A Mormon’s family’s struggle to reconcile its faith with full acceptance of their son’s sexual identity is at the heart of the video “Families Are Forever,” which premieres at Frameline 37: The San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival this weekend.
In advance of the screening, ABC News profiles Wendy and Tom Montgomery, who canvassed in 2008 to advocate for the passage of Proposition 8, the state referendum that overturned the ruling that allowed same-sex couples to marry in California, and is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
That was before the Montgomery’s learned that their now 14-year-old son, Jordan, was gay and would later contemplate suicide because of the church’s steadfast belief that homosexuality is a sin that would cut him off from his family not only here on earth but in the afterlife.
“I was mortified at the idea of being disowned by my parents,” Jordan says in “Families Are Forever.” “I was like, I do not want to be thrown out of my home. I definitely expected to be excommunicated and restricted from church. But I still wanted to be with the church, like, I’d grown up with it, it was my life … until now.”
Until about age 13, Jordan had been the “happiest, most exuberant child,” according to his mother, but then he began to withdraw from friends and family. Looking for answers, she found an entry in his journal describing his attraction to other boys, though he had never acted on those urges.
The discovery shook his mother to the core.
“I felt like what I saw his life would be – what I expected his life to be – as a Mormon boy was now gone,” she says in the video. “I saw him preparing for a mission for our church – gone. I saw a temple wedding – gone. I saw him being a father – gone.”
Suddenly their son’s conflict and depression made sense to the Montgomerys. But the church’s view on homosexuality confused her: “God views it as a sin,” she says in “Families Are Forever.” “But I looked at a boy who had never done anything wrong, a pure innocent child, no way sinning or choosing this.”
The 20-minute film was produced by the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, and is part of a planned series of short documentaries that depict the journey of ethnically and religiously diverse families to support their LGBT children.
Watch a preview of the film below, and find the ABC News profile here.
Wendy Montgomery said she has hope for Jordan’s future, and the family is stronger because of their journey.
“I am a better person for having a gay son,” she said. “I love differently, and I love more openly. I didn’t realize the judgment I had before I realized that having a gay son was a great blessing and not a burden.”