Ten years into a happy marriage, Pamela Morris’ husband told her he was gay. Years later her son came out. She worked through her own emotions in order to love and support them both.
It was my son’s second year of college when he broke the news. It wasn’t really that surprising, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a period of adjustment. I know it was probably ten times more difficult for him than it was for me, but as his mother I felt there was no other choice than to embrace his bravery and to love him all the more deeply for facing a fear it took his father close to forty years to stand up to.
My son and his father, my ex-husband, are both openly gay.
We were ten years into a very happy marriage when my then-husband and I had ‘the talk’. Maybe I should have been angry, but I didn’t feel mad, not at first. I felt relieved. It explained so much about the way things were going in the relationship. It wasn’t me. No, really, it wasn’t! As the reality of the situation sank in, so, too did levels of sadness, betrayal, and eventually anger and maybe a touch of hatred. The hatred, however, was never directed at the father of my children. My true hatred was aimed at society.
What sort of world did I live in where a wonderful, loving, tender-hearted man felt he had to hide from his family and all his friends the fact that he was sexually attracted to men instead of women? What society would have him seek out his wish to have a ‘normal’ life with a wife and children at the cost of forcing him to deny who and what he knew he was to the contrary? How dare the world tell him who it was alright to love and who he was forbidden to be attracted to! How dare the world put me in this situation with my happily-ever-after dreams shattered to pieces!
For a few years we tried to make it work. We still loved each other. We were still best friends. In fact, the whole thing made us even better friends than before. We also had two children to raise. Their happiness was more important than what went on, or didn’t go on, behind bedroom doors. Eventually, we separated, but even then, we had agreed that his homosexuality would remain our secret. The news of our separation shocked our family and friends.
During our separation, when my son was around thirteen or fourteen, he and his sister and I were watching some sort of documentary about being gay. At one point during a commercial break, my son reassured me, “Don’t worry, Mom. I’m not gay.” I found this a rather odd thing for him to declare, but now I think maybe he was trying to get my reaction. I’m happy to report my response was, “I don’t care if you are or not. You’re my son and I’ll love you no matter who you are.”
Fast forward about five years. By then, my ex had come out to his family, friends and co-workers. All of whom, I might add, seemed unphased. The funniest reply that I know of had to have come from our daughter when she asked me point blank if her dad was gay. I told her yes. She thought about it for about a minute then said, “That explains a lot, like why his house looks like it was decorated by a little old lady.”
One night, as I was sitting at my computer, my son logged in from his college dorm room. Though he called once a week, he was a good kid like that, we still sometimes chatted online. Soon I saw the familiar, “Hey, Mom!” greeting. We exchanged a few goofy remarks then came the bombshell, okay, maybe it was more like a small firecracker, but still. His lead in was something like, “I just wanted to tell you that this apple didn’t fall too far from the tree.” Then he told me he was gay. I sent him a smiley face and told him I loved him and how proud I was of him no matter what and all I ever wanted for him and his sister was for them to be happy.
It took him a couple more years to come out completely. You can’t get too much more public than posting it on Facebook, can you?! Again, the reaction from his family and friends was nothing but supportive. If there was any negative feedback, I never saw or heard a word of it. In that moment, it struck me how fortunate my son was compared to his dad. He could seek the relationship he wanted without the cloak and dagger his father had had to employ.
My son was always a good student. He was in Junior Honor Society, Honor Society, and Technical Honor Society and received the Superintendent’s Award on graduation from high school. When his father moved out, my son took over as man of the house with a dedication and pride above and beyond his fourteen years. In college he was on the Dean’s List. He wasted no time getting a job pertinent to his newly acquired Associate’s Degree. The kid makes more per hour than his mom does now and pays his loans and bills on time. He not only helps me with anything I ask, but he helps out his father, his sister and his grandmother.
This whole series of events took place over the course of close to ten years. Yes, it was stressful. Yes, there were times when I felt incredibly alone and confused. I didn’t have a lot of people to talk to and no official support group. I had a couple of very close friends I spoke to about the situation. One of them had known my ex from high school, but beyond that I turned to my lifelong method of coping and that has always been writing.
I’ve kept a journal since I was about ten and it really has been a tried and true therapist over the years. Writing out every single emotion I was going through has never failed to help me see any situation in a better, brighter light. Our mutual friends, mutual co-workers (Yes, we even worked in the same place during all this. Thank God, it was a very liberal and open-minded place.) and our families have all been beyond supportive and encouraging. I guess we really lucked out in that department.
There is far more to being a good person than sexual orientation. Parents, embrace your children, love them regardless of their dreams and regardless of who they are destined to love. Being a gay man doesn’t mean you can’t be a construction worker or auto mechanic or any other ‘manly’ occupation any more than being a woman means you can’t be those things. Teach your kids to love unconditionally and they will learn to do the same. Being gay has not changed who my son is in my eyes. He always was a good kid and now, I’m very happy and to say he’s turned into one hell of a good man, just like his dad.
Photo: Flickr/Rachel Kramer