I was a single mother for the first five years of Jack’s life, and we had an exceptionally close & loving relationship. When he was five, I met, and later married, David and , after a lot of difficulties we had Josh when Jack was nine.
As a little boy Jack had one of the world’s largest collections of My Little Ponies; always played with the girls at school; and wore the frilly blue party dress in the dressing up corner. So I’d always wondered if he might be gay, and imagined I was completely relaxed about this. We have lots of lesbian close friends who he’d known all his life (though not gay men).
When he was 13 he asked a girl out, and when he was just 14 & I asked him if he was gay, he vehemently denied it. Then I found gay pornography on the computer. We had a tearful weekend where he admitted that yes, he knew he was gay and had done for a long time. Despite my having felt that we had a family where this would be no problem, it was obviously a really hard thing for him to tell us. And I shocked myself by the degree of turmoil it caused me. This was 13 years ago, and my first fear was AIDS and other illnesses. I then felt desperate about the family I imagined that he’d never have, and the grandchildren I wouldn’t have – and I hadn’t even known I wanted any! I went into severe mourning – I felt I’d lost the son I thought I had and felt great sadness for the life I had imagined for him that he now wouldn’t have. I wasn’t at all proud of myself for what I felt, but whilst genuinely being able to reassure Jack that I still loved him enormously, it was an enormous shock to me.
I really felt the need to talk to a dispassionate outsider, and not knowing about FFLAG then, rang another helpline, only to be told how terribly sorry they felt for me “…as that’s the worst thing that you can be told!”. I was furious.
Then I talked to a gay colleague at work, a man for whom I have a great deal of respect. He mainly listened but we also talked about how Jack was still exactly the same person he’d always been. Being gay was a part of him, but didn’t define or limit the person he was and would be. In some profound way this brought me to my senses and helped me just get on with life.
Since then Jack has been out and proud; at school (very brave!); at university; and at work. He works with children, so this was a particularly brave decision as well. His younger brother stands up fervently for gay rights at all times; and David is very proud of his gay son.
I feel lucky to have Jack; he’s an amazing person and I feel proud and privileged that he has shared so much of his life with me, with such honesty.