My mom and dad did something that few people ever do: They walked their talk. They cut ties with their longtime church because they realized that their gay grandson wasn't welcome there. And they set out to find a truly open and affirming church. I knew how hard this was for them.
Part of me gets it. Kids go through phases when it comes to what they like. But the Darren Criss thing? That one hasn't gone anywhere. And I get how unusual it is to see such a young child identifying as gay. But another part of me gets really tired of having this conversation.
My son Jason was 18 years old, and we were a mess, both crying and laughing as we sat in my office. I'd just written the dedication to my soon-to-be-published book Hot Target, in which I introduced and capital-O-outed Jason to my hundreds of thousands of readers around the world.
My middle son was tired, so he was nestled against my chest as I floated on my back. "Mom," he said, breaking the silence, "I want to be gay." This was unexpected. My middle son had never had boy crushes like my older kid, and last year he wanted to marry a female classmate.
Shortly after my wedding my parents were contacted by a writer. This writer, a woman, had seen my wedding announcement in The New York Times. Her letter explained that she was writing a book for the parents of gay children. She inquired as to whether mine might want to be involved.
The subtext -- the wondrous, beautiful subtext -- in that one small sentence can fill pages. The main message is: "Mom, I know who I am, and because I know who I am, I won't spend my life crashing around in despair, hurting myself and others, trying to be something that I can never be."
"Are you a gay parent?" asked the stranger. Without a second's thought, I responded, "Yes! My 8-year-old son is gay." It wasn't until later that I realized that that wasn't what he was asking. He was asking whether I am a gay person who has kids. But that experience made me think about another.
Although most farewell dinners are somewhat bittersweet, the parents gathered at the dinner last week couldn't have been happier about ending their regular monthly meetings. There simply was no further need for them, at least in this part of Connecticut.
His curly blond hair was long. He often traveled with a Barbie doll. And those telltale pink shorts were apparently code among the ignorant that I was a bad mother. Because if a boy wore pink back then it meant he was going to be gay.
While your child is still alive, don't worry about what your friends will think. Twenty years from now, your friends' opinions won't keep you up at night. But your remorse about not loving your child while you still had the chance will. Trust me on this.
I always assumed the years of hiding my truth from my dad didn't matter, that once I came out to him we'd have all the time in the world to reconcile our opposing viewpoints. Instead, closure was another thing we didn't get to share.
Here are some helpful hints for supporting your gay child before they ever come out to you. After all, parenting gay kids does not start when they come out. They've been gay since day one, whether you knew it or not.
We told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime condemned to being alone. So, just before his 18th birthday, Ryan, depressed, suicidal and disillusioned, made a new choice.