How two parents of gay sons are breaking down the barriers between Catholicism and gay rights by Jessica Carreras, in “Between the Lines” #1749, 12-3-09, Livonia MI, with permission.
"I was totally ignorant when I found out I had a gay son," Tom Nelson of Farmington Hills says candidly to Between The Lines, sitting at the local Panera Bread with his wife, Linda Karle-Nelson, sipping his coffee and surrounded by strangers.
He says the words "gay son" openly, loudly, as though he is discussing something as simple and noncontroversial as the weather.
The truth is that Tom, 80, and Linda, 69, have come a long way to be able to speak freely about gay issues. But now that they've started, they won’t stop. Both Tom and Linda are board members of Fortunate Families, a group created by and for Catholic families with lesbian and gay children. They participate in PFLAG Detroit. They advocate for gay rights through letters and speaking to legislators. And they work hard to ensure that parents like them can love their God and their children.
Their story is both universal and unique to parents of LGBT kids: grappling with the clash of religion and family, learning and altering their beliefs, and ultimately, becoming two of the most impassioned allies Michigan's gay community has ever known.