When he was in eighth grade, Ari Beighley told his closest friends at school he was gay.and
But he kept his silence at home for two more years, his homosexuality hidden in the midst of his conservative evangelical Christian family.
"Then I just didn't want to hide anymore," he said.
In 2005, while his parents were getting ready for a Super Bowl party at their home in Spring Lake Township, Ari Beighley asked if his mother had a couple of minutes to talk.
Two hours later, mother and son emerged from conversation, their lives irrevocably changed.
"Even when we were talking that day, I remember thinking: Things are never going to be the same again in this family," said Ari's mother, Colette Beighley.
For emotional support, the Beighleys turned to a group called Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays -- PFLAG, for short -- that has chapters in Holland and Grand Rapids.Read this whole wonderful article:
"We are not a family with a gay son, no, we are a gay family," David Beighley said.
They are a gay family with three other children and a daughter-in-law who are an integral part of the story: Nate Beighley and his wife, Sarah Beighley, both 32; Collin Beighley, 28; and Chloé Beighley, 15. Nate and Collin are from David Beighley's first marriage.
"Sarah had the most classic response of anyone in the family to Ari. She said, "OK, so you're gay. You're still a butthead.' "
Parents choose to accept son over church, friends
by Susan Harrison Wolffis, Muskegon (Michigan) Chronicle staff writer ~ July 15, 2007
And don't miss Colette Beighley's great blog:
Mostly Sunny with a Chance of Gay
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area in the 60s, I have experienced that social change is not only possible but imperative. As the mother of four children -- one of whom is gay, I take my participation in that change very seriously.Colette was a marriage and family therapist for over 20 years. Now she is the West Michigan Field Organizer for Triangle Foundation.
I have a feeling we have more in common than we know so far ~ therapist backgrounds and activist passions, and we both came out of the 60's in San Francisco & the bay area.
Colette, I look forward to getting to know you and your family much better.