"Do you have any advice for my mom, who isn't really okay with me being gay? I can tell that she wants to accept me, but she's been raised to be so against it that it's hard for her. Do you have any advice that I could show her? Thanks so much."
- Question submitted by Anonymous
Moms are so hard. #thatswhatshesaid… It’s like, you come out of their parts, you rip their skin open, you look like them, they try to raise you to be perfect. They teach you how to love, right from wrong, when to brush your teeth, how to pretend you like a really weird birthday present, how much money to save, how to ride a bike, what to say when you burp in public…really they teach you more than you are aware of. You don’t realize how much you appreciate, love and need them until you start to lose them. That’s when shit gets scary.
You can’t force your mom to be totally okay, especially in the beginning. It’s hard for anyone to erase everything they’ve ever known to be true. Here is what is great about this being your mom and not a random stranger. She loves you, unconditionally. She would literally give her life for you. To love someone unconditionally means to love them without question, no matter what happens, forever. She will love you no matter what. Give her some time. Don’t try to talk sense into her while she’s screaming bible verses from the other side of your door. Wait until she’s softly crying and watching reruns of Gilmore Girls.
Sit down next to her and tell her you haven’t changed. Tell her you are the same tiny human that popped out of her and you would never do anything to hurt her. Tell her it isn’t easy for you and all you want is support. She doesn’t have to accept the fact that you’re a total gaywad right away and you won’t make her meet your partner until she’s ready. Make sure she knows you are willing to wait for her, you are willing to talk to her, you are willing to help her understand in any way you can. It is a process for her, the same it was a process for you. ANDDDD it’s like, Jesus and God are ALL ABOUT LOVE. You just want her to love you.
In a situation like this it’s almost as if your roles are reversed. Usually it’s you scream-crying in a fit of rage for something you don’t understand, then an hour passes and it’s a little quieter. You’re just sort of whispering-sobbing ‘no one really loves me’ into your pillow, your mom walks upstairs and rubs your back and eventually it is all okay…This is like the grown-up version of that.
“Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.” – Proverbs 10:12
“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” – 1 John 4:19-20
I am going to write a letter to your Mom, okay? I think that Dannielle has perfectly described what this process can and might look like for you both, and I know that we have both been through it to a certain degree…so. Having been through it, this is the letter that I would’ve wanted to show my mom 13 years ago when I had first come out to her:
Your daughter loves you.
She loves you in the same all-consuming, chest-heaving, terrifying and beautiful way that you love her. That is, and always will be, the most important thing. Remember it, and repeat it to yourself when it is hard for you to get up off the couch in your confusion and despair.
I came out to my mom thirteen years ago. I was seventeen. My mom was raised in a very strict Catholic household, and has an unshakable faith. Part of that faith, up until thirteen years ago, was the belief that homosexuality was a sin. When I told my mom that I was gay, she wasn’t angry…she was so horribly terrified and heartbroken that her child was doing something that would result in her going to hell. She pleaded with me and she yelled and she cried and she was so angry and scared and confused. I fought with her viciously, and at the time I thought it was only because I couldn’t stand her ignorance. Now reflecting back on those fights, I know that they were fueled by the fact that I could see how much she loved me even through her pain, and it killed me to see her suffer so much because of who I was…something I could not change.
My mom and I fought for many, many months, and then we began to talk, and she began to help me understand her pain. I grew up more and was able to see that pain and speak back to it from a place of love, and slowly she began to ask about my life, and wanted to meet the girl who I was falling in love with. Things were shaky in the beginning, as they always are, but we have worked and worked to find a place where she can still have her faith while loving me and sharing in my life.
Your daughter loves you.
I cannot sit here and tell you that you are wrong, and that your belief system is incorrect, but what I can tell you is that most of the things that we hold so tightly to are uncertain…deep down I think we all know that on the day we die, we might actually walk up to pearly gates and see our grandparents waiting for us on the other side…or we might understand a feeling and presence that we couldn’t have imagined while we were living. We just don’t know. We can’t know. That is what is so beautiful and terrifying about this life.
You don’t have to throw away the things you hold to so tightly. You just have to loosen your grip a bit and open yourself to a dialogue with your daughter. You are going to have days where you see a lesbian couple on the street and you are overcome with anger and you burn dinner and you blame it on those stupid lesbians. You are also going to have days where you come across a picture of your daughter when she was seven and got into your makeup kit and covered her face with purple lipstick, and your love will burst through your lungs and stomach and eyes and you’ll cry because you know you just cannot ever let her go.
Be patient with yourself through this process, but also allow yourself to accept that this is a process. Life isn’t about always staying in one place, it is about having beliefs and finding those beliefs challenged, and thinking and wondering and questioning while, all the while, holding on to the few things that will always remain constant: the people who you love, and who love you back unconditionally.
Your daughter loves you.