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A mother's heart

author: Patricia Boman
posted: 3/10/2011

Hello, my name is Patti and one of my two sons is gay. As I write this, I know it would help you if I gave you some information about my background and my situation, so that you know where I come from and where my heart is.
I was born in Thailand, my father was an American diplomat, we lived all over the world. I have been married for 35 years, my husband Tom and I were both ultra conservative Republicans and raised Catholics.
I have two sons, my eldest Erik is married and is a Pharmacist and his wife is a Veterinarian, my youngest Daniel (27) graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a degree in theatre. This letter is about him.
When Danny was little, we noticed certain traits and behaviors that we questioned. We were both so un informed in LGBT issues that we wanted to make sure he played with only toys that were usually for boys or gender neutral (musical instruments, etc.). My husband and I discussed amongst ourselves the possibility of Danny being gay, and knew that we had done nothing to encourage him; we even had him take karate lessons where he eventually became a brown belt.
He showed a passion for performing at an early age and we found out about a program called Christian Youth Theatre through his second grade teacher. He auditioned and made it into every show, which inspired us to start him with voice lessons. He was always so happy performing, plus he had a group of friends that did not judge him and he fit in!
When he was in junior high school, we had to take him out of public school, since he was being picked on by a couple of boys and I did not want to run the risk of him getting beaten up. He had a lot of friends (most of them girls), and we put him in eighth grade at the local Catholic school. He loved the small classroom and I was there at lunch watching, and the world seemed fine again.
My eldest never had all the trouble that Danny had, but Danny was small for his age and I thought that maybe the bullies picked on that. In high school he went back to public school and auditioned for a school choir program (Bonita Vista High School Music Machine). He got admitted into the special choral group and made immediate friends within the group, where they traveled and performed in various states and foreign countries. I chaperoned almost all of the performances and truly enjoyed the camaraderie and talent of the students. I felt that we really found a home in this group.
In tenth grade, we asked him if he was gay (no girlfriends, eyebrow raising pictures on the computer, etc.) but he denied it and ran out of the house with my husband running behind him to catch and calm him down. Prior to this incident, through Christian Youth Theatre we became familiar with “Born again Christians” and all three of us, my husband, Danny and I, got baptized in the local Christian Non-Denomination church that we do not attend anymore.
Danny at the end of high school wanted to go to a Christian university. We tried San Diego State University first but he hated it, he liked the smaller Christian atmosphere at APU (Azusa Pacific University). So the following year, he applied and we saved up money to get him there.
He came out officially to us about four years ago at the age of 23. He called my husband on the phone first, then, I spoke to him after that and I felt like the world had landed on my chest! I couldn’t breathe; my world felt like it was ending… you can’t imagine how awful I felt. I couldn’t stop crying, even though I knew all along that he was gay, I knew that he was not choosing this lifestyle on purpose! I knew he had fought his feelings for so many years. We told him we loved him and knew all along that he was gay, he told us that by having the courage to let it out and admitting it to us and everyone else, that he felt the happiest he has ever felt…a huge weight was lifted off of his shoulders (and straight into mine!).
I did not want to have him know that I felt so badly and knew that I had to get used to the idea. My first thought was for his safety (sexually transmitted diseases and anti gay violence) then, I started feeling sorry for myself. I wouldn’t have grandchildren, he couldn’t get married legally, and who knows how he’d be treated out in the world (so much hatred against gays!).
I went to a therapist for a few sessions where all I did was cry and cry. I would cry at work in the bathroom, at home in the shower (trying to hide this sadness from everyone). The therapist enlightened me when she told me that I had a right to feel like that. It was like a death; like my child had died and it was because my dreams for this child had died.
My dreams were those of a mother in mainstream America, where your child gets married, you get a new daughter or son-in-law, and hopefully children, etc. This changed everything and we were no longer part of the “mainstream American dream” we were part of the citizens that were considered more of a ‘fringe’ society; who were singled out or marginalized for hate crimes and ridiculed.
Eventually, little by little talking to anyone about my gay son (I practiced the word with strangers who must have thought I was crazy!), and joining PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), I felt that my life was getting back on track. I also craved any information and literature that talked about gays, including two documentary films, “For the Bible tells me so” and “Anyone and Everyone” ( I highly recommend both!). These films portrayed families like mine (and I thought I was unique!) who had the same exact thing happening to them and how they all managed to come to terms with their child’s courageous coming out.
This truly inspired me and gave me a cause; a reason to fight for equal rights for my son and all the others who don’t have a parent to stand up for them. Not all families embrace their children which is why I now feel like this is my ministry. former church minister didn’t think it was Biblical for my son to have a relationship, and stated; “He can be gay but should abstain from any same sex relationship.”
But I just couldn’t imagine a life sentence of loneliness for my youngest boy and all the other gay and lesbian children. I know that Jesus preached all about love, forgiveness, and not to judge one another. Some of the rules that a few extreme fundamentalist churches preach can’t be correct; my heart and pure common sense tell me this. Some of the writings at the time were culturally designed during a period of time that had more gender rules between men and women, and it was translated by so many people, as we know it's not possible to translate literally even in Spanish there are many different meanings to the same word depending what country is doing the translating. Do I really want to serve a God that is so small and limited in the minds and interpretations of some of the more fundamentalist churches? I realized that the God I want to serve includes everyone! Not just some….but all of us who have fallen short of perfection….essentially the whole human race!
I know that my son’s values have not changed, he has role models of long-term relationships and I wish that for him too. Part of my therapy in dealing with this is talking as much as I can to groups about PFLAG and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Encounter), and not to be ashamed of my child (there is nothing to be ashamed of in the good loving child that I raised). The more I spoke and cried, the better things got and if I encountered negativity in friends or family I was prepared to drop them as friends (life is too short and there are much bigger issues out there).
My parents were told about Danny and accept him as he is. My Dad just passed away on February 13, 2008, and I was glad that I got to tell him about Danny so I could experience his acceptance of this. I also have a cousin (on my Father’s side) who is in his 50's and gay; my Grandfather’s only sister in Mexico (in the 1920’s) was a lesbian and served in the army!! She had a life-long partner until she died (not many heterosexual relationships go that long!). Imagine how hard they had it back then.
What I now realize is that Danny couldn’t help being born this way and it is part of my family history. I’m convinced there is a genetic link, which is described in the movies I mentioned, and also there may be hormonal links during pregnancy. There is still so much that we don’t understand.
Not everyone, because they are gay or lesbian, are going to be a good or bad person; not everyone because they are Christian, Atheist or any other religion are either good or bad; that is not what makes the person. Don’t look at the gender, religious beliefs, outwardly appearances, etc…just look at their hearts. I know my children’s hearts and I wish them all the happiness that I had and have for both of them.
I can finally say that I’m thankful for my son being gay even though it makes life so much harder for him, it opened my eyes and has shown me that I can really love unconditionally and non-judgmentally.
Every human being deserves all the happiness that is out there for anyone to take; don’t let anything or anyone stop you. Be kind to your fellow human being, stay out of trouble and always lend a helping hand to anyone who needs it without being judgmental or expecting anything in return.