Patti and Jeff Ellis, who recently moved to Atlanta from Fayetteville, started the website www.familyacceptance.com five years ago and have since fielded thousands of e-mails from parents struggling with their child's homosexuality. In 1997, the Ellises' son, Adam, told them he was gay, and the website candidly describes their ensuing denial, desperation and acceptance.
"When Adam told us, we were certain he was confused. The first thing we did was schedule an appointment with a respected psychiatrist that we knew would quickly straighten him out. Adam seemed to like him but after just a few visits, it became clear to Patti and I that this 'quack' wasn't batting for the right team. He was telling us that Adam was gay and that we had better get used to it. We seriously questioned the credentials of his medical school and went looking for a second opinion."
-- Jeff Ellis, in a statement posted on www.familyconnection.com
"We would go out to dinner after Adam came out and be stared down. Our community was not tolerant. We were the source of conversation and thrown out of the social circle."
-- Patti Ellis, describing to CL the reaction to her son's homosexuality
"So here we have a child who is gay. We want to believe he is confused, but are beginning to understand he is not. We are the ones confused."
-- Patti Ellis, in a statement on the website
"Patti and I discovered that nothing is more fearful than having a secret that must be kept at all costs. We also discovered that nothing removed that fear more than turning our secret into a personal statement of human dignity."
-- Jeff Ellis, describing his change of heart and the purpose of his and his wife's site