People are Surprising

30 05 2012

Once the initial shock wore off, and I began coming to peace with my son’s coming out, something different happened to me. It was kind of like a fire in my belly that slowly grew. It was passion, it was truth, it was a mission. I knew I would never idly sit by again and watch someone bash someone because “the bible says so”.

I was very tentative for a number of reasons – first of all, I wanted to show respect to my son. I didn’t feel it my place to share his story. At the same time, I had my own story as a mom and did want to begin sharing that in hopes of helping other parents along in their process. At first I always asked my son before speaking to anyone. He always gave his permission. In fact, after about the 100th time I asked he exclaimed, “Mom – tell anyone anything – I don’t care!” I think he was just tired of me asking.

I still want to respect him though. Even in writing this blog I hesitate at times and have him read the posts before I post them. Well, I did the first three posts anyway. Until he said, “Mom – write whatever you want – it is fine with me!” I think he was tired of my asking again. HA The truth is – this is my mission, not his. I try to write from my perspective – not his. I appreciate his trust in me and don’t ever want him to regret that. He is really consumed with composing his music and just living his life. This is my gig.

Another reason I hesitated to speak up at first was my fear that people would begin treating him differently. It has been interesting to see the people who stuck by us and the ones who have left. It was not the ones I expected in either direction. I can tell you this – I will choose my child anytime, anywhere over anyone else. I am tired of the prejudice from people of faith. Especially as a person of faith – honestly, they sicken me. I also think of their children who might be gay or bisexual, or transgender. I so wish they could feel the regret I know of having my son in a church where he was condemned. I guess that is one I will take with me to the grave. I know this – some people are willing to listen, and some people will never hear it. I just pray they hear it before they cause too much damage for the next generation.

We are always told that we are on this earth for a reason. I think I have found mine. I feel so impassioned to speak out for LGBT people everywhere – and especially to people of faith. They need to know the truth about the bible. They need to come face to face with the reality of the damage and hurt they are causing. I will be a PFLAG mom long after my son is off having his own life someplace. I will be here offering love to kids who have been rejected by their families. I will be speaking out and speaking up for the rest of my days.

 





Apology

26 05 2012

I don’t like to really go back and think about what a judgemental person I used to be. I am embarrassed. No, I am really ashamed. As a general rule, I don’t like people to shame themselves. It is not usually healthy in most cases. In the case of my previous judgement of people, I think shame is in order. I think I have pretty much forgiven myself at this point, but I never want to ever forget, in hopes that I will never go back to being that person again.

Let me clarify, I have never intentionally been a mean or horrible person. I remember even as a child that it really bothered me when I heard people say racist things. I did not understand then, or now, how people could think themselves better than someone else for any reason. Well, except when it came to homosexuality. There is my shame. I actually didn’t know any gay people growing up. I met my first gay person in my 20’s. I am sure had met some before, but no one who was openly gay. I cleaned his teeth at work and he was a hoot. He always made me laugh – but somehow I still kept him separate from “those gays”. I actually believed homosexuality was a perverted thing. There, I said it. Actually I typed it on the internet – so it will be here forever. I am not sure how I feel about it. In one way it is freeing to have it out in the open, yet I now have so many friends that are LGBT and are so dear to me. I feel ashamed as well.

I think back and try to figure out why I felt so strongly about it. It is an easy out to blame my upbringing and the church I attended. I was told my whole life that it was “unnatural” and a sin. I guess I am not sure at what point I take responsibility for my own actions and thoughts? I think as soon as I was an older teen. I mean at that point we start forming our own conclusions about things and begin developing our own ideas about life, not just what our parents think, but what we think. I feel so sad now for all the years I condemned people because of their sexuality. It was less than 5 years ago that I found out a friend was bisexual and I remember feeling disgust. I was so ignorant. I never even considered for one minute that they could be born who they are.

I now know without a doubt people are born with their sexuality – gay, straight, bisexual. I won’t even get into transgender right now – but I can not imagine feeling trapped inside the wrong gendered body for years! They are some of the bravest people I know.

The entire point of this blog is to apologize. I would like to apologize for my past prejudice and behavior. How do I do that though? Words seem so inadequate. Honestly, they are not enough, but they are all I have. If you are LGBT or any other letter – I apologize to you from the bottom of my heart for my judgement and hate. I promise you to love you all with my whole heart and my whole being for the rest of my days. I also promise to fight for you, to speak out even when I am scared, and to try with all I am to educate people who are in the place I used to be and to share my story. It is a small thing – but it is all I can offer in trying to make up for the years of hurt I caused. I now ask the impossible of you – can you please forgive me?





