Randall Terry shocked by son's coming-out
April 15 2004 12:00 AM ET
Randall Terry, the notoriously militant antiabortion activist and a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage, said he is in "a state of shock" following his son's coming-out in the May issue of Out magazine. Terry said his 24-year-old adopted son, Jamiel, first told him he is gay two years ago but that he is very upset about the first-person article in Out and the $5,000 payment Jamiel told him he received for writing it. Terry said he did not bar Jamiel from his home after learning of his homosexuality. But his son is not welcome there now, he says, "because he betrayed our family's privacy...and he could sell us out again. He knows he is going to get his 15 minutes of fame because he's the son of a high-profile Christian leader who has fought against homosexual marriage." Terry led the antiabortion group Operation Rescue in the 1980s and is now a radio talk-show host in Florida.
In an essay posted on WorldNetDaily.com on Tuesday, Terry said he prayed that his words would "help other grieving parents and serve as a warning to moms and dads of small children to be unflinchingly and unashamedly diligent to protect their children from predators and bring a reality check to those exploiting my son. I love my son. Jamiel is incredibly gifted. He is articulate and handsome. He sings like an angel, he plays the piano, he's a great cook, and he's a great debater. He would make a powerful lawyer and a formidable politician. People like him. I love him. I've poured 16 years of my life into him." Terry said he and his now-ex-wife took Jamiel in at age 8 and adopted him at 14. "Tragically, by the time we got him as a foster child, he had already learned a lifestyle of deceit from his surroundings and had been a victim of crimes and treacheries that would mar him for life. I knew of some of those things when we got him and have learned more over the years. My hope was that by providing a loving, safe home, his life would be spared the path it would inevitably take if he remained in those surroundings. Unfortunately, my hopes and prayers were not realized. My son's teen years became a mixed stream of happy times mingled with half-truths, dishonesty, and a double life. His behavior grew worse and worse in college, culminating with the story in Out magazine."
In his Out essay, "A Rising Son," Jamiel talks about being raised by his famously right-wing father. After Randall resigned from Operation Rescue as part of a settlement with the National Organization for Women, he took up opposition to same-sex marriage as his new cause, Jamiel wrote. Jamiel described his father as "one of the most engaging men I have ever met" and that as his son, he thought he might never be able to come out. But when his parents told him they were splitting up, Jamiel said his world started caving in. "After this stunning announcement, we got dressed and went to church like nothing had happened," he wrote. "This was a normal scene when we were growing up. Because we were in the public eye, we always had to pretend everything was fine." Finally he did come out. "When I told [my father] I was gay, he said he wished he had known because he wouldn't have been so harsh. Still I'm glad I didn't tell him earlier, because my parents would have sent me somewhere to 'get better.'" Jamiel also wrote about life away from home. "I recently moved to Charlotte, N.C., to attend school at my university's new campus here," he said. "I met a wonderful guy who is everything I have ever desired."
"I am a father in anguish," Randall responded on WorldNetDaily.com. "My son is a young man in crisis who needs intervention and therapy, not heady interviews with CNN.... And Out magazine is despicable for their participation in a sham and exploiting my son for their own political agenda. If my son is their latest 'hero,' we should wonder how many more of their homosexual leaders and trophies that they present as 'model citizens' have lives that are this unraveled. Let all who read the Out story, or any other that spins off of it, know that the story about my son is laced with fraud and deceit from beginning to end. And please pray for my son's redemption, and pray for our family's healing."
Bruce Shenitz, executive editor for Out magazine, responded to Randall Terry's accusations of recruitment. "Out did not seek out Jamiel Terry to write a story for the magazine," Shenitz said. "He approached us with an offer to tell his story. Out did not pay Jamiel Terry $5,000 for his story. He received a fee of roughly half that--which is standard for a story in Out of this length. Out believes strongly in allowing people to tell their own stories when they're ready to do so. Matters of the Terry family history we'll leave to Randall Terry, Jamiel Terry, and their loved ones to sort out. Jamiel's piece in Out was a first-person narrative of his family history as he sees it. We wouldn't presume to tell any family how to resolve its internal matters. But we do find it sad that Randall Terry, who has a gay son, continues to operate within a set of homophobic attitudes."