Homophobia’s Cruel Mother’s Day

ImageIt was the Friday before Mother’s Day. I had published a blog piece on the nature of Mother’s Day and the celebration of all who feel mother love running through their souls. I was finishing up a high-tech piece at my desk at work when my work associate, Kathleen, approached. She politely interrupted me to ask a favor. “I may need to work altered hours on Monday, if that is okay,“ she started. “I have a memorial service that I need to go to.”

I must have looked a little startled at the request. She continued, “Oh no, it’s nothing. Well, it isn’t nothing; it was a very distant cousin of mine. One I hardly knew,” and then, almost under her breath, “It was a suicide.”

With that, my chair spun around and I said whatever feeble words one can say to that kind of news. My friend’s eyes filled with tears as she told me the story of her cousin, who we’ll call “Grace.”

Grace had been a bit of a rebel and a free thinker. The daughter of a conservative Catholic family, she ran with a wild artistic crowd. The days with that crowd left her with independence, and a pregnancy. Her single motherhood presented yet another contentious issue with her conservative family.

Now that she had a daughter in tow, Grace started a responsible life. The rift with her family did not start to mend, as it became progressively obvious that Grace’s daughter, “Glory“ (not her real name), was a lesbian. In the central California region where Grace and Glory lived, it was not only a distant family that they had to contend with, it was also the homophobic mob mentality of their immediate community. Glory was taunted, abused, and verbally assaulted constantly. She was open about who she was, with the support of her loving mother, but her coming out only intensified the hatred perpetrated toward her.

Glory finally reached her limit. Grace came home at dusk one evening and turned down the path toward their cozy home. There she found Glory, who had hung herself from a large limb of their prized oak tree.

As a parent, I cannot fathom the hurt and devastation that must have slammed Grace. I freely acknowledge that I love my sons on a deeper level than I ever imagined possible. They have connected me to a selflessness that has altered all the values I’ve ever held dear. Whenever I have empathized with the story of a parent’s loss of a beloved child, I find myself facing a cold debilitating darkness, a thought that if such a tragedy were to befall me, I might never recover.

And so it was with Grace. She went to that place immediately. Her family kept their distance from the tragedy, not wanting to deal with the “lesbian issue.” That night Grace set her home on fire, hoping death in an intense heat would offset the frigid state of her grieving soul.

Grace did not die. She was saved from the fire, but not from her pain. She returned to the lot, which now held the shell of her former house, a dilapidated fence, an old shack . . . and an oak tree. She took up residence in the shack.

A family friend came by every once in a while to check up on her, to make sure she was eating. One evening at dusk, the week before Mother’s Day, he found her. She had hung herself from the branch of the oak tree in the same spot where Glory had taken her own life.

My friend and I sat and looked at each other as she concluded the story. “My family is actually only distantly related to Grace. But her family won’t do a thing. No funeral . . . nothing.”

“You take all the time you need. Whatever you need, let me know,” I muttered before she walked away.

The story haunted me all weekend while mothers around the country were glowing in the love of their families. I could not help but be in awe of the horrible force that homophobia still exerts in our world. It is the force that inspires a mob to destroy a teenage girl, it is the power that drives a family to abandon a daughter at a time when she needs them most, and, worst of all, it is a hatred that through its destruction can turn the brightest, most unconditional love a human being can experience in on itself and into a dark and evil grief that devours every iota of life. A black hole that dissolves the spirit into nothing, it is a mother’s day turned into an evil night.

I saw my friend that Monday morning, the day after Mother’s Day. She was not supposed to be there. She was supposed to be at a chapel honoring her cousin Grace. She saw my quizzical look, and she sighed angrily. “I know. I am at work. They wouldn’t let us do it. Her family put their foot down. There will be no funeral, no memorial service for Grace.”

“No memorial? “ I said, as irritated as she was. “No memorial? Oh, yes, there will be a memorial.” With that, I opened a notebook and wrote the words across the top, “Homophobia’s Cruel Mother’s Day.” I lifted the page and showed my friend what I was going to do. She nodded. As she started to walk away, she turned and said, “Just don’t use their real names.”

Dedicated to Grace and Glory. Your lives will not be forgotten.

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Special thanks to Rachel Hockett for editing help on this article.

