Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
July 13, 2012
How Do You Break Through The Conversation Wall?
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
Our son and two of his friends spent a week staying at our home. They live in different cities—Chicago, Cincinnati, New York—but each year they get together for a week in a city chosen by one of them on a rotating basis. This year it was San Francisco and to save lodging cost they stayed with us.
All three are professionals, all three are friendly and gregarious, and we have known them for what seems like forever. They are a Youth Counselor specializing in getting ‘at risk’ youth into college, an attorney specializing in domestic cases, and a Deputy Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What point are we trying to make? This point: one the great frustrations for us as parents is that when we tell friends that our son is gay, it becomes the thing that defines him. They don’t ask what he does, they don’t ask whether he is happy, or likes his job, or is successful. No, being gay stops further questions.
For those without LGBT children, knowledge about LGBT people often comes from the press and casual conversations during coffee breaks where opinions abound but facts are scarce. When they find themselves in a situation with or about an actually gay person, being gay is so out of the ordinary, so far away from the accepted norm, that it fills all the space surrounding the gay person and he has no other dimensions.
We want to scream: our son is normal, he is like his brother and sister and we want to brag about all three. He has many dimensions, he has dreams, he achieved success in his field, he worked hard for the success he enjoys, just like everybody else. His friends, too, have many dimensions and achievements and once you grasp that being gay is normal and move beyond this one dimension, you can get to know them and appreciate them for who they are. Then you either like them or you don’t, but not because they’re gay.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org