I am tired this morning as I write this column. You see, I stayed up way too late talking to my mother-in-law who is visiting from Florida. We talked about all kinds of things: my son, her only grandson; cancer, I’ve had it twice; grief, my wife’s father died over the summer after suffering through ALS; politics, we both continuously worry about the horror show that is Donald Trump; and also chicken, I’m a vegan and my miniature poodle is sick, so she cooked him chicken to spare me.
All in all, it was a good talk, and by the time I went to bed it was midnight.
I haven’t always had a great relationship with my mother-in-law, but when my son was born nine years ago, we bonded over our shared love for him. And when I was going through breast cancer treatment, she flew up here to help.
So I’m glad she didn’t read “How to Set Boundaries With Your Gay Family Members,” an Aug. 31 column by “ex-lesbian” Janet Boynes for Charisma News. According to Boynes, my mother-in-law shouldn’t have done any of those things. She should never have met me at all, let alone said a single word to me.
“Parents have a tendency to take a course of action out of guilt or to please others,” Boynes said. “This type of compromise will eventually cause more pain than if we would have just refused to meet with the partner.”
For some context: my wife and I just celebrated our 21st anniversary. We’ve been together since I was 19 and she was 22.
So, according to Boynes, my mother-in-law, who adores her grandson — and he adores her — is suffering “more pain” by having a relationship with us over if she’d cut her daughter out of her life and never met her grandson.
“I believe that actions speak louder than words,” Boynes said. “If we spend time with our loved one’s lover, we are sending the wrong message. Our mouth says, ‘I don’t support your lifestyle,’ but our actions compromise our beliefs by going to dinner out of guilt. We hear this all the time: ‘My wife and I went, but they know we don’t support their relationship.’ Your action has spoken above any words you spoke.”
First of all, let’s agree to banish the term “loved one’s lover” for all eternity. Secondly, I’m going to have to agree with Boynes here, to a point. If you want to condemn your gay child, then you should cut ties with them and never acknowledge their partners. However, if you’re going to be a parent, not to mention a decent human being, you don’t do that.
Of course, Boynes has an answer to why someone like my mother-in-law would feel like she loves my family and me.
“Satan has cleverly manipulated you by demonstrating that your belief is not strong enough to go against this hidden agenda,” she said. “Is it better to please your children above God?”
I’m going to go with yes. It is better to please your children if by “please” we mean “love and accept without going full-blown you’re-possessed-by-Satan on them.”
Boynes writes, “I believe when you give in to the homosexual person, their sin will cause them to stay out in the world longer than if you made a loving, yet resolute stand.”
In other words, if you don’t acknowledge something, it simply goes away. So if you pretend that your child isn’t gay, then they will sooner rather than later give up on the whole gay thing and live heterosexually ever after.
I should point out that my mother-in-law doesn’t believe that homosexuality is a sin, nor is she a right-wing Christian. But plenty of parents with LGBTQ children do and are. And Boynes’ “advice” to them is sick and dangerous. Condemning your child for who they love isn’t “loving.” It is the exact opposite. I mean, you can make your life on earth into a living hell in the hopes that’ll ensure you some kind of magical afterlife after you die. Or, you could just love your kid and accept them. Then again, that could be the devil in me talking.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer, and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.