About robw77

A single gay dad who cares. His story can be read here: http://www.imagaysingleparent.com/2013/02/02/rob/ and here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/31/rob-watson-gay-family_n_4689661.html
This entry was posted in Family, Hatred, Living, Prejudice, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

80 Responses to Homophobia’s Cruel Mother’s Day

  1. Pingback: A Gay Dad Sounds Off About Fundamentalists Who Target Kids | IMPACTmagazine.us

  2. Pingback: A Gay Dad Sounds Off About Fundamentalists Who Target My Kids | evoL =

  3. Pingback: A Gay Dad Note to the Parents Who Are Seeking to Devastate Their 15 Year-Old Daughter and Her 18 Year-Old Girlfriend | evoL =

  4. Marilyn says:

    I am the mother of a transgender son and cannot express how much he has enriched my life and my understanding of life. I am just so sad and sorry to hear this tragic news.

    • robw77 says:

      Our children are such blessings, I totally agree Marilyn! Thank you for being an inspirational parent– obviously the facts in this story evidence that your voice needs to be heard! Thank you for sharing it.

  5. Marilyn says:

    I have a son who is transgender and I feel honoured and humble to have him in my family. He has enriched my life, and my understanding of life, in more ways than I can count. I am so sorry and sad to hear this horrific story.

  6. Rita Ann Serpa~Leid says:

    So VERY sorry for the two losses of Kathleen!!!!! And to you, I say God blesses those who stand up for and support those who are unable to cope with their circumstances!!! This woman will never forget what you’ve done for her, in her time of crisis, with the loss of both Glory & Grace. How horribly they were treated by those who should have been there for them, at such a crucial time in both their lives! HOW VERY SAD, FOR THEM ALL!!!! Their own God, who still judges all, will take care of them, in His own way, rest assured; we, as EARTHLINGS, may never know just how He resolves these issues, but, I have my own doubts, about them being welcomed into HIs Heaven, with open arms!!!!!

  7. blephenstoom says:

    it’s very noble of you to have taken the time to document this occurrence, and i applaud the decision to have this act as a memorial to the deceased.

  8. phil armond says:

    Here is a message for the “family” of those girls ( and all those that support the families views) Look forward to your “judgement day”

  9. Aliza says:

    Sad story. I believe that Jews and Christians (and possibly ofther faiths I’m unaware of) were given the understanding of God as a parent (Father as well as Mother Mary) to help us come to a tiny understanding of how much God loves us. It is so sad how this illustration not only hasn’t seemed to work but so many humans don’t even get (aka understand or even feel) the parent/child relationship. So, if there is a God I’m pretty sure that God is so disappointed with humanity.

  10. norman says:

    god is crying for the evil they do in his name.Ihope you find the peace you deserve Grace and glory.

  11. Morgaine says:

    So deeply heart wrenching and sad. The story is a fitting memorial for these women. The whole world can cry for them. I hope they have found peace. Thank you for bringing their story to the light.

  12. Azure Sky says:

    I know it may not be considered PC but, I HONESTLY wish people like this would get outed as the hateful bigoted pricks they are, her family and that community.

    let me be clear here, I mean publicly shamed, see how they like being treated like the trash they are….

    to bad they didnt move to the area I live, nobody would have given a shit about any of this, but then, The area I live is far from the centers of the religious Reich who cause all this harm…

    And speaking for myself, I would have held a memorial service myself, to hell with what the parents thought, i would have told them where to stick it and made it clear if they didnt back the F off, i would publicly shame them for how they treated their own child and grand child….if that didnt work….bear mace…….

    sorry but this story pisses me off…my family are far from perfect, infact my fathers a raging prick, but, he would NEVER treat anybody like this….and my mother…well even she would have the urge to harm these people….

    I really have this desire to see 4chan /b/ get ahold of this and watch them send the family a party van…..

    aggg, this just has me all ticked off now…..

    I have lost friends to some stupid shit but…..this makes me feel like http://youtu.be/1ixEHDWqrzI

    feel better after watching that a few times…..

    i really do feel bad for their friends, really is to bad they couldnt move to someplace with less homophobic dickbags around.

  13. Sandy Moran says:

    If there is anyone out there who is going through the same thing with their family as Grace and Glory did, please consider pulling up your roots and finding a way to move to another place where people are more tolerant. You have a lot to offer the world, don’t waste it on the willfully ignorant. Good luck and please, never give up hope.

