A Northern Ireland mother has written a heartfelt letter to DUP MLA Jim Wells about her two sons who are both gay.
Elaine Somers, from Belfast, wrote the open letter to Mr. Wells and shared it on Facebook on Monday.
Ms. Somers tells the former Health Minister that he does "not know the true meaning of Christian love" but adds "I hope someday you will."
Ms. Somers wrote the letter as a direct response to the decision taken by Mr. Wells to resign from the National Trust because it supports Gay pride. Mr. Wells has spoken out against homosexuality in the past.
Read Ms. Somer's full letter below:
Some time ago I had sympathy with you after hearing of your wife's devastating stroke. It is there my sympathy ends. You have chosen to speak out against homosexuality, most recently condemning the National Trust for its stance on Gay Pride marches. Sadly, it appears you are very ignorant about the 'causes' of being gay, making it sound as though it is the lifestyle of choice. Let me tell you my experience, for I have two gay sons, each one unique in his own way.
When my elder son was growing up, he was a very normal little boy, gentler than his older brother and more aesthetic perhaps, but able to hold his own and popular in the schools he attended. He brought girls from school home with him and during his university life he had many friends of both sexes. It was therefore, quite a surprise when at 22, he quietly informed me he was gay. It was obviously something he had wrestled with for some time, not wanting to bring shame to his family and wanting to be sure of his own sexuality. Oh the emotions I went through at that time, feelings of disappointment, confusion and wondering had I done something wrong. You see Mr Wells, back then in 1992 I was as ignorant as you are now. I was even embarrassed about the fact that my son was gay and it was my mother, his grandmother, who pointed out to me that God had made him, just as he had made his brothers and his sister, and that she would continue to love him, just as he was, God's son. I had never stopped loving my boy, but I had allowed myself to think how unfair it was, how I would have preferred him to marry some nice girl and provide me with grandchildren as good looking as he was. How shallow and shameful that was.
Several years later my youngest son informed us that he, too, was gay. A double whammy! Now I began to think again that it had to have something to do with me, but in this case, he was my stepson who I had had the privilege of bringing up since he was five years old. This son was quite different, much more confident in his decision and certain of his sexuality. Again my mother's words resonated, 'God made him, he is God's son.'
So the years have passed and I make no secret of the fact that I have gay sons. I'm proud of both of them and proud of their differences. The older boy has more problems being gay than I could ever have imagined. At 47, he remains single with no significant other in his life. He would have preferred to be like my eldest son, with choices he feels he doesn't have. I'm immensely proud of who and what he is. He is handsome, intelligent, popular, loving and kind and he is mine. I cannot imagine my life without him in it. My younger son has embraced being gay, is more extrovert, outward and optimistic. He lives in Australia where being gay is more acceptable than this backward country where people like you Mr Wells can make judgements of him. He is very successful in the job he does, mostly because he is a genuinely good and kind person who knows what real customer satisfaction means. He is the ultimate professional in his dealings with the public and being gay does not come in to it.
Over the years, through my sons, I have met many gay men and women. I have enjoyed meeting every single one of them and they have added to my life. They tend to be more thoughtful, kinder and sincere. I have listened to their struggles and felt humbled by some of their experiences.
So Mr Wells, two of my four sons are gay and I remain their proud and loving mother. They see their lives through different perspectives, but the thing is, they did not choose to be gay, it's simply the way they are. I will not apologise for them to you or anyone else. I, too, could take verses from the old Testament regarding homosexuality, but the Jesus I know and my mother knew, teaches me that they are precious in his sight and you cannot take that from me. I'm sorry for you, for your soul and for the children you have. You do not know the true meaning of Christian love. I hope someday you will.