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After wrestling with his same-sex attraction throughout his childhood and into his early 20s, Xian Mackintosh finally told his Mormon parents he was gay — through Facebook.

"I'm not going to beat around the bush, I just need to tell you guys that I'm gay," read the private message from Xian, one of seven children of Scott and Becky Mackintosh of Lehi, sent while he was away at college.

It marked the first time the young man, who grew up in the faith and served a two-year Mormon mission, had said or written those words, "I am gay."

Xian's story and his parents' response are recounted in a YouTube video posted Thursday on the LDS Church's website The video has generated nearly a half-million hits in less than a week — and sparked conversation among Mormons about how to respond to a child coming out as gay.

That includes offspring who, like Xian, are no longer active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And it followed closely Mormon officials' directives as outlined in sermons, speeches and suggestions.

For Scott Mackintosh, it was "mind boggling" to receive the news via Facebook, but "looking back, that was one of the most ingenious things [Xian] could have done," the elder Mackintosh says in the video. "It gave me time to take it in ... to get rid of all the anger."

Becky acknowledges that her initial reaction was denial, that she even proposed testosterone treatments as a possible answer to her son's same-sex attractions.

Nonetheless, she eventually accepted that Xian is gay. She told him she loved him, hugged him and then advised her husband, "Please be kind."

Scott Mackintosh, too, had trouble initially accepting that his son — in apparent rejection of their faith's emphasis on traditional family structures — would not be marrying a woman and raising children in that pattern.

Finally, the Mackintosh father and son talked. It was an emotional exchange, culminating in Scott blurting out, "Xian, why would you choose this? Why?"

Xian chuckled, looked his father in the eye and replied, "Dad ... I didn't choose this."

Their reactions fit with the Utah-based faith's "tips for parents" listed on its website.

You will never regret saying "I love you," the site advises, and, later, "It's never too late to apologize."

It's natural to grieve for the Mormon life a gay child would have had, the church's website tells parents. "There is no shame in grieving."

The LDS Church teaches that being gay is not a choice, nor a sin — just acting on it is. The best response, the site concludes, is compassion and empathy.

"I put my arms around my son and just loved him," Scott recounts. "[And] I can't help but feel that the Savior loves him deeply."

Adds Xian: "We may have differences, but at the end of the day, we're still family."

In an interview, Becky Mackintosh says response to the family's story has been "extremely positive."

The goal in taking it public was "to touch hearts and to strengthen relationships and to pull families together ... to let them know they are not alone," she says. "We've received a lot of private messages all around the world, thanking us."

Many have praised the family as "courageous" for speaking up, but the Lehi mother rejects that label.

"There's nothing brave," she says, "about doing the right thing."

Twitter: @remims, @religiongal