  14. ari1976 says:

    I think this story is tragic and my heart and hopes go out to all of those who loved Grace and Glory. However, I believe that her family and the people who hounded Glory got off far too easy. Their real names should be published, they should be subject to all the pressure that we can socially bring to bear in order to say that their actions are not OK. I truly believe that if there is to be change on these issues homophobes should not get a free pass. They have a right to their views, bit that does not mean that their views and actions should have no consequences. THey should no be arrested nor should any governmental actor do anything to them, however, we as social actors should do what we may to make the social cost of homophobia a non-trivial sacrifice to pay.

  15. KazuoTS says:

    It is a sad realization that Bronze Age prejudices still haven’t (and probably will not) died off. That is, of course not to say that religion is bad in it of itself, but what people do as a result of their fixed beliefs.
    R.I.P. Ladies, your story shall never be forgotten.

  16. Jocelyn Bright says:

    this story left such an ache in my heart….I would like a law to be passed whereby the people who cause such pain my their actions, that the victims choose to die, are held responsible for their actions and charged with manslaughter…there needs to be accountability ….RIP Grace & Gloria…there is no prejudice in heaven

    • Jewell says:

      Jocelyn, you can be assured that what those people withheld in this life, will be visited & revisted upon them -either in this life or another- until they rebalance the scales of the compassion & empathy they should have shown Grace when she needed it. That’s how the world works.

  17. I was truly touched by your story. I am sorry for your friend. I am actually thinking about writing something that is inspired by this beautiful, yet tragic story.

  18. Wrench says:

    Without dragging unnecessary crap into this, I must say thank you for doing this for your friend. While the kindness and comfort of strangers online is minor compared to a supportive family (IMO), I can only say that my heart breaks for her. You have done both of the deceased a great service. Thank you.

  19. This is so ridiculously cruel that if someone tried to write this as fiction I’d cry “Oh come on! At least give the villains *some* redeeming feature! Nobody’s *that* evil.” But while the actions of Grace and Glory’s family were disgusting and awful I think Robw77’s writing of this article as a memorial is proof that there are some decent people out there, willing to show care and compassion to people who amount to total strangers.

  20. Tom Freeman says:

    Back in 1984, I spoke with a man with AIDS who was a Leatherman winner from Seattle. He told me the reaction his mother had when Richard said he had AIDS. The conservative Mother said simply this: “So, was it worth it?” And that was the end. This was, of course, when AIDS was spreading and people were realizing the enormous toll the disease would take. But for me, I was saddest about the mother. Turned her back on her son. How can anyone do that ? Your blog reminded me of this. Nothing more to say then to hope and pray that parents will remember to love their children no matter how old, and how they love.

  21. Thank you for your beautiful and touching memorial. Grace and Glory deserved better and I pray for a day when stories lie this one will be distant memories that we whisper as a reminder of the way things used to be.

  22. Michelle says:

    Grace and Glory, we lift you up with love and bless your lives. You are remembered. Namaste.

  23. robpavao says:

    Thanks so much……for honouring the memory of Grace and Glory!

  24. Christie says:

    live and let live, it isn’t hard. Wishing everyone shattered by this tragedy peace, healing and love. Cannot believe her family put their foot down, how pathetic

  25. gnaddrig says:

    What a horrible story! Having to see your own child being driven to suicide just for being different, for something she is not at all responsible for, something that doesn’t harm anyone in any way; then having to get along without any support from your family and having to endure their rejection and hatred instead – how could anyone bear something like that!

    Why did this have to happen! It is so pointless and unnecessary. But I like the idea of this blogpost as a memorial service for Grace and Glory.

    Well, here’s to hope. May the haters not have the last word!

  26. RandomGirl says:

    Such a sad story. I hope the memorial brings peace to those who care to remember her.

  27. Oh my word! What a hauntingly sad story. Why are people so intolerant. Don’t they realise how it destroys lives as it did in this case. I hope Grace and Glory find the peace they were denied in life.

  28. kzottarelli says:

    may Grace and Glory find love, peace and acceptance in God’s welcoming arms. Amen

  29. My heart goes to Grace and Glory, and I’d like to say that I know that their family didn’t do what they did because they’re Christian or out of some warped sense of “morality”. They did it because, unfortunately, many people only have children as objects that bring status in society.

