Bringing Great Sadness
to Our Home'
Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry talks about
his gay son.
Interview by Paul O'Donnell
article appears here
anti-abortion activist Randall Terry in recent years has campaigned against
gay marriage and homosexuality. So it was of some embarrassment to him
when his son Jamiel published an article in the May issue of Out magazine
revealing that he is gay. Terry responded by writing an op-ed, sharply
criticizing his son and saying, "He is no longer welcome in my home."
On Thursday, both
Jamiel and Randall Terry gave extraordinary interviews to Beliefnet editor
Paul O’Donnell. In his interview, Jamiel explains that he wrote
the article because "I wanted my father to see I'm not going to hell,"
but says that he still loves his father. Below, Randall says that Jamiel
is "bringing great sadness to our home and embarrassment to our family."
How did you
find out about Jamiel's article?
Four weeks ago he told me they had contacted him, and he was entertaining
He told me
he approached them with an email.
Yeah, but that's not what he told me. I found that out yesterday.
Do you understand
his reasons for publishing it?
Well they shift from day to day, so what are the ones you heard?
He said it
was part of his own journey, part of his own acceptance of his homosexuality.
I guess he also wanted to be an example to other people who grew up in
I don't accept that. I know that if he had wanted to do that,
he would have done it without going after the money that was given to
him on the basis of my name.
do you think this has on your name, or on you?
I think that it garners sympathy for me. But that's not the
point. The point is that it is a betrayal of family dignity and family
boundaries for money. He gave CNN pictures of our family. That's just
unbelievable to me.
Do you think
he's in financial straits?
Of course he is.
his story with your own--in The Washington Times and on WorldNet Daily?
As I said in the piece, I'm doing it to jolt other parents and
to embarrass those who have exploited my son, to call their credibility
into question. To show that what was presented on CNN and what was presented
in Out magazine are just not accurate renditions of what's going on.
to think that what you had written just furthers the breach between you
two. Do you think so?
For me, the issue is that there has been an unbelievable lack of honesty.
For me the breach is that I cannot have him in my home while I know that
at any point, he could take pictures and sell them. I'm not going to have
that kind of intrusion into my home.
Do you think
there's public interest in the story beyond what he has already told?
I have no idea. I'm not going to assume there isn't. Fool me
once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
do you think his motivation is purely money?
Motives are known only to God. Behaviors are weighable by us.
In your piece
you contested Jamiel saying that he later returned to the Roman Catholic
Church, though he rejects papal authority and teaching on family issues.
One would almost read that as a defense of those dogmas and those teachings.
I am not Roman Catholic. I have a deep respect for the Roman
Catholic Church and I'm a student of Roman Catholic theology. For me the
issue was that it was disingenuous, that it was deceitful. It was Out
magazine's effort to drag the Roman Catholic Church into this debate.
say this has generated sympathy for you, what form has that taken?
I've gotten hundreds of emails and lots of phone calls.
You say Jamiel's
teen years were "a mix of happy times, half truth and a double life,"
and his behavior grew worse in college. What are you referring to?
I'm not going to undress my son in the media. It's been a very downhill
spiral for him.
been working alongside you for much of this time?
spend time with you in Vermont?
We were only together in Vermont for a couple weeks at most.
He dropped out of college to do that, against my wishes.
the last time you saw him?
About a week ago. I'm in Florida, he's in Charlotte. I drove
up to talk to him, as a father to a son.
Did he inform
you that this was coming out?
He did but he didn't tell me the nature of it. He told me it
wasn't about me, it was about him.
homosexuality not as something in a person's nature but a behavior one
falls into. Is that correct?
Behaviors are a choice. I do not contend that they ask for the
feelings anymore than any of us ask for feelings. Feelings are sometimes
out of our control. Behavior has to do with choices.
views shifted at all since you found out Jamiel is gay?
No. There are three options when you find out a family member
is homosexual. One is accept them and their lifestyle as if it's normal.
