Author: Tsara Shelton
Published: Saturday 16th May 2020
Summary: Tsara Shelton, author of Spinning in Circles and Learning From Myself, writes regarding her reaction when her son comes out as being gay.
Back in 2014 my son, who was still in high school at the time, took a deep breath and nervously told his friends he was gay. Well, nervously posted it on Facebook. His plan, as he explained it to me later, was to post it and gage reactions, ready to say he had been hacked and it wasn't true if he didn't feel he could face the reaction.
When he told me about it I was impressed, surprised, and uncomfortable about the need for him to "dip his toe in the water" as he put it, instead of just be who he is knowing that who he is was perfectly fine. But also I was confused about something.
"Why didn't you tell us first?" I wondered out loud. "We're your family, I'm surprised you didn't tell us first that you're gay."
"Oh, mom," he laughed, "I don't have to come out to you guys! You love me no matter what. It's not something I felt like I'd have to sit you down and tell you. I knew my friends would have to process it, and that some of them wouldn't be okay with it. I never worry about that with my family!"
Well. Huh. That's a pretty awesome reason!
But, and here I would like to stop writing and leave it at we are all an awesome family.
I did not behave awesome. I behaved okay.
At first, I just accepted it out loud while internally questioning.
Is he really gay? Or perhaps he is bi-sexual, clearly he has feelings for some of the boys, I've seen that, but he's had so many girlfriends. My goodness, he's had at least one girlfriend on the go since he was in kindergarten! And his freshman year in high school he had two. (He was not two timing, they were all in one threesome relationship.)
Then I started asking him. "Are you sure you're gay?"
"Yes." He'd say, easily.
"But all those girlfriends! Did something happen? Did it change, or are you maybe bisexual? Do you think it's a phase?"
I don't know why I felt the need to ask these questions in the way I asked them. I know part of me was worried that he'd paint himself into a corner by announcing "I am this" which is something I keep an eye on for myself and all my children, but there was clearly more to it. I was worried about him being gay in small town Texas. But I could have had these thoughts and concerns without questioning him. I could still ask questions, those are wonderful! But I wish I hadn't questioned him.
According to him he's always known he was gay but tried not to be. He tried to like his girlfriends, girls who chose him and insisted he go out with them, because he didn't think it was good to be gay. Around him he didn't see gay couples, none were in his favorite movies, his friends and brothers used the term as a punchline. So, sad and simply put, he tried not to be.
But he is gay.
And it is okay, it is fine, it is not at all something he should have to "come out" and say.
I was okay when he told me, but I was not awesome.
I hope others will be better than me.
I hope others will be awesome.
* * * * *
Tsara Shelton is the author of "Spinning in Circles and Learning From Myself" - a book that offers a unique and intimate narrative on parenting, autism, and growing up. Her website, Tsara Shelton's Autism Answers, offers a variety of musings, shared family stories, book reviews, and short fiction posts that are rarely specifically about autism or parenting. They are, however, almost always stories grown from the fertile and organic thinking soil that can be found where the two come together.
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