Last week, I had a long and fascinating conversation with Shari Johnson — a retired dental hygienist, conservative voter, and evangelical Christian from Odessa, Texas — about what happened when her daughter announced, at age 37, that she was a lesbian. Johnson’s chain of reactions would sound familiar to many families of gay, lesbian, and transgender kids: shock and sorrow, followed by grudging acceptance, followed by a full embrace. What was striking, though, was the language she used — about prayers, appeals to God, and direct answers.
She talked about a day when she was driving to work, wrestling with the idea of her daughter’s upcoming wedding in Cambridge. “I said out loud in the car to God: ‘What event could a parent be asked to attend that would be worse than this one?’ ” Johnson said. “And his answer was, ‘a funeral.’ That’s how God speaks to me. It’s not a booming voice from Heaven; it’s a thought that I’ve never had before that I would never have myself. And it’s so contrary to my thinking that I know it has to be God.”