Road Trip!!

25 05 2012

 

My son had been out for a few months and we were all settling in with the new knowledge. Well, my husband and I anyway. As a parent of a queer kid you should realize that by the time they tell us, the parents, they have researched, thought, and pondered all of this for some time. It is like they are already at a place of understanding when the news is sprung on us. Then we start the journey all over again that they have already taken.

My friend and mentor that was helping us through our processing advised us to attend a PFLAG meeting. PFLAG stands for Parents, Family, Friends of Lesbians and Gays. It also includes Bisexual and Transgender – I guess those letters just don’t fit as well! 😀 Anyway, we did not have a PFLAG chapter in our town and after researching we found a chapter a few hours from our house. ROAD TRIP!!

So, we shuttled our youngest kid off to grandma and hit the road one Tuesday evening. When we arrived to the address we had been given there was a big sign in front of the building that said “United Church of Christ”. There was dead silence in the car. NOW – in case you don’t know, just as we didn’t know at the time, there is a big difference between United Church of Christ and  regular ole Church of Christ. United Church of Christ Churches are open and affirming of LGBT people, too bad we were ignorant of that! So, we stop in the middle of the street, in front of the sign, and my son’s voice comes from the back of the van, “We are NOT going in there!”

So, we drove on down the block and stopped at Walgreens for chocolate. What? Isn’t that what you do when you are stressed and need a bit of comfort food? I can’t be the only one, come on! Anyway, got our snacks, and sat in the van and pondered our predicament. We had about fifteen minutes until the meeting was going to start. We decided we had driven two hours one way to attend. We also decided we were adult people who could get up and walk out if we wanted to. So, off we went.

I can still remember the fear walking into that door. It is a scary feeling walking into something like that for the first time, especially since we were not sure that they were not going to start praying over us or something. I wouldn’t mind a prayer – just didn’t want an exorcism. We weren’t really greeted when we came in. I am a pretty self-assertive person so I walked up to people and introduced us, etc… The meeting was fine. It was a business meeting really. They discussed upcoming events, but no one told stories and there wasn’t much support offered.

Then the meeting was over and everyone headed out to their cars. There was one other person who was at the meeting for their first time. It was a mom of a teenager who is transgender. For the next forty-five minutes we stood out in the cold wind and talked, cried and hugged. I left there that night realizing that what I experienced in the parking lot was what should have been happening inside the meeting. I have since heard that chapter has changed things and is doing more support. I am glad.

We came home and within a few months we started a PFLAG in our town. I think our experience of attending the meeting in a strange town was good in a lot of ways. We know that when someone walks through that door for the first time they need to see a friendly face and a warm smile. It is hard stepping out of our comfort zone. We also try to keep our business to our PFLAG Board meetings and use our support meetings for education and support.

If you are interesting in researching more about United Church of Christ they have a website: www.CathedralofHope.com





I just had to go there…

24 05 2012

I really have not wanted this blog to be about Christianity. I realize though that if I am going to tell my story, I must tell this part as well. Jesus is a big part of my life, so it wouldn’t be a complete story if I didn’t tell it all. I am in no way trying to convince anyone of anything. I am simply telling my story, from my perspective.

I don’t know the answer to the division between the Church and LGBT issues. I only know how my mind and heart were changed. Once I started to believe that homosexuality wasn’t wrong I was still confused about what to do with the scriptures that specifically speak about it. I mean as a Christian I believe the bible is the word of God. It is a bit funny to me now though – the fact that the verses on homosexuality are quoted when we tend to ignore so many other verses. No one is stoning women who are found to not be virgins on their wedding night anymore. Women are going to church and not covering their heads…. etc…

The bible has some pretty sad history. Did you know the bible was used as a defense against keeping slaves? If you look through the bible you will find verses on telling slaves how to behave. The bible was also used to keep women from voting. This is proof that the bible must be read with the culture and times it was written in mind. Women were not much more than property back in those days. This strong – willed woman says thank the Lord for evolution of the species!!

If someone doesn’t want to look at both sides and refuses to see truth – nothing I say here will stir their brains to wake up. If, by chance, you are seeking truth about what the bible REALLY says then I will help you find some great resources. The truth is – my peace came after I watched one movie – “For the Bible Tells Me So”. You can find it on amazon or Netflix. It is well worth your time. It is a documentary that follows several families of faith and how they dealt with their child’s coming out. It also contains one of my favorite quotes: “It is OK to have a 5th grade understanding of the bible, as long as you are in the 5th grade.”

