Linda Robertson: ‘Gay conversion therapy killed my son, Ryan’

Kathmandu (pahichan) November 30 – DEVOUT Christian Linda Robertson says her son came out to her at 12-years-old but that she forced him into ‘conversion therapy’. Now she is travelling the US to ensure more kids don’t die like hers did.

Rob and Linda Robertson of Washington State were told by their son Ryan, then aged 12, that he was gay.

“It’s just the way I am and it’s something I know,” Mrs Robertson recalls him saying. “You are not a lesbian and you know that. It is the same thing.”

While initially understanding, the Robertsons forced Ryan into weekly reparative therapy meetings with their pastor during his teenage years.

“Basically, we told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality,” Mrs Robertson said.

However it was something he was unable to do and he ended up running away.

“Just before his 18th birthday, Ryan, depressed, suicidal, disillusioned and convinced that he would never be able to be loved by God, made a new choice. He decided to throw out his Bible and his faith at the same time, and to try searching for what he desperately wanted — peace — another way. And the way he chose to try first was drugs,” Mrs Robertson writes.

That started off with marijuana and alcohol and within six months grew to include cocaine, crack and heroin.

Rob and Linda Robertson’s story

After about 18 months he returned to live with his parents.

Rob Robertson said their relationship with their son improved after God spoke to them and told them to love their son “just because he breathes because that is how I love you.”

But within 10 months, Ryan relapsed into using drugs and he overdosed. He died in hospital 17 days later aged 20

“What we had wished for … prayed for … hoped for … that we would NOT have a gay son, came true. But not at all in the way we used to envision,” Mrs Robertson writes on her blog “Suddenly our fear of Ryan someday having a boyfriend (a possibility that honestly terrified me) seemed trivial in contrast to our fear of Ryan’s death.

“When I think back on the fear that governed all my reactions during those first six years after Ryan told us he was gay, I cringe as I realise how foolish I was. I was afraid of all the wrong things,” she wrote. “And I grieve, not only for my oldest son, who I will miss every day for the rest of my life, but for the mistakes I made. I grieve for what could have been, had we been walking by FAITH instead of by FEAR.”

Mrs Robertson is determined to ensure that other Christian parents do not experience the same fate as her family.

Both of Ryan’s parents now travel around the US, speaking out on behalf of the gay community and trying to convince Evangelical parents that they should support their gay children.

“Now, whenever Rob and I join our gay friends for an evening, I think about how much I would love to be visiting with Ryan and his partner over dinner. But instead, we visit Ryan’s gravestone,” she writes. “We celebrate anniversaries: the would-have-been birthdays and the unforgettable day of his death. We wear orange — his colour. We hoard memories: pictures, clothing he wore, handwritten notes, lists of things he loved, tokens of his passions, recollections of the funny songs he invented, his Curious George and baseball blankey, anything, really, that reminds us of our beautiful boy … for that is all we have left, and there will be no new memories.”

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