Yesterday I read a note from a father to a son. The son is a young man. A young man who happens to be gay. A young man contemplating telling his family that he knows this about himself.
The young man, Nate, tells his friend what he wants to do. And his father hears him.And what comes next…no one would ever expect.
Nate finds a note from his dad. A note that included these words…
“I've known you were gay since you were six, I've loved you since you were born.”
And that pierced my heart. Because how many parents look at their children and see things…things they choose to ignore.Things they try to wish away.Things they try to pray away.Things they try to parent away.
And they can’t.
This happened to me.
I began noticing things in my son that could possibly indicate that…well, he might be gay. It was all silly, stereotypical stuff.
But stereotypes exist for a reason.
And he was calling to mind people I had known in my life. People who are gay. People who are out. People who are not.
Nail polish. Jewelry. Cooking. Crafts.A bunch of small things that maybe, possibly added up to a big thing.
And I knew I had a choice to make.
If my hunch was right, I had only a few years. A few years to make peace inside myself. A few years to work out all my warring feelings about right and wrong and God and sex and love. A few years to decide how I wanted to respond to my child.
How I wanted to love my child. How I wanted our relationship to be.
If he is gay, I can’t change that.The only thing I can change is myself.
I considered myself a progressive person.It wasn't until I had these thoughts that I realized how far I had to go. And I made up my mind, then and there, to open my heart completely to this possibility.To cease any negative talk about people’s lives. Their relationships. How they choose to make their family.To cease any squeamishness I might feel about him behaving in ways that might not be strictly considered “masculine.”
To make sure he knows he is loved just as he is.
I am embarrassed that these are actual issues I had to work through within myself. They seem so profoundly simplistic to me now. So obvious. Of course I should uplift my child who is not causing harm!Of course I should accept him! Of course I should never, ever degrade another person's family or choices or life or WHO THEY ARE.
I am ashamed that I had to start there. But I am glad I chose to start. Some people don't.
I thought I might know something about my son. And If I was right, I didn’t want to do it wrong.
A funny thing happened. After I made this choice to look at my sweet, beautiful, loving child
and see him purely, wholly as he is...he then showed me who he is.
And he’s not gay.
He developed a giant crush on a girl down the street. We’ve spent hours at night snuggled in bed talking about her. What she looks like. How she looked at him and made a heart with her hands and it made him faint. What he should say to her. Whether or not they’ll get married someday.
So, for me, this might be the end of that particular road.
I thought I might have a gay son. I probably don’t.
But I am so grateful for that time when I was not sure about what I was seeing.
I will never look at gay person the same way again.
I will never look at their parents the same way again.
Having that perspective changed things for me.