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Deb Price
Deb Price
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Catholic Parents of Gay Kids Find a Comfort Zone


On Thanksgiving weekend of 1983, Casey Lopata and his wife, Mary Ellen, began a spiritual journey that ultimately strengthened their family and their lifelong commitment to Catholicism.

They discovered they had to navigate an emotional minefield: Their eldest son, Jim, a college sophomore home for the holiday, told Mary Ellen: "Mom, I'm lonely. I'm lonely for another man."

The next 10 minutes were an agonizing blur of fear and grief for Mary Ellen, who cried as she told Jim she loved him and assured him being gay didn't change that.

"Then why are you crying?" he asked.

"I don't know," Mary Ellen confessed.

The next morning, Jim told his father, a self-described "thinker" who uncharacteristically ran out of questions after "Are you sure?" and "Can you change?"

"For me, as a thinker," Casey recalls, "the key question was, 'Can Jim be gay and be Catholic?'"

It took the Rochester, N.Y., couple nine years to become comfortable being open about having a gay son. They never abandoned their son or their church.

Eventually, Mary Ellen wrote a book, "Fortunate Families," to share the stories of Catholics coming to terms with their gay children. She and Casey founded a group, also named Fortunate Families, to help such parents feel less alone and to transform their church.

"We believe we are the church. And if we didn't work to have our children recognized as whole and holy members of the church, then we are complicit with the injustice," Mary Ellen says of the Catholic Church's official anti-gay position. "So if we stay, we must speak."

A groundbreaking report by Fortunate Families, based on its survey of 229 Catholic parents with gay children, concludes: "Parents love their (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) children, and they love their church.

But they do not see their love, or God's unconditional love, reflected in how the institutional church relates to their LGBT sons and daughters." (Go to:

Catholic parents now learning their child is gay report higher initial levels of comfort than parents who learned five or more years ago. And Catholic parents who know another parent with a gay son or daughter are "significantly more comfortable" with their child's orientation than are isolated parents.

The parents are far more likely to call gay-friendly P-FLAG, New Ways Ministry and Fortunate Families "very helpful" than to say that about their parishes.

One mom with a gay son lamented: "I do not feel the Catholic Church offers any support with our children. I remain a Catholic only because of the Mass and the Eucharist."

The survey found that "through their journeys to understanding, parents' initial fears and tears have been transformed into ire and fire." That change is reflected in one mother's vow that she and her husband "will spend our last breath carrying the message that God loves each of his precious children — and we do, too."

Casey Lopata encourages Catholic parents of gay children to "never to stop telling your story. That is the greatest witness you can make."

Having a gay son is a gift, he believes, one that made him a more loving dad and vibrant Catholic.

As countless Catholic parents embrace their children's homosexuality, they are learning to see their families as fortunate indeed.

Deb Price of The Detroit News writes the first nationally syndicated column on gay issues. To find out more about Deb Price and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



4 Comments | Post Comment
Dear friends,
After finding out the truth about my son's homosexuality, it was unbearable for a mother like me who loves my son so much, to accept the truth. At that point, I embraced my son so tight and whispered to him... "no matter what, I still love you with unconditional love, even if you are a down syndrome child... I will feel the same for you."
Where do I contact support groups for parents of gay children?
I live in Whittier, California. PLEASE HELP AND GOD BLESS US ALL.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Josie
Fri Nov 7, 2008 5:07 PM
I just found out that my son is gay in August. I feel horrible to admit that there are still some issues I am dealing
with still and today is 11/14. Is that so horrible though? I am a catholic and would like to continue but am confused what to do. I love my son. I am looking for some guidance in this matter. If anyone knows the answer, please help me out w/some suggestions.
Comment: #2
Posted by: sarahgal
Sun Nov 14, 2010 8:10 PM
Wow really? This article is written more for our forced acceptance of an unholy lifestyle than for the benefit of Catholic parents in crisis. As usual there is never any mention of opportunities to redirect your child and save them from this lifestyle. Sites like these try to lure you in with the nicities and "understanding", but the only understanding that they propose is that you have to accept what they want, and the continuation of their cause to make this lifestyle acceptable. Turning grieving parents into evangelists for their cause, wow that is geniusly devious. There would be more respect from others if there was equal consideration given to both potential outcomes of this situation. Welcome them as God's children but do not accept the behavior choice they have made. In reality there are many behaviors that this applies to and I don't see an outcry of support and forced acceptance of those behaviors. For those looking for real help, the only support that I have found worth considering is your local diocese. If you do choose to use websites be sure to check the background of the contributors to understand their goals before taking their advice. God Bless us and good luck.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Mark
Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:26 AM
Our beautiful daughter came home last year for spring break, and as she got in her car to drive back to school, I offered a prayer to GOD to bless her with love. She was ready, she needed to be loved by another beyond our family, and it was clearly time. Five weeks later, she arrived home for the summer and she was in love. GOD had answered my prayer as always, but GOD never answers my prayers without a lesson to learn. Our daughter was gushing with love and trepidation for she knew we wouldn't approve and as I ran out of the list of things that might make me crazy as a parent, she informed us her he was a she. With my jaw slack, I began to cry and proceeded to the backyard to have a two day tirade with GOD. Then when I was calm, and worn out, I heard the dear Lord say,"You asked for her to have the love of HER life"
I have no idea what mankind has in mind for this world but I do know that GOD has his head on straight. He's right! I asked for a tremendous blessing to be granted to my precious daughter and HE saw fit to grant it lavishly. What right do I have to complain? What right do I have to be so narrow minded that I deny HIS blessing? I love GOD, I love our daughter, and I am a very blessed woman.
GOD doesn't make mistakes. In spite of our human desire to have everything tailored-made, that isn't life. Life is a bit messy, a bit confusing, and constantly pushing us to be more tomorrow than we are today. GOD doesn't pave the path in gold, that's for humans. Yet, HE paves our way for us so that we achieve our best.
Love your son! Love his boyfriend! Make him feel welcomed and loved in your home. Our daughter's girlfriend loves her as much as we love her. She spoils our daughter, comforts her, supports her, and cares for her more generously than we did. GOD truly blessed our daughter and her partner by giving them to one another. The Church may not understand, but I believe wholeheartedly that "What GOD has brought together, no man may put asunder"
It wasn't my plan, but it was HIS, and it is working out beautifully.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Allison Lawerence
Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:12 AM
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