The Parents' Corner

by Emily Rizzo
August 1996

Q. My parents say they are accepting and treat my lover as a member of the family, but my mom still says she wishes I were straight. What's going on here?

A. Let's give your mom the benefit of the doubt; after all, it sounds as if she's a very supportive, loving parent.

As one mom I know said, "I want my child to walk on velvet." In other words, parents want their children's lives to be trouble-free and often parents will see their child's homosexuality as a disadvantage. They fear their child will be subject to discrimination, harassment, AIDS and all sorts of obstacles. They may also worry that, since it unlikely that you will have children, you will be missing out on some of the joys in their life (namely raising you) and will have no one to care for you in your old age.

So, the short answer to your question is that, no, your mom isn't necessarily homophobic, she just may be doing what mothers do best: worrying about their children. But there's a longer answer as well.

While the majority of parents at a PFLAG meeting, even those who enthusiastically support their children and march in Pride Parades, will say they would have preferred having their child straight, there are a few of us who feel differently. We understand that part of what makes our child the wonderful special person he or she is (and any mother will tell you her child is special) is their homosexuality. That growing up gay can bestow a certain level of self-awareness and thoughtfulness that is less often found in straight people.

And there's also a selfish component: I'm glad my son is gay because otherwise I never would have gotten involved in PFLAG or met so many of the wonderful people I now call my friends. Parents who may never have considered themselves political or "joiners" can find themselves suddenly caught up in a cause for the first time. Just go to a PFLAG National Convention (the next one is in October in Washington, DC) if you want to meet some fanatics with fire in their eyes and love in their hearts and watch out, Jerry Falwell!

Finally, many parents of gay people come to realize that the very process of our child coming out to us has brought us closer to them. After all, what is coming out but an act of love and trust? As one mother said, "after my daughter came out to me as a lesbian, I realized there was no subject we could no longer talk about."

So cut your mom some slack and, better yet, try to talk to her and find out what's on her mind. Is she worried about you? Perhaps you can help her understand that today gay people can and do lead happy, full, productive, normal lives.

Emily Rizzo will answer your questions in The Parent's Corner each month. Due to the volume of mail, we cannot guarantee that every question will get a personal response. Responses will appear in the next monthly issue of Oasis. The confidentiality of respondents is guaranteed, and questions can be anonymous or identified by a first name, age and location. Emily can be reached at oasis-emily@oasismag.com.
©1996 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.