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Q: I’m the mother of a gay son, unfortunately now, a deceased gay son. Last year at this time, my son “Daniel” told me that he was gay. I was so upset by his telling me that. It was just before Christmas and I confronted him about being gay. I had seen some magazines and your newspaper which certainly indicated that he was gay. Daniel was in college and staying at home in order to save money. I found all this material in his room. Then, I found some letters to him from other men, love letters.
Anyway, when I found the magazines, newspaper and letters, I was so upset I just blurted out and asked him if he was gay. Actually, it was more like I just yelled at him about how he could have those disgusting magazines in him room and accused him of being gay. I couldn’t believe that he could be gay, but he said that he was when I put it to him like that.
I want you to know that Daniel was my only child. My husband had died three years before. My whole life was centered around him. I know that I should not have centered my whole life around him, but that was the way it was. I was expecting that he would one day have a wife and children, and I would be a grandmother. When he told me that he was gay, I was not only disgusted with what I felt that meant, but upset that I wouldn’t have the daughter-in-law and grandchildren that I had hoped for.
I told my son that he had to leave my house, that I could not approve of his behavior. I told him that he could come home when he decided to act like the son that his father and I had given birth to. Daniel left a week before Christmas. He tried to talk to me on the phone, but I wouldn’t speak to him. My sister begged me to accept who he was, but I was stubborn and stupid. I didn’t see him again until I saw him in the coffin when he died last July. He died of a drug overdose. I know that I ruined his life…and mine as well. I rejected him. I wanted him to live a life that was my dream, not his. I have no reason to believe that he was into drugs before I kicked him out. After I kicked him out, he had to quit school because he didn’t have enough money to continue on. I guess he just turned to people who weren’t good for him, and drugs.
Now it is the holidays again. I’m so depressed. I, now, not only don’t have my dream of my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, I don’t have a son at all. I also have no way of telling him how sorry I am, and what a fool I was!
I know that I can’t change things. I’m stuck with my choices. I just thought that maybe some parent might read this letter and change things before it’s too late. Distraught Mother
A: Thank you for writing. Hopefully, this letter will find its way to those parents, family and friends of lgbt people who would benefit from reading it. But on an even broader scale, I thank you for writing because I think we can all profit from your letter. You speak to the pain that we are left with when someone dies and we have allowed issues with them go unresolved. Or even when we fail to remember to say, “I love you,” give a hug, or make time for those we love – only to then find out we’ll never see that person again.
I’m hoping that you can forgive yourself. I also hope that you continue to let others know what you have learned; your son would be proud of you for that.
Jody Valley spent 12 years as a clinical social worker. She worked with the LGBT community both as a counselor and a workshop leader in the areas of coming out, self-esteem and relationship issues. The “Dear Jody” column appears weekly.