"But What I Answer to".
This is a quote From Whoopie Goldberg in her autobiography. the quote itself is attributed to being an African proverb. For me...It sums up my feelings on being out to the world and having the strength to be who I am without apologies. Its sentiment touches on the topic of this weeks episode of "Ask A Gay Family Episode 6 "What If"...
The questions Asked where essentially this:
1) How do we handle situations in which the kids come across Examples of Homophobia like, "That's so gay"? Also, Do we talk frankly with our kids about being gay and what that means in terms of accepting others different from you?
2) What would we do if the kids came out to us? (Oh Elizabeth! Its the big one!)
Both of these questions have a common theme...What does it mean, from our point of view, to be gay and how do we translate our understanding of that to our children. I don't want to retell the content of the video here, so I will attempt to address the larger theme.
Human beings can handle being gay in so many different ways its astounding. Some people know from a VERY young age they are gay. I'm always amazed at that. I was still too interested in toys and cartoons to fathom my sexual identity then. Some of us realize we are gay but chose to fight it. That's a terrible battle that takes it toll on the person and on any family they create. Coming out AFTER you are married and have kids is a hard road not only for the gay person...but for their spouse and children as well. Some people chose to "pray the gay away" in various reparative therapy camps...don't even get me started on these. Some people marry and then have same sex encounters on the "down low". Some people avoid it by refusing to label themselves at all. And Still others chose to face up to it and attempt to build lives as "out" gay men and women.
My point here is not to place a judgment on anyone opting for a particular strategy but to point out the all the ways we accept and deal with a single realization..."I'm Gay"
For me the issue is one of who's opinion I really care about. When I was just coming out I had to deal with myself first...when I could look myself in the mirror and know that I was no different for being gay, then I could start considering others. The next hardest conversations I had were with my family and friends. When that was done I felt such a relief. A huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. After telling those in whom I was the most emotionally invested...I could care less what everyone else thought of me. I had come to accept myself. I had taken what I felt was a crucial step of honesty in coming out to my loved ones. No ones else's opinions weighed in on my internal dialogue after that.
Jays experiences are a little different from mine. Jay has not had alot of positive associations with his family. That doesn't mean that it was any easier for him though. Family is still family no matter how close they may be. After his father disowning him, His suicide attempt, and his experiences in the army...I think Jay has come by his acceptance the hard way. But once earned, it can never be let go again.
Bringing it back to the point of the video..These experiences of coming out, dealing with yourself, and building a life form the foundation for what you can someday give to your children in terms of guidance and acceptance. They will never be a perfect pool of experiences to draw from...but its what you make of them that counts.
Daniel and Selena are very different people and as they get older they show that more and more. Daniel being the Leo that he is...will usually be content to follow the pride. I have no doubt that he has run into odd comments already from some of the more giggly girls in his class. But he may chose to not let it bother him so he can have positive experiences with his friends. He also understands that people can be teased or looked down on for a host of reasons and that most of them have to do more with the teaser than the teasee. I have no doubt though, that one day that Lion will roar. I will do my best to help him do it in a positive way. For now though..I'm content with his tiny "mews".
Selena being Aquarius loves a good argument. One fine first grade day some kid will make a crack about having two dads and instantly wish he hadn't as Selena gets out her briefcase case and tries him in first grade court. Selena already shows an ability to use peoples words against them and an aptitude for the "cyclical argument". Oh, the joys of things to come...*sigh*
The astrology angle is told mainly in jest but there is a good point in there. We as parents need to give our kids love, guidance, honest information, and support to use it. But after that they have there own tools to bring to the table.
Now..As for coming out...That's a little different. Its one thing when your parents are gay, its quite another when you are. If Daniel and/or Selena come to that realization they will have one thing that most of us did not. A family that will accept them without judgment. I'm not saying that Jay and I may not grieve a bit. We have our own dreams and hopes for their lives too, as any parent does. But they will never have to worry about the possibility of losing our love because of it. They will never have to fear violence from us or being kicked out into the streets or disowned. They will not have to hide their lives or loves from us in fear of our reactions.
I do believe though, that they will still have to go through all the same steps of self acceptance and coming out that we all have to take. It just comes with the territory. Its part of earning the right to look others in the eye and speak with honesty about your life. I cant spare them that. But I can give them the benefits of my journey no matter what orientation they are. Maybe in accepting themselves gay or straight, they will become more comfortable in having two dads. But no matter what, I will be there to guide them on the path and show them where the rocks are.