One of the things I admire most about my mom is that there is not one bit of inauthenticity or dishonesty in her body. When she acts a certain way or says a certain thing, it's because she means it; she never, ever holds back, and that's something you don't find in many people, especially in these superficial days we live in today.
That same candor was on display on the day I came out to her almost six years ago, when she broke down in tears after I finally managed to conjure up the courage to utter the words "I like boys" to her on our way back from a trip to the lake. She couldn't stop crying, and I remember thinking that this must mean she doesn't approve.
After three days of being holed up in her bedroom, she finally came out and talked to me about it. She said she felt bad about her breakdown in the car, because it might have led me to believe that it was a sign of her disapproval, when in fact it was just shock; she couldn't hide it, because that's how she felt, and as I said before, she never, ever holds back.
She had never truly contemplated the possibility of me being gay, so it was definitely an adjustment, but once she'd taken a few days to think about it and gotten used to the idea, she was completely and totally comfortable with it, and since then she's been about as accepting and supportive a mother as I could possibly ask for.
We've always had an interesting dynamic between us -- since long before the "gay thing" ever even reared its head. It's a dynamic that various tabloid magazines and gossip websites have speculated on and made assumptions about over the years, and that my mom documented in her book Lips Unsealed back in 2010.
My mom said during her book tour that if she has one regret from her time as an addict, it's that she wasn't as present as she should've been as a mother. Well, let me take this opportunity to say that not once did I ever feel like she wasn't present. To the contrary, she has always been an amazing mother, and I had no idea she had an issue with substance abuse until long after she'd gotten sober and decided to open up to me about it.
She has always encouraged me and been 100-percent behind me, as has my dad. I like to talk about how the greatest gift my parents ever gave me was their positivity. They told me to never be afraid to pursue my dreams, and that in turn has given me the strength and determination to do what I'm doing today: trying to fight the status quo, create change, and make a difference in this country and in the world.
That's not to say my mom and I haven't had our share of disagreements, because we have, and we do. As in any mother-son relationship, we've had our tumultuous moments, and that's OK, as long as we can come to a place of mutual love and respect in the end. And there's no question that I love and respect her, and that she love and respects me.
I recently turned 20 years old, and it just so happened that around the same time as my birthday, my dad decided to transfer some old home movie tapes to DVD so that we could sit around and watch them together. I saw my mom, soon after giving birth to me, sitting in her bed in her hospital room, eating French toast. My dad, the cameraman, says to her, "What are you happier about: your baby or French toast?"
"The French toast," my mom says, totally deadpan. My dad and I, sitting there watching this two decades later, started laughing hysterically. "That's such a Mom thing to say," we reminisced. She's not always politically correct, nor is she always perfect, but she's her -- and I can't admire her enough for that.
Mama, just know how much I love you and miss you when you're not around. You're the coolest. Happy Mother's Day to you, and to all the moms out there who are loving enough to support and stand by their children no matter what.