Another great place to turn is Kathy Baldock. She is a straight Christian who, like me, used to believe that homosexuality was a choice and a sin. She now runs a non-profit organization that is helping to heal the schism between the church and LGBT people. She has done extensive research and answers the questions about the scriptures better than I could ever hope to!! http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/category/verses-resources/ Click here and start perusing.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I am a bit angry. Angry at the churches that convinced me it was OK to hate the sin and love the sinner. HELLO – homosexuality is NOT a sin. I do feel as a Christian culture we have been duped, lied to, led astray! Did you know the word homosexuality was not even IN the bible until the 1940s?!!! Did you know Jesus never said one word about homosexuality? And it was happening in his day… I am a bit angry that I sat in churches with my sweet boy and he heard sermons about homosexuals going to hell and he left there knowing they were talking about him and had nightmares about it for years. I am angry at the Christians who said they were our friends – but have abandoned us since he came out and we supported him. I am angry at the institution called “church” that does not preach nor stand behind Jesus’ teachings about loving your neighbor. Jesus didn’t add any exceptions to that command – NONE. OK – maybe I am more angry than I realized because I am now having to censor what I would really like to type here. I will just end by saying – it is NOT OK – to claim Christianity and hate a group of people. It is not right. I know one thing – just as I am ashamed of my ancestors who owned slaves – one day this generation will have to answer to the generations that come after us about how we handled this issue of homosexuality. Lord help us to make the right choices now.





Reconnection

22 05 2012

I think there is a dynamic between a son and father that I do not fully understand. If I was a man I could probably explain this better, but I am a female so too bad for you! HA! All I know is that in movies, as young men grow older, they seem to want and maybe even need the affirmation of their father. I suppose that must be true in real life, maybe some of you fathers and sons who read this can comment and tell us if it was true for you?

Growing up, my son always prefered to hang out at home with me than to go do things with his Dad. I can still remember the day he was four years old and chose to go on an errand with his dad. My husband was thrilled! It was a rare occasion though. They just have very different personalities. My husband loves to fish and hunt, my son doesn’t like to see anything killed. My husband loves to build things, work on cars, etc… My son likes symphonies and art.

My husband tried things through the years. I remember a conversation when my son was in his early teens and my husband said, “I just can’t find a way to connect with him. If we could connect, I think we could get to know each other.” They ended up doing Aikido for a year and they both really did love it. The truth is, they were not very close.

When my son and I finally had our conversation and he found out that we knew he was bisexual, his first words were – “Does Dad know too?” I said he did and he was ok with it. Later that day, my son and I were sitting in the living room and my husband came in. I  told him that Jake was now aware that we knew. My husband immediately went to our son and wrapped his arms around him and said, “You are my son and I love you. Period.” I wish there were words to describe the expression on my son’s face – relief doesn’t seem adequate. It was a look of someone who has worried about something for a very long time and they now realize their worst fears will not come true.

I love what has happened with these two men who I love so much. They now have a relationship that my husband always dreamed of. They are closer than they have ever been and there is a level of trust there that wasn’t present before. I think to know we are truly loved by our parents no matter what must be an amazing feeling. My heart breaks for the kids whose parents do not accept them due to their sexuality. I hear these sad stories all the time. I just do not understand as a parent how you could not love your child any longer. Maybe they never learned that being a parent is not about us. It is about putting ourselves aside and putting our children first – no questions asked.

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone





Simple Logic

21 05 2012

Isn’t it funny how in life things we often think are a big deal end up being no big deal at all? Then sometimes something we think is routine ends up being a big deal completely! Life is funny isn’t it? I have just quit trying to figure it out. It always changes anyway. My journey through my awakening to the truth about homosexuality was like that. The things I had previously thought ended up being actually silly and the things I hadn’t considered have enhanced my life in a big way.

So, why is it when we think of a same-sex couple we immediately think about what they are doing in the bedroom? Lordy – I certainly hope when someone meets my husband and I for the first time they aren’t thinking about how we have sex!! Gross – huh?!! So, why do we do that with same – sex attraction. Get a memo – it isn’t all about sex for them, just like it isn’t all about sex for a heterosexual couple. I am not sure why that logical thought never entered my mind on its own. It seems so obvious now.

