I've known for a long time, without ever having been told, that my older son is gay. I think any parent, at least any attentive parent who is not in denial, can sense these things in their children. Close listening and careful observation over a period of time can give a parent a pretty good idea of their offspring's preferences in any number of areas: theater or sports, adventure or security, rough and tumble or refined, Disney World or hiking the Appalachian Trail, and, yes heterosexual or same-sex love. In all of these areas, and especially the last one, I don't think the child is making a choice, but instead is learning who and what they are, who it is that they were born to be. And as the child learn these things they will be apparent to a loving parent as well - because we have to learn along with our children who they uniquely are in this world, and love them for whoever that is.
So when my son called out of the blue recently and said, "I don't know if you know this, but I am gay and I'm getting married", I didn't know which fact should make me happier - that he finally felt secure enough in my love for him that it was safe to tell me about his orientation, or that he has found someone that he loves so completely as to want to be married to him. I practically cried for joy on both counts, and I hope that whatever I said to him in response to his announcement conveyed the happiness and love that I felt for him at that moment.
The title that I chose for this piece was the headline on a Reflections column written by Susan Lebel Young for the Portland Press Herald. It appeared shortly after the call from my son, so you can imagine I read it with some interest. Ms. Young writes from the perspective of being the mother of a gay son but what she wants for her son is no different than what any parent wants for their child - read her final paragraphs reproduced here and tell me what part of it any parent would disagree with:
"...So when it comes to gay marriage, a mom knows that love is love, whether it's her daughter becoming engaged to Thomas, or her son crying over a break-up with Scott. Moms ache for fairness, crave stability for all children.We know that all of us share our common humanity more than our differences.
"When a mom hears the words "democratic society of equals," she feels the pain of the subordinated, dismissed,disenfranchised, pathologized and marginalized, especially if non-equality hurts her son whose homosexual brain structure and gay genetic code are his truth, like his inherited deep brown eyes and ruddy freckles, all genuine aspects of who he is.
"As we vote again on gay marriage, let's stop, take that smart and sacred pause, and tap into what is also hard-wired into our brains: the inborn instincts we have for compassion, empathy, justice and equal opportunity. I know I'm not alone; like most moms, my biggest fears and largest hopes are for my children, your children, and our children of this world which sorely needs our soft hearts, open minds and growing souls. I hope you want for my child what I want for yours."
If I could have said it better myself, I would have.