Parenting

A Love Letter To My Son, For Finding The Courage To Speak His Truth

Mother and teenage son embracing at home
Oliver Rossi/Getty

The day my son came out almost four years ago was simultaneously one of the most beautiful and most heartbreaking moments of my life as a mother.

He had told me and my husband over the weekend, and then decided he wanted to also come out to each of his brothers and sisters, separately. Without skipping a beat, a sister said, “Okay, do you want to watch this movie with me?;” one brother shrugged his shoulders, looked at him and asked, “So?;” little sister was in her bedroom, rolled over and told him, “Great. Now leave me alone, I’m trying to go to sleep;” littlest sister cried because she just wanted to know if he could still have babies so she could be an aunt; and after being suddenly shaken awake, younger brother yelled, “You’re also a jerk. Now, get out of my room.”

I couldn’t have been prouder.

Not every parent can say that she is there to witness the exact moment that her child embraces and comes to believe in the person that he was always meant to be. It actually felt kind of magical. But with it, came the knowledge that for years he was holding his breath and hiding; that for whatever reason, he was afraid; that, even with all the encouragement and support of the many people in our family, he felt so alone.

It still makes my heart skip a beat.

I’ve asked him many times what I could have done differently, what I could have said, how I could have helped him. And his answer is always the same — that there’s nothing that he would change — and that all the love in the world would never have changed that it was just hard. His exact words to me: “Even though I knew you love me and would accept me, it was still just so, so hard.”

As his mother, that will always haunt me, along with the heartache that comes with knowing that he walks his life forever with a question for his safety, with fear of judgment, and with the heaviness of acknowledging that for some, he will always be damned and disgusting. To know that there are parents in this world who know the kind of love that I have for him — the same unbreaking, painfully beautiful, desperate love that they have for their children — and who in the same breath think it’s right to make someone’s child question his worth or say he isn’t good enough — it breaks me.

Because if you’ve met him, you know that he is really one of the most compassionate and gentle and generous souls in the universe. There isn’t an evil bone in his body. He’s the best kind of optimist, because his optimism extends not only to his life — but to you and your life and who you are as a person. He believes in the good of the world — he believes that you are the good of the world. If you’ve met him, you can’t help but love him. He’s beautiful and kind and smart and frustrating and irritating and funny and wonderful.

He’s also queer. And if that changes how you define him as a person, I don’t need you in my life. Not now. Not ever.

That night, four years ago, I could not have been more proud of him for being courageous enough and strong enough to know that he was worthy of being seen. And when I told him I wanted to write this in honor of him, there was no hesitation. Not anymore. He knows who he is. He knows that this life — his life — no matter the fear and challenges is right. Today, I celebrate him — and the pain and the struggle that he has overcome, and will overcome, because it makes him braver and better. He makes the world braver and better.

My son.

I’m forever PROUD.