Sex is a small part of who a person is – straight or queer. I have a friend who says “the real perverts are the people obsessed with other people’s sex lives”. I think he has a very valid point. Why is that where our minds go? It is a bit perverted, isn’t it?

One of the first pieces of advice I received was “stop thinking about sex” when my son came out. It was excellent advice. And I needed to hear it. It is funny to me now how when we hear someone is queer we immediately go to that place. Wonder why my first thoughts were not “will he find someone he can connect with on an emotional level? Someone who ‘gets’ him and he ‘gets’ them?” Oh no – immediately think of the sex part. I wish I had an answer  – I think as humans we are just weird. Is that an answer? Because whether people are admitting it or not – we all do it – or used to until some smart person said “sex is a small part of who your child is”.

My son has said “quit telling people that I haven’t dated”. So, I am only going to say this once – this one time, in this one blog. I find it funny the people who hear my son is bisexual and assume he is a slut, sleeps with everyone – men and women. Or WANTS to sleep with everyone – as he says “UGH!! Don’t flatter yourself!” Here is what he is tired of hearing me say – he has not dated ANYone! Nope – 19 and has not been out with a soul. He is a picky guy. I just think people have very WRONG interpretations of this supposedly “Gay Lifestyle or Agenda” and how it will take over the world and drop ship us all into hell of some sort.

Are there queer people who sleep around. YES! Are there heterosexual people who sleep around? YES! Are there queer people in long-term committed relationships? YES! Are there heterosexual people getting divorced at 50% rate? YES! Bottom line? We just need to look at facts and not fiction. We need to get real on this issue and be smart about figuring it out. It is simple logic if you think about it.





Regret

18 05 2012

I knew my son was bisexual. My son knew he was bisexual. The only thing was that my son didn’t know that I knew. So, a few weeks went by as I processed things, did research, told him a million times a day I loved him, but he still never said a word. I dropped a couple of general hints such as, “you know you can always tell me anything”… etc… Still no coming out. So, I waited a week longer.

If you know me very well then you would know that I do not wait well. I am not a patient woman. This is one reason I can not do my Christmas shopping months ahead like some people. I can’t stand it – I will just find an excuse to give you your present early. I don’t wait well. Especially with a very large secret like this!! Besides, I had been reading all the books and websites, I was now ready to do and say all the right things! HA

So, “the conversation” went down something like this. He and I were alone in the car. I parked and said, “don’t get out, I want to ask you something.” That probably was a very smooth way to handle it – NOT! Trap the kid in the car with me and refuse to let him out. Me: “I have a question.” He: “OK.” Me: “Do you like girls?” He: “yes.” Me: ” well, do you like guys?” He: (laughing) “Yes.” Me: “OK then.” oh and I am sure I threw in an “I love you” just for good measure.

I would like to report that it was some earth shattering moment, but it was really quite simple. I truly appreciated his honesty and patience in the moment. I will tell you that it wasn’t much different from many other conversations we had over his 17 years. It was straight forward and simple. It will tell you that it did feel nice having it out in the open and him knowing that I knew. More conversations came after that moment – more in-depth discussion on both of our parts.

My biggest source of pain surrounding it all was the fact that he had felt the need to keep it from me. I had felt that he didn’t trust my love enough to know that I would be able to love him anyway. I have carried that pain for almost two years now. It was only in the past few weeks he explained to me that he had done a lot of research and things he read on the web said not to come out until you were able to live on your own or had a safe place to go if the “coming out” was not received well. I took a big sigh of relief about that! It wasn’t that he didn’t trust my love enough – well, not totally, it was also due to some advice that didn’t apply here. He just didn’t know that, unfortunately. At this moment, I wish I could take back all the years we went to a church that condemned the person he was. He knew he was queer at a very young age and can still remember sitting in the pew and thinking “they are talking about me” when homosexuality was preached on. I also wish I could take back all the years I was ignorant and voiced my beliefs about queerness being a choice and a sin. Man oh man talk about regret.

The truth is – I can not go back and change all those years. I have asked his forgiveness and he has forgiven me. I promise you this though – I will spend the rest of my days trying to make up for it. I will hug every kid who has ever been told there is something wrong with them by some one else’s standards. I will try my very hardest to stop judging ANYone for ANY reason and to just love people. I am not sure why God saw fit to grace my life with this precious boy as my only son. I will forever be grateful that He trusted me enough to let me have him as my kid! I will also continue to remind him how much I love him every single day.