Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
November 2, 2012
Sometimes Acceptance Is Immediate, Sometimes It Takes Awhile
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
A Mother TellsHer Story.
The summer after he graduated high school, my son moved to Southern California. The idea was that during the summer he would look after his younger cousins while his aunt and uncle went on a trip. Come fall, he would enroll in college. He never did enroll, because he found a job he fell in love with, is still doing it, and now is nearly at the top of management.
He and I have a very good relationship and he phoned me often. And more and more in our conversations he talked about how different from everybody else he felt. I had known this from his youth, of course, but now there seemed to be a new urgency to his questions. The breakthrough insight came when during a stormy night with lighting and thunder one of two girls he was sharing an apartment with became frightened and came into his bedroom and huddled on his bed. “Mom,” he said, “I didn’t feel anything. I think I may be gay.” He was scared, confused and asked for advice. I told him to talk to a priest. He did. The priest told him that regardless how he felt, he was still God’s child.
That, too, is how I feel. He is my son, God gave him to me and he will always be my son. God did not make him bad, just different and why should I love him less for that?
Her son tells his story.
As long as I can remember I felt different. I didn’t know what it was, but I just felt off somehow. My father was a person who had specific ideas of what it means to be a man. I did not match any of his ideas. He loved sports, he umpired little league, and expected me to also love sports. I did not. I remember evenings sitting in my bedroom with my mother watching a show on a tiny TV, while downstairs my father and older brother watched their sports on the big screen.
Being a man means not being a sissy and my father often said to me that I was a sissy, a mama’s boy. I once overheard him saying to my mother that instead of one daughter, he actually had two. And it wasn’t just my father, my older brother, my aunts and uncles, all are (but maybe now hopefully were) homophobic and homophobic slurs are part of the vocabulary I grew up with.
When I was finally able to give a name to who I am and really understood what that means, I knew I had to come out to my family, aunties and uncles included. It didn’t go well, their reaction was as expected. For me, though, it was a great relief to finally know who I am, tell my family who I am, and tell the world and live openly as a gay man.
My father succumbed to the diseases that afflicted him during the last years of his life. I was with him constantly during the final weeks. It was the first time ever that we spent time so closely together and we forged a bond that had not existed before. The last time he went into the hospital he shared a room with a gay man. I don’t know what they talked about or what the man said, but when I visited him, my father and I totally reconciled. At the end of his life my father fully accepted and honored me.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org