Many years ago when I was away at college, my mother discovered I was gay when she found a letter written by my boyfriend that I had left at home. She was upset, to say the least. She phoned me and insisted I see a psychiatrist. I agreed. After one session, the psychiatrist told me that I did not have a problem. He said it was my mother who was troubled by my homosexuality.
Later, my mother told me that her biggest fear was that I would spend the rest of my life alone and miserable. Her perspective was understandable. She knew no one who was openly gay. There were no positive gay role models in the public sphere. Her limited knowledge equated homosexuality with disease. She could not imagine a healthy, happy, gay life.
Fast forward: Last week, my husband and I marked our 20 year anniversary. We were legally married two years ago, but our first date was during Halloween week 20 years ago. My mother's fears of my miserable, lonely existence never materialized. I am in a strong, monogamous relationship. My life is gay, in all the best senses of the word. My life is not wretched, tragic, or solitary as my mother imagined it would be.
Today's parents have much more information about homosexuality available to them. "Gay" is present in the news, social media, entertainment, politics, churches, schools and so on. However, with the influx of information, there is much misinformation. Conservative activists proclaim loudly that homosexuality is evil, the work of the devil, the cause of disaster, the ruination of civilization.
When I was younger, I could not tell my mother that a fulfilling life was in store because I did not know what the future would hold for me. But I am older now, and I have a 20-year (and counting) relationship from which to draw.
So... if you are a parent and you have just discovered your child is gay, here are some examples from my own life of what your gay kid's future might hold:
For most of my adult life, I have had someone with me to ...
... make me breakfast and to eat the terrible dinners I make.
... call when my car breaks down, or when I need to be picked up at the train station, or when I want to share a funny story I just heard.
... go to weddings, funerals, baby showers, the movies, the mall, the gas station.
... make me laugh by creating spontaneous, nonsensical lyrics to songs on the radio.
... toast my accomplishments when I got my job, when I received tenure, when I was promoted.
... inspire my creativity and be my artistic collaborator.
... sing "I Got You Babe" with me at karaoke.
... cry with me when one of our dogs passes on.
... fight over finances and how to spend our money.
... weed the garden.
... go to parties. [note: my husband has a great talent for being able to talk to anyone, and is always the life of any party]
... get me wonton soup when I am sick and don't feel like eating anything else.
... capture the bat that somehow managed to get into the house and is flapping around the living room terrifying me and creating hysteria amongst the dogs.
... tell me my shirt is untucked, or my shoelace is untied, or I missed a belt loop.
... decide between the red or the black when purchasing a car.
... listen to me complain about being overloaded at work, or about a rude cashier, or about the driver that just cut me off going 95 miles per hour.
... to share the shock and disgust I feel when the mattress salesman refused to serve us.
... support and indulge my eccentricities which include wearing kilts and adopting 2-legged dogs.
... give me a look when I say something stupid and do not realize it.
... surprise me with plane tickets to Paris.
... help guide me when I parallel park in a tight spot, and then fish out quarters to feed the parking meter.
... watch endless repeats of the Golden Girls on TV most nights before we go to sleep.
... share my bed.
... bemoan the fact we are old enough to get our AARP cards.
These are some of the many moments, the mundane and the memorable moments, that make up our lives together. In other words, this is our "gay lifestyle."
It makes me angry that conservative extremists go to such great lengths to try to deny us this life that we share. What is the point? Without my husband, I could be the desolate, pathetic soul that my mother feared. How does this help anyone?
I will not let the ugliness created by today's conservative zealots cloud the fact that my husband and I have achieved a strong bond over 20 years.
Happy Anniversary, Brian. Here's to at least 20 more.