I CONFESS – Full of pride for gay son
I WANT TO share an experience I had with my son that I feel may be useful to other parents currently going through a similar situation.My son is gay. I realised that he was not a normal boy from his pre-teen years when he would be interested in my dresses and putting on make-up. At that time we all thought it funny and saw it as clowning around. But as he got older, his interest in women’s fashions, the way he groomed himself and walked and his general mannerisms were very troubling.Actually, they were downright disturbing and caused upheaval in the house.First, I could not believe that my only son could become like that. The mere thought of him liking another man was revolting to me; actually, it still is, but I am more understanding now.The next thing was the stigma of having a son who was “girlie”. People had all sorts of nasty comments to make, and I found them hard to take. What made this situation unbearable was that I never used to mix with anyone in the neighbourhood and only spoke to a select few. So when it was apparent my son was “soft”, everyone had something nasty to say.Of course, the less people know about you and your business the more they make up. So all sorts of wicked rumours were circulated about me and what I did and did not do to cause my son to turn out so.Used to regretI wouldn’t lie – in those days I used to regret that I did not get the abortion his father wanted me to get. His father, who was married, never wanted me to have a child as he said he could not afford another one. But I wanted one; for me he would be my “love child” – the proof of my devotion to the man I loved.It was then that I started to believe that maybe my son turned out so because God was punishing me for living with a married man. Actually, I truly believed that for a long time because I thought it was retribution for not doing the right thing.My mother, a devout Christian all her life – God rest her soul – was totally against my friendship with my married friend. So much so that she gave me an ultimatum: leave him or leave her house. I left her house and continued the relationship. I was encouraged to do so by this man, who I thought really loved me. So I rented my own place to be with him whenever he could come over. It was only after I became pregnant about two years later that he started to pull away from me. From then it was clear he just wanted easy access to a young woman, but did not really love me.Ashamed, I never told my mother anything. In any case, we hardly spoke in those days because she vowed never to deal with me as long as I “lived in sin”. So apart from a cousin of mine, who is my best friend up to now, I went through my pregnancy alone. It was a terrifying experience. I was sick weeks into it and then developed back problems, which saw me taking a few weeks off work.It was the loneliest time of my life as I did not have my mother, and the man I thought loved me had deserted me. If it wasn’t for my cousin’s help God knows how I would have made it through that period.But I made it, raised my son the best way I knew how, steered clear of other men, and tried to rebuild a relationship with my mother. While I was seeking to live up to these commitments, my son started to show his deviant behaviour. It was really a shock for me, and I found it difficult to stomach.As my mother was in church, I got her to get her pastor to speak with him, but that didn’t help. I got my boss and a couple of other men I respect to talk with him to see if they could find out why he was so different, but nothing helped. As for his father, I never really saw him. All I got from him was a cheque every month-end. He did come to see his son a couple of times when he was a baby but, mainly, he had turned his back on us. After months of pleading with him to try to get more involved with his son when he was getting older and exhibiting these traits, and after getting refusals, I determined that as long as he sent his cheque, that was it – I would raise my child by myself.That said, though, I felt bad to see how my son was growing up and behaving more and more like a little girl. It sickened me so much, but there was nothing I could do to change him – that was who he was.Then, one day when I went to the hospital to collect medication for my mother from the pharmacy, I went to see an AIDS counsellor and she asked me not to focus on my son’s sexuality, but on who he was as a person. And when I went through with her just what sort of person he was, I realised that my son was really a gem.I realised that my son cooked, washed, ironed and cleaned better than me, yet he was just 17 years old – and I did not teach him anything. He learnt it from his grandmother and by watching me. Doing well at schoolHe was doing well at secondary school, and unlike children whose parents had to worry about them running around getting into trouble, my son used to go to school and come back home. He never used to lie, and was not friendly with any rowdy people. In addition, he was respectful, didn’t swear or wasn’t loud, and was very loving. After my chat with the counsellor, I realised that all I could genuinely say that was bad about my son was that he was “girlie”.From that day I began to appreciate him more and we talked a lot more too. And the more I talked with him the more I appreciated how well educated and focused he was. He knew what he wanted to do and was working, without me pushing him, to succeed. Every day I began to recognise how fortunate I was to have such a sensitive child. But I found out just how blessed I was when I hurt my back and had to be home for nearly three weeks. My teenaged son took really good care of me; I did not lack for anything.That was nearly 18 years ago. Since then he went away and studied, and is now living overseas and working in a hotel. He is doing well for himself and I’m proud of him, particularly when I look around and see how some of the boys who went school with him have turned out. What I’m saying is that we should not let our prejudices or the fear of what people have to say blind us to the good within people. I value my relationship with my son because he is a good person. That he is gay is no longer a big issue.