    They don’t see their offspring as people, only as a way to show society that they, the parents, have succeeded at their reproductive and child raising functions.

    And that’s why, if their children “misbehave” or act “innapropriately” they turn their backs on them in hatred. Because their kids didn’t work as they intended them to do and exposed them to public scrutiny, and what those people fear the most is what opinion society has on them.

    I say that because unfortunately I come from parents exactly like that, and so does my wife. We survive the hate because we decided to run the hell away (in her case, literally, she lived in another city and had to run away from home because of the intensity of her parents’ abuse) from homophobic environments, and have nothing to do with people who can’t, or won’t, see us as people. It hurts like hell, we both have gone through bouts of deep depression, but we’re just too damn stubborn to let other people take us down.

    I hope wherever they are, Grace and Glory feel better now, and are finally freed from the pain. And I hope other people realize that if their families and the people they live among hate them, they’re better off without them.

  30. thank you for putting this out here. Grace and Glory are no doubt together and at peace, they will forever be in the thoughts of any who read this, as we face the diversity and lack of acceptance seen everyday.

  31. Jason Oster says:

    How has society come to this low a standard?
    I’ve never been particularly religious; I’ve never gone to church, and I only read a children’s edition of the bible once when I was young, and even I’m aware that this hatred and intolerance is not God’s way. How are people able to justify themselves and go to sleep at night after causing two kind people to needlessly end their lives because some people’s perverted views of God’s ideals said they were sinners? How can the parents live with themselves after canceling their daughter’s funeral because she embraced her daughter’s homosexuality? And how is it that suicides like these are as common as the lynchings of African Americans 50 years ago? How have we as a people not learned from our mistakes and progressed enough to show enough kindness to people who are different that they don’t want to kill themselves? Why is it so hard for us to make that little amount of progress?
    My heart goes out to all those who were close to Grace and Glory. Neither of them deserved what happened, and it sickens me that it did.

    • Tom Freeman says:

      I was religious when I was a teenager. The homophobia and hatred that the right-wing churches directed at Lesbians/Gays/Trans …. made many of us so angry and frustrated that we lost any faith. However, the Christian right is not right. Finally Christians are speaking out from the Christian Left… Jesus is misrepresented constantly by the Christian right (wrong). Their actions hurt people. It must stop.

      • The Christian right makes me angry because they claim that religion doesn’t evolve and change. They claim that Christians who have more moderate or left veiws aren’t good Christians because they seek to change the Bible.

        If religious people are unyielding, then they doom themselves to extinction. Honestly, if those people became extinct I wouldn’t mind a bit.

  32. Kathy Groux says:

    I’m filled with an ache that I can’t describe…family doing this…I am so sorry!

  33. apeene says:

    This is such a heartbreaking story, and such needless pain and suffering by Grace & Glory. I hope they are now in peaceful bliss.

  34. Leslie Holman-Anderson says:

    This is one of the saddest things I ever read.

  35. Samm Strickland-Wong says:

    I too along with many others who will read this story, will remember a mother and daughter who were so wrongly treated that they chose to take their last breath. They will not be forgotten as I will always remember the grief of Mother in losing her child and the torment of a child by malevolent members of society. Whilst I am not a Christian, I do know many who are and the actions of these people are NOT those embraced by Gods love.
    RIP sweet Grace and Glory. May you find the peace and solace you both rightly deserve.

    They are indeed having a memorial and people will remember. ❤

  36. Gretchen says:

    OH my gosh. My heart aches for Grace, Glory, and their cousin. May the cousin be filled with peace, and know that she will be reunited with her loved ones someday.

  37. Nym says:

    Oh God…more than my eyes cried with this story. My SOUL cried. I am a Christian, and I cannot imagine hating and belittling people so much that they would take their own lives. That type of hatred is the epitome of everything that Christ was NOT. I’m so, so sorry. More than I can ever say, for the difficulties encountered by those two, and lives that were needlessly lost.

