Who never wavered in his love and support for me from the second I told him I was gay; whose face dropped like an ashen landslide when he discovered I had become HIV-positive; who – a former high school rugby captain, national mid-distance runner, and player on our town's team, a man's man in many ways – has never faltered in defending his son's orientation even to his boss in a pretty conservative small town. He has been a rock for me on this question my adult life.
I remember a conversation long, long ago, when I was dating someone way out of my league, before I had come out to my folks. My boyfriend, who was older, Californian, and goddamn beautiful, said something to me that never left my consciousness, when I told him I hadn't yet told my folks: "Don't you deserve to have parents?" I said: "I do and they love me." He said "But how can they love you if you will not allow them to see all of you? If they do not know the part that loves another human being, how can they love the full you?"
I suddenly saw the closet was both a form of self-protection but also something that hurts and wounds a family. The closet denies your family and some of your closest friends the chance to embrace as well as disdain. It is a silent statement that you do not think they can rise to the occasion. In some cases, it can lead to disaster. But in more cases than you'd think, it doesn't. In fact, it is that self-revelation that, in my view, is almost entirely responsible for the shift in attitudes toward gay equality and integration. This was a grass roots development that the center had to adjust to; not a crazy idea foisted upon a world unready for it. Watch the honest video above and see how ready many can be.
It's a risk. Integrity is always a social risk. But you only have one life. Why not tell the truth and be set free? Why not give your own parents the chance to love all of you? When you make yourself that vulnerable, there is a kind of freedom in it.
And a chance for grace.
(Video from Expedia.)