Jason announces to his family that he’s gay. His sisters and his father tell him that it doesn’t make any difference, they love him regardless of whether he’s gay or straight or whatever. But what about his mother? Can she come to accept that her son is gay?
Jason stretched out on one side of Ron’s bed, and Ron sat cross-legged on the other side facing him.
“Okay, Jase, what are you going to do about your mom? I think you should talk to my mom and see what kind of advice she can give you.”
“I love your mom, but I don’t want to do that.”
Jason clasped his hands behind his head and closed his eyes for a few seconds.
“It’s embarrassing. How can I tell your mom that my mom’s homophobic and doesn’t accept that I’m gay?”
“Come on, Jase. You know my mom. You tell her and she’ll have lots of ideas. I’ll bet she’ll want to meet with your mom and talk to her.”
“Oh, god, that’s such a totally bad idea! My mom will blame you for me being gay. I don’t want her to do that and decide that I can’t see you anymore.”
“You should know that just talking to my mom doesn’t mean that she will talk to your mom. Besides, I’m positive that she wouldn’t say or do anything without your agreeing to it first. My mom is great. She’s one of the coordinators of the local PFLAG chapter, so she knows lots about how to talk to other parents and help them understand their kid who just came out. Like you, Jase.”
“What’s PFLAG stand for again? I can never remember it for some reason.”
“It’s Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.”
“I guess it’s the missing ‘F’ that screws me up. It should be PFFLAG. But then it wouldn’t be as easy to say. P-flag, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. P-flag, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. I think if I say it over and over a few times I’ll finally memorize it.”
“Jeez, for a smart guy you sure have some weird mental blocks, Jase.”
“Horse pucky! I just concentrate on remembering the important stuff.”
“Yeah, sure. Whatever, I think you need to talk to my mom. And there’s no time like the present. It’s early enough that she’s not getting dinner ready, so let’s go talk to her. Okay?”
“Come on, don’t procrastinate. Let’s do it. And I’ll leave you alone if you want to talk to her in private.”
“No! I want you to be there.”
“Then you’re ready to talk to her?”
Jason smiled. “Yeah, yeah! Jeez, you’re pushy sometimes, Ron. But that’s one of the reasons I love you.”
The boys hugged and Jason took a deep breath as he prepared to talk to Ron’s mother. Mrs. Cantham was sitting in the living room reading a book.
She looked up when her son and his best friend walked in and stood in front of her.
She saw that Jason was very nervous about something, and she guessed what it might be. She put her book down on the coffee table and smiled. She patted the sofa next to where she was sitting.
“Come and sit down and tell me all about it.”
Ron grinned because his mother always figured out what he wanted to talk about. It appeared that she was able to figure out what Jason wanted to talk about as well. He took Jason’s hand and guided his friend to the seat next to his mother.
“Let’s sit down, Jase.”
Jason sat down next to Ron’s mom, even more nervous than he’d been standing in front of her. He didn’t know what to say, so as usual he didn’t say anything.
“So, what’s the big problem you’d like to tell me about, Jason?”
Jason’s eyes opened wide. How did she know that he had a big problem? He felt Ron nudge him in his side.
“Tell her, Jase.”
He took a deep breath and started.
“Last weekend I told my family that I’m gay. My dad and my sisters were great. They said they supported me and that part went great. The problem is my mom. She didn’t take it so good. She’s been mostly ignoring me since then.” Jason started to tear up. “I don’t know what to do! I wish I’d never said anything.” Now his tears started to flow unimpeded.
Mrs. Cantham reached over and pulled Jason into a hug and let him cry himself out. He hadn’t cried about his mom’s reaction until now, and he realized that it was a release that he needed. When he calmed down she continued asking questions.
“Jason, you said your mom is mostly ignoring you. Do you mean she never talks to you?”
