I seethe NOT because my son is gay. I seethe because he lives in a country in which some elected officials find it politically advantageous to deny him dignity, basic rights, and protections. I seethe because there are people who preach hatred and discrimination towards gays yet claim to be "good" and "loving" Christians. I seethe because there are groups who claim to be "advocates" for the family but who work to do great harm to any family that doesn’t fit their narrow template for “normal”.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
My Mother Flutters and the Strife of the Life of Rejected Jonathan - an essay by Adonis Ramirez Parra
Note from Seething Mom: One of the most wonderful things to have come out of my decision to blog about my anger, hurt, and frustrations with those in the outside world who choose to hate my gay son simply because he is gay is that I have met so many amazing and beautiful people along the way. I cannot begin to express how much my life has been enriched by the many people whose paths have crossed mine through this blog. So I have decided to invite some of these talented and insightful people to write essays for this blog. Today's contribution is from Adonis Ramirez Parra, a 24 year old young man wise well beyond his years. He is a published author and his website can be found here.
My mother was killed when I was three years old. I have no reliable recollections of her; glimpses of her body, aromas; even the sound of her laughter and voice in my memory seem more imagined than predicated on reality.
I have never wholly reconciled myself to her loss; it was so tragically sudden, so utterly traumatic; and that scar nothing or no one will ever seal closed.
Time in this instance has been helpful. He has at least eroded from my memory the sting of her loss, and has introduced loving and supportive people into my life that have helped fill the void of her absence; and so Time has been kind. Nevertheless, I could safely assume that without hesitation, I would return all that I have been given to just once again sweetly embrace her, give to her my lip’s most loving kiss. I would render myself a pauper to feel for an instant the glory of her presence.
My mother did not raise me, but I know she has accompanied me throughout my development. I know this for fact.
My Mother w/Her Mother
Seven years ago, when I was seventeen, I felt inside my skin a truth so incontestable, so natural, I wanted to voice it out, speak it, and live it. Taking into consideration how my life would suddenly become precariously unsafe solely because I spoke that natural truth, which unwittingly offended one’s religion, or one’s culture, even though I couldn’t find inside myself one single reason to ever offend them, made me prefer to kill this truth – and with it my body, mind and spirit – than to voice it, speak it, or live it.
Downing one entire bottle of wine one summer day, I prepared myself for the journey from this vicious life, into the next, to be with my mother. Set to plunge the butcher knife which was in my hand into my heart, I recall how, like an implosion that burst all throughout my head, the wine’s alcohol took affect and I fell to the ground unconscious, with my spirit transported to another place and time.
In my dreaming stupor, I was a weak purple aura – in this place bodies were much too cumbersome, so I was rather the light of my spirit’s consciousness. I stood outside a beautiful gated meadow with butterflies fluttering everywhere; beautiful melodic chirpings imbued the winds, and birds dashed about all over. I longed so terribly to be permitted entrance; I was so burdensomely enveloped in the dark purple aura of my downtrodden spirit that the serenity of this meadow seemed to provide respite from my troubles. Suddenly, I can recall, the old copper gates, so green and sun-kissed, creaked open, and I saw the luminous yellow-orange loving aura of my mother inviting me in.
We walked side by side, through the field’s meadows, along a placid flowing river, with no words spoken. Rather than being apart from me, she seemed to actually permeate the aura of my light, seemingly purifying like a baptismal fount all the demonic specters that had conquered my spirit. She mended my emotional afflictions, remedied with her love my apprehensions, caressed the wounds of my psyche, and reassured me through her spirit to continue along my path, and blessed the truthful veracity of my soul right before I opened my eyes again to this reality.
My mother as a little girl
I woke up with my head heavy with pressure as if I had knocked it spitefully against a wall, but I felt good, rejuvenated. I felt loved.
Walking alongside my mother in that meadow saved my life. I felt no castigation, no judgment, no rejection; I wasn’t berated or deemed wrong or immoral. My mother in that meadow, with her love, infused virtuous moral principles into my voice, humility and strength into my spirit, and encouraged me to speak and live my truth, to unfold and develop as my truest self: as her gay son.
I want to bring light now to a topic that means a lot to me: the calloused rejection of abandoned and homeless gay youth. In America, fifty percent of youth rejected by their parents, state it’s because of their sexual orientation.[i] Of all the homeless youth in America, forty percent are said to be LGBT;[ii] and lastly, of all openly gay males, fifty-five percent report to have had substance abuse problems at least once in their lifetime.[iii]
In a Huffington Post article titled, “Obama Administration Seeks to Address Homeless Crisis Amongst Gay Teens,” by Jason Cherkis, twenty-one year old Louisiana native, Jonathan, aged out of the state’s foster care program when he was yet vulnerably, defenselessly eighteen years old. This young child suffered endless rejection, first from his biological parents, then his grand parents, and still yet, “In the system, he didn't fare any better. Group home staff and residents taunted him with anti-gay slurs. At one point, a staffer broke his arm during a restraint. He was jumped at school and left battered and bruised. Foster parents evicted him over his sexuality” (Cherkis). This young boy without any loving parental guidance was subjected to the ruthless cruelty of rejection singularly based on his sexuality; and when he aged out of the Louisiana foster program – a state that prohibits unmarried couples from adopting, effectively prohibiting gay couples since gay marriage is not legal – he was left homeless.[iv] The ultimate poignant reality to be ascertained is that Jonathan’s story is not unique, “[His life story is the] typical trajectory for a significant number of [LGBT] kids in the system…Just last year Jonathan tried to kill himself” (Cherkis).
