My mom is what you would call fierce. She is bold. Independent. Adventurous. She had me when she was considered over the hill for motherhood—28—and she did it scandalously without a husband. Even today at 72 she still walks half-marathons and is the last one on the dance floor at any party. As a young person, she lived life and made all sorts of friends from all walks of life. And when I was growing up, she had many gay friends. When some of my cousins first started to come out, my mom didn’t tolerate the snickering. She was accepting.
Yet, it took me nearly a decade to tell her that I liked women; that my friendship with the woman I had talked so much about, was more than friendship. Did I think she would reject me? No. Did I think she would get mad at me? No. Did I think our relationship would change? Maybe. I didn’t know. When I finally got the courage to tell her, in my little apartment in New Haven, Conn., she did what I never expected. She cried.
Later she would explain that, of course she loved me, but she didn’t want things to be difficult for me. She didn’t want people to treat me badly. She didn’t want for me to be alone. As a parent, her whole goal was to give me a life that was better than her own. She didn’t want my life to be harder than life already is.
Each parent reacts differently to a son or daughter coming out as gay or lesbian or bisexual or questioning. Even some of the most open-minded parents react negatively. Some are disappointed. Some are hurt. Some want someone to blame. Some blame themselves. Some are in denial and are waiting for it not to be true. But I bet that even though these don’t seem to be the most positive responses, it’s not because they have a problem with someone being gay. It’s that they don’t want their child to be gay. They see the discrimination that persists. They see the struggle for equal rights. They see their dreams of the perfect family and career for their children being more challenging to achieve or slipping away completely. Perhaps they, like my mom, just don’t want their son or daughter to struggle. Life is hard enough. And that is a big difference from being unaccepting—and it is something time and love can make better.
Here is a guide for parents of LGBTQ children by RUComingOut.com blog.
Here is a list of resources and books for parents with LGBTQ children coming out by True Colors.