NOW WHAT DO I DO?
This article was written by a mother who lives in South Australia. She has a daughter who is homosexual and believes that the whole family has grown from this experience
You have just found that your son or daughter is gay. Now what?
If I can offer any advice to you it is first and foremost, calm down, gather your thoughts and try to think clearly. This information may have come to you like a bolt out of the blue or you may have had some reason to wonder about your child’s sexuality before now.
You may be experiencing many different feelings such as disbelief, shock, anger, sorrow, guilt, grief etc. The gamut of feelings is endless. We only feel like this because of what we have been taught about homosexuality. Society leads us to believe that to be homosexual is something to be frowned upon and sometimes feared
You may be wondering why your child has "chosen" to be homosexual. This is not what has happened. Choice had nothing to do with it.
Let me make this very clear to you---- homosexuality is not a decision!
If I can ask you to think back to the first time you became aware of the opposite sex as an attraction. This was not a conscious decision on your part. It was part of your whole being - our sexuality is something that comes from within us and whether heterosexual or homosexual the same applies. None of us have any say in the matter - sexuality was not a conscious choice on your part and neither was it on your child’s part. It just "is". The sooner you come to understand this to be the absolute truth, the easier the time ahead of you will become.
Some parents believe that their child has decided to become homosexual as an act of rebellion. No! This is not the case. To be homosexual is not a decision. You might feel that your child is rebelling in some way. Often, because our gay kids know that they are different and sometimes are struggling with it themselves, they might be struggling with feelings of confusion and anger and this can often be misconstrued as rebellion.
You need to understand the struggle that your child has had in dealing with the knowledge that he or she was different from the majority and their courage - I cannot emphasise this too much. Guts and courage - to be able to come to your parents and tell them that you are gay, I believe it would be overwhelming - not knowing what your parents response will be - putting so much on the line -the fear alone would be tremendous.
I believe we need to embrace our kids, show them our unconditional love and support and admire them for the great people that we know they are. Remember your child has not changed now that you know that they are gay. You have changed - now that you know this - all your plans and dreams that you had for this beautiful child of yours. Your dreams of possible marriage, grandchildren etc. etc. Just remember these are your dreams. Your relationship with your child can still be wonderful - honest, caring, loving, sharing and supportive. All the good things that we as families can share, can still happen.
To get to the good stuff may take you some time. There are no hard and fast rules. You may have already made up your mind that your love for your child is not going to waver and that you will support them through thick and thin. Great! Well Done! My experience was exactly this, but we are all human and the human experience shows us that if we suffer any sort of loss, whether it be through death or even just loss of hopes and dreams that we all must allow ourselves to go through the grieving process. This in itself can take different time periods and it is important not to be too hard on yourself. Allow yourself to admit to these different feelings that you are experiencing and over time you will find that you will move on and eventually you will get to a point where you will look back and realise how much you have grown.
In my experience, I feel blessed that I have had a gay child as it has opened my eyes. My world has expanded and my love for my daughter has grown far more than I ever realised that it would. To get to this point the road has not been easy but the journey has certainly been very worthwhile.
Learn all that you can about homosexuality. Read as much as you can get your hands on and if you feel the need, seek out a support group. You will find that to speak to other parents who have shared this experience will be very helpful to you. To speak with someone who truly understands how you are feeling is very important. As parents of gay children we have to re-educate ourselves. We have to learn what is truth about homosexuality and rid ourselves of all the learned behaviour and bigoted knowledge that we have been taught by society over the years. A lot of the "stuff" we have heard and read is based on ignorance. So, learn all you can.
Something I believe that we all need to think about is, how would we have coped when we were youngsters, if we had come to understand that we were homosexual? Speaking for myself, I know that I could never have told my parents and I just cannot imagine how I would have coped with my life. What a travesty this is on society, that young people who realise that they are homosexual are still burdened with all this. Our schools and parents need to be teaching our young people when discussing sexuality, that people may be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, and Yes, they are all different. Whilst the vast majority of the population find that they are heterosexual, a certain percentage are homosexual and bisexual.
One thing you may be wondering about is me - I am just an ordinary mum from a very ordinary "run-of-the-mill" family. But, one thing I know for sure is that I have learnt so much through having a gay child and I would not have it any other way.
