A mother’s viewpoint
by Leesa Myers
Jay was in his second year at University of Utah, living on campus. He was becoming more distant and I was scared as hell! I could not figure out what was going on. I remember one Sunday night in October, taking him back to his place and he saying to me that he did not feel like he was a part of the family, my heart tore in two. Jay and I always had a great relationship. I could not figure out what was so terrible that he would draw away from me.
About a month later, my husband Ken was out of town. It was a good opportunity to spend time with Jay. We made plans for dinner. I wanted to get to the bottom of what was wrong and try and fix it if I could.
As we were served dinner, I looked at Jay and could see how troubled he was; I was almost in tears when I asked him, “What is going on, why are you pulling away from the family?”
He said, “I decided that after I finished school, I would move out of Utah and not say anything, just leave.”
I looked at him and in a scared voice and almost in tears asked again, “What is going on?”
“Is that all?”
“I don’t think you understand.”
“I have been in the beauty industry for over 15 years, I know what ‘gay’ is! How long have you known?”
“Since I was around 8 years old.”
I felt so guilty to think how he felt, that even though we had a good relationship, Jay could not tell me he was gay. I knew I had totally baffled him. But there had been times I had thought he was gay. The usual stereotypical thoughts; he hates playing sports; he was fabulous at ballroom dancing; he is so tenderhearted and absolutely creative.
Then he would bring home a girl and, in my mind, I would say “whew” he is not gay. Because, as a mother I want to protect my children. I did not want my child to suffer and I knew my friends that are gay had been hurt and abused by others and by themselves. I did not want this for him.
I kidded with Jay for the rest of the evening, I told him when he got married, I would not be losing a son but gaining another. I asked Jay if I could tell his father and other immediate family; he was nervous but agreed. I also told him as a mother I needed to say these words. “You are in the highest risk group for AIDS and HIV and also suicide is highest among the gay community. Be careful.” As we came to the end of the evening I told Jay I wanted to keep an open dialogue with him, he agreed. It felt good to be open and see some peace in his eyes.
But, I could also see Jay wasn’t yet comfortable talking with me about being gay, and I had so many questions. I did not want to hurt him or make him withdraw from me. I had a dear gay friend that I knew I could call and he would give me guidance and answers to my questions as I supported my son on his path to being himself.
I would love to hear your story.
Positive Change Consultant