Grab the tissues, you will need them
Twenty-five-year-old Matthew came out to his mom six years ago at the age of 19. He recorded the exchange and his video, which has been viewed more than 60 million times, continues to move its viewers years later. The conversation between mother and son has connected with thousands over the years because of its vulnerability and simple but powerful message — one of acceptance.
The video begins with a clearly nervous Matthew asking his mother to sit down for a talk. They wait for his father to leave the room before she can be heard saying, “Is this something damaging?” Once she sees the panic on his face, she adds, “There’s nothing that you could tell me that I’d ever stop loving you for.”
The exchange continues with Matthew’s mom trying to get him to say what she already knows is coming. “Is it something about your personality?” she asks. “I might know anyway.” When he can’t seem to verbalize his sentiments, she asks, “You gay?” He nods his head ‘yes’ and she immediately jumps up out of her chair to hug him. “It’s ok, hun, I knew you were.”
Matthew then says what may be the most painful words of his admission, “I’m sorry.” It is tragic to think anyone would ever have to apologize to anyone for being who they are, and his mother quickly steps in to say “Don’t be sorry, silly. Don’t be sorry.”
“I love you no matter what in the world, don’t you know that?” She goes on to say she’s known for some time and her biggest fear is that he will grow up being hurt or having to deal with people’s prejudice. She acknowledges the fact that there are still people in this world who will be unkind and who will judge him for his sexuality, but how other people treat him has no bearing on how he should feel about himself. “You are born how you are,” she says.
“When I was in the process of coming out, I felt alone and very unsure of what to expect,” Matthew told The Huffington Post. “I turned to coming out stories on YouTube and in sitcoms to give me a better idea of what I might be able to expect with my own experience. Hearing other people’s stories and seeing the reactions they received helped give me the confidence to come out myself. I recorded my coming out story because I wanted to give others the confidence to come out as well.”
In an ideal world, there would be no “coming out” because our child’s sexuality would not (and should not) be a topic of conversation. Heterosexuality is assumed – and it shouldn’t be. But we don’t live in an ideal world; loving someone “unconditionally” almost always comes with conditions. The best we can do as parents is raise our children not to feel as if who they love carries any bearing on how we feel about them. That we don’t need to accept anything about them, because “accepting” somehow implies we wish they’d make a different choice.
“There is nothing you could do that would make me stop loving you,” Matthew’s mom says again. That is all our children ever really need to hear from us.