I could go on and on but to conclude this article, the most important things are:-
- Focus on the love you have for your child. Remember - they haven't changed - you have. Be gentle on yourself. Learn all you can.
- Continue to love and support your child just as you would have had they been heterosexual. They have not changed.
You will be okay - Believe me, I have been where you are right now. You'll be fine. It may just take some time.
Best wishes to you and your family. Bless our gay kids.
YES MUM – I’M GAY
I first wondered about my daughter’s sexuality when she was about 13 years of age, after discovering quite by accident a letter that she had written to a girl. From the contents of the letter, I read between the lines and was most upset with my discovery. After a lot of soul searching on my part, I picked my moment and asked her about the letter. She told me that her and her friend often wrote stupid things in class when they were bored. I asked her straight out if they were having a lesbian relationship and she was very adamant that this was not the case. She then asked me very seriously not to mention this conversation to her father.
After this episode, she had two short interludes with boys and then there were no "boyfriends" as such. She was always busy with her sport and had many good friends associated with this. I tried to put the subject of her sexuality out of my mind, but it never really was. It was never discussed again until she was 18.
Once again, I was tidying her room, emptying the rubbish bin and noticed a poem that she had written. Being a poetry lover, I started to read it and on continuing I realised that she had written this to another girl. Apart from the fact that I felt that I had invaded her privacy, I was once again forced to face this issue head-on. I knew that I needed to discuss this with her once again and decided to write her a letter. I am a very emotional person when speaking from the heart and my tears often get in the way of what I want to say. I spent a couple of days putting the letter together, throughout the letter, telling her how much her father and I loved her. I had told my husband about the letter I had found and he was very surprised to say the least and was most adamant that I should be very sure of what I was doing before broaching the subject with her again.
I gave her the letter on a night when her brother and father were out for the evening. She read it and came to me crying and said that we needed to talk.
My worst fears were true – She said "Yes Mum, I’m Gay"
She told me that she had known since she was about 10 years of age that she felt different. I was absolutely astounded at this. I was very saddened to think of her being so young and not feeling that she was able to come to me and discuss it.
She was very defensive when talking to me, which really upset me at the time, but on looking back I understand that she didn’t know what my response would be and she felt that she had to be on guard to protect herself. She said to me "Mum, it’s really no big deal". I guess that after knowing for so long and dealing with it herself, that it was no big deal for her as she had come to accept it, but at the time I remember thinking to myself, "You must be joking dear – this is a really big deal for me."
That night was a turning point in my life as a mother, and I’m sure that my daughter will never forget that night as long as she lives. Her "coming out" changed all of our lives and I can honestly say that our lives changed for the better. At the time, my husband and I were shocked but we knew that the love we had for Jo would not falter, it was unconditional.
We made it our business to find out everything we could about homosexuality. I went to the Cope Bookshop and found several books, which I found very helpful in the early days. I know I read the first one several times to make it sink in.
Something I need to mention is that for about 2 years prior to our daughter turning 18, she had become very sullen and withdrawn and her communication and eye contact with all of the family was minimal. She was very rude to her father in particular and on many occasions I had to reprimand her about her behaviour. She would be pleasant for a short time and then revert back to the bad behaviour pattern. After she had come out to us, we got our old daughter back. With the huge load lifted from her heart she could now be herself once again. My husband and I rejoiced in the fact and we still remember the dramatic change that took place.
This was approximately eight years ago and my husband and I have learned so much since then. We have rid ourselves of all the homophobia, which we were both guilty of. We have come to understand that we had both grown up in a society where we learnt a lot of untruths about homosexuality.
We now know that to be homosexual is as much a part of the person as heterosexuality is. It is not a matter of choice. There is no decision making as to which way to go. Sexuality is part of our whole being, whether heterosexual, homosexual or bi-sexual and they are all different. Neither one nor the other is more normal. To be heterosexual is certainly in the majority of the population. Unfortunately, everything is pointed toward the heterosexual person and our homosexual children when growing up have not got many role models to look up to or to model themselves on. Is it any wonder that our gay kids have a really hard time when they realise that they are gay and understand that they are different from most? We need to be teaching in our schools and in our homes that if you are homosexual that is okay. Imagine how alienated our gay kids must feel when all they hear is negative beliefs about homosexuality.
