Bob Henrikson

Bob and Shirley Henrikson with their gay son, John

Bob and Shirley Henrikson
with their gay son, John

I’m a movie addict. I seize metaphors and lessons from the scripts of motion picture dramas in the same way people quote writers of good books. In the movie "Rosewood," a small boy is forced to watch as a dump truck pours the bodies of murdered black people into a mass grave. He turns away in horror exclaiming to his bigoted father, "But there are babies in there." The father defend himself by replying, "But they’re still niggers."

In the disgust and revulsion I felt at that moment for the father, I believe I identified the the hate that some ‘Pharisees’ have for homosexuals. "But they’re still fags," I keep hearing over and ove in my mind. It seems that no matter how decent, how loving, how faithful, moral or honest gay and lesbian people present themselves, they are still perceived as something less than human, not deserving of even the basic respect we would give a stranger. And when the hate I hear comes from people I would otherwise regard as ‘Christian’ or ‘family,’ then I want to run away just like the little boy in "Rosewood."

Using another metaphor, when we found out that our son was gay, we became ‘double-agents.’ We had to create ‘identities’ that weren’t really us in order to fool family and friends. In our desperate quest to love and accept our son, we had to play the parts of accomplices to slander and hate. It became intolerable that we should have to twist our insides this way and that just to please people. Then, as we learned more and more about homosexuality, we realized that the risk of disapproval by ignorant people was less costly than betrayal of people who really deserved our respect and admiration – people who, if they really wanted to be true to themselves, would have to go through life conceding that they were vulnerable to ridicule, torture, and death.