“She does, but only the things that she has to ask me, like what do I want for breakfast, did I do my homework, that sort of stuff. She never asks me to help her with anything and I used to help her all the time. She didn’t even ask me if I put the trash cans out on Tuesday nights like she always did before. I try to talk to her about normal stuff and she answers me with a couple of words then turns away and ignores me. Sometimes she gives me these looks like she’s disgusted with me.” The tears started again. “I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’ve lost my mom. I don’t think she loves me anymore.”
“Oh, Jason, I doubt that your mother doesn’t love you. I think she wasn’t prepared to learn that you’re gay. Has she asked you about what you said about being gay?”
“No. Not one word. I tried to ask her about it two or three times, but each time she said she wasn’t ready to talk about it, that she needs to think about it.”
“Can you think of a reason why she’s having such a hard time understanding that you’re gay?”
“She’s very religious. We’re Catholics.”
“I see. Has she or your father talked about the three of you going to family counseling?”
“Is your father supportive?”
“Yeah, he’s great. He talks to me every day when he comes home from work. He asks me how I’m feeling and how I’m doing with, you know, being gay.”
“Have you told any of your friends that you’re gay? Other than Ron, of course.”
“No. I’m worried about what they’d think, or if they’d out me at school. Ron thinks I’m being too paranoid but after the way Mom’s been acting I don’t want to get into a bad situation at school.”
“That’s probably a good, cautious approach. It’s better to sound out your friends first, find out what they think about gay kids before making that move. You’re still young and that means you have a lot of time to decide how and when to tell other people that you’re gay. Have you thought about joining the GSA at school?”
Jason looked at Ron, then back at Mrs. Cantham.
“I told Ron that I’d join if he joins too.”
“Ron? You told me that you were planning on joining the GSA. Why haven’t you done that?”
“I didn’t know any of the other kids who went to the one meeting I went to. They are all older, like juniors and seniors. I didn’t feel comfortable.”
“If Jason joins would you join with him?”
“I guess. Maybe. If the two of us could get one other guy who’s a freshman to join with us I’d feel a lot better about it. But I don’t know any other freshmen who are gay.”
“You don’t have to be gay to join the GSA. It’s the Gay Straight Alliance, not the Gays Only Alliance.”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to out ourselves even if it is a Gay Straight Alliance meeting,” Jason replied. “How can we trust people we don’t know?”
“Jason and Ron, no one who goes to a GSA meeting is supposed to tell whether they are gay or straight. That’s part of the rules of the GSA, you don’t tell your orientation or anything else about yourself that you don’t want to tell. I think you two should reconsider and go to the next GSA meeting. I know Mr. Brockton, the faculty advisor for the GSA chapter at Hillcrest. He’s a friend of Ron’s father, and I met him when he taught at Livingston. He’s very nice.” She thought for a few seconds, then continued. “I have a suggestion for the two of you. See him after school one day, and talk to him about the GSA and why you’re reluctant to join. He’ll understand and tell you what he thinks.”
That interested Jason. “I like that idea. Ron, will you come with me to meet with Mr. Brockton after school tomorrow?”
“Won’t we have to make an appointment with him?”
“I’ll talk to him tomorrow morning during third period. He’s the teacher for my Geometry class.”
“Okay, cool. Let me know during lunch if he can see us after school.”
“Jason,” Mrs. Cantham added, “what do you think about this? I’d like to sit down with your mother and talk to her about what it means to have a gay son, and about coming to the next PFLAG meeting where she can talk to other parents about what it was like to have a son or daughter come out to them. One of our leaders is Father Darcy from the Bishop’s office. He counsels Catholics who are gay, and if they are kids their parents as well. I think she will gain valuable insight from him.”
“But if you talk to her she’ll know that Ron’s gay and she won’t let me see him anymore.”
“That’s one of the things I want to talk to her about. And Jason, I can be very persuasive when I talk about how parents should relate to their gay child.”
“But Mom, what are we going to do if Jason’s mom won’t let him see me anymore?”
“Trust me, I know mothers. Jason, I think it’s important that I meet with her. It will help you and your mother and repair your relationship. I’ve done this before.”
“Yes, I’m a child psychologist, as you know. What does your mom do?”
