When my son came out almost 3 years ago now, one of my first thoughts was I should join PFLAG. There is always strength in numbers and my feeling was it would nice to talk to other supportive parents about how to be champions for our LGBT youth. When I saw a man wearing a PFLAG T-shirt at an ATM in my super conservative neighborhood, I thought it was a sign. I looked for meetings in my area the second I got home. Unfortunately none were close. I had to drive to LA or deep into the OC. With two other kids at home at the time, it wasn’t practical. My duties as a chauffeur were required at home. Distance wasn’t going to stop me though. I told my son, who was 18 at the time, that I was determined to become a member and find a way to actively show my support. He was mortified. Huh?
In his mind, he’d given me a private piece of himself I wasn’t to share with anyone else. While he thought it was “nice” that I’d want to join a group, he was adamant that he wasn’t ready to come out in a big way. He wanted time. Okay. Sounded reasonable. Sort of. I wasn’t sold though. I argued it was a support group and hey… what if I’m the one who needs the support? He rolled his eyes and asked me if I had a problem with him being gay. Of course not! I’d been waiting for him to come out for years! He gave me a self satisfied grin and said “Exactly. You don’t care but I do. I’m not ready.”
I couldn’t argue with that. It wasn’t my story. It was his to tell when the time was right. But I couldn’t let it go. If I wasn’t allowed to put stickers on my car and wear T-shirts proclaiming my support, I’d have to find another way. I did. I wrote a book. Better Than Good. It was a cathartic exploration of sorts about a bisexual man struggling with his attraction to a beautiful out and proud gay man. It was a romance. A small story about beginnings and hope.
I didn’t tell my son about Better Than Good until it had been published. It wasn’t his story I was trying to tell. There was nothing autobiographic in the book. Its purpose for me personally was to show my support for the community I now belonged to through my son through a genre I love. It wasn’t done out of altruism or a sense of duty. It was personal. And strangely enough, I found it was an effective way to lend my voice in a manner even my 18 year old gay son couldn’t fault.
I saw a quote from an early PFLAG parade posted in honor of Mother’s Day earlier today. The quote, “I will not be a closet mother”, is simple but beautiful. I embrace it wholeheartedly. I will not be a closet mother either. I gave my son his time to get used to the notion he’d shared something very personal with his father and me. But over the past three years, I’ve urged him to share with other family members and trusted friends because I don’t want him to live in a closet. There is no reason. There is no shame. I understand it takes more courage than a young person should have to muster to announce that he or she is different. In my mind means it is up to parents and supportive adults to create a safe community for our LGBT kids. There is no shame in love. There is no shame in being yourself. The shame lies with those who oppress and those who turn their children away.
I am a proud mother. And one of my kids happens to be gay. I have never parented with any thought toward my children’s sexuality in a specific sense. Their sexuality is their personal domain. My job is love them unconditionally and to offer guidance and support when needed. My hope is that they find their own voices as young adults in a world that is full of hate and intolerance. Everyone has a voice. It isn’t always loud but it’s there. Mine is through writing. I’m not a vigilante. My words are about love and ultimately hope. I’m a strong believer that hope matters. Love matters. Equality matters.
Our future is our children. We must teach them well.
Happy Mother’s Day. Lane xo