On Tuesday, a handwritten letter was posted to Reddit, the social news sharing site, under the title “5 years ago, I was disowned via letter when I came out to my father. This is how hate sounds.”
Seemingly written by a father to his gay son James, the words are damning and hurtful.
“I hope your telephone call was not to receive my blessing for the degrading of your lifestyle,” the letter reads, before proceeding to inform James that he is no longer welcome in the family home. “Don’t expect any further conversations with me. No communications at all.”
The letter ends bluntly with, “No present exchanges will be accepted. Goodbye, Dad.”
As if James was really considering splurging on a tie or bottle of whiskey by that point.
Something like this could not have gone viral in 2007 the way it did yesterday. Already, it has been viewed nearly 850,000 times and been reposted by several advocacy and gay rights blogs. Consider also that five years ago, Dan Savage had yet to create It Gets Better, the widespread support movement aimed at young LGTB people.
According to an article in The Telegraph, the son, who appears on Reddit under the name “RegBarc” has since asked readers to use the post as a means of support for those who have been similarly scorned by family members. ‘“Please pass your acceptance and love to the people you personally know who are going through this type of persecution and harm from their blindly religious parents/guardians.”’
He also makes a point of saying on Reddit that he has never done drugs, was a good student and didn’t try drinking until he was 22 and yet he “is still seemingly deserving of this terrible act of hate and cowardice that one person can place on another.”
The top-rated reply on Reddit, which allows readers to award points to comments, comes from a man who poignantly distinguishes between a father and a dad, something he learned as an adoptive parent. “Any idiot can be a father (and clearly many are) but you've got to EARN being a Dad,” he writes. Then he concludes, “Stay strong. Take care. The world is changing fast. And for more people than ever, gay and straight, it's changing more toward love and away from fear - at least in this particular area.”
Five years later, the Internet reached out and gave James a big hug.