Out in the Terry Family: Randall Terry Says His Son's Coming-Out Was a Betrayal, and He's Still Determined to Deny "Special Civil Rights" to Gays

By Ryan, Benjamin | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), May 25, 2004 | Go to article overview

Out in the Terry Family: Randall Terry Says His Son's Coming-Out Was a Betrayal, and He's Still Determined to Deny "Special Civil Rights" to Gays


Ryan, Benjamin, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


Outraged by his son Jamiel's public coming-out in the May issue of Out magazine, antigay and militant antiabortion activist Randall Terry published his own essay on the far-right Web site WorldNetDaily.com. He accused the magazine of recruiting his 24-year-old son, whom he took in as an 8-year-old foster child, and publishing lies about his family.

Randall Terry originally entered the public eye as founder of the antiabortion group Operation Rescue. He went to jail for having a fellow abortion opponent bring an aborted fetus to then--presidential candidate Bill Clinton in 1992, and he went bankrupt after women's groups won huge civil suits against him in the 1990s. In recent years he has focused his efforts on battling same-sex marriage. The Advocate spoke with Terry, who these days is president of the Society for Truth and Justice and a radio talk-show host in Florida, shortly after news of the Out essay broke.

What's the most difficult part about your son's coming-out?

I love my son. And because I love him I have to tell him the truth. I have to say to him, "Jamiel, this is a sexual addiction that could claim your life. And it's self-destructive behavior."

Do you feel betrayed by your son's essay?

Yes, yes, absolutely. There were so many things in his story that were inaccurate. For me, that kind of betrayal of family boundaries and privacy is mind-boggling.

Has it caused you to reexamine your beliefs about homosexuality?

[Long silence] For me, part of the issue is, How do we as a culture say that these people have the right to not be harassed? I don't want to live in a police state where doors are being broken down. [I do want to live] in a culture where we do not applaud this lifestyle or reward it with special civil rights or the covenant of marriage.

Some have argued that you took up an antigay crusade only after the antiabortion movement ostracized you. …

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