I received a lovely email the other day that I would like to share. It is so heartening to hear stories that have happy endings like this. It is my hope and dream that someday stories like this will be the norm and that coming out will no longer be an agonizing, gut-wrenching decision but a non-issue.
I came across your blog on Shakespeare's Sister from the comments section. Your comment directly followed mine. Anyway, I'm a lesbian, 44 yo, mother of two teenage sons from my former marriage, partnered with a public school teacher. I understand your anger about the forces working in this country to tirelessly demonize gays, because I live with that constantly. I've lost lifelong friends over this issue. But the thing is, I can't dwell on that or I'm no good to either myself or my loved ones.
As for the coming out process, I was more afraid of coming out to my kids than to my parents. I can laugh and smile about it all now because the kids were, and are, wonderfully understanding and supportive of me. My parents...well, my father said, Who cares? To him being gay is a complete and utter non-issue. My mother, otoh, was fearful for my eternal soul. She's very active in our church (Lutheran) and our minister sat her down and had a little talk with her about how being gay does not equal damnation. Still, she had her moments, but I knew that she loved me and that we'd get through this. The getting through this finally happened when “C”, my partner, entered my life. God only knows what or who my mother was envisioning for me with a partner, but it must have
been some terrifying stereotype. Like a 1950s pulpy novel cautionary tale of insanity and death. But “C”'s just a regular person, less stereotypical lesbian than even me, as religious as my mom, HS English teacher, environmental volunteer. Just a regular responsible person. I guess once mom's fears were allayed, she was able to calm the worry in her heart and mind about my happiness and well-being and allow instead all of the love she has to once more pour forth :)
Now, “C” struggled with coming out, and in fact we were involved for nearly a year before she marshaled the courage to come out to her family. My whole family knew and loved “C” before her family even knew that “C” was gay and that I existed. This was an
almost intolerable situation for us because this meant that we couldn't spend any holidays together, let alone live together. When she did finally come out to her older sisters first, they had pretty much figured it out on their own. Then when she told her parents, initially they were a bit dismayed, especially her dad, who I think had many of the same
fears that my mother once harbored. In the end, by the time I met her parents, he'd softened a bit, and during the blessing over dinner he included me in the prayer, so “C” said that was it, everything was fine. And it has been! Her family accepts “C” 100% now, and me along with her. Her young nieces and nephews idolize my older boys, and we all get along great for family gatherings, etc, and our mothers...heh...they go shopping together and out to lunch.
It's funny, you know, the things you never think about or expect, like how the blending of the extended families can bring rich new friendships and experiences. That is, if people are willing to embrace the situation.
I'm really lucky, I know that, that I wasn't rejected out of hand by either my own family or “C”'s, but we're not a reactionary lot. Being thoughtful usually means you're capable of wrapping your mind around something and coming to terms with it.
Thanks, Seething, for creating your forum/blog! People need to share stories to better understand that there is a community for them and their loved ones. I think that you're a great mom, clearly loving and supportive of your son. That's what both he and you need. Good luck and best wishes to you and your family.
This email highlights for me how (gay-hating) groups like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association who claim to be advocates for the family, but who actually do immeasurable harm to families who don’t fit their narrow view of what a family should look like, have so underestimated the power and cohesiveness that exists even in families that may not fit their template. And it is a huge miscalculation. Real families, even ones that James Dobson or Don Wildmon would like to wish into nonexistence or pretend do not exist, don’t turn their backs on their loved ones. In the end love not hate wins out.