In August of 2007, I finally built up the courage to tell my father I was gay. The moment I said it, the phone got quiet and he got off the phone after a few "Okay"s. I decided to give him time to process the news. About a week later, and not long before my birthday, I received the following letter...
It's important to know just what this zealotry from Bryan Fisher, Maggie Gallagher, Dan Cathy, et al., does to everyday people. I've never done drugs, was an excellent student, an obedient child (far less trouble than many of my classmates), didn't drink until I was 22 because it terrified me, and have had just 1 speeding ticket in my life. Yet I am still seemingly deserving of this terrible act of hate and cowardice that one person can place on another. 5 years on and I am still doing fine, though this letter saunters into my mind every once in a while. When it does, I say without hesitation: Fuck you, Dad.
Most LGBT fear coming out to their friends and (especially) family. Not because we believe that we are messed up (though that certainly is the case for some). We don't want to come out because we don't want to receive the type of response that RegBarc got.
I know that there are people who don't believe that letters like this are real. Then you will hear from people like "BabyRaptor" who received a similar letter from his grandparents. Or you hear what John Becker's husband's father wrote to him. Go to the Gay Christian Network and read the discussions for a while and you can witness how family members have messed their LGBT family members up through their reactions.
I received my own milder version of that letter -- face-to-face -- from one of my closest relatives. It killed our relationship. We floundered for years before I finally stopped trying with that relative. Unfortunately for that relative, s/he didn't realize that I'd finally given up on him/her until a couple weeks before his/her death. We never reconciled. S/he gave a half-hearted "how's it going" message and I sent a terse-but-polite response. That's how our relationship ended.
My friend Andrew Marin has sometimes observed that you get one chance to react to friends and family. Like when your wife or girlfriend says that she is pregnant. Or when your kid comes out to you. How do you repair your relationship with your gay son or your lesbian daughter after you have pissed all over them?
The truth is that you might not ever get the chance to fix things. So react well.