As many of you know, I sent an email out to my extended family weeks ago where I came out to them. Awhile later, I sent out this letter to friends where I came out to them. I wanted to share with you some excerpts from the responses and reactions I have received from both family and friends.
"I hope you know that being "Gay" will NEVER EVER be a reason for me not to love you nor is it a reason to discontinue having a relationship with you. My home will ALWAYS be a place where you and your significant other will be welcomed with open arms and NO JUDGMENT!!!!! I am Very happy to hear that your Mom, Dad & sisters all took your coming out as well as they did. It saved me a trip to California to set them straight!!! I LOVE YOU JONNY!! Gay or straight it makes no difference to me or my family....we accept you just as you are."
"Your uncle and I want you to know that we love you unconditionally! You are still our nephew and we have always been proud of you and your accomplishments. It breaks my heart to hear how you've been hurting and the pain you have gone through."
"Jonathan, I love you Kido. It is good to here from you, I'm glad your year has turned around! and your future is looking bright, congratulations on your graduation. just be yourself and know that you have a lot of loving understanding family that love you and want you to be happy . just so you know , I don't think any less of you due to your sexuality and hope for happiness in all you do and strive to accomplish in your life."
"FINALLY! (I knew...) :-) I am so glad you came out and more importantly that you did not take your life. I am so sorry you were in such a dark place back in August. I was not raised in the church and feel like I am a little more open minded that most members. Sexuality is one area I have a lot of questions on regarding the scriptures and the church's stance. Anyway, I am proud of you! Way to be true to yourself and for your bravery in "coming out." You are a wonderful man and I just know you have a lot to live for! If you ever need anything, know that your Uncle and I are here for you!"
"I appreciate your 4 life style views on your blog video. It made my understanding of your decision so clear. You are an amazing young man, I hope you find everything you are looking for, We all deserve that! You and your significant other will always be welcome in our home and at our family gatherings. I always enjoy seeing you. I don't think anyone can break the strong bond of love that we have for one another in this family of ours!"
"My family were with me when I read your letter & watched your video & it made my girls want to get to know you even more so you will be receiving friend requests on face book from them soon."
"I have loved you since the day you were born and will always love you. If I know my kids they will be the same. I felt nothing but love when i read your letter. It breaks my heart to hear you had such a hard time in August. Come see us soon, you are always welcome. The saddest thing is that you won't get to experience some things, but you'll have other experiences that bring you joy and we will share them with you. If anyone doesn't feel the way I do their name will be crossed off the dinner guest list before your name will." (from my Grandma... typed after a phone call)
"As an active married, LDS Christian, straight, business man you are welcome in my home, next to me in church and hopefully on work projects in the future."
"I know it took a lot to write this email, and I want you to know that it doesn't change my views on you as my friend. And as my friend, just know that I will continue to pray for you and love you."
"I'm sure you might get responses to this email that are both good and bad. Please don't let the bad affect you. Heavenly Father loves all his children equally, and that's all that matters. What better friend can you have than Him?"
"My beliefs about homosexuality are found in my testimony of the family proclamation, but I hope you know that is not a judgment to you or any other person. Heaven knows we don't have all the answers and I'm certainly in no position to pass any kind of judgment. I guess I'm trying to say that I hope you don't feel any sense of rejection or that my feelings of friendship have changed in any way and I would hope no one would!! Anyways you're amazing and I for sure
want to hang out/ kick it on the dance floor soon!!"
"First and foremost I don't care what you believe in or what your sexuality is you will always be a friend of mine."
"I think you know that we are bound to have some fundamental differences in beliefs on this issue, but know that that doesn't make me love you any less as a friend. I can promise you that. I'm sorry that I wasn't there for you when you were having such a hard time. I know that you're a good person. You have been for as long as I have known you. I sincerely hope that this gives you the peace you have been looking for."
"I have so many friends in the gay community and the importance of support and speaking openly about these issues to teach and learn is so very important, and so very life saving."
"So, I just read your email. I was honestly surprised. When are you free? I would love to see you, and not just because of this news, but because I haven't seen you in a long while. Let me know when we can get together."
"As I finished reading the email my heart went out to you and I will not judge you. I know tons of members and other people outside of the church will I guess you can say give you a hard time but who are they to judge. It's your life and you choose how to live it. I love you as a friend and always will."
"Jonathan, you are so totally going to hell. Just kidding man. That took a lot of guts, and I applaud your honesty with yourself and with us."
"I have been very confused by this whole "issue" for lack of a better word. It has been bothering me for quite some time - because I believe that God loves all of his children with such a pure deep love that turning our backs on "the minority", as you put it, leaving them to fend for themselves, telling them that they just need to choose to be good felt inherently wrong. Your letter was like a warm cushy hug from heaven. I literally felt God's love and reassurance in it, because God does love all of his children. He doesn't pick and choose - He loves all of us with that same warm love."
So as you can see... the most negative reaction I've received is simply that another person disagrees with me. But everyone has made sure that I know they love me and that nothing changes that love and friendship. Also, it has generally brought me closer to others. People are interested in catching up or getting to know me better because of my honesty. I have really been very fortunate as I have come out and told people that I am gay.