Coming out is never easy, no matter how old you are. It’s always difficult, full of fear and anxiety. Sure, it’s hard enough for most coming out to friends, coworkers, classmates, and family members. As hard as it is for the person coming out, it’s equally as hard for parents, especially mothers.
Parents always want the best for their children. They want to see them grow up, get married, and enjoy a successful career. But when their child comes up to them and says “Mom, Dad, I’m gay”, sometimes those dreams come to a shattering halt.
Fortunately for me, that wasn’t the case.
“When you were about a year old, you were bouncing up and down and you had the biggest smile on your face,” recalled my mom. “I had a sneaky hunch. I think he might be gay. I don’t know why. Mothers always know.”
My mom calls it Mothers Intuition. While I was growing up my mom always suspected I was gay, sighting signs from my behaviors to my social interactions.
“I was hurt because you didn’t tell me,” my mom said recollecting the first reaction she had after finding out I was gay. “I don’t know if you thought I wouldn’t love you any more, any less, or disown you. I was hurt. Not that you were gay, but because I didn’t hear it from you.”
I never came out to my mom directly. She found out through a series of events.
“When I actually found out a weight was lifted off my shoulders,” my mom explained. “He’s come into his own. He can live his life the way he wants to.”
My mom wishes she had been more open in discussing sexuality with me when I was growing up, and encouraged me to come out. Fortunately for me, that was not the case. Parents who suspect their child may be gay need to allow them to discover who they are for themselves. Today, there are many great resources available for parents – from PFLAG support groups to the vast amount of information that can quickly be searched on the internet, parents no longer need to wonder what they should do should they suspect their children might be gay.
Most importantly, having a strong, trusting relationship with your children will help break down barriers and increase communication on difficult subjects.
After dealing with her initial reactions to be coming out, my mom had a whole new set of fears facing her.
“Being from a small town, everyone knows everyone’s business,” my mom explained. “Being bullied, teased and being put down or being made fun of. I also worried when you started dating, because of HIV/AIDS. I still worry. I always worry.”
Parents are protective. It’s in their nature. Most parents would have these same reactions too. It’s how a parent outwardly handles their reactions which make the biggest impact.
“Be supportive for who they are and love them to death,” is my mom’s advice for any parent who’s child comes out to them. “They will need it. You got to have that support behind you. We give them the best tools for growing up, and teaching them right from wrong.”
My mom also suggests to parents to join a support group and do their own research online to help get the answers to their unanswered questions.
Coming out isn’t easy for anyone. Thankfully my mom was accepting, understanding, and supportive. Mothers need to remember that they love their children regardless of their sexual orientation.
Thank you mom for your emotional support and unconditional love over the years; it’s certainly helped me in evolving into the person who I am today!