“This is more than just a support group to me… .”
Julie had a feeling her son Tyson was gay from an early age. She doesn’t remember actually considering whether being gay was a choice, and she had a gay brother who she loved and supported. So when she found out her son was gay and she STILL went through the emotions of a typical Mormon mom, she was a little surprised. Julie thought, “was he really gay? Was he sure? Was it the drugs messing with his head?” But, by the time he came out, he was mid-drug addiction and that was the priority.
He struggled with the addiction for years – sober times, relapse times. He fought hard to kick the addiction and get his mental health in check. But it was too much and he was unable to survive in this world any longer. He took his own life in January 2015.
Julie joined Mama Dragons before he died and the women in the group were her lifeline. They buoyed her up and the Mama Dragon mission gave her purpose. She is sure that surviving her son’s death would have been a much different story if it were not for the Mama Dragons.
Suicide is a complicated thing. LGBTQIA youth are at high risk for drug and alcohol abuse as they attempt to feel normal and loved. In Tyson’s honor, Julie continues to fight for the love and support of these kids so that fewer of them feel so desperate. She feels blessed and honored to have had a gay son who taught her how to love and understand a little better. She knows that God loves these LGBT+ kids so very deeply and that they are special.
She used to spend some time feeling a little angry at her boy for leaving her and not fighting harder. But in the end, she knows he found peace and will honor his life by being there for others who need support. She has faith that her son is with her every step of the way.