2016-06-30
Longtime anti-abortion activist Randall Terry in recent years has campaigned against gay marriage and homosexuality. So it was of some embarrassment to him when his son Jamiel published an article in the May issue of Out magazine revealing that he is gay. Terry responded by writing an op-ed, sharply criticizing his son and saying, "He is no longer welcome in my home."

On Thursday, both Jamiel and Randall Terry gave extraordinary interviews to Beliefnet editor Paul O'Donnell. In his interview, 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. Below, Randall says that Jamiel is "bringing great sadness to our home and embarrassment to our family."


How did you find out about Jamiel's article?
Four weeks ago he told me they had contacted him, and he was entertaining the idea.

He told me he approached them with an email.
Yeah, but that's not what he told me. I found that out yesterday.

Do you understand his reasons for publishing it?
Well they shift from day to day, so what are the ones you heard?

He said it was part of his own journey, part of his own acceptance of his homosexuality. I guess he also wanted to be an example to other people who grew up in his situation.
I don't accept that. I know that if he had wanted to do that, he would have done it without going after the money that was given to him on the basis of my name.

What effect do you think this has on your name, or on you?
I think that it garners sympathy for me. But that's not the point. The point is that it is a betrayal of family dignity and family boundaries for money. He gave CNN pictures of our family. That's just unbelievable to me.

"I cannot have him in my home while I know that at any point, he could take pictures and sell them."

Do you think he's in financial straits?
Of course he is.

Why answer his story with your own--in The Washington Times and on WorldNet Daily?
As I said in the piece, I'm doing it to jolt other parents and to embarrass those who have exploited my son, to call their credibility into question. To show that what was presented on CNN and what was presented in Out magazine are just not accurate renditions of what's going on.

Jamiel seems to think that what you had written just furthers the breach between you two. Do you think so?
For me, the issue is that there has been an unbelievable lack of honesty. For me the breach is that I cannot have him in my home while I know that at any point, he could take pictures and sell them. I'm not going to have that kind of intrusion into my home.

Do you think there's public interest in the story beyond what he has already told?
I have no idea. I'm not going to assume there isn't. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Knowing him, do you think his motivation is purely money?
Motives are known only to God. Behaviors are weighable by us.

In your piece you contested Jamiel saying that he later returned to the Roman Catholic Church, though he rejects papal authority and teaching on family issues. One would almost read that as a defense of those dogmas and those teachings.
I am not Roman Catholic. I have a deep respect for the Roman Catholic Church and I'm a student of Roman Catholic theology. For me the issue was that it was disingenuous, that it was deceitful. It was Out magazine's effort to drag the Roman Catholic Church into this debate.

When you say this has generated sympathy for you, what form has that taken?
I've gotten hundreds of emails and lots of phone calls.

You say Jamiel's teen years were "a mix of happy times, half truth and a double life," and his behavior grew worse in college. What are you referring to?
I'm not going to undress my son in the media. It's been a very downhill spiral for him.

"It's a self-abusive, self-destructive sexual addiction."

Hasn't he been working alongside you for much of this time?
No.

Didn't he spend time with you in Vermont?
We were only together in Vermont for a couple weeks at most. He dropped out of college to do that, against my wishes.

When was the last time you saw him?
About a week ago. I'm in Florida, he's in Charlotte. I drove up to talk to him, as a father to a son.

Did he inform you that this was coming out?
He did but he didn't tell me the nature of it. He told me it wasn't about me, it was about him.

 

You regard homosexuality not as something in a person's nature but a behavior one falls into. Is that correct?
Behaviors are a choice. I do not contend that they ask for the feelings anymore than any of us ask for feelings. Feelings are sometimes out of our control. Behavior has to do with choices.

Have your views shifted at all since you found out Jamiel is gay?
No. There are three options when you find out a family member is homosexual. One is accept them and their lifestyle as if it's normal. Two is to reject them and sever your relationship. Three is to love them unconditionally, but to tell them you do not accept their behavior as normal, and to tell them the truth. If I love my son, I can't say to him, "Hey, you're committing suicide on the installment plan. This is a great lifestyle." I have to be honest with him. Take out the word homosexuality and put in alcoholism or put in drug addiction. Would you tell a drug addict, "I accept you. This is your choice, this is your life and I will stand by you"? The average death age of a male homosexual is 42 years old because of disease, because of suicide, because of alcoholism, because of drugs, because of violence. It's just not a good world. It's a self-abusive, self-destructive sexual addiction.

