Morris Taylor — 83-year-old musician, artist and professor emeritus at Andrews University — has this week decided to share watercolors painted in memory of his son. Taylor says on his website:
For the first time ever I am sharing watercolors I painted during the month of what would have been my son Leonard’s 50th birthday. The ten original works depict a life well lived. I am proud of my son.
Those who view these images are invited to respond to the tragedy of a life cut short by suicide. The pressure of dealing with his homosexuality in a fundamentalist religious environment figured prominently into the decade leading up to his mental break. Futile attempts at reparative therapy, sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, contributed to his agony and demise.
This pictorial essay encourages individuals to contemplate the relationship between sexuality and spirituality, between doctrine and grace, and between bigotry and acceptance.
A year before his death I said to my son Leonard, “I am more like you than you will ever know.” Little did I realize that he would be dead before I could share with him the truth about my own homosexuality. I do know that I loved him and that he felt my love. Now through these paintings I witness to my truth. The Creator endowed me with my unique personhood which is real, valid and spiritual.
All who thoughtfully want to know about persons with alternative sexuality may use these deeply private glimpses into my family life in a respectful manner. In return I promise to respect you just as you are. I am available for serious conversation. At age 83 I am comfortable with who I am and pleased to share my journey.
Isolation and depression
Leonard the cavalier
Wrestling with spirituality and homosexuality
Rescued by the Coast Guard two miles off shore
New Year's Eve crash, slash and poison
Leonard balanced and brilliant