I am a naturalized citizen from India. I have raised two boys as a single mother. When my younger son turned 18, he came out to me as gay. I was shocked, and deluded myself into thinking that he was just confused. I lectured him on love and marriage, encouraged him to see a psychologist. In about a month, he started dating a girl. I congratulated myself: The problem was solved.
Then he turned 25. He came out to me again. This time, I told him that such a lifestyle was morally wrong, but seemed acceptable here in this permissive Bay Area. He must certainly keep quiet about it in India, because that society was not tolerant, especially my mother. If she found out, she might just die of shock and shame.
For many years, I could not recall that coming out moment without tears rolling down my eyes. Was it my motherly love fearing that he was bound for a life of discrimination and hatred, with AIDS looming? Or perhaps there was guilt in my tears. May be I damaged him genetically or by bad parenting. That was not all. Part of me was just plain ashamed of him. I associated him in my mind with the worst caricature of gay men and judged being gay as a wrongful life. I could not override these feelings no matter how hard I tried.
Fortunately, my son, now in his mid-40s, never gave up on me. I am sure he sensed my struggle, guilt and shame. Even then, he has always been a good, loving son to me and I have loved him. It has taken over 20 years of education and rethinking to fully get over my feelings of guilt and shame.
Gradually, the tears have vanished. Now, after a long time, I can proudly say “My son is gay.” No matter how long it takes, it can never be too late.
With a perspective I am Kay Brown.
Kay Brown and her son founded a molecular biology software development company together. She is now retired and her son runs the company.