My son was a hyper, silly 10-year-old with a sharp wit and deep thoughts. Both a joy and a pain in the butt to raise. I loved him to pieces—still do—and have learned that often the child that challenges us the most as parents also teaches us the most.
One particular afternoon, a day no different than any other, I was sitting in the living room working on my computer when my son walked in and said, “We need to talk.”
The look on his face was very serious, even a bit nervous. I figured something happened at school that day. Maybe he got picked on again or got in trouble for talking too much.
He continued, “You need to put your computer away and really listen because this is important.”
At this point I was starting to get a little worried. My boy was usually much quicker and more spontaneous about expressing his thoughts and feelings, even the ones that mattered the most to him. This was different. This was big.
He sat down next to me on the couch, looking older and more mature than ever before, and said, “Mom, I realized something and I thought you should be the first to know. And after we talk, I’d like to call daddy and tell him.”
“Okay, buddy. What is it?”
He took a deep breath and said, “I am ready to come out of the closet.” Another deep breath. “I am straight.”
I sat there frozen for a second, staring at him. My first instinct was to laugh at how cute this was, but my stronger instinct was to pause and reflect on what just happened. This wasn’t a joke to him. My boy was completely serious and he needed me to be serious, too. In my 10-year-old’s mind, this made complete sense. He knew that when someone realizes they’re gay, they “come out of the closet,” and they usually announce it first to the people closest to them. He figured that “rule” applied to everyone, straight or gay. Once you realize it, you share it. You come out.
I gave him a big hug and told him how honored I was that he told me first. And then I looked at him with tears in my eyes and told him that I would love him straight or gay, because that’s not what makes someone lovable or not. What makes someone lovable is their heart and their actions. And then I thanked him for opening my eyes to the kind of world I want to live in.
I want to live in that world. I want to live in a world where gay children don’t have to feel like outsiders, don’t have to play by different rules, don’t have to prepare a big coming-out speech and be terrified of whether their mom will love and embrace them for who they are.
I want to live in a world where everyone comes out. Everyone. Gay or straight. We wouldn’t assume anything. We wouldn’t suspect or gossip. We would wait. We would listen. We would believe them. And then we’d let them know that they are wonderful just the way they are.
I, myself, have never officially, publically come out, so let me take the opportunity to do so now.
I am straight. I hope you can still love me.