“She transcribes textbooks into Braille for the Department of Education so blind kids can go to school.”
“That’s very interesting, Jason,” Mrs. Cantham replied. “I would like to talk to her about her work. Maybe that’s a way that you can get me together with her without having to mention anything about Ron being gay.”
“Mmmm... yeah, I think that I could do that. I’ll tell her that you asked what she does and that I told you translating textbooks into Braille for blind students and that you’re very interested in that because you work with kids and some are blind, and you’d like to get together and talk with her. How’s that sound?”
Mrs. Cantham grinned. “First, actually I am interested in the Braille translation she does. Second, I do work with children. Third, I do want to talk with her and I’ll think of a way to bring up how I work with gay and abused kids and I’m one of the local PFLAG chapter coordinators. I think she would tell me that you came out to them and she’d like to go to one of the PFLAG meetings. That should work.” She smiled, and most importantly she saw Jason smile as well. Because of her work with children she knew that participating in a bit of subterfuge always caught the interest of young teens, especially boys.
“Well, I’d better start dinner. Ron, did you two finish your homework?”
“We did our World History and English homework. I still have my Algebra 1 homework to do.”
“I have my Geometry homework to finish. I did about half of it in class,” Jason added.
“Alright, that’s good. It’s almost four-thirty, Jason. What time does your mother expect you to be home?”
“Usually at five o’clock. But I think I’ll leave now so I can tell her about you being interested in the Braille translation she does. It’s okay if she calls you at your home number tonight?”
“Yes, that’s fine. Any time after seven tonight would be best.”
“Okay, thanks.” Jason hugged Ron, then walked over to Mrs. Cantham and hugged her. “See you later.”
Ron walked Jason to the front door.
“It turned out to be a great idea to have my mom talk to your mom, didn’t it.”
“Yeah. I have to admit that you pushing me into your living room to talk to your mom was a great idea. Thanks. Uh, you don’t think it was weird to see me crying do you?”
“No, why would I? Jeez, Jase, this was the first time you let your emotions out about this whole thing, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“I think it was more than an ‘I guess’. Coming out to your folks is the most major thing you’ve ever done. I should know, I cried when I came out to my dad and my mom and they were both fine with me being gay. You’re fighting for your mom to accept you as gay. You’re having emotions you’ve never had before. I’m surprised that you didn’t cry before today. My mom says that when you have a major incident in your life crying is a good emotional outlet. So any time you feel that things are boxing you in you can come over and cry on my shoulder or on Mom’s shoulder. And neither of us will think it’s weird.”
“Ron, you’re the best friend I could ever have. I love you, man.”
“I love you to, Jase. Ron swatted Jason on his butt. “So go home and tell your mom that my mom told you that she’s interested in Braille. I’ll stop by in the morning and we’ll walk to school as usual. Oh, don’t forget to call me tonight and can tell me all about it. See ya.”
“I’ll call you after dinner. See ya.”
Jason didn’t know quite what to expect when he got home. His mom had been distant, saying only what was immediately necessary and then ignoring him. So when he walked in he received an unexpected surprise.
“Hi, Mom. I’m home.”
“Hi, Jase. Come into the kitchen, I have a little snack for you.”
‘Whoa, that’s different,’ he thought. He sat down to a plate with an apple cut in wedges with the seeds and core cut out. He took a bite, and a breath as well.
“Thanks for the apple. It’s crunchy and really good.”
Betty wanted to set a new tone. She now understood that her approach with Jason since his announcement had been a disaster. She sat across from him at the kitchen table.
“How was school?”
“Excellent. Ms. Grimbauer had one of her no-surprise surprise quizzes in Spanish 3. Everything else was same-as. I went to Ron’s house and we did our English and World History homework. I did most of my Geometry homework in class so I don’t have much left to do.”
“What about your other classes? Did you get much homework in those?”
“Nope. I did all my homework during class in my Spanish 3 and Creative Writing classes. Oh, for my Photography class we have an independent photo shoot this weekend. Mr. Hunter wants us to go downtown and take lots of pictures of everything and anything and on Monday begin working with them to put together a poster and have it ready on Friday.”
