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Randi Reitan Headshot

A Christmas Letter to My Gay Son

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My dear Jacob,

As I was going through a box of keepsakes, I came across a Christmas list you had written when you were a young boy. On the list were things we could easily find in stores, and I always enjoyed finding them for you, wrapping them up and putting them under our tree. You were always so appreciative and opened them with great joy. The joy Papa and I felt was even greater.

There is only one gift I want to give you this year. I have wanted to give it to you for many years. I have tried in every way possible to find a way to give it to you. It would bring me the greatest joy of all.

How do I give you equality? How do I give you back the years you have missed "not being equal" in this world?

Your high school and college years should have been ones where you dated and went to proms and dances with someone you were attracted to and wanted to spend time with as a couple. You should not have had to spend those years working for your equality. You should not have had to defend your dignity. You should not have had to miss out on the simple pleasures of a young teen and a young adult.

There is no way I can give you back those years, those times when you should have been having fun, enjoying life, and growing from those experiences.

You had a passion for justice even as a child. I remember when you were 4 and refused to eat supper until I had actually written the check for Save the Children. You were the watchdog in your kindergarten classroom after you felt your teacher was wrong to rip up a child's painting in front of the class in her effort to teach them to write their names on their papers. On that day you spoke truth to power so eloquently as you confronted your teacher after school.

As soon as you came out to us, you wanted to start a gay/straight alliance at your high school. We worried for your safety, but even more for the isolation it might have brought as you worked to make it happen. You reached out to students, teachers, and the administration and created your school's first gay/straight alliance. When you were in college and heard that there were students being kicked out of colleges simply because they were gay, you founded the Soulforce Equality Ride to confront that terrible wrong.

Each of those times you taught me to take action and not be silent in the face of injustice. You have led me, and you have taught me throughout your life.

Maybe that is why it is so hard for me to face Christmas each year and not be able to wrap up the one gift I most want to give you. As a mother, it is such a part of my being to want to nurture and love my children. It is the mother in me that wants to protect and provide for you. It is the mother in me that is hurting so much when I am helpless in being able to give you the one gift I have wanted to give you since the day you told us you were gay.

I want to give you equality. I want to wrap it up in a beautiful box, and I want to put it under our tree right now. I want to see you open it on Christmas Eve and with great joy live with it all your days.

I love you,
Mama