A few weeks ago, a certain Youtube video went viral. In this video, a young man secretly filmed his family’s intervention, staged some months after he informed them that he was homosexual. Family members present appear to include his grandmother, stepmother, father, and another male relative. People were shocked by the raw, painful nature of the conversation, which escalates and culminates in an explosion of physical rage from his stepmother and his male relative. Naturally, the unanimous decree of the anointed was that he was a hero, his family was horribly bigoted, and everyone should go throw $$ at his GoFundMe account now that his horribly bigoted family had disowned him.
I also found the video gut-wrenching to watch (language warning, by the way), but not for the same reasons as everyone else. In that brief 5-minute conversation, I felt that I had witnessed a lifetime of pain unfolding—the pain of a parent who looks at his son and realizes that he is truly, hopelessly lost.
The first part of the video is a relatively calm back and forth with his grandmother over whether homosexuality is a choice. It still reveals his arrogant character, as he smirks and simpers his way through a condescending lecture on how he took a biology class and a psychology class, so there, and pay no attention to that freely chosen boyfriend behind the curtain. Unfortunately, the grandmother plays into his strategy by saying that “you go by all the science stuff you want to, but I’m gonna go with the word of God.” But who’s the real jerk in the room here? Nobody should be left wondering by the end of the first couple minutes.
The conversation then shifts to his stepmother, who is quietly telling him that he needs to move out of the house. He sarcastically replies that he would be happy to leave by that Thursday, and his mother says “If that’s what you choose.” More whining. More passive-aggression. Now there appears to be some background information for this conversation that we simply don’t have in full. The son refers to a previous conversation with his mother in which he tries to claim that she “promised to support him.” His mother also refers to a conversation where the son admitted that he had chosen homosexuality, as well as public comments he had made slandering his father (as a “racist,” inter alia). All of this comes to a head as she becomes progressively angrier:
“Your dad’s gone to bat for you for the last twenty years of your life. That man’s put a roof over your head, he’s put food on your table…”
“That’s not raising.”
“You say that none of these people have raised you. You’re full of sh*t…You know you wasn’t born that way. You know damn good and well that you made that choice. You know that this man has done everything he can to raise you…”
“You’re twisting my words.”
“You twist everybody’s words!”
Seconds later, she flies at him in a rage and begins to strike him physically. The male relative also begins to curse and run toward him. The whine turns into a wail: “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you people? I trusted you!” “You’ve never trusted me,” the mother lashes back. “You’ve given me more sh*t than anybody.” After they’ve been physically separated, his father enters the conversation, his own voice shaking with rage: “No, what’s wrong with you? I’ve done everything in the world. Everything in the world for you.” He refers to the son’s slanderous Facebook comments, which the son is now denying.
Then there’s a pause as the father stops to catch his breath. Quietly now, he regards his son, the son he has favored like a wound.
“You’re a disgrace.”
The smug voice again: “No, I am not.”
“Yeah, you are,” the father replies, still breathing hard. “Unfortunately, I’m sorry to say… that you are.”
Make no mistake, this is incredibly dark stuff. It’s stuff so dark that it should never have been displayed for the world to see on Youtube. But the world has seen it now, and as usual with anything connected to homosexuality, the world is blithely, shallowly missing the point of the whole thing. The point of this story is not that a brave young man has been cruelly and unjustly disowned by his hateful relatives. The point of this story is that a father is losing his son. I don’t see how anyone could hear this conversation and not hear the sorrow and pain flow mingled through the rage. Sorrow for grace upon grace extended, grace upon grace rejected.
It is the last turning. It is the turning away, and away, and away.
Oh God, my son. My son.