To get back to our family, we have a really good relationship with our daughter, and we share in her life, just as we do with our son. We feel blessed that we have had a gay child, because we have learned so much and through this we have become very supportive of parents and their children who are gay, lesbian or bi-sexual.
MY SONS STORY
(This is a true story by a South Australian mother who discovered her child is gay).
This article is part of information supplied by Parents Supporting Parents FLAG (SA.)
My son had always been quite a different boy all his childhood life but I put this down to various childhood traits, illnesses and that he was a premature baby.
From a very early age about l8 months I noticed he did not like playing with other children and when he did it was always with the girls. He did not like playing with any of the so called "boy toys" and preferred to play with a old wig of mine or twigs or leaves off a tree, He also liked dressing up in anything he could find, including my clothes.
I also thought because he had been through two broken marriages with me it was his way of dealing with the pain and trauma of that in its self. But unbeknown to me he was hiding a secret from about the age of 9 or 10. He has since told me this. That he noticed he had an attraction to other boys and including a couple of my boyfriends but he just did not know how to tell me.
It had crossed my mind many times that my son could be gay and actually collected articles about it and hid them in my cupboard. Why I am still not sure, as I had not had anything to do with homosexuality and did not know anyone who was gay. Perhaps it was mother’s intuition?
When he was 14 he told me "Mum I think I am gay" and I just held him hugged him as he cried and told him I loved him. He never mentioned it again and shortly after he went to live with his father. At the time I was broken hearted but I now see he had to do it in order to deal with his sexuality. His father also could offer him more materialistically. Our relationship continued to be loving and close and we had a good mother son relationship. In 1994 when he was 19 he told me over the phone he was gay. I was very cool to him and said that is okay and then got off the phone and I burst into tears. My intuition had proved right yet part of me wished it wasn't true. It was like my son came out of the closet and I went right in and closed the door for two weeks. I was alone and I just did not know who to talk to. So I wrote a poem "Who could I tell". I felt better.
I then phoned around all the community places I could find and eventually found a mothers group and this helped me greatly, as it was nice to know I was not the only parent dealing with having a gay child. All the fears of safety and your child’s health came into action and I would lay awake worrying about AIDS and my son getting bashed or just abused by society in general. It was a very tough time.
Gradually a need became apparent that we needed a group for fathers as well so we formed a group that supports all parents and families of lesbians and gays. In a non-threatening caring loving atmosphere with no judgment or harsh rules.
I learnt a lot about homosexuality from books and from personal experiences from my son and his gay friends. I attended various workshops and even went raging with my son and his friends. This opened a very special place in my heart and the opportunity to get to really know the gay community and all the hopes, dreams and fears they carry through life. Gay people are very unique loving human beings just like you or I.
My relationship with my son became closer and his friends became my friends too. I am often seen as a mother figure to those young men who do not have Supportive parents and family and they are very caring thoughtful and sensitive young men.
My life has been enriched by all of this. Being my only child, I went through feeling very sad that I would not have my own biological grandchildren. This was very painful for me and I grieved over that for a time. I however married a wonderful man and I now have two wonderful step-grandsons whom I love dearly and whom I have a very special bond with. They are just like my own grandchildren. I thank my stepdaughter for her love and understanding towards my son and I. My new family and my son accept each other and get on well.
I realise that everyone deals very differently with the news of a gay child and there is not a right or wrong way of doing it. The bottom line for myself was to just accept and love my child unconditionally. That was easy for me to do as I love my son dearly. He did not choose to be gay. I know and believe firmly that it is genetic.
So if you find out your child is gay, love them, ask them questions and admire them for the courage to tell you. It is very frightening for them to tell you as most gay children are very scared about telling their parents and live in utter fear of rejection. Unfortunately many homosexuals are kicked out of home by ignorant parents and families. Get support for yourself and try to understand. With ongoing information and assistance you will understand your gay child and end up as I do, feeling very blessed to have such a special person as your child.