My Daughter Is Gay… Are We Still Friends?
In May I came out as a parent of a gay child. My 19 year old daughter has openly admitted that she is gay and while I had a difficult time dealing and adjusting, at first I am to the point in my life and on this journey, that I accept her exactly for who she is and am proud of her for her ability to be so transparent. At times I wish I could be more open like her; she inspires me. A few days after I wrote about it, I received several emails or comments from people taking various stands on the issue. One person, an old friend from many years ago shared with me that her life is mirroring mine with her own daughter being gay. As I have shared my story with her and the many folks who read my blog posts, I am finding that society is not as accepting as we like to think it is. And that news such as this will often make or break a friendship.
I believe that the younger generation is accepting because it has always been a part of their lives. In a recent discussion with two younger female friends over the proverbial generation gap we concluded that people in my generation and earlier simply did not discuss sexuality, divorce or other social issues and therefore we were never allowed to explore, understand or accept. For those in their mid 30’s these issues became a bit more prevalent and for those younger (today’s generation) social differences are much more accepted. This is where we “older” folks have to decide whether we want to unlearn old thoughts and habits and re-learn new ones or miss out on great relationships because of our unwillingness to accept. My friend and I have chosen to be a positive force in our children’s lives, in spite of what others may think.
Sharing our stories with one another has been easy because we are both dealing with the same issues; and we are finding out rather quickly who our friends really are. We have come to realize that we, as parents, are somehow being blamed for this “catastrophe” when in fact we both have daughters who are bright, compassionate, level headed, mission minded, determined, faithful young women who happen to love differently than we do. Their lives are being lived purposefully and we believe both will make a tremendous mark on our world as a result of who they are. It is in fact no catastrophe at all. It’s just one small piece to our life’s puzzle. Unfortunately for our friends who are unable to accept this, they are losing out on a great friendship while she and I have reconnected and know that our lives are richer because of it.
As we continue on in this journey with our children, I suspect that we will continue to be met with adversity, questions and unkind remarks that will no doubt hurt us not because they are true, but because they hurt; and as parents we want to protect our children. However, for me, it is my own daughter who has helped me through the hurt. It is because of her strength and determination that I have been able to weed my friendship garden of those who choose not to bloom in friendship but rather attempt to choke out the beauty with unkind actions. I do not expect anyone to jump on my proverbial bandwagon and accept or agree with our situation, but I do expect those with whom I share my life to be understanding and respectful.
Agree with it or not, everyone is unique in their own way. Being tolerant of other people’s differences will encourage others to be tolerant of your differences. Stacey Charter wrote “There comes a time when you have to stand up and shout: This is me damn it! I look the way I look, think the way I think, feel the way I feel, love the way I love! I am a whole complex package. Take me... or leave me. Accept me - or walk away! Do not try to make me feel like less of a person, just because I don't fit your idea of who I should be and don't try to change me to fit your mold. If I need to change, I alone will make that decision.”
Think about this the next time you decide to judge someone because they are different than you; they might be looking at you and judging you because you are different from them. My daddy always said “when you point your finger at someone you will find that you have three more pointing back at yourself”.