An Advice Series for Women of All Ages
I am so excited to bring you another installment of Dear Mrs. R. I truly value all of my readers and your support has been amazing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
In an effort to protect my readers privacy, I will refer to only a First Name and Last Initial when posting to Dear Mrs. R. So, please do not worry about your confidentiality as it will be protected. That’s my promise to you! Also, I will not publish any question without the express permission of my readers.
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This week I have chosen a question from Trudy O. Trudy asks:
Dear Mrs. R, I’m so sorry for this email and I don’t even know if it’s something you can help me with but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that you have a positive direction to point me to. I’m kinda embarrassed about it so I’m just going to put it out there. I think my son is gay.
Boy, that felt really good just typing it. I have been thinking this for a few years now but to give some background here I go. My son is 18 years old now and I have been a single mother most of his life until 5 years ago when I married my current husband. We have always been very close since it was just the 2 of us. One of our favorite things to do is cook together. It’s something that I started with him at a young age and its developed into a memorable bonding time for us. My son is an introvert, not very social and spends a lot of time by himself. He’s not very athletically inclined, he loves cooking and had recently asked me if I would teach him to crochet. Something I have done for years. He’s a beautiful artist and has developed his own comic strip online. He has had girl friends but not girlfriends … he has a long time friend he hangs out with (boy) but doesn’t really socialize like the average 18 year old. He’s a good student and loves to study and learn new things. Reads a lot, but there is something that has shifted in his body language. I don’t know how to put it but it’s like he grew up over night and became “him” comfortable in his own skin not all ackward like he used to be. He makes supper every night for the family, helps me pick out my clothes, I’m teaching him to crochet which he loves and he’s talking about going to art school.
All these things probably sound silly to worry about I know. But, it’s this shift that makes me nervous, like he’s identified with himself and that means that this validates my thinking. Now please don’t get me wrong I love my son know matter what. It’s my husband I worry about. He’s an officer in the military for most his life. He’s a mans man and I’m really worried about what he might say if my son comes to me and tells me he’s gay. How do I bring that to my husband, the mans man? He’s going to be really upset and will have a hard time dealing with this one. What if he can’t understand? What if he refuses to understand? I’m just full of what ifs right? But what if makes me worried for my family. In this moment life is as perfect as it can get until what if occurs, any peace of mind you can give me will be so appreciated. Thank you so much for listening to my story, just writing this has been a release for me thank you!
I know you are probably saying “Wow!” right now… this is so off topic from the things I usually write about. However, I became a writer for a reason. To be a voice for those who cannot speak… for my words to land on ears that need to hear … to help others when they thought there was no help to be had. This may be a big question for you, it’s not for me. Continue reading and you’ll understand why, okay?!
I want to start by saying please don’t apologize for your email. I am humbled that you felt you could come to me with such a sensitive subject. I want to tell you a little story about a friend of mine before I tackle your question, so please just bear with me for a minute or two, okay?
‘ When I was in my late teens, early twenties I was an introvert. I didn’t have many friends with the exception of my friend, Scott. We went to the same school together since early middle school. He was my best and only friend. We were inseparable and enjoyed many of the same things. After high school, Scott got into construction but hated what he did. I asked him why he didn’t do something he felt passionate about, something that would make him happy. His response to me was, because if I do that my parents will not support my decision. I asked what it was. He replied, I want to dance the ballet. You see in high school Scott was the quarterback for our school’s team. I was taking ballet classes as I had done for years and he was wanting to work on his grace and dexterity to improve his game. So, he joined my ballet troupe. We danced together for a few years.
It was during that time that Scott “came out” to me. I wasn’t surprised. The timing was right for him but he was very nervous about bringing this news to his family. A very prominent family at that I might add. However, I encouraged him to be honest not only to himself but to his family. We had many discussions and even acted it out. Finally he made the commitment and went to his parents. His parents were so devastated and unrelenting about the news that, long story short, they disowned him. They never wanted to see the face that brought such shame to this prominent family again.
