My son is gay. 8th-grade boys who are happily and comfortably out of the closet are pretty rare, so he serves as a sort of unofficial model for the kids at school, demonstrating for them daily by his mere existence that being gay is just another way of being human and nothing to get upset or angry about.
In large part because of my son’s openness at school and the (relative) lack of negativity he’s received from kids or adults, a friend of his (let’s call him C) decided it would be safe for him to come out, too. One huge difference between them is the fact that C’s dad is extremely homophobic; but he figured his dad would be angry at first and then get over it.
So, C came out, at school and at home.
And his dad left.
I don’t mean he left the room — he left the house. He left his marriage. He left his family.
When this happened, C tried to “fix” the situation by recanting on his admission. No, he said, I’m not gay after all. I don’t know what came over me.
And his dad came back.
But it didn’t last long. C had tasted the freedom of being his authentic self. Of being able to talk freely to my son and his other friends about who he is and who he likes and what he wants from life. After a few days, C came back out at home.
And his dad left.
Apparently his dad isn’t planning to return to his home as long as he has a gay son living there. Of course, I don’t know what the parents’ marital status was before this; maybe it was shaky anyway, and he was looking for an excuse to leave. But I can’t pull together the words to describe how tragic I consider this situation.
A bright, handsome, talented young man will carry with him the rest of his life the conviction that he caused the breakup of his family.
A husband and father is so overwhelmed by hatred and disgust for something that he won’t even try to understand, that he rejects his own son and, by association, his wife and other children.
The other family members must try to cope and sort out their own thoughts and emotions, as they’re pulled in opposite directions by people they love.
I do not — cannot — understand the father’s actions. I want to go to the mother and beg her to support her son and love him no matter what. I want to offer the boy refuge.
I want the world to be safe for my son, and for C, and for the countless GBLT boys and girls who are sitting in middle school (or high school, or college) today and concentrating not on their classes, but on how to tell their families and friends their most private secret so they can finally, finally be themselves.