Yesterday morning I got an anguished phone call from my gay son, a college student in the state of
Our son was not just upset, he was devastated. He had called to tell us that he and his boyfriend of almost 2 years, the first true love he’d ever experienced, had broken up. He was beside himself with sadness, confusion, and anger.
I didn’t have the words to console him. I felt so inadequate and so far away. And yet, I knew from the memories of my own first-love breakup that there really wasn’t much I could say that would ease his pain regardless of my proximity to him. All I could really do was listen as he spilled his unbridled emotions into the mouthpiece of his cell phone.
I have never wanted more desperately to hug him.
At that point I realized that it doesn’t matter whether it is a gay couple or a straight couple, a breakup is painful, and a broken heart is a broken heart, agony knows no sexual orientation. But what I didn’t realize is how painful it would be for me and my husband. Though I had no expectations that this relationship would be the life-long committed relationship that I know one day my son will have, my husband and I had grown attached to the young man our son has been dating for almost 2 years. We truly felt he was part of our family and we treated him as such, including him on family vacations, having him share the Christmas holiday with us, and inviting him on the trip to our oldest son’s college graduation last year.
Weird as it sounds, I feel betrayed by the meltdown of their relationship. Yes, I know that sounds a tad irrational, but I’m not going to claim I’m always rational, especially when it comes to one of my kids.
I am kind of puzzled though by my emotions. Why am I reacting this way? I actually burst into tears in the shower yesterday. So after a day and a half thinking about it, I think I may know why.
1) We genuinely liked our son’s boyfriend. We treated him like family because our son truly cared about him and so we truly cared about him.
2) We took great comfort in knowing that our son was in a committed and monogamous relationship and not out there messing around with a different person every other day in some kind of mad quest to make up for those lost and lonely high school years.
3) We were overjoyed that our son was finally at peace with himself and therefore able to settle into the contented and happy relationship he thought he’d never have.
Yes, this was just a first love gone sour, but I could not help thinking about gay and lesbian couples who’ve been together for years and the added agony they go through because we deny them even the most basic protections that married couples get when they break up. Even the innocent children of gay and lesbian couples pay a terrible price for our homophobia and bigotry. Just thinking about the complications my son and his ex are going to have over the less than 2 years of minor entanglements and melding of property really brings home for me the cruelty we inflict upon our fellow gay and lesbian Americans by denying them equal rights and protections because it offends some people’s religious beliefs. Shame on us. Breaking up is painful enough without us exacerbating the misery.