Sunday, May 28, 2006

Coming and being out...what if I had known?

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am out as a parent of gay children. I have marched in the Pride Parade, lobbied the state legislature, and written letters to the editor. I am active in PFLAG and do what I can to help other parents support their kids.

When I look back at my life over the past six years I do not regret a single step. But what if I had known what it was going to be like?

What if I had known that being at the Pride Parade would put me in the position of knowing that one of the most powerful woman at work was a closeted lesbian? What if I knew that she would hate me for knowing? What if someone were to say, "In four years, when you get evaluated, she will be your division chair and so be a required reviewer AND she will be a last minute replacement on the evaulation committee when someone else gets sick. This will hurt your standing at work."

I think I would have still done it. But I would have been more careful.

What if someone had told me: you will loose your church over this?

Andrew, Brian, and Carl were all baptized there. It was the place where I found faith after I had lost it. I thought it was my home. I thought I was safe. What if I had known that people whom I liked and trusted, who liked and respected me, would say the things they did about my Carl? What if I had known that other people who I respected would privately tell me how wrong they thought they were, and then publically stand with them? What if someone had been able to show me a video clip of the day I would hand the president of the congregation my letter of resignation. See her hug me and say, "Don't go." See me pull out of the hug, step away from a woman with whom I had shared so much and say, "I can't stay."

Would I have decided not to come out at church? Would I have quietly left without bothering to fight?

I knew that I was going to loose a couple of friendships. I was prepared for that and it was no worse than I expected.

What if I had known I was going to be defending my child in the principal's office?

What if I had known I would call the police because my 10-year-old son could not walk his dog without a neighbor yelling "Fa***t" at him?

What if I had known I would one morning be calling the middle school to tell them that I was forcing my then 13-year-old to go to school even though he was afraid because yesterday someone told someone in the band that his older brother was gay?

Of course there is the rest of the story. What if I knew about the new church we would find and all the new people who would come into our lives? What if I knew how many gay and lesbian students would be quietly glad that I taught at that school? What if I knew that my birth sons would become committed to civil rights and be more courageous than I ever was at their age?

Like I said, I am glad that I took that journey.

I think about all the parents who don't take it. Parents whose children tell them that they are gay and who respond, "Have you tried not being gay?" I feel pain for those children. I have hugged them. I have parented them. I want to tell their parents, "The journey is frightening and painful, but it is worth it. Take it with us. Other parents are here to support you."

But then I look at the parents at the PFLAG meeting and in the Pride Parade. I realize that, like the more assertively out GLBT adults that FosterAbba talks about, we are the parents with the least to loose.

Another post on coming out: parental fears

1 comment:

  1. The guitar player at my church is a second grade teacher at my kid's school. She's also a lesbian who realized it after her kids were grown and she's a member of PFLAG. (No confidentiality breaking here - she's out - I asked her so I wouldn't accidentally slip up somewhere).

    She had been the director of youth activities and music at her former church. Volunteer I'm sure but she was forced to give it up and she left that church for no church at all until someone told her about us. She always looks so happy.

    I've always been "out" although a little less so here until Tim decided, a little at a time, that he was tired of pretending. It's so different from San Francisco but it hasn't been too bad for him.

    He had problems in school though, even in San Francisco. Now at 33, he's part of our youth committee, trying to reach out.


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