Rob Bourke

September 1998

Parents - Part 2

It has been a year since I told my parents that I am gay. I tell all about how I did that most monumental of all tasks gay people must eventually perform in May column. Please use the link for reference, this column is written assuming you know all about the column from May.

I have to say that I'm disappointed with my parents. They let me down. No, I wasn't disowned, disinherited, and told to leave and never come back. I have a least two gay friends (one who writes for Oasis too) who have suffered this experience and I really feel for them. It makes me just plain angry when I hear about people acting out their ignorance in such grand proportion on the their own flesh and blood. My parents didn't do this, but I suppose I'm a little angry with them for their reaction too.

The most important reason I told them I'm gay was to build a closer sense of family with them. I thought that if they knew more about who I am, it would create new lines of communication. It would give us more meaningful things to talk about than the weather. So far, it hasn't worked. I received a few tearful phone calls from my Mom the first week or two after telling them. That's it. Neither one of them have even acknowledged my orientation since then. Period. Many people might think that's great - they didn't make a big deal about it. I'm not satisfied.

I didn't tell them about my sexual orientation because I wanted it to be ignored. They certainly didn't ignore it when they thought I was straight. Then, they wanted me to meet the right girl and settle down to start a family and they weren't afraid to talk about their plans for me and their grandkids. They said they just wanted me to be happy, but I think what they really wanted was some sense of continuity in the passing of family tradition from one generation to the next. They wanted some assurance that even as they grew old their values and their genes would continue. It is my parent's perception that all that was dashed away last year.

They no longer talk about wanting me to find someone I'll be happy with. I feel like I've been deceived. My parents always said they loved me - they even said it again the night I told them I'm gay. It seems now that what they actually loved was some idea of an imaginary straight Rob and an imaginary future which he would bring about. Oh, they still love me in some way, but their disappointment shows more. Although I'm saddened and angered by my parents' response, I don't regret telling them about my same sex orientation. They needed to know. In fact, I think it might have been easier on them if I'd had the guts to tell them about it years ago. They would have had far less time to develop their incorrect assumptions about the future.

My first goal in telling them, bringing the family together, has failed so far. My second goal, achieving the freedom to meet and date other guys without worrying about my parents finding out was a great success. I no longer have to keep track of who knows and who doesn't. I don't have to stress over how word might get back to my parents. They already know! This little change has made my life far better. It was worth it. Now I am faced with a choice about my parents. Should I let them continue as they are, avoiding the truth they have known for a year, or should I begin to force the issue?

For us to have a good relationship they can't ignore my orientation. Even tolerance isn't enough; they must embrace my homosexuality the same way they embraced my assumed heterosexuality. They must ask me about dates, they must tell me about eligible men they've met, they must actively encourage me in my search for a male soulmate. Is it my responsibility to liberate my parents from the sickness of homophobia which they are suffering from? They chose to accept the absurd notions that homosexuality is immoral, unnatural, and revolting. Like any prejudice, these ideas make no sense. They are mean and destructive. Yet my loving, moral, parents can't seem to let go of these ideas no matter how patently illogical and callous they are.

It took all my mental reserves of strength just to tell them I'm gay. How can I be expected to do all the work in helping them past their prejudice? It's been a year, can't they outgrow it on their own? They raised me in an environment of arrogant moral superiority which caused me years of self-hatred. I managed to see beyond that to a more compassionate, loving, and human morality. My parents are intelligent enough to do it too, aren't they? The end result is that I see less of my parents now than I did before last year. I just don't have the stomach for it. I love my parents, and I honor them for the wonderful opportunities they've given me in the world. I just have a hard time liking them sometimes. Mom, Dad, I'm gay. Get over it already.


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