Pushed away by their birth families, many LGBTQ people build 'chosen families'
This story originally aired on December 8, 2018.
Matthias Roberts came out to his parents at age 15, and at the time both he and they hoped this would be a temporary challenge. Matthias and his family were conservative, Evangelical Christians, and they believed that homosexuality was a sin to be overcome.
But as he grew older, Matthias found that his attraction to men did not decrease — quite the opposite, actually. And he began to be exposed to other points of view about homosexuality and faith.
“I had thought my parents would evolve with me,” he says. “I started realizing pretty quickly I was hitting a line. And then past that line. And my parents started telling me, you’re starting to believe lies.”
Then in a recent conversation, after more than a decade of being open about his sexual orientation, Matthias says his parents drew a boundary.
“My parents have said if I ever get into a relationship, a serious relationship, then I can no longer be part of the family,” he says. “It was devastating. They’re words I never thought I would hear from my dad’s mouth.”
But over the years Matthias has assembled another family — one of his choosing. There was the Episcopal priest and his wife, who gave Matthias his first taste of acceptance and unconditional love from adults. There was the couple in Seattle who became parental figures, and the group of gay men who got together weekly, including for events such as Thanksgiving dinners.
Matthias, who hosts the Seattle-based podcast Queerology, dedicated to queer people of faith and allies, says his experience is not at all unusual.
“It’s incredibly common,” he says. “We all have our families of people we know have our back. And we need them in order to survive.”