Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
April 15, 2011
A Coming-Out Story With a Happy Ending
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
An Unhappy Start
A dear friend sent us an email a couple of days ago. He came out to his parents and their reaction was the typical one; they thought being gay is a disease and can be cured. Our friend wrote that he felt miserable. We wish for ourselves talents of Nobel Prize caliber writers, then we could more easily express our frustration and sadness about this state of affairs that happens all too frequently, probably each time a son or daughter tells his or her parents that theirs is an alternative sexual orientation. And we could write how unnecessary the pain and misery are.
Habits and Beliefs That Could Make for a Bad Ending
Tight knit relationships are the norm in Asian families as is the tradition of self-reliance and keeping private matters, well, private. The misery experienced by our friend because of his parents’ reaction has its twin in the misery felt by his parents. We well remember the time when our son came out. What we knew about homosexuality wouldn’t fit a thimble and it was all pejorative. An avalanche of emotions cascaded down. There is the contradiction: all we had were homosexual caricatures, our son could not be any of those. There were recriminations: here he is being selfish again, only thinking of himself. Why is he hurting us this way? What have we done to deserve this? Then came the self-doubts: where did we make a mistake? Did I, as a father, treat my wife in such a way that he did not want to be like me? Did I, as a mother, cuddle him too much? There also was a selfish shame: what will our parents say? Our sisters and brothers? Our friends? And a great mystery: instead of the son become man, in front of us stood a total stranger. The emotions did not come in any order; they came all at once in a confusing and confused jumble. At that moment, there is nothing to stem the tide, nothing to hang on to, nothing to make it stop.
A Happy Ending
This story has a happy ending. Our friend’s father went to see a doctor to find out if being homosexual can be cured. The doctor said it couldn’t be cured. Our friend’s parents will now not only accept him for who he is, but will also welcome his long-term partner into the family and treat them as married. This is a very happy ending, indeed. The journey is not over, however. Having a child with an alternative sexual orientation is a revolutionary change in the way parents look at the world. Even when we learned that it is not a phase, not a disease, that he will not come to his senses, it still took awhile to fully comprehend that homosexuality is a normal healthy alternative sexual orientation. It also took awhile to realize that being gay is just a small part of who our son is. He is so much more and we still get irritated when friends refer to him as our gay son with the same single dimensionality they refer to his brother as the one who gave us a grandchild and to his sister as the photographer. Our children are so much more than those facile characterizations.
Tell Us Your Story
Our small non-profit exists to help keep families together when a member comes out of the closet. We collect stories such as these, even those where the outcome is not as happy. We collect them to craft a better way to help. What can you say to an anguished parent? What do you tell to a distraught child who so painstakingly planned his coming out strategy only to have the result be rejection? How do we pick up the pieces? If you have any stories or ideas, please let us know. How did your coming out go? How, as a parent, did you finally come to understand what at first was such a horrendous revelation?
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride – www.apifamilypride.org