Mother of gay teen blames religion for her son’s suicide
AFTER Tyler Clementi, a gay college student, committed suicide in 2010, an organisation called the Illinois Family Institute speculated:
Perhaps if Tyler had not been taught the bleakly deterministic view that he was ‘born’ homosexual, he would have had more hope for the future and would have been more likely to resist homosexual temptation.
Before the teenager jumped off the George Washington Bridge, Clementi’s mother, a devout evangelical Christian, reacted badly when he told her that he was gay. According to the New York Times, Tyler told a friend that the conversation with his mother had not gone well. His father had been “very accepting,” he wrote in a text message, but:
Mom has basically completely rejected me.
Now, a little late some would say, she has ditched the evangelical church she belonged to and, in an interview with the paper said:
I think some people think that sexual orientation can be changed or prayed over. But I know sexual orientation is not up for negotiation. I don’t think my children need to be changed. I think that what needed changing is attitudes …
In the months after Tyler’s death, some of Ms. Clementi’s friends confided that they, too, had gay children. She blames religion for the shame surrounding it.
Now the Clementi family, who have a middle son, James, who is gay, is devoting itself to a foundation promoting acceptance with the hope of preventing the suicides of gay teenagers.
There can be no doubt that gay bullying also played a role in Tyler’s death. He jumped from the bridge after his roommate (and another student) secretly videotaped him hooking up with another guy, and encouraged others to watch the act.
The Illinois Family Institute were reluctant to admit that this was a case of gay bullying, saying:
Despite what homosexualists immediately pronounced, there is no indication that the taping was motivated by anti-homosexual animus. It seems at least possible that the students who engaged in this unconscionable act would have done likewise even if it had been a heterosexual act.
Zach Stark is another US teen who experienced rejection – in this case by BOTH his fundamentalist parents – when he came out several years ago. They reacted by packing him off, at the age of 16, to a“gay cure boot camp” run by an outfit called Love in Action, part of the Exodus International franchise.
His plight became known when, in 2005, Zach posted a cry for help on the social networking site, MySpace, saying he was being held in the camp, called Refuge, against his will. He said of his parents:
They tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me, and they ‘raised me wrong’. I’m a big screw up to them, who isn’t on the path God wants me to be on.
This sparked a wave of anger among both gay and straight people, who began protesting outside Love in Action’s campus. More importantly, his situation sparked the interest of film director Morgan Jon Fox, who began filming a documentary entitled This is What Love in Action Looks Like which was released to enormous critical acclaim earlier this year.
Significantly, the film also chronicles the dramatic change of view of the man who ran the camp, John Smid a married “ex-gay” conservative Christian who was Executive Director of Love in Action. In 2008 Smid ditched Love in Action and actually issued a public apology to anyone who may have been harmed by the programming at the facility.
In 2011, on his website, Smid stated that homosexuality is an intrinsic part of one’s being, and that “change, repentance, reorientation and such” cannot occur.
He noted that he had:
Never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual.
In March 2012, Love In Action changed its name to Restoration Path. Exodus International has dropped its core doctrine of “praying away the gay”.
And Zach, by all accounts is now “doing just fine” as a young gay adult.