My Son… Is Gay?
I remember the night I lured my parents into the kitchen, sat them down and told them I was gay. Actually to be fair, it was more or less the night they dragged me to the table, sat me down and forbid my even standing up until I’d told them what they wanted to hear which was that I was not gay. Ironically enough, the conversation didn’t even start off on that note.
Actually the story started back a little before that night, they had wanted to know for quite some time where I, their then sixteen year-old first born son, was going every Tuesday evening. The thing they didn’t know was I had been attending a social support group which dealt with issues faced by youth in the Sault’s LGBTQ community. But, I wasn’t going to tell my parents that. So that night I made up some half-assed story about attending a group for tormented teens and the like. [Cue the John Hughes-type movie score and enter one possessive, controlling mother and her husband; the man who put the fear of God in me.]
My mother asked if there were any guys in this group, as she’d grown annoyed of my always having mostly female friends. When I replied to the affirmative, she let out a sigh of relief and told me she was glad I was at least surrounded by boys now. I laughed. I don’t know why I laughed, but at that Moment I would have given my life to turn back time. I literally felt like dying. The feeling got progressively worse until finally, I felt the tears come. It felt like my parents had witnessed me destroy my own life; all by letting out one little unfortunate chuckle. When my father’s eyes became less cloudy and he finally had enough cognitive sense to respond, it was as follows… “What are these guys gay?” I looked down, ashamed. I felt as though I had brought a disease of the soul into their home.
Soon after my mother, stricken with what kind of looked like the result of a stroke, said to me, “Oh my God. My son… is gay.” I tried reasoning with her but all I could seem to get out were choppy little whispers with no statement to stand behind. I had no defence, the truth was out. She followed that statement with, “I wish it were drugs.” I felt ill. It just felt so sudden; so cruel. This wasn’t manageable to her. I had become less of a person and more of a thing in her eyes. In the spirit of being the regular and admittedly annoying people-pleaser that I am, I quickly took it all back.
I lied, and said I was bisexual. Bi seemed alright with her; bi she could fix. “At least there’s a chance,” she said. I guess she somewhere, deep down, knew that being gay wasn’t something I planned on “fixing.” That didn’t prevent her from yammering on, however. “If you want to be so different than why don’t you marry a Black girl?” I decided to allow myself what little joy I could by soaking in the hilarity of her odd, ethnocentric -like speech. Yeah, she sounded like an insane person. I didn’t care anymore at that point; not once my dad chimed in on the discussion.
He was strangely calm. Something about that relaxed me; made me feel like I could be free to say what I had to, without judgement. He did, however want to be sure. He asked me if I had ever watched anything adult rated and if so, if I just half-expected the naked men in it to be attractive, because as “we all know,” an ugly guy kills it. He brought laughter and reassurance to me at a time where I couldn’t have needed it more.
Skip ahead to nearly two years later and I was almost an entirely different person. I was on the verge of graduating high school and in the early stages of a promising new relationship. I was so busy being happy and comfortable in my own skin that I had forgotten everything my mother had made me feel. One thing I should have remembered was how she loved to eavesdrop on my phone conversations. She heard the entirety of my little gush-fest with my boyfriend, and that’s when she came at me again. “So you’re gay?” she asked me, sharp and pointed. I took the opportunity to say what I should have said to her from the beginning; that I am gay and I was not changing for her or anyone else. I had a wide variety of couches I could surf until I inevitably moved out at the end of the school year. She nodded, closed her eyes and in a sudden instant, stopped looking at me as if I was someone who needed pity. “I made coffee,” she said invitingly. “Tell me all about him.”
It wasn’t until a while later that I found out my mother had been through two therapists and our family paediatrician for medical advice on the genetic natures of sexuality. Finally I wasn’t such a monster, and neither was she. I’ll never know exactly what it was that turned her around on the subject, maybe it was what she had researched. Maybe though, just maybe, it was nothing more than a mother’s love.