Finding courage to keep the darkness of ignorance at bay Part I »« One of these days, I’m gonna say something really stupid.

Gay man’s love is more powerful than his father’s religious hate.

Lilandra is a username from a little known comic book character.  In real life, I named my children after comic book characters, so my geek credentials cannot be questioned.   My husband is a large biker, cyber-viking ape, that opines about religion, and knows his place in a cladogram.

Lilandra is a username from a little known comic book character. In real life, I named my children after comic book characters, so my geek credentials cannot be questioned. My husband is a large biker, cyber-viking ape, that opines about religion, and knows his place in a cladogram.

This man’s story from NPR’s “Story Corps” brought a tear to my eye. Bryan Wilmoth and his 7 siblings were raised in a brutally religious family.  Upon finding a love letter from another boy to Bryan, his father abandoned his 15 year old son in the middle of a field with a 5 dollar bill. Rather than transform his father’s hatred into more hatred aimed at different targets, Bryan chose to grow up into a loving man instead.

Bryan missed his siblings most of all and attempted to contact them.  He learned that their father was beating them so they didn’t “catch gay” from talking to their brother. He then contacted all of them as they became estranged from their spiritually abusive father either by running away, being kicked out or moving away from the family home.

His brother Micheal at first admittedly didn’t want to learn anything about gay people.  He says he had “fear based beliefs” from his father.  But gradually Bryan won him over.  He became so proud of his brother that he would introduce his brother to any gay person that he met.

The most touching part of Bryan’s story was when he met his youngest brother Luke for the first time.  He had never met his brother before because he was born after Bryan was abandoned by father.  He helped his brother get started in college. His brother mouthed the words “I love you” to him when he left his dorm room after helping him get moved in.  Bryan called his brother Michael crying that he got to be a big brother.

fam

Love can build bridges.
All of the siblings at Bryan and Michael’s sister’s wedding in June 2007. From left: Jude, Mike, Pam, Bryan, Amy, Curtis (groom), Chris, Luke-Henry and Josh.

Bryan’s story shows how difficult it is to maintain prejudice and bigotry once you to get to know a person you have been raised to hate.  Love is more powerful than hate.  Hate, intolerance,ignorance, and fear broke this family apart. Bryan’s love rebuilt his family. Stories like his give me hope that humans are loving by default.  Hate dehumanizes both the hater and the hated.  Bryan wasn’t treated like a human being because of his father’s hatred of homosexuals.  His father’s hatred transformed him into an inhuman monster.

As a survivor of spiritual abuse, I think it is good to see stories where the survivor goes on to lead a loving, productive life.  It detracts from the stigma that abuse victims may be scarred by their experiences, and negates stereotypes.  If you would like to read more inspiring stories from survivors of spiritual abuse, Vyckie Garrison started a blog network for women recovering from spiritual abuse. She escaped the “Quiverfull” movement. In a search for other secular resources on this topic, I found that there are a number of religious-based resources on the topic even one by CBN. Unfortunately CBN runs a worldwide ministry that helps people on the condition of proselytizing.

There is of course, Darrel Ray’s Recovering from Religion, which is focused on people transitioning from religion to non-belief. It would be nice to know if they have support specifically for survivors of spiritual abuse.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Psychopomp Gecko says

    Ironically, (maybe not so much considering the writer), there is a religious service from Babylon 5 that is brought to my mind in this. From the episode “And The Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place” we have a nice little sermon about how the real enemy of everyone is the one who says you must hate someone who is different. We are all different to one another and some day that hate will turn on you.

    Um. Spoiler alert?

    Also happens to be somewhat exemplified by another scheme going down at the same time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYKloZRwLu4

    • says

      I don’t know that the hateful father’s children turned on him and hated him in return. Bryan turned hate turned on him by his own father into love for his siblings. He managed to undo a lot the damage his father’s homophobia did to his brothers and sisters.

      • Rick Pikul says

        I don’t think it’s so much “A hates B, resulting in B hating A back” but more along the lines of successive purity binges.

        First the White and Yellow drive out the Black.
        Then the White drives out the Yellow.
        Then the right-handed White drive out the left-handed White.
        Then the right-handed White with brown or blond hair drive out the the right-handed White with red hair.

        And so on until you are no longer part of the group doing the driving out but are in the one being driven.

        • says

          In the bigger picture it has become debatable whether bigots are being marginalized. I know you used white as an example for simplicity, but I don’t want to be confusing; I don’t think that all anglos are bigotted. Also, from this story I don’t see the hateful Dad being driven out as much as being escaped from.

  2. says

    When I first started haunting an atheist forum, RDF in late 2009, I was not at all surprised to find near universal acceptance of gays, we’re not bigoted believers after all. What did surprise me was how strong, how passionate many were in defending gays as normal people. Some folk there in the forum, and I am talking straights of course, would spend huge efforts in long threads with spirited defenses against the believers with their loving-god inspired hatred, intolerance, and most of all, ignorance. And I should say it was cockle-warming, a delight, and I’m really appreciative. With this story, we have yet more proof that just not believing nonsense is a stronger impetuous to good behavior than many believers’ parental/familial instincts.

  3. says

    The difficulty of uniting people with hate is that you have to make the hate omnipresent in their lives and make life itself based on stress, distrust, fear, and insecurity. Love and compassion provide safe havens from that manufactured discomfort.

    • godlesspanther says

      I was raised in a hate-free zone, myself. I have wondered about people living in heavily bigoted environments having to hate so many people all the time. It must get really tiresome having to hate all the time. Do they forget to hate sometimes and have to remind themselves?

    • says

      We know people that live on a steady diet of hate. They watch Fox News and Glenn Beck all the time. They go to fundamentalist churches that literally breed this hatred.

  4. says

    On a happier note, I live in a place where gays used to be hated thanks to the teachings of the Catholic church. People have slowly been rejecting their religion and one of the first things to disappear was hatred of gays. Around here being gay is no more interesting than having big feet or green eyes.

    My wife’s gay cousin grew up surrounded by that hatred. His father refused to pay for his education so he worked at multiple jobs and paid for it himself. Now he is a successful business owner and very much respected in the community. He sponsors an annual gay beauty pageant which attracts overflow crowds.

    My wife’s 5 year old niece found out her mother was pregnant. Someone asked if she wanted a little brother or sister. She said she wanted a brother but he should be gay so he could be like her sister too. I know two little girls who are openly gay and refuse to wear the prescribed girl’s uniform to school. Their parents and teachers all approve of them wearing ‘boy’s’ clothes.

    I had a chance to speak to a group of 12 year old children about life in North America. They were horrified to learn how gays were treated. Their reply came as a chorus of, “But they’re just people!”.

    Things can get better.

  5. Psychopomp Gecko says

    Darn you and your incessant sense-making, Lilandra! At least Gladiator will have my back whether I’m correct or not. I just have to steal a throne.

    I guess I would have said the dad is potentially marginalized. Plus, seems like the kids aren’t going to be toeing his personal party line. Views like his used to be the norm and now they are somewhat less so.

    It was not quite a good video after all. Forgive me, I am but a humble sci fi nerd.