  38. Carol says:

    As the mother of a gay son, my heart breaks for this mother and child. I can’t imagine my family turning their back on either my son or I. I cant say that I don’t fear homophobic people and what they could do to my son. Thank God that gay bashing is diminishing greatly and acceptance is more wide spread.
    My prayers go out to Grace and Glory but more to their family that turned their back on them. I pray that they come to accept LGBT people and learn tolerance, acceptance and love.
    Grace and Glory may you both rest in peace, reunited in Heaven,

  39. Erika says:

    Peace and Grace to you and to the family of Glory and Grace. Our innate spirits can not be that evil. They must all be tormented by their bondage. I have spent a moment in silence for Glory and Grace. I too share in their memorial and will share their story. May they never be forgotten and may homophobia rot in Hell.

  40. Magen says:

    The “family” if they can be called that, is not a conservative “Christian” family. They are conservative yes, Christian no. A true Christian walks in the footsteps of Jesus. The things these people have done are as far from Christian as you can go. Nothing in this story shows me true Christianity other than the friend that came to check on her and care for her. Remember the golden rule. Remember do not judge lest ye shall be judged (and judged they will be). God so loved the world that he gave his only son to purge us of our sins. It doesn’t say the world less the gays, less the other religions, or anything of the sort he loved the WORLD!!
    You have done a great thing writing this article. More people need to stand up for injustice.
    Thank you!

    • Magen says:

      I have sent a prayer for them. I have also said a prayer for the “family” that they see the error of their ways and change.

  41. I pray for Grace and Glory, hoping they have finally found peace. I pray for the family, also. I pray they can come to understand God’s all forgiving and all embracing love. God love everyone, no exceptions!

  42. Jackie McKenzie says:

    Ok, now I am crying. I am not religious, so I can’t promise to pray for Grace and Glory, but my heart goes out to them and I hope they found the peace that wasn’t given to them in life.

  43. Tanya says:

    Grace and Glory, may your souls finally be happy and at peace….<3

  44. SteelHyaena says:

    Okay, yeah… I’m crying.

  45. Sarah says:

    You are such a thoughtful person for doing this. Kudos to you.

    What happened is absolutely horrible, something no one should ever have to encounter or go through and to know that homophobia still exists to this day is just down right despicable.

    My thoughts and prayers are with your friend, Grace and Glory.

  46. Monica says:

    I can’t even believe that this is real. I am truly sorry for this tragedy, the lives lost and I pray the family that turned against them finally some day find the strength to know this is NOT how they should have handled this.. They will not be forgotten. You and they are in my prayers. Thank you for sharing this story.

  47. John Elmore says:

    My deepest condolences for the hurt suffered by all involved. It breaks my heart. I do not understand how family can behave so foully sometimes.

  48. These people must follow a different God than I learned about as a child. My parents aren’t 100% on board with the idea of homosexuality, but I was taught that God loves everyone and that we should accept one another.

    Your story literally gave me chills. I have 2 little girls myself (8 and 2) and my husband and I could care less who they decide to date. I think in a way we’re luckier because we live in Western Canada where no one seems to be as judgemental as they are back in the US. I hope some day that my home country (I’m American) can over come this rash of religious intolerance and become somewhere I’d be glad to call home again.

  49. A positively freakin’ beautiful memorial … and a truly fitting end to a terrible story.

    So sad that, even in California the part of our nation that so many LGBT people think of as a sort of “mecca”, homophobia destroys lives.

  50. I don’t understand how people can claim religious conviction in one breath and cruelty in the next. I am taking a minute of silence at my desk to remember Grace and Glory . . .”Your lives will not be forgotten.” Thank you for sharing their story.

    • robw77 says:

      Thank you Stephanie. I shared this with their cousin (the woman in the story), who gave her blessing on this acting as their memorial. For any who so believe and want to offer prayers, they will be gratefully received.

      • Cris says:

        AT this time of year as I plan my yard and my garden, I am remnded of the beauty in this world. You have shown me the abeauty in Grace and Glory. The warmth you have initiated with this tragic story has lifted my soul. I am know that the “family” wanted to sweep this away for they must know deep inside that they will always be resposible for this tragic end to these lives. I live 20 min north of Edmonotn Alberta, Canada. I am inspired to dedicate a garden of Grace and Glory in their memory and the memory of all who have similar stories.

        I applaud you rescuing this situation without hesitation and letting your friend know that her pain matters and the lives and deaths of her realitives MATTER.

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