The Art of Love – One Son’s Story
I think I knew I was gay for sure around my junior or senior year of high school. I use the word “think” because I had doubts and I tried to tell myself something different for years. I kept it a secret and tried to deny it because I knew it wouldn’t be accepted by my family, friends, or even myself at that point in my life. It was difficult but I didn’t really blame my parents for me not being able to talk to them about this. We lived in what some people might know as the “bible belt” where things such as cussing and pre-marital sex were considered horrible sins. How could I ever talk to anyone about “this”, no one would be able to understand?
I graduated high school in 2005 barely dating one girl and ready to go off to college. I went to a private Christian university; thinking and hoping that being surrounded by a community of believers would help me grow out of this “stage” in my life and overcome my temptations. During my second semester I met someone who was homosexual. What was so appealing to me about him was that he in no way fit the stereo-type of being “gay.” I began to wonder if I could be like that too. I had no desire to be the way I had seen homosexuals portrayed by the media. When I met this guy he assumed I was gay and I let him assume that, and so, even though I didn’t say the words, he was the first person I ever came out to.
I came home for the summer that year, trying my best to not let any hint slip to my parents that I was gay and living it out. My mom, the private detective that she was, overheard some things that made her question me indirectly but I always tried my best to assure her I was leading the life she wanted me to live. It was difficult because I was close to my family and keeping the secret required me to be on guard, but I wasn’t ready to deal with telling them. I finally decided one day during my third semester that I was going to tell my parents that I was a homosexual. I can’t remember why I decided to do it on that particular day or what was exactly said. I only remember that the conversation didn’t go well and I ended it crying against the wall in my dorm room. Because of the stress and anxiety of everything I was going through I ended up doing poorly in some classes and moved back home later that semester. I was so upset by my parents’ reactions, especially my mom’s because she was so emotional, I decided it was best to give a little bit of “hope” by telling them I was confused and thought maybe being gay was wrong. Even though I knew deep inside I was okay with being gay and didn’t need to be “fixed” I agreed to go to a counselor. My parents also told me I wasn’t allowed to date guys while I was living at home. I followed that rule for about 3 months until I met someone who I felt an instant connection to. I met him through friends and we started to hang out more.
Things at home seemed to be getting worse rather than better. The fighting between my mom and I had gotten horrible. We had been best friends for 18 years and now I had discovered something about myself that she didn’t like or approve of and it was tearing our relationship apart. We were both in a lot of pain and at times I think we both wanted to give up. While I did try to have grace with her about this issue there were times when I got angry, yelled, and said things that I still regret to this day. Neither one of us knew how to help each other, but I believe that the genuine love we had for each other kept us from giving up on trying. I was determined to somehow stand my ground without losing my relationship with her.
About a month after I began dating my mom found out. Things went from horrible to disastrous, we fought louder and harder than we ever had before, but I finally told my mom that I would break up with him. I was so embarrassed about explaining this to him that I decided I wasn’t going to break up with him; I was just going to be more careful about my phone, computer, and car to make sure she didn’t find out again. About four months later I began to bring him around, but only as a “friend”. I was encouraged that my family was okay with having him in our home. My family grew to love him, which made me feel good but I knew I had to be careful since it was a risk bringing him around as often as I did. I was afraid if my parents found out we were dating it might become a terrible and embarrassing situation. Right before our one year anniversary I decided I was going to talk to my parents about everything. I had already expressed to them that I was sure I wasn’t living a life of sin, that this wasn’t a choice, and that I could live a happy and successful life even if they didn’t believe so. I figured I might as well break the ice on all levels and talk to them about the dating situation. It wasn’t taken completely positively but it was handled a lot better than most of our past conversations. I could see that my mom wasn’t necessarily accepting me being gay, but I could tell she was beginning to trust me again. She was embracing me, Nick, as a person again, not as a homosexual. We were making progress.
I am not sure what got my mom into researching her faith as close as she did but I believe it was a blessing. She began to ask questions and have conversations with a more open mind. She started admitting that there was a possibility that she could be wrong about some things she believed. It’s not to say her ideas and thoughts immediately changed but I could see the Holy Spirit working in her. I would listen to her and answer any questions she asked me but I tried to let her find her own answers. I prayed and continue to pray about this. I tried to be gracious and loving and when I failed I tried to admit it and ask for forgiveness. I was determined to stand my ground and at the same time fight for our relationship. It was messy at times but in the end it turned out beautiful. It was sort of like when someone is creating art – whether it is a painting, a play, a song or any piece of art – there is a point when it looks messy, like it will never all come together, as if the best idea might be to just give up on it. But the artist keeps on working. Some days he has brilliant ideas and seems to make a lot of progress, other days he is empty and discouraged. Eventually things start to come together and he discovers that what he has been working on is becoming something beautiful after all. I think of it as “the art of love.” That is how it was for my mom and me.
I believe, even though it was a big risk, bringing the love of my life, Christopher, into my family was something that helped our situation a lot. Letting my parents and Christopher get to know one another helped all of us make progress. I truly believe it helped break stereotypes my parents might have believed in. I also think it comforted them to see that I was growing up and starting a new chapter in my life with someone good, honest and loving – someone who loved the Lord just like I had been raised to do. I think it is more difficult to hold on to wrong ideas about something once it involves real people and real relationships.
I am more than happy to say that I have an amazing relationship with both of my parents today. I have just celebrated two years with Christopher and never expected, but am deeply touched and grateful, that he has indeed become a part of the family as quickly as he has. I am so glad that none of us gave up on working to create something beautiful out of the mess we found ourselves in.
I hope my story can help someone who may be struggling with parents who don’t accept or show grace towards this part of their life. I encourage everyone to show as much grace and love as you can. Remember how many years you struggled personally about your sexuality and that your parents need time to struggle with it. Remember that like art – life and love and relationships are often messy and difficult before they are formed into something beautiful.
And I want parents to know it breaks our hearts to know we are breaking yours. We love you with all of our hearts. Try to show us grace and listen to us. If you do decide to open up and listen, you may be surprised what you can learn from your own child.
“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.” –Joyce Maynard
My name is Nick and I am deeply in love with the Lord my God. I live in Dallas, Texas. I am currently in school and about to graduate with my Associates Degree in May. I love movies, books, music, and theatre; especially when I can share these passions with my family and the ones I love.