Journey to Moriah
A Journey to Moriah is unequivocally the finest book I've ever
read by the mother of a gay child. This is a story of a mother who takes
responsibility for her own feelings, faces her demons, and grows as a woman.
Too often parents of gay children project their own fears onto their children.
Rhea Murray is clear from the start that she loves her son unconditionally
and any demons she faces are her own demons - not her son's. Her turmoil
over facing the church, facing family, facing her son's school, facing
her small suburban community in Indiana, is her "own" turmoil - not her
son's. To watch Rhea unfold as a human being as she faces these demons,
is to watch a woman with a capital "W" come into her own strength and wisdom.
The book’s title refers to the biblical story of Abraham who was tested
by God with the command that he sacrifice his son Isaac. . . .more--
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Bruce was in his late teens when Rhea began her college education.
In a writing course her Mother
Phoenix essay won an award. It begins:
I was born and raised in Seymour, Indiana, the "Small Town" that
is distinguished in song by John Mellancamp. Surprisingly, up until a few
years ago, the city limits of this town comprised the dimensions of my
entire world. I lived in a safe, comfortable environment as a wife, mother,
and Sunday School teacher, a very predictable, milk-toast way of life,
never challenging my self-imposed boundaries. more...
In Decmber 1995 Rhea and her son Bruce went to Washington D.C. to
speak at a press conference prior to the "Lou Sheldon Hearings."
Bruce spoke of
physical torture by children and verbal abuse from adults
I will never forget the first time I was gay bashed; I was alone
in a park when three larger guys jumped me. Two held me, while the third
continuously punched me in the stomach. After my attackers left, I slowly
and painfully got to my feet and gathered my books. I was a third grader
walking home from school. more...
included a religious dimension.
I prayed incessantly for God to spare me this journey. Nonetheless,
a crushing silence was my answer.
Then unexpectantly, God whispered to me, "Child, you are hurting
because you are trying to put the negative images you have of gays on your
beloved son. You need to put the face of your son on the gay community.
After all, you know what a gay person is like. You have lived with a gay
person for 13 years. He is the same child in whom you have always delighted."more...
Bruce Murray's story appeared in the Philadelphia
Answer is Love
of Rhea's speech at the September 18, 1999 Prayer for Justice Gathering,
held on the steps of Indiana Capitol State Building.
We came here today to pray for justice. Our
prayers rise up like a question? "What can I do to make sure that everyone
is recognized as being a unique and precious breath of God, including our
gay brothers and sisters?" We have the answer. Love. Let us leave here
with that answer so graciously spoken through us that it leaves no room
for questioning its Source.
I would like to conclude with a quote. Unfortunately,
I do not know who authored it. But it is one that should be remembered
as we work for Justice for our gay citizens. "The task ahead of you is
never as great as the power behind you." I say to you that power is God.
That power is Love.
Burn Out (Tragedy in the Heartlands)
When PFLAG moms started talking about burnout, Rhea's Tragedy
in the Heartlands message gave us a clearer picture of her own life's
work and continued inspiration for our individual efforts.
Their faces, their eyes, their stories haunt me. They build a fire
in my belly . . . a fire so intense that it threatens to consume me, if
I do not take action. These are our children, our brothers, our sisters.
They are bleeding. They are dying. And they are bleeding and dying in a
world that does not give a damn about them. They need us. Oh, god, how
they need us. more...
1997. email to pflag-talk
December 15, 1997
Today his boss called him and told him that they wanted him to come
in three hours later than scheduled. She was lovingly trying to protect
him. For you see, the store had been horribly trashed and faggot was painted
on all the walls. They wanted to paint all the walls before he arrive to
save him the humiliation of seeing the hatred of him so graphically on
December 16, 1997
Thank you, my dear friends, for my holding my hand last night, while
I sat here waiting for my son Bruce to come home from work. They had security
escort him to his car. His boss has given him the day off today and has
reworked his schedule so he would not be closing the store alone this week.
But that can only be a temporary solution.
Rhea writes about
... Butch's philosophy is very simple and very pure. He said he
learned when he was in Vietnam, that people are people. Everyone loves,
needs to be loved, cries, hurts and bleeds. He may not be much of a tiger,
but he is one hell of a bear with one hell of a big bear's heart. And I
am one hell of a lucky lady who gets to curl up beside that sleeping (snoring)
bear at nights. more...
Rhea's friend Dixie
Beer writes about Seymour Indiana and the church they once belonged to
The hostility shown to the Japanese who were moving into town after
having built factories that literally rescued Seymour's economy was very
hard for me to understand. This was probably the first real indication
I had of the attitudes of the area in which I was living.
Murray goes to Washington
Rhea's second trip to Washington, DC. was in March, 1996 as part
of the PFLAG Moms and Dads Go to Washington lobby day. In her
report to pflag-talk, she compared the hate in Seymour to the love
she found on her trip to DC.
...The day-to-day living in such a hostile community made my spirit
grow tired and weary. I had a huge emotional lump in my throat most of
the week. Here old friends shun me; there I was embraced by strangers,
as if I was a long lost family member. This coming together of people from
all regions of the country in a single mission was, indeed, empowering.
However, the blending of the many hearts into one was truly a God-touched
"No More" letter to Ron Woods, written for the Campaign for Equal Rights
Ron, you do not stand alone. Feel me take your hand
and hear my first cry of "No