Let’s start off the new year with something different. This is part of a discussion I had last month with my gay BFF, Greg Ciurczak, about someone who was having trouble accepting their gay child —
–and about another who commented that we straight people would have trouble managing being gay, ourselves.
Well, hang on a minute!
First, I am fairly certain that were I gay I would have no more trouble with it today than if I were born a white woman. Wait. I AM a white woman. And that’s my point. Why would I have trouble with being gay? It would be who I am. How I was born. And in this day and age, it looks a lot different than it used to. I’m not saying attitudes are all accepting, but it’s no different from other things people have silly opinions on, like feminism, race etc. It is NOT a hard way of life. Not now.
I’m presenting the conversation just as we had it, on email and text. No commentary.
“There’s my exhaustion with those who, in the 21st century, think having a gay child is the end of the world, or close to it. I mean, really? Haven’t we gotten past this yet? It really is exhausting to fight these same battles again and again and if I am tired, imagine gay people’s exhaustion.”
“I know I am preaching to the choir but as many breeders are more than willing to throw the dice when having kids, they remain so emotionally unprepared and uninformed, as well as all too often unwilling to accept their children when they stray from their concept of norm. All too often they are predisposed to their own construct of what their children should grow up to be and what a family is all about [and maybe rightfully so as parents want the best for their kids and have hopes and ambitions].
“Unfortunately it’s so not the case for kids to become what you want and many parents will of course fear what they don’t know particularly when it comes to gay life. They remain ignorant of resources and their own identities are shaken to the core big time … now they are put in the uncomfortable position of coming out to the world about their kid(s).
“Back in my ARIS* days I would often times get invitations to speak at PFLAG meetings when parents came for support. At that time, I was told by PFLAG volunteers I did not fit the stereotypical mold of gay guy — which BTW, was a total head fuck for me because since adolescence on the east coast I had been bullied & emotionally taunted by straight guys as queer & an effeminate faggot.
“I also once overhead my own family having a discussion about me when I was age +13 in how they imagined I would be not be accepted by coworkers if I were employed for summer help in my brother-in-law’s deli because of “my behavior” [ultimately, I was never given the opportunity for summer work].
“I always thought moving west, California life, had a profound change on me when arriving here at age 32 but nonetheless, there I was in front of a handful of PFLAG** parents who were seeking understanding of why their kids were queer and how best for them to handle/accept it. It was intimidating but an illuminating experience with many satisfying emotional takeaways, first and foremost, being able to peel away my own layers of straight people intimidation and judgment.
“It also allowed me to shed further light on my own emotional & challenging gay journey which continues to remain in process even until today [something I believe many of us will find peace with but I’m not sure the process even ends]. Hopefully the talks allowed some parents to see a healthy, successful, joyful path for their gay children.
“My inspiration for telling you much of this was remembering these PFLAG meetings and how I would also tell the parents about how I came to accept being gay as a gift. Let me tell you how that statement raised many an eyebrow in the small audience. However, the genesis of this belief was born out of numerous conversations with gay California friends, some of which came out of my facilitating Tuesday night ARIS newcomers group, with over a decade of listening to many heart- wrenching personal stories.
“The gift of gay for many of us meant accepting we were born gay; we didn’t choose it or decide to be gay. It gave many of us deeper levels of introspection, learning from the anguish of despair, understanding discrimination first hand, opening up to be more compassionate & empathetic, given opportunities to emulate unconditional giving and the relevance of developing strong community life in metropolitan ghettos. Plus, there was of course plenty of group discussion and acknowledgement of all the contributions of gay people throughout millenniums; so much creativity, leadership and genius that can never be denied.
“The PFLAG experience was back in the early/mid 90s and so very fascinating for me to see current leaders and celebrities talk about their gay journey. One of them was Apple’s Tim Cook, who, when he was outed a few years ago, used the same if not similar concept, stating in an interview, ‘gay as being God’s greatest gift.’ Twenty-five years beyond those PFLAG meetings, and its good to hear the sentiment repeated.”
Thanks, Grego. And he and I’d love your thoughts in the Comments.
*Aris was a northern California nonprofit we did volunteer work with in the 1980s and 1990s. It provided emotional and physical support to those with HIV.
**PFLAG is an organization that began as parents and friends of lesbian and gay people but has expanded to include their allies and also to support bisexual and transgender people.