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Mary V. Borhek

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Mary V. Borhek was a member of the New Testament Church, an independent charismatic congregation in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, when she discovered that her son Steve Lenius was gay. This was in 1975. In accordance with the beliefs of her congregation, she felt strongly that homosexuality was a sin.  Over the next three years, Mary learned much more about homosexuality, and her beliefs changed. 
   
At the time of learning about her son's homosexuality she tape recorded what was happening, believing that she would eventually write a book out how one gay man--her son--had been prayed straight. She began the book, but as time went on and her beliefs changed, it became a book about how she had learned to accept her gay son without wanting to change him. The book was published in 1979 by The Pilgrim Press as My Son Eric. Because Mary did not know how the book would be received, she changed everybody's name except her own--which is her birth name--to give her family privacy and protection. Over time, Steve (Eric) has come out unequivocally, and has acknowledged that he is Eric.  My Son Eric has recently been reprinted in a revised and expanded edition, bringing Mary and Steve's story up to the 21st century.
   
In 1983 The Pilgrim Press published Mary's second book, Coming Out to Parents: A Two-way Survival Guide for Lesbians and Gay Men and Their Parents. This was updated in 1993 with various revisions and an added chapter for gay men, lesbians and their families dealing with AIDS.
   
In 1978-1979 Mary was active in Families of Gays and Lesbians in Minneapolis/St. Paul, a forerunner of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). She was also editor of the monthly newsletter of the smaller organization. From 1982-1983 she was a member of the advisory committee of Wingspan, a ministry with and on behalf of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons and their families, sponsored by St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church in St. Paul. In addition, Mary spoke to about 200 gay/lesbian organizations, PFLAG groups, and church groups at many places throughout the United States, as well as being interviewed on radio and TV and presenting workshops. 

In 1986 Mary was invited to present a paper, "Helping Gay and Lesbian Youth Deal with Their Families," at the Symposium on Gay and Lesbian Adolescents, sponsored by the University of Minnesota Institute of Continuing Education in Adolescent Health Care.  The following year this paper was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health Care.

In 1993, after moving to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,  Mary founded Sanctuary, a group within the Moravian Church for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered persons.

In her earlier life Mary had been the office manager, assistant editor, and staff writer for The Moravian, the denominational weekly publication of the Moravian Church (now a monthly), and for the monthly publication The Moravian Missionary (now discontinued). She also wrote a number of articles for other religious publications. From 1951-1971 she was married to a Moravian minister and served congregations in North Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.  The marriage ended in divorce. Although at the time this seemed to be the worst thing that could have happened to her, Mary has learned and grown in many ways that would not have been possible had the marriage held together.  A few lines from My Son Eric say it all:  "The sufferings through which I have passed have not been wasted.  They have been stepping -stones to fuller, more outgoing living."

In 2011, Mary published a book of her poems, "I Must Go to the Well:  Word Pictures from a Woman's Soul."  In April of 2013, Mary moved from her apartment at Pennswood Village, a retirement center, to the health care center of Pennswood, where she continues her writing.

(This biographical statement provided by Mary Borhek.)

Created: 1/17/2003 4:45:32 PM

Modified: 1/8/2014 4:51:45 PM

Biography: January 2003