Marcia's Law: My Name Is Marcia and I Have a Gay Son

Marsha Prichason

My Name Is Marcia and I Have a Gay Son
By
Marcia Prichason

“Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? Sunrise, Sunset. Sunrise, Sunset. Seasons turn overnight to sunflowers, blossoming even as we gaze. Sunrise, Sunset. Sunrise, Sunset,”When did he turn gay?
-Fiddler on the Roof-

The clues were there all along. At two, he was painting his fingernails. At four, he was dancing in his own ballet. As a pre teen, his forays into sports were a disaster. In high school, he had girl “friends.” I wondered why his teachers looked uncomfortable during parent conferences; why people avoided him as a topic of conversation. They knew. I didn’t. He left a trail of bread crumbs that was so wide and so deep, anyone could see it…anyone but me.

I remember reading an article in Newsweek which discussed the characteristics of a gay teenager in hiding; he hit all the marks. Yet, I chose to deny it. I also denied phone calls from men I did not know, trips to places he didn’t want to reveal, and friends I never met. I forced him into a secret and yes, furtive life.
Why, you may well ask? Because I was terrified! I was afraid of what people would think, afraid he would be rejected, afraid he would be hurt. Mostly, I was afraid people would find out. It was irrational, debilitating, agonizing. But, I stayed in denial for a very long time. The “secret” tore at our relationship, put a strain on my marriage, and made life miserable. It seemed safer, somehow, to deny who he was than to deal with all of the issues, the conversations, the questions, the self analysis that would inevitably come from any openness. Is that crazy? Nah, it was just dumb.

It was a great relief when he finally announced, “mom, dad; I’m gay and this is my boyfriend.” Armed with this information, one would think I would do something…anything to help my son feel accepted and loved. Did I do that? Nah, I blew it again.

Does any of this sound familiar? It might if you are the parent of an LGBT individual. And, if you are an LGBT individual, it might help you to know that many parents face this kind of anguish as they grieve the child they thought they had and learn to love and accept the child they actually have.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross discusses the five stages of loss as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I may have spent a lot of time in denial, but I reveled in anger. I was angry at the world, angry at him, angry that this happened to me. I became depressed. I went back to being angry. I slipped back into denial, anger again, depression…gradually, in fits and starts, I clawed and crawled my way toward acceptance. I knew, through all of this, that the one thing that should not: could not happen was to lose my son. What helped? PFLAG helped. I talked to other parents, I met LGBT people, I read books, we discussed at home endlessly. I cried; I cried alone, I cried with my friends. I cried with my husband. I talked to my son. I talked and LISTENED some more. I finally felt I had reached a certain level of acceptance when I woke up from a bad dream in which my son announced that he actually was straight. “Oh shit,” I screamed out. “Now what do I do?” Life doesn’t give us do-overs; we just have to work toward a better tomorrow.

If you’re reading this and are the parent of someone who is LGBT, know you’re not alone. Also know, your son or daughter can grow up to be a healthy adult with your support…even if you make dumb mistakes. If you’re LGBT and your parents are accepting, make sure you let them know how much you appreciate that. They need to hear it; it’s a tough world to navigate as you raise a child, and there is definitely no manual out there. And, if you’re an LGBT individual who has lost a parent over this, try not to judge too harshly. Maybe your parents aren’t bad people; maybe the’re just bad parents.

It seems of particular consequence to be writing this as the debates, caucuses, and primaries spin around us, and we wonder what it all means to us and to our LGBT loved ones. I may not know the answers to the future, but I do know this: “Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? Sunrise, Sunset. Sunrise, Sunset. Seasons turn overnight to sunflowers, blossoming even as we gaze. Sunrise, Sunset. Sunrise, Sunset,”He was born this way!
-Fiddler on the Roof-

…And I’m just a mom who loves her son…

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2 comments on “Marcia's Law: My Name Is Marcia and I Have a Gay Son
  1. […] featured at The Qu and was re-posted here with permission. You can check out the original here and find out more information about Marcia and her column on their site. Share […]

  2. Robin says:

    Hi Marcia. So beautifully written. My son is also gay. We, in our core family knew it for years. Maybe even before he did. It was something that I did not want. Mainly because I knew of the hardships that it would bring for him. But it never changed the way I feel about him. The dreams that I have for him, or even the dreams that he has for himself. Like having a family including children. Out of 3 kids, 2 girls and a boy, he has always been the only one that wanted children. Even as a child. And this remains his dream. I am so happy to have PFLAG to help me learn not only about other families but also as a reference and to alert me to pending laws so that I can help fight for his rights. Did I do everything perfectly when he finally told me? No, of coarse not. I have only ever knew 1 openly gay person in my life. Now, I have one in my family. How could I know what he is feeling? How could I offer him hope of the life that wants so badly? I guess I did this by hugging him and being a fierce voice for him as he navigates both teachers and other kids while going through his teenage years still in a world that offers him limited acceptance. In this kind of a world, where he must live, we offer him unlimited acceptance of who he is and that he is perfectly whole, normal and very much wanted just as he is. I hope that he does accept our imperfections in knowing the ‘right’ things to do and say when our experience is so limited, as I know that we stumble sometimes. I think he does. I pray he does because he is my son. My only son. And I love him dearly and am so very very proud of how he navigates in his hostile world, continuing to hold his head up, picking himself up and going to school where he will be met with ridicule and harsh words, ever keeping his eye on his goal. Holding back harsh words to his attackers, choosing instead to ‘not stoop to their low level’. He is my hero and the most brave person that I have ever met as he continues to reach out to those that would wish him harm by his upbeat attitude and kind feelings that he offers to others which includes starting a GSA in this environment, offer hope to those who are still not out, and offering himself to those that just don’t understand, as a way to bridge the gap and open conversation about what it means to be gay. Helping to dispell myths and predjudices. Yes, he is very brave indeed.

    I have spoken words to him his whole life like, “you will be a good man”, “you will be an honorable man”, “you will be a good father” and I see him becoming these things. Even at 16, I see him becoming a wonderful person. One that tries so hard.

    Thanks for writing about this. For your honesty, about confronting your own fears. This was not easy for you, I am sure. But anyone can see, you did this out of love for your son and it shows.

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