Mothers are that one person in our lives who will love us no matter how much we screw up. When our friends turn their backs on us, when our love interests are angry at us, or even when we are having a really bad hair day, mom still loves us (and thinks our wreck of a haircut looks great).
Some of us are lucky enough to be part of what I will call the “neo-traditional” American family; a biological mom, a step-mom and maybe even a couple ex-step-moms (others may call this “dysfunctional”). There are others who have lost their dear mothers and retain some wonderful memories, while others never had the opportunity to meet their mother and were raised by other wonderful women, such as grandmothers, aunts, or family friends.
Of course, we have many lesbian families as well, where children have the privilege of being raised by two mommies. Whatever the situation, I salute all mothers out there!
Being gay, many of us have special, unique, or challenging relationships with our mothers. Some of my friends have totally accepting moms, who go so far as to party at Urban Mo’s with their sons. That is absolutely incredible, although I don’t know if I could take my mother to Urban Mo’s or any gay bar. I’m certain she would enjoy it and would probably want to go, but something about being told how sexy my ass looks in my tight jeans with my mother standing next to me seems a bit awkward.
Then there are the fabulous PFLAG type moms. These are the mothers who will be right out there marching in the Pride Parade with a sign proclaiming “I love my gay son” or who are front and center at a repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell rally. They don’t care what their friends or others think about them and fight for the LGBT community out of a sheer love for their child. And there are also our friends who have mothers who truly love them but just can’t wrap their heads around the fact that their child is gay.
Some people don’t have it as easy as others when they come out and deal with rejection, hurt feelings, and a lot of family strife. I am certain that the love is always there, it is just that our society has people believing that the “normal” right way is not our lifestyle.
Mothers have certain dreams and expectations for their children and the revelation of the child being gay can shatter those dreams (little does the mother know that their gay child will only make life more exciting and fabulous).
My mother is the most amazing mom in the world (and I know everyone says that about their mom, but mine really is). However, I have written about her before in other publications, so I thought that this year I would share a little bit about Ricky’s mother, since she is pretty close to me now.
When Ricky graduated from college two years ago, I threw him a big graduation party at my house. Most of his family came down from Northern California for the event and what I did not know at the time was that Ricky’s coming out experience wasn’t as positive as mine (I think my family knew that I was gay the minute I popped out of the womb ... I was born at a hospital in Hillcrest, after all).
Ricky had left his family to finish college at San Diego State (where we met) and when he left, was told that he was no longer accepted by his family because of his lifestyle “choice.” This was hard for him, but he had to get away to make his own life.
So it was a huge risk for him to invite his family into my home and meet my super gay self.
During the party, I noticed Ricky and his mom sitting in a corner for over an hour having what seemed to be a very serious talk. What I didn’t realize was that this was the first time they had even mentioned Ricky’s gayness since he had come out years prior. While things weren’t completely mended during this interaction, things were put out in the open and the healing had begun.
Later that year, I invited myself up to Ricky’s family’s house in Northern California for Christmas. I wanted to spend Christmas with his family and see where Ricky came from (it’s a fairly small town and to this day, he wonders why I would be even remotely interested in visiting it).
Again, little did I know what a big deal this was for Ricky. He arrived on December 23rd and I didn’t come up until the 26th. He was scared to death of my arrival – I’m fairly talkative, very direct and not the straightest looking boy on the boat. I’m so proud of him for taking the risk and letting me come to his home.
His mother took a liking to me and when I returned for Christmas 2009, Ricky and I were allowed to sleep in the same bedroom (although he slept on the bed and I slept on the futon next to it); I was showered with gifts and welcomed completely. In fact, I believe I was sort of expected to return for the second Christmas.
It is these types of experiences that I hope will give other gay people who don’t have the best relationships with their moms hope. Mothers have unconditional love for their children, and finding out a child is gay can be a life changing experience for them, as much as it is for the person coming out.
It can be a long, hard process, but know that they love you. Keep trying, stay in touch with your mothers, make the effort on your part, and hope that they will come around. Mothers are worth it!
Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of our mothers!
Ben Cartwright is SDGLN's Higher Education & Nonprofit Liaison and has been a campus and community activist in San Diego for over 10-years. His community involvement began as a student at SDSU and from there he launched into a number of other community activities. He has written for a number of local publications including Update, Hillquest, and GLT. Cartwright won the Lambda Archive's 2007 "Community Hero Award"; 2008 Nicky Award for "Outstanding Community Activist"; and a 2009 Nicky Award for "Outstanding Writer/Columnist".