I hope it is not a presumption on my part to say that supporting Queer youth and loving them is an important aspect of the liberation movement. Without love, honesty, support and help how many of us can say that we would have made it to our current stations? How many of us can say that we would have become the independent, strong willed individuals we are today without guidance from our family and friends? Surely not many of us. Though it is a terrible truth that many of our brothers and sisters are no longer with us, taken from us by the harsh hand of ignorance, I cannot but help feel had they been loved they would still be here. This is why I am writing this piece; in fact, had I not possessed the love and support of my parents would my fate have been any different?
I have been blessed with a wonderful set of parents; a mother and father who support me in everything I do, want to do, as well as who I am as a person. Though when I first came out there was this sort of trepidation and uncertainty about where to go next and what to say, the process as a whole was smooth. I came out in a humorous way involving a T-shirt and was fortunate enough to where my parents supported me.
When I wanted to wear a homemade gay pride shirt into local stores and supermarkets they not only allowed me but they didn’t say a word in opposition. During this time my brother, however, was slightly less enthusiastic about being in the same party as me and decided against going out with the family while I wore such shirts. My parents, however, talked with him and convinced him that for our long term relationship it would be best if he sucked it up and went with me. He did and though I didn’t wear many gay pride shirts after that small era I will always remember both my parents talking with him as well as my brother’s choice to openly walk around with me while I wore such shirts.
Though those actions took perseverance there next sign of support went above and beyond. This was when my mother and father agreed to take me to a Gay Pride Prom I wanted to attend (in an effort to meet new people). They not only drove me for over an hour and continued to search for the location despite initially getting lost, but once I was inside the prom they waited over four hours until the dance was over; four hours of just sitting out in the car on the side of the street in a city they had never been to, just so I could have a shot at socializing.
The next major sign of my family’s support was when I became lonely and depressed. During this time I searched for gay youth groups in my state. When I finally found such a group they not only drove forty minutes to take me but they waited in the car two hours while it went on. Much like the prom they did this for me with the only change being that this event was every week while the Prom had been a one night event. I would continue to go to this drop-in space every week for some months; meaning that my parents are made of stern stuff.
My parents can do more than simply wait around in the car for hours on end while I socialize they can also stick up for me when the extended family becomes hostile. This brings me to the time when my grandmother came over and started on a bigoted tirade about homosexuals. Though I was in my room listening to music at the time, and hence didn’t hear the rant, my parents asked me afterwards if I did because they were so concerned about the possibility of me hearing it. I said that I didn’t and though they were relived it did not stop them from mailing my grandmother a letter explaining their displeasure at her ignorance.
The mailing of that letter was brave but the fragment which will always stick with me is when I overheard them talking about her tirade and their own experiences with my coming out. My mother stated in her letter she said, “…you know, mother, I used to have opinions on gay people but that changed when two years ago our son told us he was gay.” Those words, I used to have opinions, stuck with me and probably always will. The reason that they stuck with me was because it was proof of the power of visibility, of the usefulness of simply stepping outside of the closet. Had I never come out would my mother ever gotten rid of her backward thoughts? It is hard to say.
My grandmother’s reaction to the letter was one of support and she apologized for her cruel words and latter sad that she supported me. To the extent that she meant these words I do not know but even if it was merely masking her beliefs it is still a step forward in terms of progress; relinquishing use of bigoted words while in the company of the oppressed is a positive accomplishment at least in terms of political correctness.
So while my family is not perfect-we fight, escalate, call each other names and have financial problems from time to time-I know I am blessed to have such a parental cell. Many youth do not have anywhere near this kind of support and so have found life more horrid than it should be. In this manner I dedicate this piece to all those individuals who are spreading the equality message, to those people who were raised in homes tolerant enough to encourage their growth instead of demeaning it, and to those people who understand that because they have something many do not, they need to do whatever they can to assist those less fortunate.