Friday, February 24, 2012

Oh how I wish every "coming out" story went as well as this...

Ok, at points this mom kind of drives you crazy with her filling every potential moment of thoughtful silence with nervous (albeit supportive) talk-talk-talk (with a slight touch of cringe-worthy shill to the pitch), but that is what moms do. It's our job to be pains-in-the-asses, even in moments as sensitive and nerve-wracking as this. It's our job to try and be as supportive as we can (even in ambush-like situations) while talking a mile-a-minute with our brains in overdrive (trying to camouflage our temporary loss of equilibrium) . And while performing that job, it's ok to slip and say something we might regret later - in her case, "could you be bi", in my case "are you sure". But hey, we've been caught off guard, and no matter how many nagging feelings we may have had about our child in the past, confirmation can still be a shock.

Watching this clip really sent me back to my own experience finding out. And I hate to admit it, but this mom's initial reaction with her son wasn't that different than mine. And I wouldn't change a thing about the way I reacted or the way this wonderful mom reacts, it is real, it is human, and it is the way it should happen. The bottom line is this: this mom, like me, loves her son with all her heart. Period. End of story. No God and Damnation shit. No twisted Bible verse quoting. No anger. No revulsion. And no rejection. Just pure love and acceptance. This is what real Family and Christian Values looks like.



Jarred said...

Overall, I admire this woman for loving, accepting, and supporting her son. I also salute her for doing a bit of personal research on the topic of homosexuality and even trying to get an idea of how other QUILTBAG people might feel and what their experiences are like.

However, as a gay man, I also feel a great deal of sympathy for the young man in this video. He clearly feels overwhelmed by and uncomfortable with his mother's reaction at times. I totally get that too. If I had a chance to speak with this women, I would offer her the following advice (and will write as if addressing her when I say "you.")

1. Boundaries are important. There are some instances where in your admirable attempt to be there for your son and support him, you appeared to violate his. I would start with how you push him to find out what's on his mind before he even tells you that he's gay. It's great that you perceive that something is on his mind and you want him to feel free to talk about it. However, trying to guess and trying to push him to tell you already isn't likely to communicate that to him as well as you think. Sometimes, it's much better to say, "I get the feeling something's up that you want to talk about. I'm listening," then wait for him to start talking. In general, I think you might want to learn to listen more. Often, it's a far more supportive and uplifting act than all the encouraging and positive words in the world.

2. Be careful of straightsplaining. Your son is gay. That almost certainly means he knows more what it's like to be gay thank you do. Even though you've watched videos and found out what other gay people feel and experienced -- and again, that's a good thing on your part -- your son knows his experience of being gay -- and different gay people do have different experiences -- than you do. Trying to talk to your son about what it's like to be gay and what it means to be gay like you do at times is not comfortable, and it tends to invisibilize his own experience in the process. Again, this is where you'd be better off listening a bit more.

Seething Mom said...

Yet again, Jarred, you are such a valuable asset to the conversation. And you provide what I cannot, a perspective from the other side of the equation.

I will say this though, when I am at PFLAG meetings and a mom or a dad starts describing what their emotions were, how they reacted, and why they said the things they said when they found out their child was g,l,b,or t there is often some surprise or even shock from the glbt people in the room as they realize that maybe they misinterpreted their own parents reactions when they came out.

At the time I found out, I know, without a doubt, I said some dumb things to my son in that initial conversation. And I know I said some things that may have been over the line and embarrassing for him as well, and I have admitted this many times, in my essays posted here on this blog, to him, and in PFLAG meetings, but at the meetings, I also explain why I said those things and the fears that fueled them. You'd be surprised how many times an lgbt person will respond with surprise and actually say, I never thought about it that way and maybe I just assumed my parent was saying those things out of animus but they were really saying it out of concern or fear.

And this is why I am willing to cut this woman a whole lot of slack. Her heart was in the right place and at no point in that conversation did she show anything but unconditional love. She may at some point, as I did, realize that she said some dumb things. But let's not also forget that she was learning something that her son had had known and grappled with for a while. He was coming from a more comfortable and well-versed position than she was. And for that reason, it is my opinion that she is allowed to make a few faux pas as long as the end result is complete acceptance and unconditional love. The rest comes with time and open dialogue between them.