OUR STORIES

Fortunate Families believes that when parents explore and value their stories, they are empowered to share that story with their family circle, their faith community and the larger society.  Here are some of their stories.

Click the column header to sort by Author, Kinship, Title or Description.

Click on a link in the Kinship column (for example: “Mother of a gay son”) and you will get a page with all stories in that ‘kinship’ category.  Then click on the title of story you want to read.

Author
Kinship
Title
Description
Abele, JoanMother of gay sonStory of a Listening Parent
(Article in Fortunate Families newsletter)
Although she lives in a religiously conservative community, Joan has some surprisingly rewarding experiences as the mother of a gay son. She feels privileged to interact with other parents who are struggling with the official attitudes of their churches.
Anderson, Artemae and Jerry Parents of Gay Son
Parents of lesbian daughter
Our Children's "Coming Out Stories"Artemae and Jerry receive heartfelt letters from two of their six children; a lesbian daughter and a gay son.
Balog, FlorenceMother of lesbian daughters (twins)My twin lesbian daughtersFlorence expresses concern that the institutional church judges her twin lesbian daughters without knowing them, and is grateful that her parish follows Jesus' message and welcomes everyone.
Balog, SteveFather of lesbian daughters
(twins)
The light has been passedAfter his fearful first sharing of having twin lesbians daughters with his church congregation, years later Steve hears of the positive effect it made with one parishioner.
Bechtle, AimeeMother of gay sonCookie Cutter MomStrongly Catholic mother, and signer of the anti-gay "Manhattan Declaration," revisits her beliefs after her 12-year old son comes out. She educates herself, becomes a strong advocate for her son and LGBT equality, and finds peace with God.
Black, MaryMother of lesbian daughter Knowing Makes the Difference
(Audio file)
Mary tells of her concern, knowing that her daughter was hurting, but not knowing why. Once the “secret” is known, with love and support, healing begins for her, her daughter and the whole family.
Black, Mary & JerryParents of lesbian daughterA Letter from MegDescription: Meg's letter, telling her parents she's lesbian, brings grief and "devastation." But through prayer, education, and PFLAG, Mary & Jerry have emerged as better persons and now experience joy at having a lesbian daughter.
Buccini, MarianneMother of gay sonFrom silence to advocacy:
One family'’s story

(An article in Fortunate
Families newsletter)
When their son came out to them as a high school student, Marianne and her husband went “into the closet.” Gradually, their son’s openness about his sexuality and the advocacy work he engaged in even as a high school and college student helped the family become more comfortable with his sexual orientation. His example was the catalyst which helped them come out of the closet and actively work to help people understand the truth about sexual orientation as well as to advocate for equal rights for the LGBT community.
Byers, MaryMother of gay sons (three of them)Rainbow Fish Pin MinistryMinistries come in all shapes and sizes. Mary wears a rainbow fish pin to honor her three sons, but it also serves as a conversation starter and an opportunity to impart information. Contact her if you'd like to have one too.
Conneen, KathleenMother of gay sonFirst Gay Pride
Marching Experience

(Article in Fortunate
Families newsletter)
Despite their reluctance to “walk the talk,” Kathleen and Drew march in the Denver Gay Pride Parade with their parish parent support group. To their amazement their marching group of 30 more than triples as they pass through the streets of Denver. The support they experienced tide will bring them back again and again.
Dalke, Terri and RichStraight Allies to Gay FamiliesBlessings
(Article in Fortunate
Families newsletter)
Because they have a gay son and are involved in a parish support group for LGBT people and their families, the Dahlke’s are blessed with a close relationship with two sets of same gender parents who join their parish . One of the children shares an insight about gay families and the family of Jesus that comes from a pure and truthful heart.
Franczyk, Ann and ChetParents of Gay SonAlways Our Children:
Hope Among the
Mixed Messages

(Article in Fortunate
Families newsletter)
Though the institutional church speaks hurtful words about their gay son, Ann and Chet find unexpected clergy support which helps them establish a parish support group for LGBT people and their families in their parish in Springfield, MA.
Frett, JackieMother of gay sonRemarkable people,
powerful stories
 
(An article in Fortunate
Families newsletter)
In the midst of some difficult setbacks to her parish ministry, Jackie experiences the power of stories to renew and energize people of faith to become a force for change in the lives of LGBT people and their families.
Garascia, BethMother of gay son and Mother of lesbian daughterPain and possibility –
being a Catholic parent
of gay children

(An article in Fortunate
Families newsletter)
As the mother of a gay son and a lesbian daughter, Beth has experienced both grief and joy in her love for her children. She has also found that letting go of expectations and listening to others provides a path to mutual love and acceptance, a path she hopes her Church might follow more closely.
Gonzalez, CatherineActive gay allyCreating Change
Through Christ's Love
In a parish session regarding social justice, Cathy shares her experience of being an active gay ally and a practicing Catholic
Hand, DorisMother of gay sonDear BishopDoris writes to a bishop, telling him about her son, and asks how the U.S. Bishops could write pastoral guidelines for gay people without consulting any of their parents.
Hickey, JimFather of lesbian daughterSexual MinoritiesIn a presentation, Jim tells how he came to accept his daughter and then shares some of what he's learned and where he stands now.
Hoenigman, EdFather of lesbian daughterEmmaus Retreat
Presentation

