When My Teenage Son Came Out to Me
June 1, 2013
The gay community has always enveloped me, with love, with generosity, with humor and in ways of deeply understanding that no other community of people can or could. I am not gay, yet I have been surrounded by important gay folks my whole life.
My aunt is a lesbian, so the introduction of the topic that one could be in a relationship with someone of the same sex began there. I never thought negatively about her having a girlfriend; I thought it was a sweeter, gentler love. She was my mother's sister and if my mother loved her, then I would too.
In high school, my best friend was gay. I was enamored by him in so many ways -- by his style; his amazing, coiffed hair; and, of course, his taste in handsome men. We competed in the downtown dance clubs to see who might catch the eye of that sexy dude dancing alone. If he won, kudos to him for scoring a tasty catch.
In my youthful view of the world, there seemed to be something about the sexuality of the gay community that had an altogether different approach. There was a permission to love, to engage, to be sexual and joyous, to discover what passion really meant. There was no ominous doom of permanence, as with married straight people who were legally bound and needed the courts to separate. Divorces can drag on forever, take eons and be so ugly. Gay people seemed freer somehow. If the relationship went bad, going separate ways seemed so much less complicated. I envied their freedom.
In my 22nd year on this planet, I was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS. It was from my second boyfriend. The ones who held me, hugged me, within the HIV community were 100 percent gays and lesbians. I fell into their arms. I thrived off their generous offer of comfort, their true understanding and their deep heartfelt compassion. I felt my pain was seen and all my worries and fears were given thoughtful consideration. I was never told to hush my diagnosis! I was always treated like I was real, like I was a person, not a walking disease.
There is a criticalness about who is truly there for you when you come face to face with death. My gays never walked away. They never abandoned me. They loved me while I was sick and then they loved me while I became well. I was truly cradled and that made the difference in choosing and fighting for my life.
Over the span of my next two decades, I saw so much bravery. I saw advocacy in its finest and most compassionate of ways. I saw a community stand up and ask for what was needed. Some fought for awareness, funding and laws for protection, others fought for acceptance and support. I became inspired. This is what action looked like. I began to find my voice. I emerged from my own closet of silence, passivity. I marched happily with and for important causes. I understood beyond the equal marriage issues, the rights for protection and anti-bullying. I felt it all so deeply. My issues surrounded AIDS, yet the foundation of being treated like a human being and having the right to exist on this planet without harassment, hatred or inequality struck a similar side-by-side chord with the GLBT community. I needed to make a political difference and my GLBT community showed me the way.
Simultaneously, through the course of this disease, I had to raise my son, born to me just two years before my diagnosis. He saw the worst of it all. But most important, he too, was embraced and beloved by my GLBT community. I wasn't just another breeder. He wasn't just another product of breeders. We were treated as valuable, people, worthy of love.
And to be 1,000 percent clear, the pedophile myth infuriates me. Homophobic people didn't see what I saw. During my sickest years, I saw dear GLBT friends assist my son with reading books, have intense conversations (with a 5-year-old) on how to make the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There were trips to the zoo and why some animals have spots and others have stripes. I saw the Halloweening with fabulous costumes and safe inspection of candy. I saw love. It was as if he had a million uncles and aunties. And who doesn't want a transgender fabulous uncle to go trick-or-treating with? He well understood from the age of 4ish that men could be with men and women could be with women. I found I never needed to explain it; it was just understood that is the way life is. It was our normal.
At the tender age of 15, he came out to me in a handwritten note. My answer was simple; I loved him no matter what. I am the mother of a gay son. Not any gay son, MY son, MY baby. I didn't care if he was attracted to men. I never believed it was because he was around so many of my gay friends. That accusation is absurd and yet we heard it more than once!!
I believe emphatically he was born this way. I don't know if it was my desire to initially have a daughter or if it was moon energy I felt while he was in utero. I just "knew" when he was little and it was fine by me. I also knew he was my son, always would be my child, first and foremost. His sexual nature was not mine to criticize. His ability to love someone of the same sex should only be celebrated. Correction, his ability to love another human being is to be celebrated!! So many sons are raised seeing how to abuse, to beat, to disrespect. Not mine. He knows how to love and that shows me I did good; our community did good.
My son is now 21 years of age. He has a great boyfriend. I am proud of him and always will be. His desire to be married has my political backing. His desire to be out and proud has me waving my banners and rainbow flags. His need to feel safe and not bullied has me screaming on my megaphone for equal rights. I madly write articles to those who do not understand. I fire back at the closed-minded. I defend his honor and right to be who he is.
My son has his own personal Pride Parade, with me at the helm. And shouldn't everyone in the GLBT community? If I could march for all of the GLBT community, I should and I will, for you are someone's son, someone's daughter, and you deserve to be loved just the way you are, in all your magnificence!! So hold those flags high!! Be 100 percent proud. I am ever so proud of you!! Thank you so much for sharing your rainbow with me!! ... I love you!!
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