Dear Abby: lessons learned about embracing gay loved ones
It's never too late to learn that homophobia is a waste of time and energy and separates loved ones for reasons that seem absurd in hindsight. This elderly woman learned the hard way when her straight relatives turned her away after she was widowed, but the gay son (and partner) she ostracized turned the other cheek and took her in. She wrote to Dear Abby:
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I raised our two sons and two daughters. One son and both daughters married well. Our other son, “Neil,” is gay. He and his partner, “Ron,” have been together 15 years, but Neil's father and I never wanted to know Ron because we disapproved of their lifestyle.
When I was 74, my husband died, leaving me in ill health and nearly penniless. No longer able to live alone, I asked my married son and two daughters if I could “visit” each of them for four months a year. (I didn't want to burden any one family, and thought living out of a suitcase would be best for everyone.) All three turned me down. Feeling unwanted, I wanted to die.
When Neil and Ron heard what had happened, they invited me to move across country and live with them. They welcomed me into their home, and even removed a wall between two rooms so I'd have a bedroom with a private bath and sitting room — although we spend most of our time together.
They also include me in many of their plans. Since I moved in with them, I have traveled more than I have my whole life and seen places I only read about in books. They never mention the fact that they are supporting me, or that I ignored them in the past.
When old friends ask how it feels living with my gay son, I tell them I hope they're lucky enough to have one who will take them in one day. Please continue urging your readers to accept their children as they are. My only regret is that I wasted 15 years. — GRATEFUL MOM
DEAR GRATEFUL MOM: You are indeed fortunate to have such a loving, generous and forgiving son. Sexual orientation is not a measure of anyone's humanity or worth. Thank you for pointing out how important it is that people respect each other for who they are, not for what we would like them to be.
Look at the personal pain it took for that mother to learn the importance of loving someone as they are, and for the generous hearts of her son and his partner. Some may not have been so forgiving; this story is one that should be clipped and left for other parents unaccepting of their LGBT children. It's never too late to try to open their eyes.
Little did anyone know that there would be an emotional outpouring of letters to Dear Abby about other victories over intolerance and fear. A couple are after the jump.
From the September 18 column:
Dear Abby: I am writing to respond to “Grateful Mom,” the widow who, in her time of need, was invited by her son Neil and his partner to live with them despite having rejected Neil in the past because he is gay. I have a gay son, too, and I would not trade him for anyone. He is the most loving and caring son any parent could ever have. I consider myself very lucky.
When it was time for me to relocate, it was his partner who first approached me about moving across the state to be near them. My son helped me find a cute little house to buy. My two dogs and I are very happy.
I will not have grandchildren, but I do have grand-dogs and another wonderful son. I am blessed.
— Another Grateful Mom in Florida
Dear Another Mom: I am pleased that things are going so well for you. The responses to “Grateful Mom's” letter were heartwarming. They serve as a reminder that acceptance, love and recognition of the importance of family can triumph over intolerance and fear. Read on:
Dear Abby: I am the father of three boys, one of whom is gay. “Grateful Mom” had forgotten the most basic of things — that your child is a part of you, and we must love, support and participate in our children's lives. I love all my sons, and I am proud of them. I hope “Grateful” continues to enjoy her son and continues to share the lessons she is learning.
— Proud Dad in New Jersey
Dear Abby: My mom came out to me and my brother about five years ago. She had been with men her whole life, and while we were shocked, we understood we could react in one of two ways. We could either accept her and her girlfriend, “Daphne,” or disown her and have to explain to our children why they couldn't see their “nana.” We decided to accept my mother for who she is and welcome Daphne into the family.
It was one of the best choices my brother and I ever made. Daphne loves my kids and can't wait to see them (she lives in Australia) later this year. My kids call her “Nana Daph.” She is the best thing that ever happened to my mom, and I'm thankful she's in our lives. I'm happy that “Grateful Mom” learned to accept and appreciate her son and his partner exactly the way they are.
— Jennifer in Indianapolis
These stories are a great counterbalance to the hateful screeds of homophobia spewed by the professional bible beating orgs alleging to be “pro-family” — Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council and the rest. If anything they pervert the word family — it's shameful that these outfits claim to be the voice of moral values, when it is clear, time and again, that the unnatural focus on fomenting intolerance, particularly to raise money for these hate machines, is the antithesis of family.