A Circuit Mom Speaks
Written by Pat C. Shaw
I feel fairly certain that I am not your “run of the mill” mother. My experience with the gay side of life dates back to my very first boyfriend, who was gay; my first husband was gay; and both sons I gave birth to are gay.
I jokingly say that I have the “gay gene,” which may not be too far from the truth, since two of my brothers also have at least one gay offspring. What makes us a bit unique is that we each love, respect and accept our children for who they are and the lives they are making for themselves.
Since I do not believe that homosexuality is a “choice,” I do believe that parents—especially Mothers—vacillate between guilt and semi-acceptance, in between “denial” and a misguided hope that their gay son or daughter will “change.” And that just ain’t gonna happen!
So how do we bridge the gap so that a realistic, mutual understanding can exist between mother and son (or daughter, for that matter)? Since I know much more about being the mother of gay sons, let’s make that the focus here.
I have been saddened to realize how many young men I meet have not come out to their families, in particular to their mothers. I recently sat next to a delightful young professional who has been hiding his life companion from his mother. As far as she knows, they are just good friends, which enables him to accompany the son to family gatherings. They live together in a distant city, so an unexpected drop-in is not very likely.
I encouraged him to tell his mother the truth. She deserves to know. I told him that she just may surprise you because she loves you. She isn’t interested in you intimate relationship, nor should she be. She isn’t a voyeur waiting for salacious details of you and your partner’s lives together. What she DOES want to know is much simpler: Are you happy? Are you healthy? Are you content?
This is how you come clean: Screw up the courage to sit down. Take her hands. Look straight into her eyes. And say simply, “Mom, there are some things I really want to share with you, and I want you to know how happy I am; that I am perfectly healthy and I am totally content with my life. It wasn’t a choice I made, nor was it anything you could have influenced. I am gay. I have known this about myself for many years, and I couldn’t bring myself to shatter all the dreams you seem to have for my life. But I want you to be a part of my life, and I want to share those parts that I have kept from you.
“I know that first and foremost, you want me to be happy, and I am. I have a good life and I want you to be proud of me. I love you very much, and every good quality I have is because of you and the values you instilled in me. I want and I need your acceptance. I’m still the son you raised and I’m the same son I was yesterday. I don’t want you to worry about me. I want you to know my friends and my partner. You’ll see for yourself how full my life is. All that’s missing is you. With your acceptance, my happiness will be complete.”
She will probably have questions. Keep your answers simple and don’t complicate the issue with more details than necessary. Love is a very strong bond, and there is no love stronger than that between mother and child—no matter how old you are, what your lifestyle is, or what career you choose.
Remember to emphasize your love for her and her love for you. Then give her the biggest hug of your life! That’s all she really wants to know.
my mother already knows, but if she didn’t I would surely be able to tell her from this. I hope that your letter brings courage to many others who still need that little nudge to tell their parents, and share their world with them.
By johnny on 06-23-2009
I am dealing with this issue right now. I feel that soon I will be able to tell me Mom, but not yet. However, this did help. Thank you.
By BJ on 07-06-2009
I came out to my mom 15 years ago. (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) She knows everything about my life, and accepts me completely. It’s important to be honest about who you are. You have to live your own life.
I was very moved by this article. There are true words of wisdom in this, and I hope it will help those who read them the strength and fortitude to live their truth.
By jeffery on 08-31-2009
Does this mom have any advice for other parents to be more supportive? In the Asian community, homosexuality is not talked about and often hidden outside of the immediate family so it’s hard to build Asian PFLAG’s. Thus, we have safe-space groups within the Asian-American LGBT community but it’s been difficult to build that same space among parents.
By Alan K on 11-16-2010
Great article. Been out to my parents for sometime -last 15 years. I actually have this relationship with my dad. Both rents know of all my involvement with the NYC Gay Nightlife scene, even know when Black Party Weekend is LOL, in addition to the many Alegrias I have attended in the last decade. Coming from a strict Christian Protestant Pentecostal Asian East Indian background, you can imagine the stuggles they had to face when coming to terms with who I am, after the years I personally had struggling with it as a teen to my eary 20s. But they love me & did not want to lose me. They saw that after I had come out, there was no more rage, no more violence… just a newfound freedom and invigorating love more than ever before. I think they’d much rather get a piece of it too, than the rest of my self made family. And now if there are ever any problems (which are VERY rare, if any), I just take them to a dancefloor.
By Akash NYC on 11-16-2010
I’m in my mid-50’s with 3 kids and 3 grandkids. One would think by now I would have the courage and strength to come out to my mother, but I really don’t think it will ever happen, and it’s very sad! She is LDS, and her “religion” always gets in the way. There’s love and acceptance as long as you conform to the strick rules ... so much for unconditional love, peace, joy. As you might be able to tell, we are not close.
Thanks for writing your words of encouragement. I know it will help a lot of people in their struggle to be who they really are with their family, especially younger people.
By Ikem H. on 02-10-2012