When my husband and I were dating, he shared a childhood story with me that made me heart ache for him. He was in the 5th grade and his school was having a talent show. He was really into magic at the time so he decided to do a set of magic tricks. He had the costume, the gadgets needed, and a handy-dandy assistant to help. Everything was going well until he got to the grand finale. The trick was to pour a pitcher of liquid into a hat and then turn the hat over and place it on his head with the liquid magically “disappearing.”. He chose milk for the liquid in the pitcher so that it could be seen from a distance on stage. Little did he know that his assistant had previously fooled around with the hat breaking the device that kept the liquid from escaping. He proudly poured the milk into the hat…and you guessed it…put the hat on his head only to be instantly dripping in milk from head to toe. He was devastated AND totally embarrassed. I’m pretty sure tears were involved. I think at that point he wished he could make himself disappear. I can’t imagine how he must have felt and I just wish I could give that little 10-year-old boy a big hug.
Did you know that gay people are good at disappearing? Well…not really, but it seems that way. A phenomenon that happens to many parents of LGBTQ children is that our kids seem to no longer exist. You run into someone at the grocery store that you haven’t seen in a while and they ask you about all of your children except your gay child. They know how many children you have…they just don’t ask about the gay child or children. I hear this all the time from the parents that I speak with that have LGBTQ children. It’s happened to me as well. In fact, it happened just recently. A member of our church that heard me speak on a recent Sunday about having a gay son came into my office the other day. I have a bulletin board above my desk with pictures of my family…my husband, son, daughter, and my dog Lucy. This person stopped in for something and took notice of the bulletin board. They commented and asked questions about every picture on that board…except the picture of my son. They even mentioned my dog. Poof! Invisible.
I’m not sure what people think we as parents are going to say about our gay children if they were to ask. Maybe they skirt around the questions because they think we are ashamed? I’m not sure, but I can assure you that we are not ashamed. We are proud of our kids. And…we would tell you the same sort of things we say about our straight kids.
People who have known my son over the years have said things like this:
“He is a fine young man.”
“I really enjoyed spending time with him. He is a delight.”
“We just love him.”
“He is so funny!”
“Man he is smart.”
“He is a loyal friend.”
I could go on and on. It makes me a proud momma (smile). At the time these things were said, the people saying them did not know he is gay. For some people when they found out, it didn’t make a difference.
For others, their response when they found out was, “But he’s so nice.”
This is a common response when people find out you have a gay child. They can’t compute what they know of the person with this new information about them. I’ve heard it and I know many other parents who have heard the very same thing. I want to point out that the person hasn’t changed. They are the same person that you knew just moments ago.
I admit that I struggle with this when it happens. I have a sarcastic nature and my tongue can be sharp. I have to really watch my response when people insinuate that somehow my child being gay makes him a bad person. He is the same awesome person you just thought he was before you knew.
Please think before you speak or comment on something about a person…or a person’s child. And don’t make people feel invisible. They matter to God and they should matter to you. Love them…because love matters…and how we love matters even more.