By Aruna Desai
I remember the time when my son came out to me as gay.
I was familiar with the term ‘gay’, but I did not understand it completely. I poured out whatever I had in my mind in response to his coming out to me. I then went on to ask him whether this was something permanent. I wanted to know if there was absolutely no possibility of him being with a girl. However, while I had these questions, I was certain that I still loved my son just as much as before.
His coming out did not change anything for me in that sense. I pondered over it for a while and concluded—if he had told me about him being gay, something that is not accepted as normal in society, it meant that he trusted me and was confident that I would understand him. I could not break his trust. This prompted me to ask him more questions to grasp what he felt and what it meant to be gay.
My son was patient with me during this phase and also shared books and articles on the topic of homosexuality. I even researched over the internet about the same. Now when I look back, I realize the one thing that I did right was to accept my son and not slip into denial that a lot of other parents do.
A common question that a lot of parents ask their children when they come out—what if you are not able to find a life partner?
In my case, when my son came out to me, he already had a partner. So, the issue of not being taken care of in my old age did not bother me. But when he had his first break up, all those fears came rushing back to my heart. It took me some time but I was able to convince myself that I should trust him and have faith that he can take care of himself.
I had to accept that he can be happy and single at the same time and that I should be happy for him as well, regardless of whether he had a partner or not.
I completely acknowledge that as parents we have hopes and dreams for our children, and that is totally understandable. But at the same time, it is critical to remember that our children are their own person. We cannot put the burden of our expectations on them. They have their own hopes, dreams and desires. We must stand by to support them in achieving these.
Children from the LGBT+ community often have a hard time accepting themselves. So as parents, we should not make them feel worse in any way. We need to understand their internal struggle when they feel no one is on their side. We need to focus on being non-judgmental, rather than accusatory. I am not saying that this is an easy or a natural thing to do. But this is something we need to work towards—no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel, or how difficult it looks. We never left a stone unturned while nurturing our children despite all challenges and obstructions.
So, why give up now?