You say in your piece you've offered to get him treatment for it.
I have to believe that people can change, otherwise I deny the Gospel, and I will not do that.

"I'm proud of him in a number of ways. Right now he's bringing great sadness to our home and embarrassment to our family."

Your son says that he'd be living a lie even if he went through treatment to correct his behavior, that the feelings wouldn't go away. He said he had asked you whether you wanted him to live that way.
I don't remember that, but what I would say to him or to anyone is that you might feel like stealing a Porsche, but as long as you don't act out on it, you're not going to get in trouble. I think a lot of us have feelings from time to time that are rather dark. But it's our behavior that we can modify. So if you're asking me, would I prefer my son live a celibate life? Then the answer is yes.

Why are some people given to homosexual feelings while others aren't?
I think most of it is behavioral. A crisis occurred in their youth. I've heard that 90 percent of lesbians were assaulted in their youth. It's not quite as high for males. But I believe that a traumatic event happened for most of them in their youth, whether it involved sexual molestation or abuse or viewing pornography, an absent father, or a sexual contact in the pubescent years. God did not design the human being to have these things happen and then to function as if everything was fine.

Do you think it's his homosexuality that has produced the litany at the end of your piece--the DWI, the bad checks, the dropping out of school?
I don't know.

How do you go about continuing contact with him--the third course you mentioned. Would you mention this every time you see your son?
I don't know, I have to think it through. We're taking it one day at a time.

But you've had two years...
I did not mention it every time. But I want to keep conversations between my son and I private. I talked to him about it many times.

But what's your advice for others?
You have to from time to time bring it up. Ask, are you living celibate? Are you seeking any help? Are you going to confession? Are you going to therapy? Have you found a support group? At this point in human history, we've got an awful lot of data about breaking addictions, and we have a lot of experienced people out there to aid in the process.

So what I have found in my conversations with homosexuals over the years is that they reject the process of healing, because it's too painful and it's too time-consuming. People would rather go to an altar and pray and have all the feelings taken away for good than to spend three months in an in-patient program or in intensive therapy and have the pain of a long healing process. It's too easy to surrender.

"He'd been subjected to things and had seen things by the time he was 8 that would mar anybody for life."

Do you think he's a good son?
I'm proud of him in a number of ways. He's a very gifted young man. Right now he's bringing great sadness to our home and embarrassment to our family. Did you see the CNN piece [on the Terry family] last night? It was fraught with error.

Is there anything from the show you'd like to correct?
Yeah, I didn't run off with the secretary. It made it seem like I had committed adultery and then ran off with a secretary, neither of which happened.

Jamiel said that the divorce was a triggering thing for him.
I just don't buy it. He was living this life for years before that.

What he said to me was that it began for him the process of admitting it to himself, that doing that could bring him happiness.
I would contend that is a lie. The homosexual community has more acceptance in America than it ever has and the suicide rate is as high as it's always been. People commit suicide when they're in despair. They're in despair because they know in their heart of hearts that this sexual addiction is self-abusive and a horrifying, degrading lifestyle. I know my son, and believe me, he has not obtained peace or happiness.

But if it is behavioral, and you raised him, do you have any doubts about the way you raised him?
No. Any school of psychology will tell you that by the time a child is 6 or 7 years old, so much of their personality is formed, and any traumas that happened to them will be with them for the rest of their life. That's Psychology 101. We didn't get Jamiel till he was 8, as a foster child, and didn't adopt him till he was 14. He'd been subjected to things and had seen things by the time he was 8 that would mar anybody for life. So we gave him a safe home where he was loved and was not in danger. And he abused that, by his own admission.

So he's not welcome in your home but you still talk to him. To what end?
At this point we have to wait for his 15 minutes of fame to be over with. Then we'll let this die down and see. He has not been honest with me, about who contacted who, about what our family was like, about facts about me. It's very difficult to trust him right now.