My son, 32, travelled home from the UK to see family and tell us he is gay and has a partner.
I was thunderstruck as never had I suspected this. As our time was very short I did not face this bombshell until he had returned home, as I wanted his time here to be happy. I hugged him amongst tears and told him I loved him (a Mothers love is unconditional).
My feelings had never been so confused. How was I going to tell his Step Dad (my biggest hurdle). How was he going to react!
I now felt very much alone and that I was the only person on earth who had a homosexual son. After 3 days of "non-existing" time I realized I needed help.
Eventually I broke down at a friends place and she offered to come with me to support me while I told my husband. His reaction was so different to what I had prepared myself for and my husband rang my son and talked (I have found out since this meant a lot to my son). Real positive stuff.
I was still finding communication hard with anyone including my husband. I had put up my own self made barrier for protection. I was alone.
If I only could have talked to another parent who had been through this because they would not prejudge my son or myself.
My stress level rose and after a visit with my doctor, out it poured. His words were "Karen, you haven't been told he has cancer" What a great statement. Yes I still had my son - how lucky I am. What a positive remark.
Next to counseling - what marvelous people. Emotions jump all over the place. High one minute - low the next. What a positive place. Here I really got the strength to face my inner fears and put them into perspective. I owe a lot to my Counselor for her compassion, love and being a tear wiper.
Feelings of shock, horror, panic shame, hurt, selfishness, all came to the fore and had to be dealt with. Sadness for my son, sadness for me. My own selfishness in the fact that I wasn't thinking about what had been going on in my son's life for years and the secret he had had to keep. He now had found the courage to tell us and hoped we'd accept him for who he is. Up until now I'd only thought of my own feelings.
How were his siblings and step siblings going to react?
He had now found the courage to "come out" and maybe, just maybe turning his world upside down. What courage! What had he been subject to during his teenage years?
My saddest moment was when he said he had Air NZ’s number, ready to phone in case we turned him away, but that was his barrier in case the worst happened. Nothing was further from my mind. I gave birth to him, nursed him through childhood illnesses, he helped me through a marriage breakup, why would I turn my back on him now. I still loved him.
All his siblings have been very understanding. Not a big deal as far as they are concerned. So what! Just a fact of life.
My son and I had some long conversations on the phone. He emphasized "This is not a choice, do you think I would choose to be this way in this world, it is not an option for me Mum". He wished we could have talked earlier but my wound was so wide and raw, I needed time and understanding and he obviously understood this.
A lady said, on finding out "You are so lucky they are the most caring and loving sons anyone could wish to have." This is true of my son. Yes I'm really lucky she is right.
I obtained books to help parents, to help me deal with my feelings. My son sent me two copies from UK which I found very helpful:-
- A Stranger in the Family - Terry Sanderson
- The Family Heart (Memoir of when our son came out) Rob Foreman Dew
My counselor got me an article that ran in a magazine about gay children and their parents and guess what, yes, there was a face I knew looking at me. Unbelievable!! She had coped with this situation so why shouldn't I, and I knew her. She was Terry Stewart (Author of Invisible Families - Webmaster) who I worked for some years ago!
It's not a big deal in my life now that I have put it into perspective so I would like to be of help to parents who are reeling like I was and didn't know where to turn. You are not alone, any of your friends will be very supportive. Friends can be fantastic.
Remember, homosexuality is only one aspect of your child's personality - an important one - but it's certainly not the be all and end all. He/she will retain all the personality traits that made him/her himself/herself - The child you loved and nurtured for all those years.