In a heartbreaking letter, a woman claims that her gay godson killed himself after becoming distraught over Gretha Wiid’s views on homosexuality.
The open letter in Afrikaans* was published by the Pretoria East Rekord on Sunday. It was written by a woman identified only as EllenB, to protect the identity of the deceased man, who was in his twenties, and his family, said the newspaper.
“I had a godchild whom I loved as one of my own, the apple of my eye. He reacted very badly to the whole debate about the pronouncements on homosexuality in your famous book. It scratched open wounds that had just started to heal after many years,” wrote EllenB.
“Less than a week later he was dead. One day he simply decided enough was enough. He had every possible support, and I thought things would be better since he was more open about his sexual orientation – his parents accepted it too. I was very wrong. We buried him on Friday, 19 May.”
The woman went on to say: “I cannot help but wonder what role your ignorant and condemning statements and those by the other thousands of uninformed people played in his decision. Sorry, but the answer is screaming loudly in my head.
“Especially because it upset him so much shortly before his death. Was one of the condemning remarks on social media literally the final nail in his coffin? Such statements certainly have the potential to have tragic, far-reaching consequences for a confused, searching, sensitive gay young man who tries his best to survive in this cruel world today.”
According to Wiid’s advice to young people, an unloving or absent father can lead a child to become gay, a claim that EllenB said could have devastating consequences.
“It is not just gays who are affected by your statements. What about their parents and families? People can very easily make the deduction that all fathers of gays drove their sons to it. Perhaps it happened in your house, but to paint all dads over the same brush is bitterly unfair.”
The woman also spoke out against Wiid’s claims that people are not born gay and that they can be “corrected” if young enough. “No gay person I know is homosexual by choice. Many gays will tell you that it’s their greatest aspiration to be ‘normal’. Do you think people enjoy being considered to be ‘skewed’, to be seen by others to be a ‘misfit’ or a weakling?
“Have you considered how difficult it is for their parents? To daily hear the lament of a child who just wants the right to live, to love, to have friends, to live and work without being despised and humiliated? It’s a bitter pill to swallow. Parents get hurt to know that other people do not want to allow their child to live a life of love and being with the person they love.”
EllenB said that her godson’s suicide would at least leave him in peace. “His death day was perhaps my child’s mercy day. His pain is something of the past. I would do anything to hold him once again and tell me that I love him and accept who and what he is. God has. Whatever people use from the Bible to justify their views, the fact remains: We worship a God of love, a God free from the burden of human judgment. And for God, love is the most important.
“Our God does not just create a child to reject him again. God is love, but people decide that gays may not have a share in love. Or that they may have a share, but under certain conditions.
“It is a pity that our sensitive sunshine child concentrated on and responded to other people’s remarks and opinions. I wish I could convince him that what other people think does not matter, that it is a matter between him and God. But it’s too late.”
EllenB added. “He was a beautiful sunshine child, but now he is just a beautiful and very sad memory. This is what people do to people.”
The Rekord said it had tried to offer Wiid the opportunity to respond to the letter but was unable to reach her.
Wiid, who has a gay brother, is a Christian relationship “expert” who is something of a celebrity in the Afrikaans community. An excerpt from one of her advice books for young people on the topic of homosexuality recently went viral on social media.
Many in the LGBTQ community were alarmed that the book offers inaccurate and dangerous information that could negatively affect young LGBTQ people and their families.
While Wiid has apologised for having “wronged” anyone with her “word choices or the way that I wrote…” she has still not addressed her belief that people “become” gay. She has also not retracted the claim in her book that gay teens can become heterosexual if they “speak to someone about these things in time – before it is too late”.
The SA Human Rights Commission has confirmed that it is investigating 70 complains against Widd.
*Our thanks to Coenie Kukkuk for assisting with the translation of the letter.