“That project sound like fun.”
Jason saw that his mother was smiling. ‘Oh my god,’ he thought, ‘I have my mom back!’
“Do you have a few minutes to chat?” Betty hoped that she wasn’t scaring her son.
Well, she had scared Jason with that question. It was the sort of question that would scare any teen of any gender regardless of their orientation. ‘Do you have a few minutes to chat?’ Those words screamed ‘Danger! Danger!’
“Uh... I guess.” Maybe Jason was scared, but he wasn’t freaked. Yet.
Betty smiled. To Jason it seemed genuine, the way his mom always smiled before. She reached across the table and took Jason’s hands in hers.
“I love you, Jase. I’ve thought about what you said the other day, and how I reacted to the words you said and to you. I want you to know that I love you unconditionally, and as Jen said, ‘gay or straight or whatever.’”
Betty couldn’t say anything else because Jason almost vaulted across the table as he rushed into her arms.
“I love you too, Mom.”
They hugged, and then separated. Jason sat down next to his mom. There was something he had to ask, and he knew it was the ultimate question.
“So, it’s okay that I’m gay?”
“Yes, it’s okay that you are gay.”
They hugged again, this time it was mutual. And for the second time today Jason had tears running down his cheeks.
“I’m so glad to have you back, Mom.”
“I’m glad to be back for you, Jase.”
Now he had to figure out how to get his mom to call Ron’s mother.
“Oh, I almost forgot. I was talking to Ron’s mom and she asked what you did. I told her about your Braille transcribing and she said she was very interested. She’s a child psychologist and sometimes she works with blind kids, and she was wondering if she could call you and maybe meet to talk about it. I could call and let her know it’s okay.”
Betty was very interested. She was always eager to talk about her Braille work, and it was wonderful that Ron’s mother seemed interested. She was also interested in finding out more about what Mrs. Cantham did as a child psychologist. That might help her come to terms with Jason’s orientation, and she might be able to give her information about how to tell if her son was gay or was just going through an adolescent experimentation phase.
“Why don’t you give me her name and phone number and I’ll call her after dinner.”
“Okay.” Jason got up and retrieved his backpack. He pulled out his cellphone and a pad of paper. He looked up the Cantham’s home phone number and wrote it and ‘Mrs. Cantham, call after 7:00’ and gave the sheet of paper to his mother.
“Do you know her first name?”
“I think it’s Tammy, but I’m not a hundred percent sure. I can call Ron and ask him.”
“No, that’s alright. I’ll find out when I call her tonight. Besides, she’s probably getting their dinner ready. And that reminds me, I need to get our dinner ready. Would you set the table?”
Jason smiled. Everything was going so well. “Sure.”
“By the way, your dad won’t be home for dinner tonight. He’s at a meeting in Davis and will be home around ten-thirty. He told me they are serving sandwiches at the meeting.”
“Okay. Just the four of us then.”
Jason set the table, and he and his sisters and his mom ate dinner. It was like old times, where there was a lot of conversation including stories that Jason, Jenny, and Thea told about what happened at school. When the dishes were put in the dishwasher and the kitchen was cleaned, Jason and his sisters went upstairs to do their homework. Jenny and Thea stepped into Jason’s room.
“What’s with Mom?”
“Other than she’s back to her old self? Well, do you believe she’s okay with me being gay?”
“Nope. I don’t know why the change, but it sure seems real to me. There’s another thing that’s happening. Thea, shut my door, okay?”
Thea shut the door, and Jason told them about Ron’s mom and how she is a coordinator for the local chapter of PFLAG, and how he conspired to get their mom to phone Ron’s mom supposedly because of Braille transcription, but really so they could meet and Ron’s mom could tell their mom about PFLAG and get her to go to one of the meetings.
“And,” Jason concluded with a smile, “Mom’s calling Ron’s mom tonight.”
Jenny shook her head. “This is just too good to be true. There’s gotta be a glitch somewhere.”
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