I have no idea if I would be comfortably seated here in the confines of my room writing this piece, with a whole book already written with every ounce of love I have for the LGBT youth of America and the world – to tell them they are loved – if it hadn’t been for the loving life-saving grace of my mother in that meadow, and the support and encouragement of my family as a whole.
I have lived a relatively tranquil life. I have been so lucky.
My fear of rejection was leading me down a very bad path of no return. I think if I had been rejected, thrown out to the streets, drugs and alcohol would have been the only vehicle through which I could forget it all; I might even have become a prostitute to live. I could have become a prostitute, rejected and homeless, drug and alcohol addicted, remembered only as a statistic, rather than a writer. This is not fantastical what I write; this is the harsh reality that faces many LGBT youth, like Jonathan, all across the world.
So I assert, as audacious as it may sound, being gay is not a gateway lifestyle to becoming an alcohol addicted, drug abusing child prostitute, but rather rejection from one’s own family justified and legitimized through hate; and what is worse, when the essence of family is perversely subjected to be the source of the destruction of a child’s sense of self-worth, guidance and protection. The essence of family in whatever manifestation espouses unconditional, unwavering love and kindness.
Of my family, there is no other relative that means as much to me as my mother. I still feel her. Thus I implore all mothers, recall when you learned of the miracle of life growing inside your precious womb; hearken back to the instant of your child’s first cry, first laugh, first word; those years in which there certainly was no more intimate connection in all the universe than your one connection to your child; and recall the utter vulnerability and innocence you felt in the fragility of his lungs, heart, arms, and legs, verily his whole feeble body, and how above all else, there had truly been no more precious beauty you had ever beheld than the instant you gazed upon your child, that purity, that innocence cast in the mould of your love.
Considering how bad I want to hug and kiss my mother who is dead, I cannot even dare to imagine how much a rejected gay youth, alone and vulnerable with no one to defend him, longs to again be hugged and kissed by the parent who is yet still alive. A much calloused treatment of one’s child, don’t you think?
In nature, all life forms seemingly undergo a metamorphosis of sorts. Some undergo the process physically through their body, and other symbolically through their spirit. Some seeds sprout voluptuous blooms; some women become mothers, some men become fathers; we all live on earth then die and live beyond in some other form; some men become women, and some women become men; some grow to hate then learn to love; some live closeted then live openly.
Yet, there is quite possibly no other more striking metamorphosis that has fascinated the human gaze than that of the caterpillar into the butterfly.
To bud upon her back the wings already aflutter inside the hollows of her heart is the caterpillar’s only aspiration. Her heart’s compass points only towards becoming a stunning butterfly; no other end would render such a profound bliss. She is not cryptically just a caterpillar (some mere conditioned resemblance of plants), but an immaculate butterfly with conspicuous wings stylized with marbled mosaics of browns, oranges, and yellows. The caterpillar is not a mere worm. She bears the infantile restrictions of her caterpillar body to one day relish in the enchantment of being at long last what she always knew she was inside – but which no one dared to dream, think, believe was true – an iridescent fluttering chrysalis.
It was my mother’s love that un-cocooned the wings upon my back to flutter along in this life, to write my stories, speak my truth, and through my words, endeavor to envelop LGBT youth struggling in their lives inside my protective and loving wings, to assist them in their metamorphoses from rejected and frightened, to loved and dignified.
This must become our human imperative: to embrace the diverse inner truthful identities inside us all; they are not causes for rejection. But rather with love, let’s seek to infuse virtuous moral principles into our voices, humility and strength into our spirits, and encourage one another to speak and live our truths, to unfold and develop as our truest ourselves. For Jonathan, whom I do not know, but wish so badly that I did, and the countless others in his situation, let us begin to evolve so they may all unfold and develop as their truest ourselves: as beloved gay children.
[i]Remafedi, Gary. (1987). "Male Homosexuality: The Adolescent's Perspective."Pediatrics, Issue 79. pp. 326-337.
[ii]Seattle Commission on Children and Youth. (1986). "Survey of Street Youth." Seattle, WA: Orion Center.
[iii]“Breaking the Silence for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth.” (1996) New Hartford, NY.