Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
December 3, 2010
The Start of Our Journey
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
Hello everyone. Welcome to our blog. We are Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta, parents of three children, one of whom is gay. We are allies writing under the API Family Pride banner. In this, our first blog, we would like to share with you how we came to find out that one of our two sons is gay.
It is April 1993. Lance is at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Belinda has been trying to get him on the phone for the last few days so he can help fill out financial aid paperwork for the next school year. Each time she calls, someone picks up the phone, says Lance is not there, promises to give him the message and have him call back. No, they don’t know where he is, or so they say. After three days of this, Belinda becomes apprehensive, why is he not returning calls? Is everything all right? Finally, on a Monday, Lance calls back.
Belinda: “Lance! I’ve been calling. You’re not answering! Where have you been?”
Lance: “I have been to Washington DC.”
Belinda: “What’s in DC?”
Lance: “I walked in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation March.”
Belinda: “Does that mean you’re gay?”
Belinda says that after that fateful “Yes,” she went into shock. The conversation lasted for about another fifteen minutes, but she can’t remember any of it, she was in a fog. She remembers that she did not know what “gay” really meant, she had no context for that word other than the one she remembers from childhood: to be gay is bad. Lance remembers the conversation differently. After he answered “Yes” to Belinda’s question, their conversation continued and for awhile Lance thought how cool it was that his being gay didn’t upset Mom. But then, about ten minutes later, Belinda repeated:
“Lance, are you gay?” To which Lance replied:
“Yes. I already said that ten minutes ago,” but now he knew something was wrong, Mom was not tracking their conversation.
Belinda called John at work and without preamble said:
“Lance is a homosexual.” John remembers his immediate reaction: annoyance. Lance is probably getting bad grades and he is setting this an excuse; he can’t concentrate on schoolwork, he is dealing with this personal issue. It’s a phase; he’ll get over it. When John came home that Monday though, Belinda was crying and over the next two years Belinda spontaneously broke into tears for no apparent reason. Having dinner at a restaurant, tears; dancing at New Year’s, tears; working in the garden, tears. But when finally the tears stopped, the action began. Belinda co-founded: PFLAG East Bay/Fremont, Committee To Assure Respect in Schools, and the Asian and Pacific Islander Family Pride, she is the director of the latter. She lectures, goes on radio, talks in front of television cameras, leads workshops and puts up exhibits in high schools and colleges. John was slower in understanding what it means to have a son who is gay, but when he retired, he went to work for Belinda.
That is how it began. Seventeen years hence and our journey isn’t over by any means. There is much to learn and much to do. And in future blogs we will share with you our milestones. We have learned that for many APIs it is difficult to come out to parents, but we know how difficult it is for parents to first accept and then respect their child’s sexuality when different from theirs. Belinda has coined the phrase: “When children come out of the closet, the parents go in.”
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org