Yup, that cozy warm comforter under which I lived my entire life was ripped away almost 4 years ago when I found out I had a gay son. And what I realized about myself when this happened wasn’t pretty. I’d been living my life in a sheltered cocoon and when that cocoon was penetrated by one of life’s funny little wake-up calls, I was forced to do some painful soul-searching and introspection that just about killed me. I’ve been hard on myself, some have said too hard, but it was oh so necessary and long overdue. I was forced to ask myself some very tough questions, knowing full-well that I wasn’t going to like the answers. And I didn’t.
WHAT on God’s green earth was I doing for 98.9% of my life? WHY did it take learning I had a gay son to finally see things the way they really are and not the way some self-annointed political experts and religious leaders wanted me to see them? And HOW MANY more lazy walking-talking zombies (like me) are there out there? I shutter to think.
Four years ago I thought I had 3 “normal” kids. But after finding out one of my children was gay I realized that we as a society have allowed our definition of “normal” to be defined by “other people’s” opinions, life experiences, religious beliefs, and prejudices. And according to “those people’s” very narrow definitions I realized I now had an “abomination” living under my roof. But the real kicker was that when all was hunky dory within my little cocoon, “those people’s” beliefs were not my dilemma – I just ignored them, but when I learned I had a gay son, everything that affected the gay community suddenly became my dilemma and “those people’s” beliefs suddenly had a very hard to ignore impact. How awful is that? I didn’t start caring until it was my family affected.
I never objected to those so-called experts and religious people, not because I agreed with everything they said, but because it was just too easy to go with the flow and ignore them. When something they said didn’t pass my gut check test, I just let it go, why not, it didn’t affect me or my family? Deep down I knew my gut instincts were a far better moral compass than theirs, but I had nothing to gain by speaking up, so why would I, it didn’t affect me or my family? I was content to let those moral frauds, people I didn’t even know, tell everyone they had all the answers, again why would I have challenged them, none of it affected me or my family? I was just too engrossed in my life to ask any questions, do any gut checks, or rock the boat. I was lazy and I was apathetic because I just didn’t think any of it affected me or my family. How horribly wrong I was.
So why this confession now? Because most people will never experience an event that literally throws every belief they had into question, like I did. And not everyone who does experience a life-changing event will use that opportunity to re-examine their lives and put their entire belief system under a microscope, like I did. And I learned a hard lesson. I was wrong to ignore things that I did not think affected me or my family. That attitude is dangerous and it gives dangerous people a free pass.
When I blogged the other day about a new report on the nearly 8,400 LGBT youth expected to be homeless this winter in NYC, I was very angry and I admitted my knee-jerk reaction was to blame the Dobson crowd. And I still blame the Dobson crowd and all of those hypocritical, self-righteous politicians who have used the LGBT community for political gain. But reading about the horrendously high rate of homeless LGBT children in NYC has made me realize that once again I am not being completely honest with myself. There is plenty of blame to go around and none of us are immune from it. I’m guilty for not worrying about any of the problems associated with the gay and lesbian community until I learned that I had a son who was part of that community. But the bottom line is this: as long as there is any child living in the streets, gay or straight, we are all guilty. This problem belongs to us all. This problem affects us all.
It is time to start asking some very tough questions. It is time to start rocking the boat. It is time to question why we as a society have allowed people like James Dobson, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson to control so much of the debate on society’s moral issues. When prominent voices like theirs are out there demonizing any segment of our society unchallenged, we all lose. It is a terribly sad day when we have parents throwing their children out like trash because they’ve never questioned the James Dobson requirements for normal. When society becomes so intellectually lazy that we let others define everything we believe in, then we deserve the shame that comes with families disowning their own children because they are gay.
I’ve been through hell these past few years --- not because I found out I had a gay son, but because my apathy about things I didn’t think affected me came back to haunt me in a big way. We’ve sat by and let people like James Dobson and his ilk define morality and demonize anyone they do not consider normal. And now we are getting to see the fruits of their truly immoral rantings: homeless, unwanted children – lots of them. I can think of nothing more immoral than that.