I’ve known Hannah Pate since she was a young girl. She and her sister Rebekah were P.K.’s – pastors kids – at the big Assemblies Of God church we used to be a part of in the late eighties and early nineties. Their dad Anthony was one of our pastors back then, a vibrant evangelical preacher with an international ministry and larger than life personality. One day, we turned up to church to hear that Hannah’s dad had left their mum and gone away with someone else – another man. We were all baffled and shocked. He did what? The church went into damage control, closing ranks around the girls and their mother. I don’t know if the church handled it well – there’s not really anything we can compare that to – but I can say we all found it very sad when Anthony simply seemed to disappear off the face of the earth for a while.
Many years later I sang at Hannah’s wedding, where all her family including dad Anthony Venn-Brown celebrated together. I remember marveling at what a strong, self-possessed young woman of grace and confidence Hannah had become. She and Michael now have two amazing daughters of their own, and I know it must have been very hard for their particular family to make this all work somehow. The fact is this family are one of the main reasons I came to change my views on homosexuality and marriage equality. Whilst many Christians get all hot under the collar and postulate about how relaxing their vilification of homosexuals will diminish the Christian faith and incur God’s anger, I have watched Hannah and her family support and work together to just love each other the very best they can. I see God in that, far more than I do in the attitudes of those who refuse to temper their hostility toward LGBT people and their families. I was very proud to march beside Hannah and Anthony – an ambassador and advocate for the homosexual community – in the 2012 years Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney.
The fact is statistically, many of the Christians who have made up their minds about same-gender attracted people have someone very close to them right now who is homosexual – a child, a brother or sister, even a parent. The real issue I have with the majority Christian attitude against same-gender attracted people is this assumption “they” are not “one of us”. They are all “out there” – others. We are kidding ourselves. There are people in your church, parents at your kids school, friends in your workplace, tradesmen you employ, health professionals you trust and politicians you vote for who are homosexual. Bet on it. The reason you don’t know the whole truth about them says an awful lot about the society we live in – and also says much about the kind of people they have had to become because of the society that makes them “lesser than” everyone else.
Hannah has written this excellent piece, which I am proud to repost here. Please visit and support her blog.
“It’s sad to have a knowing that some people will read the heading of this blog and completely ignore that it was ever written. But thank you to those who care enough about their children and are brave enough to read on.
“I am a mother of 2 girls. I love my girls for all the things that are different about them. I love that they don’t always follow the crowd and they are individuals. They are gorgeous, and love to dress up and wear make up. But they also love to play hard on the basketball court and love adventure.
“So, if they came to me one day and said “Mum, I’m a lesbian!” what would I do?
Before I answer that question I want to tell you why I want ALL parents to think about the question heading for this blog.
“I have a gay dad. I love my dad to bits. I love that unconditional love means that I still have a great relationship with him (thanks to my mum too). However he, and many others in this world, have been criticised, rejected and cut off from their families because the family members did not choose love above all else. I have spoken personally to countless men and women that have been kicked out of home, banished from speaking to their families and in some cases have attempted suicide because of the rejection from their families.
“Let’s wind back the clock. You hold your child for the first time. They are absolutely perfect and look up at you and your world changes because they are now in it. You start to look to the future and wonder what they will be when they grow up, who will they marry, will they travel the world? You think about these things and have your own image of how these questions will be answered. But one thing we have to remember is that we absolutely no control over that or whether you son or daughter is gay or straight. They are who they are!
“There are many children and teenagers that I have interacted with that already probably know that they are gay, but for a variety of reasons don’t understand it or verbalise it. I have taught my children to be loving and caring of ALL people and in particular to be sensitive to those of their friends that may ‘come out’ during the time of their friendship with them. I am hoping that by talking about it with my girls and educating them, that a friend will find comfort and safety in the friendship they have to be able to confide in them and find support through their ‘coming out’.
“But my child is only 2 years old, it doesn’t affect me!
“Talking about this is just as important as talking about immunisation or child locks on power points. It is a life or death situation and I would hate to see parents being anything other than loving and supportive. I am sure that when your child was born you didn’t say “I will only take them home if they are straight, I will only take them home if they never misbehave, I will only take them home if they become a teacher like me”. You loved them unconditionally! NEVER stop doing that.
“So to answer the question “if my girls came to me one day and said “Mum, I’m a lesbian!” what would I do?
“I would say “OK” and give them a hug. No drama, no over the top craziness. Just pure and simple love.
“Some kids know this really early on in life, yet some don’t come to this acceptance until they are older. Either way, they need you to love them.”
You can visit Hannah’s blog here.