Two is to reject them and sever your relationship. Three is to love them
unconditionally, but to tell them you do not accept their behavior as
normal, and to tell them the truth. If I love my son, I can't say to him,
"Hey, you're committing suicide on the installment plan. This is
a great lifestyle." I have to be honest with him. Take out the word
homosexuality and put in alcoholism or put in drug addiction. Would you
tell a drug addict, "I accept you. This is your choice, this is your
life and I will stand by you"? The average death age of a male homosexual
is 42 years old because of disease, because of suicide, because of alcoholism,
because of drugs, because of violence. It's just not a good world. It's
a self-abusive, self-destructive sexual addiction.
You say in
your piece you've offered to get him treatment for it.
I have to believe that people can change, otherwise I deny the
Gospel, and I will not do that.
says that he'd be living a lie even if he went through treatment to correct
his behavior, that the feelings wouldn't go away. He said he had asked
you whether you wanted him to live that way.
I don't remember that, but what I would say to him or to anyone
is that you might feel like stealing a Porsche, but as long as you don't
act out on it, you're not going to get in trouble. I think a lot of us
have feelings from time to time that are rather dark. But it's our behavior
that we can modify. So if you're asking me, would I prefer my son live
a celibate life? Then the answer is yes.
Why are some
people given to homosexual feelings while others aren't?
I think most of it is behavioral. A crisis occurred in their
youth. I've heard that 90 percent of lesbians were assaulted in their
youth. It's not quite as high for males. But I believe that a traumatic
event happened for most of them in their youth, whether it involved sexual
molestation or abuse or viewing pornography, an absent father, or a sexual
contact in the pubescent years. God did not design the human being to
have these things happen and then to function as if everything was fine.
Do you think
it's his homosexuality that has produced the litany at the end of your
piece--the DWI, the bad checks, the dropping out of school?
I don't know.
How do you
go about continuing contact with him--the third course you mentioned.
Would you mention this every time you see your son?
I don't know, I have to think it through. We're taking it one
day at a time.
had two years...
I did not mention it every time. But I want to keep conversations
between my son and I private. I talked to him about it many times.
your advice for others?
You have to from time to time bring it up. Ask, are you living
celibate? Are you seeking any help? Are you going to confession? Are you
going to therapy? Have you found a support group? At this point in human
history, we've got an awful lot of data about breaking addictions, and
we have a lot of experienced people out there to aid in the process.
So what I have found
in my conversations with homosexuals over the years is that they reject
the process of healing, because it's too painful and it's too time-consuming.
People would rather go to an altar and pray and have all the feelings
taken away for good than to spend three months in an in-patient program
or in intensive therapy and have the pain of a long healing process. It's
too easy to surrender.
Do you think
he's a good son?
I'm proud of him in a number of ways. He's a very gifted young
man. Right now he's bringing great sadness to our home and embarrassment
to our family. Did you see the CNN piece [on the Terry family] last night?
It was fraught with error.
anything from the show you'd like to correct?
Yeah, I didn't run off with the secretary. It made it seem like
I had committed adultery and then ran off with a secretary, neither of
that the divorce was a triggering thing for him.
I just don’t buy it. He was living this life for years
What he said to me
was that it began for him the process of admitting it to himself, that
doing that could bring him happiness.
I would contend that is a lie. The homosexual community has more acceptance
in America than it ever has and the suicide rate is as high as it's always
been. People commit suicide when they're in despair. They're in despair
because they know in their heart of hearts that this sexual addiction
is self-abusive and a horrifying, degrading lifestyle. I know my son,
and believe me, he has not obtained peace or happiness.
But if it
is behavioral, and you raised him, do you have any doubts about the way
you raised him?
No. Any school of psychology will tell you that by the time
a child is 6 or 7 years old, so much of their personality is formed, and
any traumas that happened to them will be with them for the rest of their
life. That's Psychology 101. We didn't get Jamiel till he was 8, as a
foster child, and didn't adopt him till he was 14. He'd been subjected
to things and had seen things by the time he was 8 that would mar anybody
for life. So we gave him a safe home where he was loved and was not in
danger. And he abused that, by his own admission.
So he's not
welcome in your home but you still talk to him. To what end?
At this point we have to wait for his 15 minutes of fame to
be over with. Then we'll let this die down and see. He has not been honest
with me, about who contacted who, about what our family was like, about
facts about me. It's very difficult to trust him right now.
Terry is founder of the pro-life organization Operation Rescue.