My son came out almost 30 years ago. I’ve written a lot about what it was like then, how I felt and how I reacted.
What’s it like now, 30 years later? It is so different. I no longer think about his safety every day. I don’t worry any more. He has shown himself to be completely capable of taking care of himself and not putting himself in situations which could cause danger. Oh no, he is not in any closet. He is out and proud. And he doesn’t tolerate being treated less than because he is gay. He is lucky to have an employer who supports him and wants him to just be who he is.
Thankfully, I don’t worry about him getting AIDS as I did 30 years ago. When he first came out in 1989, I encouraged him to find out how to prevent AIDS and he did that. Today, he’s in a long-term, monogamous relationship.
I don’t worry about someone finding out my son is gay. Quite the opposite. It’s not that I announce it everywhere I go but I don’t hesitate to say “my son and his husband.” I don’t hesitate to correct someone who references his wife.
That’s mostly true! Recently my husband and I were having coffee at our regular café. We were talking to three men who were studying the bible. After a bit of conversation, it became quite apparent that they were evangelical Christians. I never mentioned my son’s husband though I did mention my other son’s wife and children. I was quite conscious of eliminating that fact of my son’s life.
There was a time I would have said it just to see how they would react and perhaps in the hopes they would leave me alone. Maybe it would be fun to have a little confrontation. That was in the past. Today, I don’t need to convince them or anyone that my son is perfectly made. I didn’t even want to discuss it.
I thought that maybe I was embarrassed or afraid of what they would say. No, that was not it. It’s just none of their business and I didn’t need to change their minds. The truth is I have a lot more compassion for people like that than I’ve had in past years. That comes from knowing so many wonderful, amazing parents of LGBTQ kids who used to be just like them.
30 years ago I attended my first PFLAG meeting. I wanted to hide when someone I knew came into the room. Now she would know. Then I realized she was there for the same reason I was. The thought of marching in a Gay Pride parade terrified me. Today I’m an active member of PFLAG and proud supporter of the LGBTQ community. I’ve marched in many Gay Pride parades over the years and it’s the most fun and loving thing I can do, show my support for my son and others so people out there who may not have the support of their parents know it’s possible.
I’m grateful to be a part of a community of parents of LGBTQ kids and to love and support LGBTQ people. As my friend Jim says, they are the bravest people I know.