Deb and Steve Word are devout Catholics.
They have also opened their home to more than a dozen LGBTQ youth over the past six years, many of whom were homeless and rejected by their families.
Their journey started when their own son came out, according to CNN. Despite their efforts to affirm him, he didn’t come out to his parents until he was 23.
“As Catholic parents — it broke our hearts that we weren’t able to kind of shield him from some of that,” Deb Word told CNN.
Their experience with their son led them to reach out to local organizations, including Fortunate Families. They became listening parents who would be available to talk to other parents who might be struggling with issues relating to their child’s identity.
Eventually, they connected with the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center and the center’s director, Will Batts. Batts told them about a homeless, young gay couple with a four-year-old child. The Words immediately took them in.
Today, their home is a safe house and they serve as surrogate parents to LGBTQ youth.
The Words encourage other families to embrace and support their children for who they are. Love is love, after all!