HRC Blog

WATCH: For Mormon Parents, Son’s Coming Out Triggered a Shift Towards Acceptance

Post submitted by David McCabe, HRC Digital Media Intern

When Wendy Montgomery saw her 13-year-old son Jordan withdrawing from his friends and family, she went  in search of an explanation. She found an answer in his personal diary, where he had written about his feelings of being attracted to other boys.

Since the Montgomery family is Mormon, Jordan had grown up surrounded by a church and family that were not accepting of his sexuality. In fact, Wendy Montergomery and her husband, Tom, actively campaigned for Proposition 8 when the ballot measure was being considered in California. The Montgomery family's story is chronicled in a documentary short from the Family Acceptance Project, an acclaimed research, education and family intervention initiative at SF State University that helps diverse families to support their LGBT children. This new film – Families are Forever – just premiered to standing ovations at Frameline 37: the SF International LGBT Film Festival.

After a few days, she and her husband sat down with Jordan and asked him, "Are you struggling?"

"I could feel him start to tremble and he nodded," said Montgomery in an interview with ABC News. "We sat that way for two hours, and I hugged him and said, 'Jordan, this changes nothing. … You are perfect in our eyes. ... We will figure this out.'"

Wendy first turned to Mormon church literature, which told her that her son's identity was a choice and a "phase." Disatisfied with that explanation, she eventually read enough to understand that her son's feelings were not a simple phase but rather part of the identity he was born with.

Jordan's fear of rejection by his faith community isn't unique. More than a third of youth polled in HRC's groundbreaking survey "Growing Up LGBT in America" said that their place of worship was not accepting of LGBT people and more than half said that same of the places of worship in their communities.

Now, she says she views her son's gay identity to be a blessing; one that has allowed her to live a more open and accepting life without sacrificing her tight-knit family, which is a huge part of the culture of the Mormon Church.

Called “riveting” by the Salt Lake Tribune, Families are Forever is the latest addition to the Family Acceptance Project’s inspiring family education video series that is helping prevent suicide, HIV, homelessness and other serious health risks by increasing family support for LGBT youth – in the context of family, culture and faith backgrounds. This new video adds to critical evidence-based educational materials the Family Acceptance Project has produced for families with LGBT children, including the first “Best Practice” resources for suicide prevention for LGBT youth and young adults and the first faith-based resources in the Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention. For information on the Family Acceptance Project and coming out in diverse families, visit http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/

Coming out is a unique and deeply personal process. For more resources on how to come out as LGBT or an ally, visit HRC's Coming Out Center.

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