Thursday, April 26, 2012

Love and Determination

It's great to know that there's a safe place where people can reach out and know that someone will reach back for them.  A member on the facebook blog page sent me a private message that was beautiful yet disturbing at the same time.  It illustrates, perfectly, how and how not to create a healthier environment for LGBT teens.  
I don't know where to begin. I just know that I need to share this. My 14 yr old son came out to me two weeks ago. He is bisexual. I knew something had been bothering him, he seemed so angry, so sullen, and sad. I didn't know what was going on, and though I tried he never seemed to talk to me. Then 2 months ago all the sudden he started opening up. We talked about everything. I finally had my happy, bright, smiling child back. When he told me he was bisexual I could tell he was nervous. I could tell he was scared. He blurted it out and I think my response surprised him. I laughed. He asked me if I thought he was joking, and I said, NO that's not why I had laughed. I laughed because I am bisexual too. I laughed because I love him. I laughed because I was happy that he could share that with me, something SO brave at his age to do. When I told him that, he laughed too. 
Oh how I wish that's where it ended happily, but it's not. My dear sweet son has been living with his dad for the last couple of years. He wanted so much to get to know his dad better, but things aren't going well. When my son came out to his father, he flipped out. He said some horrible things. And then he called me, to yell at me. Because I knew before he did. Because I didn't come running to him with that information. He made it all about himself, and how I had lied to him, that my son CHOOSES to be "this way" and that by not telling him I am a bad parent because I put his "life in danger". My son's father apparently thinks that coming out and telling people you are gay or bisexual unleashes some sort of free for all orgy and my son will now magically get an STD based on a vocal admission of his sexuality.
My son will be coming to live with me now. I have always been a supporter of the LGBT community for myself of course, but somehow it's a deeper support, now that it's my child. I've never felt more protective of him than I do now because if his own father could behave like a hateful bigot....I don't want to finish that thought.
I needed to share this because it NEEDS to be heard. Parents NEED to realize that their children are part of who they are, no matter what their sexuality is. They are still that baby you held in your arms. They are still that child that reached to you when they were hurt. They are still that smart little person you help teach to ride their bike or tie their shoes. And they can still be the successful and happy adult you've always dreamt they could be. Sexuality shouldn't be a deal breaker to parenthood, to LOVE. 
I want people to think back, remember that sweet face that came bouncing into a room. That sweet little voice that said "I love you mommy, daddy" and remember she/he is the SAME child as before. Nothing changes that, nothing! 
Whereas the father in this case makes my blood boil, we've sadly learned that this is far from unusual.  We know from recent history that there are parents, and in some cases both parents!, who reject their own offspring simply because of who they are.  We need look no farther than January, and the suicide death of EricJames Borges, to be reminded of the devastating effects parental rejection can have on LGBT teens.  Any teens, for that matter!  The bright side is that he has a fantastic mother who is there to support, protect, and nurture her LGBT son.

What was most impressive about this, though, was the bravery of the teen, himself.  It would be much easier, and healthier!, for him to simply pick up and flee to his accepting mother.  Instead, he chose to stay with his intolerant father through the remainder of the school year, hoping " make some progress..." with him.  That speaks volumes for his inner strength and courage.  Let's hope it works out in his favor.

As for the dad, reality seems to be only a concept.  His viewpoint on the LGBT community and his own son are antiquated, at best.  Maybe the son can get through to him.  Let's hope so, anyway.  Look, loving is much easier, much healthier, and much less stressful than hating.  Especially when it comes to your very own offspring.

The silver lining to this is that due to this 14-year-old's tenacity, and because of the unconditional love and support of his mother, he gives other LGBT teens hope.  It can and does get better.