(Article in Fortunate
Families newsletter)
Ed describes how the fears he felt when his daughter came out as a lesbian faded as he came to understand that his prayers were answered in ways he didn’t expect.
JaniceMother of lesbian daughterMy Daughter, Christin
(Audio file)
Janice describes her daughter’s teenage struggles and her own clashes with an unsupportive school system and tensions with her church. She finds strength in her faith in God’s unconditional love for all.
Kolb, SusanMother of gay sonMy many blessings ...Susan comes to learn that having a gay son is another of her many blessings, and shares her story whenever and wherever she can.
Lopata, CaseyFather of gay sonCan My Son be Gay
and Catholic?
Casey describes how he reconciles his understanding of Church teaching with his son's being gay.
Lopata, Mary EllenMother of gay sonGod's Love Revealed:
Reflections on being
a Catholic Mother
After the initial confusion, tears, pain, and fear of learning she has a gay son, Mary Ellen struggles for years before coming to realize how fortunate she and her family are.
Mohring, Mary-EllenMother of gay sonA Father's Day gift
---for a mother!

(Article in Fortunate
Families newsletter)
Mary-Ellen is disappointed when fathers of gay and lesbian children are not recognized as part of the homily on Father’s Day… another chance to validate our gay kids seemed to be lost. Read how her pastor surprised the congregation by finding a way to include families with LGBT children even before the mass was over.
Nelson, TomFather of gay sonFather Knows Best-
Eventually

(Audio file)
A father relates his own journey from believing that his son could not possibly be gay, to affirming the goodness of that son, and the blessing his gay son is.
Nelson, TomFather of gay sonGod Gave me a Gay Son…
and I did not always
think it a blessing
Tom, Notre Dame grad, writes movingly about his coming to terms with his having a gay son.
Nelson, TomFather of gay sonAn Activist?
(Article in Fortunate
Families newsletter)
A father responds to a message from the cardinal about LGBT issues with a passionate outburst during Sunday Mass. He credits a push from the Holy Spirit with making him “an activist.”
Nelson, TomFather of gay sonWhite, Catholic Father (video file -- with permission): "Tom's story and others like it, had an almost transformative power to help open the hearts and minds of Christians when it came to the welcome and inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church." From "My Mind Was Changed": A Communications Toolkit, developed by a collaboration of Auburn Media, Fenton, and Goodwin Simon Strategic Research -- with a grant from the Arcus Foundation.
Nugent, Jenny and PatParents of Gay Son
The Nugent Family StoryA video of Jenny and Pat Nugent, self-described “cradle Catholics” and active parish members, who tell the story of their youngest of seven children coming out to them.
Pickett, BillFather of transgender m2fA Parent's Perspective:
Transsexual Identity
and Wholeness
Bill learns about gender identity disorder and gender dysphoria, and supports his daughter (formerly son) and her family through a difficult and traumatic transition.
Restaino, CherylMother of gay sonBeing a Listening Parent
(Article in Fortunate
Families newsletter)
As a “Listening Parent” Cheryl relates how she has shared the suffering endured by parents as well as their LGBT children because of some of the Church’s teachings. As a teacher , Cheryl and her Deacon husband have experienced the joy of giving comfort and support to other parents with gay children.
Szumiloski, LenFather of gay sonEnfolding Gay Son
Elevates Family
Len's Christmas experience of family with his gay son and his partner enables him to understand how they have enhanced his family despite a contrary message from the church pulpit.
Szumiloski, LenFather of gay sonGay Agenda is
Just Human Agenda
Len learns from his son that so-called "gay rights" are not "special rights."
Wagner, RitaMother of lesbian daughterA Mother's Experience 
(Article in Fortunate
Families newsletter)
Their daughter’s feeling of rejection by thAe Church leads the Wagners to become activists seeking to make everyone welcome in our Church.
Weber, Fred & CarolParents of Gay SonAcceptance of a Gay SonFred and Carol move from personal acceptance, to public acceptance, to advocacy. They believe all people, regardless of sexual orientation should be accepted with dignity and allowed all civil rights.
Word, DebMother of gay sonWelcome to the
(Potluck) Banquet

(Article in Fortunate
Families newsletter)
A woman whose fear has kept her away from a community where she could acknowledge her own goodness finds support , friendship, and affirmation when she reaches out to Deb. Although she never made it to the potluck, she found a friend who loved and respected her for who she was.
Word, DebMother of gay sonDown and Out 
(Video File requires
updated Qucktime viewer.  
Click to download the
latest version
of the free viewer.
)
A television reporter interviews Deb Word about the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) Youth Empowerment Services (YES) program. YES mentors reach out to homeless LGBT youth in the Memphis area. Deb is part of MGLCC's volunteer staff; she and her husband Steve are youth housing providers. Deb is also a Fortunate Families board member. This video first aired on July 14, 2010 on WMC-TV (www.wmctv.org), 1960 Union Avenue, Memphis TN. The reporter is Anna Marie Hartman. The photojournalist/videographer is Mike Hamlet.
Word, DebMother of gay sonA Place at the Table 
(Article in Fortunate
Families newsletter)
At a Bible Study Deb meets “recovering Catholics” who have become disillusioned with the Catholic Church. Deb invites them to join her at her Church’s potluck. The welcome they receive makes them regular visitors at the monthly event where “all are welcome.”
Word, DebMother of gay sonParent's JourneyDeb shares her journey as the parent of a gay son at a November 2008 Diocese of Memphis Day of Reflection.
Word, Deb and SteveParents of Gay SonNCR Article - Deb and Steve Word, Memphis, TNThough Deb Word has two
biological children, she has
been a mother to about 15 others,
all of whom have lived in
her home in Memphis, Tenn.,
if only for a short while.
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