A Mother and Father’s Reflections on Homophobia

An Open Letter by Nella and David Buttitta (Florence, Italy)

To mark the first Prayer Vigil for victims of homophobia held in Italy on June 28, 2007, a young Florentine couple wrote an open letter reflecting on homophobia as Christian parents. These are their words.
Dear Sisters and Brothers, As some of you know, we planned our holidays before you proposed this important and special day.
As a “family” and as a traditional heterosexual couple with two small children, we consider this day and prayer vigil to be very meaningful. We believe it’s important for ourselves and for all others like us.
This prayer vigil makes us think about how much ‘radioactive’ homophobic waste there is in our minds, our culture and our behavior.

With God’s help, all of His creatures (including ourselves) should have the courage to look at ourselves in the mirror. We should all look back at how poorly we may have treated our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters – even unintentionally and without thinking.
With a good dose of courage and embarrassment, we can think of many times we didn’t or didn’t want to react against society’s prevailing mindset of marginalizing and ridiculing gay people.
This terrible way of thinking may not directly kill anyone, but it certainly creates the conditions that can lead to suicide and make lives difficult for so many.

Tonight, we’re sure you’ll be talking about many of the atrocious incidents that have occurred. However, we’d also like you to remember the so-called normal people like us who may often act as accomplices to the day-to-day suffering, isolation and frustration of others.
As a Reformed Christian couple, we have Covenant Theology in our DNA. First of all, there is the covenant with God made with humanity and then there are the covenants men and women freely agree upon in order to live better lives. We’d like to suggest a new covenant whereby we all commit to breaking the oppressive chains of prejudice.

This new covenant means living in the awareness that life, freedom, love, friendship, brotherhood, sisterhood and indeed happiness itself are gifts that God gave to all of us – without exception. None of us has the right to harm the gifts of another.
This covenant should stop all families from acting out against family bonds are different from their own, whether resulting from a free choice or social constraints.
Lastly, we commit to breaking the chains of hate against gays and lesbians in the way we bring up our children. This is one important way we can interrupt the grim chains of oppression and prejudice.
We would like our children to live in a society that has room for everybody.
Dear sisters and brothers, all of this may sound like a lot considering where we are now; however, perhaps God may even want more than a simple affirmation of individual and collective rights for all people, whether they are gay or straight.

We must all have the courage to dream, to profess and to plan utopia. We must all strive to see the viewpoint of others and work for the happiness of others. Indeed, doesn’t the commandment God gave us to “Love your neighbor as yourself” mean just this?
If this way of living, this new frontier of utopia, is at least similar to God’s promise, then it will come about.

Dear sisters and brothers, when you have small children like we do, you end up spending nights awake. If our children have a bit of fever, our heart skips a beat and the night is long.
The night vigil gets prolonged and thoughts quickly turn into heartfelt prayers for help.
Tonight all of you will also be holding a vigil for defenseless people, like our children with a fever. Say a prayer of help in your hearts and our Lord will surely help you. He will surely help us all.

Nella and David Buttitta, Florence