Scott went on to join the local ballet troupe and was accepted to study at Juilliard in New York City. We continued to stay in touch, we spent any time off we had together. He was so happy being who he was meant to be. Then one day I received a call from his school counselor that Scott was very ill. I was his only emergency number listed. I left for New York the next day only to find my vivacious, beautiful friend had lost a serious amount of weight. He said he had been ill for awhile but thought he was just over working himself. Well, after a few thousand doctors appointments Scott was diagnosed with AIDS. The full blown you don’t have much time AIDS. Remember it was the 80s and things have changed drastically since then. I brought Scott home with me so I could care for him, support him, be there for him. It wasn’t until he was admitted to the hospital knowing that he would not leave that he gave me permission to contact his parents. I stepped out of the room to make the call. I spoke to his mother and she told me no matter the situation her son was died to her already. Short of wanting to pull her head through the telephone wire to punch her out … I just hung up and spent the next hour crying my eyes out. I stepped back into Scott’s room, I didn’t even have to tell him what transpired. I crawled into his hospital bed with him, we held each other and cried ourselves to sleep. During the night he took a turn for the worst, it was the next day that I still lay in his bed holding him that he died in my arms.’
Trudy, please don’t let this story frighten you, please. Homosexuality has become so much more acceptable in today’s society. It has grown past the stigma that hovered over it in the 80s. I tell you this story because Scott would want me to be a voice to help you and your son accept him for his true self.
Although, he has not “come out” to you. I trust your mother’s intuition on the subject. You say you will love him no matter what happens. But, you are concerned about your husband. A few questions to ask yourself are:
- If your husband refuses to accept the situation, are you still willing to love and support your son no matter what?
- If your son still resides in your home … say your husband demands that he leave (he is of age) will you go with him or will you stay?
- How much are you willing to give of yourself, i.e. learning, coping, strengthening the bond with your son?
While I’d love to tell you “don’t worry you got this” I cannot. It’s going to be a long road of crying, learning, coping and yes grieving … but you are not the only parent that has tackled this issue and I’m sure you will not be the last. Unlike the parents of my friend, I have a feeling you will be able to handle this with flying colors. As far as your husband goes … I feel like this … you have devoted your entire life to your son, he was your son first before any marriage took place. If your husband loves you like he vowed to love you … he will make a point to accept the situation for what it is and in the most dignified manner of a military officer. He should be there to support his family.
We live in the 21st century, Trudy. It’s a great century for the LGBT community … there is openness, acceptance and a whole lot of support out there. I certainly don’t understand any reason your family can’t continue to function as the loving family it has always been.
I have a few resources to share with you that you may find helpful:
- PFLAG also known as Parents Flag is a grassroots, chapter-based organization that was founded in 1972 by Jeanne Manford. Ms. Manford marched with her son in New York’s Christopher Street Liberation Day March. During the March she received such open praise as others who were marching asked for her assistance in telling their parents, etc. She then formed a support group which eventually turned into Parents Flag, now PFLAG. There are over 400 chapters throughout the United States offering support to families and allies alike from peer to peer support meetings, online outreach and telephone hotlines.
- Colorado State University has an extensive resource center for the LGBT community and their families both online and offline.
- Coming Out, Coming Home: Helping Families Adjust to a Gay or Lesbian Child by Michael C. LaSala, Ph.D is a book that has been recommended to me by a very close LGBT friend of mine. Ironically, he’s the son of a Southern Cotton Farmer, who refused to accept my friend’s way of life for many years. However, after his father read this book it was like the blinders had been lifted. Acceptance and love prevailed!
- Love Ellen, A Mother Daughter Journey by Betty DeGeneres is an excellent read. I have such admiration for Ellen DeGeneres as a humanitarian as well as an LGBT Advocate. I read this book myself based on that admiration and found it to be a very moving story of love between a Mother and Daughter. I hope you feel that same way too.
If anything at all, I hope I have given you some comfort as well as a place to reach out to if you feel it is necessary. If you have any problems with any of the resources I suggest here, please let me know and I will help in any way I can.
However, always remember your son is still your son no matter how he chooses to lead his life. All he wants is acceptance, support and the love of his mother. I have a feeling you are not running short on any of those things. Always know I’m just an email away xo
I know this topic is way off base for my readership, however, in the name of my best friend Scott, I could not ignore it. I hope he is looking down on me with a smile. One day I will see his beautiful face again without the pain or suffering in his eyes.
If you have a question you would like me to address, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will do my very best to give you a well researched answer and hopefully together we can come up with a solution. There are no questions too big or too small!
Have you been dying to ask me a question but have been a bit timid? Please, ask me. I take everyone’s confidentiality serious and you will not see your question on Dear Mrs. R. unless you expressly give me your consent.
See you in the comments,