LESLIE CRISS: Open letter offers thanks to a supportive parent

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“The family is a haven in a heartless world.”
– Christopher Lasch

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”
– Desmond Tutu

“We deceive ourselves when we fancy that only weakness needs support. Strength needs it far more.”
– Anne Sophie Swetchine

Dear Mr. McMillen,
You’ve been much on my mind these past several weeks as your daughter, Constance, has become a hero to many in places small and large, near and far from your Itawamba County home.
You must be proud of Constance’s courage and her sense of justice.
You must, also, be emotionally exhausted by the hatred and bigotry of some who will never be able to comprehend the power of living in the truth. Those same people will never grasp this was about something so much bigger than a high school prom.
I hope, however, you have been buoyed by the expressions of compassion and acceptance that have also come your way.
Thank you for being a great father.
Your constant presence and solid support have been apparent to all of us who’ve watched this story unfold.
I hope you know how blessed Constance is to have you in her corner. I hope she knows.

Costly for some
There are people of all ages whose own struggles with sexuality issues have cost them greatly – often the love and support of parents and other loved ones.
I know one young man who knew in elementary school he was different.
When he finally accepted who he is – a gay man – and came out to his parents, his father kicked him out of the house.
His mother, who said she’d known her son was gay since he was a baby, was devastated by her husband’s reaction. Still, she ultimately supported her husband and withdrew from her son’s life.
The young man has attempted suicide more than once but is now in counseling with his parents as they attempt to rebuild their wounded relationships.
I’ve read the words of a few who’ve wondered why Constance couldn’t have waited until college to “be gay.” Ah, is there anything more frightening than a sincere ignorance?
What a great gift Constance has had to feel the freedom to acknowledge who she is at such a young age, and it is you who have given her that gift.
Please know there are gay folks who would give their lives to have the unconditional love and support of a parent like you.
Clearly, you have made an amazing contribution to the wonderful human being who is your daughter.
And you are blessed to have one another.

Contact Leslie Criss at (662) 678-1584 or leslie.criss@djournal.com.