we would talk on the phone for hours; she would listen attentively without judgment, and I felt like a person again, someone with worth and a future.
This environment of fighting, arguing, pain, lies, false hope and overall hostility became my life. I had a piano teacher in Oregon named Rhonda, and she was my sounding board. She was my everything. She offered small words of advice, support and even shelter if I needed it. But my dad and I had our final fight on August 4, and I needed to leave. I contacted my grandmother, and she told me she would figure it out and to hang tight. My parents, out of spite, I suppose, decided to cancel my piano lessons on Tuesday, August 7. My piano teacher called me and asked what was going on. I explained to her the situation, and she said that she would like to meet with me to say final goodbyes.
My grandparents were coming Friday at about noon to pick me and my things up. They arrived at 12:32 p.m., and I cannot even begin to describe how it felt to be safe. I was literally taken out of an abusive, dysfunctional, depressing home and saved.
However, because of people like Rhonda, Father Tom, my grandparents and family, I am strong enough to tell this story. Words cannot describe my gratitude towards the people who have helped me, especially my grandparents. The way they have taken me in and shown me unconditional love, support, acceptance and happiness is unbelievable. I was banished from my home, but now, I am able to help others understand that I have been where they have been. I am more than willing to show the kindness I have been shown. My name is Jeremiah Eck, and the feeling of salvation, liberation, unconditional love, support and acceptance is indescribable, and I know that, now, I am on the true journey of the pursuit of happiness.