Posted by: facetothewind | July 31, 2011

My Parents

My parents, who live in Naples, Florida (a/k/a the Belly of the Beast of conservatives) are dedicated PFLAG organizers. In fact, they started the Naples chapter of it and continue to do outreach, public speaking engagements, and host support groups for parents of gay/lesbian/trans kids. It’s a noble calling and I’m deeply touched and proud of them for their work. Here’s a picture of my little dynamo mom carrying the banner for the cause. (FYI, that’s not my dad on the right. See bottom photo.)

Email from my mother about how she and my dad spent their 4th of July…

Hi David!  

How did you spend the day?  Dad and I were in the city’s July 4th parade with a PFLAG contingent.  We were 18 and we had 2 convertibles we decorated with rainbow, as well as American, flags and stuff.  Dad rode in the car of our transgender member, Frances (M to F), and he sat next to Frances.  I rode in the other car belonging to Thom Croce (you met him at the Gay-la a couple of years ago but don’t know if you remember him; he’s an openly gay high school math teacher).  His mother sat next to him, and I sat on the top of the back seat waving a rainbow flag.  Dad and I had t-shirts made up for everyone to wear.  They were orchid colored and had the PFLAG logo on front, and the words “Family Voices For Equality” in big letters (navy blue) on the back.  I also wore a large pin that says “I’m a PFLAG Mom.” We got applause, thumbs up and cheers from quite a few people.  I didn’t hear any negative remarks, but Dad heard one and one of the other marchers heard one.  Not bad for Naples. A tall black man came up to the car I was in and put his hand out for me – I thought to shake, so I extended my hand to him, and he kissed it.  Very heartwarming!
I hope you had some fun today.


We loved your performance at the talent show on your blog.  It was beautiful.

Warm regards to all your friends.

Love,
Mom

* * *

A little postscript note: Last summer I had the opportunity to meet another set of parents of a gay kid. They were the not-so-proud parents of my then German boyfriend Sebastian. His mother pesters him to seek counseling from clergy and his father and brothers mostly just ignore the issue hoping it will go away. I sadly witness Sebastian doubting himself and shrinking in the face of that consternation, not sharing the joys of his true self, his love and his passions.

Last summer when I was in Germany, Sebby’s parents came to Leipzig with the intent to meet me, but the unspoken agenda was that they had come to meet the American who had corrupted their son and damaged their family name. I felt abused by their presence. His younger brother came to visit us and sat at the table visibly shaking with his unexpressed judgment. After we split up, Sebby told me that his father laughed at him when he told them he had to end the relationship and recently his mother asked him the question, “Now that David is gone, are you still gay?” Never did they appreciate the support and love that I provided their son to help him get through so many difficult times.

Sadly I know that Sebastian will never recover from that. Who in their right mind can ever emerge from their youth unaffected by their familial influence? He will forever bear those scars as so many wounded gay people do. And why in this day and age are there still families who are so behind as to not love their child unconditionally? Let my parents and all the families who volunteer with PFLAG be heralded as heroes as they work to piece together the broken families of those afflicted with hate.

And let me say thank you, Mom & Dad, for putting aside your own personal struggles, however great or small they have been, in service of loving your son just as he is. I will never know what it’s like to be pushed out, shut down or shrunken by a homophobic family. You will never know the far-reaching effects of your work and your message of compassion. You must simply have faith in knowing that it does reach beyond those who attend your meetings, those who watch with teary eyes as your banner goes slowly by in a parade, wishing that their own parents could have loved them as well.  You must know now that you leave the world a better place for this. And I am grateful beyond these few words.

That’s my mom on the left side holding the banner. My dad is in the back third from the right. (Thanks to Stephanie for the photos.)

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Responses

  1. David,
    I am glad to see you know how very lucky you are to have supportive parents. Please send them my very best wishes — and my wishes that my parents were a bit more like them! I can imagine that their initial response to your queerness was hard for them (and maybe for you). Bless them for not only coming to terms with your orientation but also openly supporting you and your gay sisters and brothers. They as well as we are family!
    Love,
    Gillian

  2. oh David, I am touched to tears..and am going to forward this to a friend whose son just came out. He knows they love him unconditionally, but of course it is the beginning of getting educated about how this is for a community, an individual, and all the relationship dynamics that happen around roles, identities and assumptions.
    I so appreciate your parents for their work, and for your words about your experiences…as you said, these thoughts, words and actions can go outward in ways we don’t suspect…
    sending love,
    january

  3. You are doubly blessed to have these great people as parents! They’re pretty lucky, too!


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