Anthony invited me to a party and said, “Crystal Lewis is singing!” I didn’t really care who was singing or how fabulous it would be, but I did care about Anthony. He and his husband, Jamil, have consistently stood by me, checked on me for no reason, and have told me they loved me, expecting nothing in return.
Heading to the rooftop for the intimate performance, I was surprised by how touched I was that someone from my religious background was clearly a friend with the hosts. Something made her show up, and it wasn’t any monetary gain because I knew she was performing completely free of charge. Most people would say that if a singer is performing at a party hosted by a gay couple, it’s probably safe to say that singer is one who offers a heart of unconditional love. I would say that is what it looks like to come alongside any group that isn’t truly given the same freedoms and opportunities as the whole of society. Perhaps she did it for fun or for love and friendship. Regardless, in this moment on the rooftop, while her beautiful voice and charming stage presence was the focus for everyone else, I remembered driving and hearing my son, Cooper as a little boy saying, “Play Crystal Lewis, Mama. People Get Ready.” Memories flashed to 16 year-old Cooper coming out and how most of the worries I had at that moment, circled back to my faith. I thought of how often, I myself, as the mom of a gay son, felt shunned by Christians. How must LGBTQ people feel? I welled up with tears of gratitude, realizing that Crystal Lewis was risking something by being there and I assumed she knew that.
Through deep surprise and joy, I thought, “Maybe this life is getting better for all my new LGBTQ friends. Maybe one straight person at a time, we really are starting to think through our beliefs and behavior.” Having spent my life up to the age of 40 in conservative circles, it is really something to wake up one day, after your kid has come out, to realize most of the people who acted like you were special to them for years and years, no longer act like that is true. My son being gay, and my support for him, weakened people’s desire to be friends. Some who wanted to stay in our lives asked me to hide his sexuality from their kids, but I’d never hide any of my kids for any reason. I’m not complaining, just stating it isn’t easy to parent any kid – especially a gay kid or one who doesn’t measure up in society’s eyes for any reason.
I made many good decisions to change the dynamic in my friendships, but they weren’t painless. There’s no way I’d choose anyone for any reason over my kids. Nor would I change a thing about my embrace of my son, which led to a mutually satisfying connection of my own with the LGBTQ community. I do wish it hadn’t taken Cooper coming out for me to see clearly that I hadn’t been kind to everyone, but my friendship with many LGBTQ people reminded me that, above all else, we are all just people who deserve freedom and love.
If you don’t have a gay person in your life, it’s easy to forget these are our sons and daughters. They are our nieces and nephews. They are human beings we have cared for from the moment we knew they would be ours. They are NOT a political or theological debate. Except for the fact that they aren’t being given equality, they don’t need most of us. Yet, we can offer support that increases their stamina by standing or kneeling with anyone who is marginalized, quietly linking hands and hearts. We can give consistently in relationship through the ups and downs, and attempt to be the bridge. Or we can focus our energy in an area of our own passions and not do a thing for them. I’d prefer people at least not be opposed to people loving people, or people being given a choice about whether or not to engage in their faith, or parents just trying transition with a “kid” who has come out.
I’ll talk more this month about what I’m up to in the next post or two, but for now I would like to state that through social media and the website for Made of ONYX, I will share the understanding and resources I have gained as a friend to the LGBTQ community. In an effort to help other parents remain connected to their “kids,” – I intentionally and humbly haven’t forgotten from what mindset I have come nor how much I have changed. Therefore, I will offer resources I wish I had easily found when my son first came out.
I am doing this because at event after event, I continue to make new friends who I come to find aren’t just LGBTQ, but are from mostly christian, and some catholic, backgrounds. Many of whom are estranged from parents and churches. I don’t think that is a coincidence, I think it is a divine encounter. My family members who are gay, my new friends, and my faith drive my passion to make a difference in the LGBTQ community by supporting the parents and key influencers in their lives. The job of a parent doesn’t allow for disengaging when some aspects become challenging. I know I wrestle and worry at times when I conclude that as kids become adults, I don’t control them. I also know it’s entirely possible to rise to the occasion of remaining engaged in every aspect of their lives. I hope that we as humans recognize we all play a part in encouraging, strengthening, and protecting all of our marginalized friends and that includes their families.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8
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