Thursday, January 13, 2011

Interview With a Gay

There has been a lot of crime against the gay community in the last year that has received a lot of media attention. Hate crimes, bullying, and suicide have been splashed across the headlines.  As mothers I think it's important for us to teach our children how to be tolerant.  I think it's important for us to be tolerant and accepting as well so that we live as an example.  I'm also fascinated to see how another person lives their life, especially when it's a life that's so different from mine.

James and I went to grammar school together from kindergarten to eighth grade.  We also lived right around the corner from each other.  I also may have turned him gay.  So I decided to give a little insight into the life of an openly gay man so that maybe, in this small corner of the world that I call my own, I can bring to light some awareness.  I'd like to think that if Isabella were to be gay that I would be as loving and supportive to her as I always am.

1.  When did you first know that you were gay? 

 Young!  Maybe 7 or 8? However, It wasn't something that took shape sexually or had any kind of impact on me until i was about 15 years old. Looking back I'd say I knew I liked boys at 7, but had absolutely no understanding of it until puberty hit. 
2.  How did you come out to your parents?  What was their reaction?

Growing up in a a strict Roman Catholic household you'd think the reaction would be horrendous, but it was anything but that.  I told my mom first when I was 16.  The words "I'm gay" couldn't even leave my mouth back then.  All I was able to muster up was that "I'm like cousin Andrew," which was followed by shaking and intense sobbing.  I think I cried cause i though my life was over for saying it.  Thank God I have a mother who loves me unconditionally.  She hugged me and told me she loved me and that she just wants for me to be happy.  I instantly turned into Whitney in Waiting to Exhale and let out a deep breath. ;-)
My Dad I told in a conversation because I was unsure how that'd go.  I felt like I was telling my dad I had a cold or the weather was bad out today because his response went something like the following:  "Dad, I'm gay."  "Oh...ok."  It never became an issue and it was never taboo to discuss with him.  He was always very supportive and proud of me.  I really couldn't have been blessed with 2 better parents.
3.  How did you prepare to come out to your family and friends?

  By the time I told my family, it didn't seem to matter what others thought anymore.  I still had the notion in my head that people wouldn't accept me if I was gay and I guess that was my guard up.  I told all of my friends in an email. and basically said "if you had any questions or comments about this, then you can call me 718-XXX-XXXX.  If you have a problem with it, then don't call me ever.   I sent it to everyone I was friends with.  Some didn't like it, but those people didn't matter.  Those are the same people that referred to me as a "faggot"

4.  What advice do you have for parents who suspect their child is gay? 

 I'd say to them, you might be right.  My mom said she knew.  Mom's know everything.  Would you love your kid less if they were born with 12 toes?  Let them develop and grow into the person they are.  I think the best a parent can do is guide instead of lead. This way your kid can grow up to be their own person.  '

5.  What should a parent do/not do if their child does come out to them?

 I guess the ideal response would be how my mom handled the situation.  However, this isn't an ideal world, so  some stuff you shouldn't a priest, call a doctor, generally freak out, post it in the newspaper or on facebook, etc.
6.  Have you felt any sort of prejudice or "bullying" because of your sexual orientation? 

Not to the extent where I couldn't defend myself.  It happens though.  I see how ugly people can be.  I remember a kid in highschool who was "out."  He was very flamboyant and wore the really tight clothing and had the mannerisms of your stereotypical gay person.  That kid had the balls to be himself at such a young age and you can't fault him.  Everyday I saw him though someone in the vicinity was talking bad about him.  Once in awhile you'd hear someone call him a "faggot," but it was almost like he couldn't hear them.  He never acknowledged them and just did his thing.  You have to respect that.  Most adults don't have courage like that. 

7.  What advice do you have to give to people who are bullied for being gay?

 Tell somebody.  Anybody because it won't go away.  I'd confide in a teacher or if you are "out", your parents.  
8.  How do you feel about the surge of media attention focusing on gay hate crimes?

 I think it's great.  Media brings exposure.  Gay hate crimes and bullying have been going on for a very long time.  It's nice to see someone acknowledge the elephant in the room.  However, it is at some cost.  The fact that these kids didn't feel they had anyone to talk to who died really does make a person sad.  I remember what it's like to feel that lonely.  Looking back at question #5, I'd have to say be there for your kids.  Don't contribute hate to a household.  If they see you have a bias or prejudice towards people they will probably be less inclined to be open with you.  Think about it.  If someone is using the N word when referring to black people all the time or calling gay people faggots, would you open up to them? 

9.  How can we help?

These questions are hard lol.  I think with an open mind and an open heart parents will be ok and so will their children.  Life isn't easy.  But if you love your child unconditionally, faults and all, then you will be just fine.  The key word is unconditionally.  You made this person.  You love them no matter what.  If your kid ends up coming out to you, just remember this....   if you have an issue with it, then who really is the one with a problem?
10.  This one is important, one year for my birthday you gave me a name bracelet at my birthday party, you told me you liked me and I still wasn't sold on the notion of "boys" yet.  Did I turn you gay? ;)

Of course you did!  I totally forgot about that.  I think I tried to buy off Nichole  and Tina too. HAHA.  I honestly did feel a like for girls, but it was never in the capacity of wanting to have sex with them.  I just wanted to hang out and maybe do their hair. lol  It was never sexual and that wasn't something that hit me until I was older.

James currently lives in Maine with his partner Nick.  I'm so glad that he was willing to do this interview for me.
If you have any questions or comments for James you can e-mail them to me and I'll forward the messages to him or you can leave them in the comments section.    

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Emily said...

I think it's great of you to do this interview and great that your friend was willing to participate! Thank you for sharing!

The Griffiths said...

Thank you for posting this! I grew up in a strict Christian household with very little tolerance for stuff that was out of the ordinary. (I mean, my dad told me he would disown me if I married a black man.) I never had any tolerance for the opposite sexual orientation, but after meeting my husband's boss and his partner, I have totally changed my world view. They are two of the nicest people and we love them! I wish I could help open the eyes of other friends I grew up with, but you can't push that belief onto other people. Well done for drawing our attention to this very serious issue!

mrs.g said...

I also grew up in a very strict, Baptist househould where my parents turn scripture into what they want it to be and taught me not to tolerate anyone that wasn't like us. I pride myself on being different from their views, open, accepting, loving. Jesus said "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." John 15:12

Saucy B said...

I love that you posted this. Last fall when that student at Rutgers University committed suicide, I was absolutely aghast at the hateful comments i read under that story on Yahoo.
I've been a supporter of the gay community for a long time and all of my friends are as well. So, to see such hate toward gays so rampant was really saddening.

b. lee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
b. lee said...

what an amazing; courageous; IMPORTANT post for both u & James! may someday ... all will be loved & understood for being who they are; simply & lovely * *

Rachel said...

It seems we are both smashing stigma this week with our words.
Tell James I think he is incredibly brave to do such an honest interview. You are also brave for standing up and posting such a great post.
I appreciate you following my blog and your comment tonight was just what I needed to hear!

I Thought I Knew Mama said...

What an important and timely post! Thanks again for stopping by my blog! I'm signed up as your newest follower (SITS).

Brandy said...

Love this post and thank you to your friend for agreeing to be interviewed!

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