On Thursday, both Jamiel and Randall Terry gave extraordinary interviews to Beliefnet editor Paul O'Donnell. Below, Jamiel explains that he wrote the article because "I wanted my father to see I'm not going to hell," but says that he still loves his father. Randall says that Jamiel is "bringing great sadness to our home and embarrassment to our family."
Did Out come to you?
I made contact with them.
Why did you feel you had to write it?
I felt it would be freeing for me. Most of our family friends had no idea that I was gay, and most of my mother's side of the family didn't know. For my own journey, I felt I needed to come out. My dad talks about the money. Originally, I was going to do an interview, which I would not have been paid for. When it changed to a freelance situation, they paid the normal fee.
Is it the figure [$5,000] that your father's claiming?
No, it's lower than that.
Are you in financial difficulty [as your father said in his op-ed]?
Not anymore than any normal 24-year-old college student.
|"If I could choose my life, I definitely would not choose to be gay, especially in the family that I live in."|
You must have known that this would embarrass your father.
Well, sure, I knew it would embarrass him, but the fact is those are his own issues. If he would be embarrassed by my being gay, then he has issues. So that's not my problem. I wouldn't say he is embarrassed by my being gay. One thing that really, really hurts me is that the things he says about me [in his op-ed] probably took place during a seven month period, the darkest time of my life, when I was literally on the verge of suicide, and constantly talking to him about the fact that I was on the verge of suicide.
When was that?
September 2002 to probably May 2003.
Was that when he says you asked him to pay for you to go for treatment [for homosexuality]?
Well, that's not true. I think it was right after the DWI charge. He said, "I want you to go to this thing Love in Action and I'll pay for you to go." I was a manager where I was working and it was Christmas season. I said, "I can't leave right now."
My father has to understand the intense, almost idolatry we kids have for him. When he's talking, he just convinces you to do something, even when you don't want to do it. If I could choose my life, I definitely would not choose to be gay, especially in the family that I live in.
Because it's easier. That doesn't mean that I'm bitter about it. But it's the same thing as someone who is very very poor saying, if I could choose my life, I would choose to be rich. It's not that I don't wish this. I'm past that point. But certainly, if I could go to a three month rehab clinic and have them wave a magic wand over me and come out straight. Then on top of that, my dad is saying, "Things will be like they were before. I'll pay for your college and I'll pay for your expenses," and blah blah blah.
Predicated on your going straight?
On my going to this rehab thing. He's my dad. I love him. I still want to be a part of his life. Every time [my partner] Matthew and I would have some sort of an argument, where I felt like it was causing too much of a strain, I would [say to my father], "Okay, send me the information." Matthew is the only reason that I didn't go. I didn't believe I would go and be straight. I really don't believe that. But I was like, "What the heck. I probably need therapy in other areas." But it wasn't some kind of crying out to my father, like "Dad save me. Please send me to Love in Action." That's just ridiculous.
|"I could not have asked for a better father. He's doing it because he feels that that's what he has to do |
to 'save me.'"
In his letter, your father quibbles about when you were adopted. Were you adopted at age 5?
Legally we were adopted at age 14. He stresses so much that this is an adopted child. But we did not feel like adopted children. We felt like we were 100 percent a part of that family. We officially moved into their house when I was eight, with no interruptions. We were living with them on and off from the age of 4. I was calling them Mom and Dad at the age of 4 and 5. He's trying to stress that nothing in his home made me gay. And no one would accuse him of that. No one is pointing at him saying, "You made your son gay."