It has been a little over 3 years since my husband and I learned we had a gay son. For the first few months after finding out our son was gay, we both retreated into a world of complete seclusion, shutting pretty much everyone out, including each other. It was a self-imposed isolation exacerbated by the 2004 Bush Presidential re-election campaign which was going full-throttle at that point and using the promise of a federal gay-marriage ban as one of its centerpieces. It was shocking the filth and ugliness the whole spectacle brought out. And of course, the lens through which I was now watching it all was no longer rose-colored.
It was so painful listening to supposed Christians and Family Advocates spouting such hateful vitriol, but it was even more devastating to realize that one of their targets was now one of my children. It made me wonder how I could have been so blind to it before. Why did it take learning I had a gay son to see so clearly what gays and lesbians have always faced? The shame I felt was unbearable.
I realize now why our son was willing to kill such a vital part of himself and stay in the closet rather than take the chance of losing the love of his family and friends by coming out and admitting he was gay. As a society we’ve given a much stronger voice to the hate and made tolerance and acceptance bad words, and sadly many very prominent churches are the worst offenders. No wonder our son felt he had no choice but to deny who he was in order to be accepted.
And the price one pays for staying in the closet is high. I am only now realizing just how high. As we watch our son blossom into an amazing young man, we are filled with both incredible pride and sadness. When our children are so consumed by the fear of discovery and forced to direct every ounce of their energy towards being something that pleases a small segment of our society, our children lose and all of society loses. Our children are our future, all of our children, not just the ones that pass the Dobson smell test for normal.
In the past couple of years our son has lived his life openly and with no more secrets. He has been able to take all the energy he once used in his all-consuming quest of remaining invisible and closeted and direct it towards realizing his full potential. He has won numerous awards, scholarships, and distinctions since coming out into the sunshine, each accomplishment fueling his need to make up for the years he lost. He just recently was elected president of the Executive Student Council and is now setting his sites on his future. What more could society want? And why are we allowing a vocal few to crush the souls of our gay and lesbian children because their religious beliefs deem our children evil?
As a parent I feel great sadness about the years my son has forever lost. While his peers were consumed with finding themselves and exploring their horizons, my son was consumed with denying who he was and trying to meet the impossible expectations of the so-called Christian Values Crowd.
Thankfully, our son is now out and free. But to all those parents out there who either suspect one of their children is gay or who know their child is gay, I beg you, please don’t push your child back into the closet by forcing them to be something God did not intend him/her to be, accept your child with open arms, love your child unconditionally, nurture your child, and most importantly, protect your child against this ugliness that is now passing for Christian Values.
To do otherwise ---- is to destroy your child.