Eight years ago, my son told me he is gay when he was 19 years old and I was 68. I like to share my passage with all fathers how did I come from a painful stage to a comfort zone.
I was falling apart when my son told me he is a gay man. I can not believe it is true and I can not accept the fact. It shakes my whole world.
Because of my values, I wanted my son to be a copy of me. My father was a mechanic in the China Air Force. We were living in very poor economic conditions. We learned to be tough when I was a small boy, and I will never forget my grandfather taught me not to have fear, at any circumstances. I believed in the jungle law. I wanted to make a difference in the little village where I grew up, and to get out of the confinement of what my parents were in. I determined to lead my family to be rich and famous, and to have children with my father’s last name. I determined to pass the same values to my son.
These values were so important to me that I overcame a heart attack and a triple bypass when my son was 6 and I was 55 with a very strong will. I could not bear my son to grow up without a father at his age. I made up my mind to recover and to prepare resources so my son could be taken care of, so that he can continue to live out my values. When my son told me he was gay, my dream was broken and I was beat by an invisible hammer with indescribable pain more than my heart attack.
I felt helpless because this is not something I can overcome by my strong will. I realized my son will never be a copy of me. Being a traditional Chinese, I immediately interpreted my gay son is the end to have children to carry my last name, as well as to bring honor to the family.
After learning that my son was gay, I was unwilling to hear the word “homosexuality” and did not have any intention to accept the meaning of it. I was in the position of rejecting the concept and tried very hard to search methods to change my son’s sexuality. After searching the medical documents, talking to my son, and going to websites to get more information, I was led to a totally different resolution.
From my research, I realized that homosexuality is not a horrible term. It is not a suddenly pop up event either. There is homosexuality wherever there is human. There are about 5% to 10% of human beings that are homosexual. As a matter of fact, in addition to gay and straight humans, there are many other possibilities such as bisexuality and transgender. And people may change their sexuality at different age and environment. The American Medical Association does not consider homosexuality is a disease and does not think it can be treated to reverse the status.
Given these facts, there has been no gene found for homosexuality. A study of twins indicated some of the identical twins might have different sexualities, i.e. heterosexuality for one twin and homosexuality for the other twin. Up to today, there is no clear conclusion on the cause of homosexuality. Scenarios of heredity, environment, gene-mutation, and gene differentiation triggered by perception are all under investigation. Moreover, our sons carried our homosexuality gene if there is one. How can we not accept ourselves?
Nevertheless, without finding the cause, the social consequences created by homosexuality are more urgent for us to confront with. Everybody is a distinct body, with different IQs or physical structures, and no one is an identical to another person, even twins. On the stands of human rights though, human is human. Mutually respect, cooperation, equality, love, and adapting to changes (as Darwin said) are the fundamental columns for the human race to survival.
After I was cooling down, I realize how much pain and hopeless my son had been suffered during his past 19 years of life. I was scared he could not stand for the bully and discriminating environment he has faced alone. I could not relieve my fear of his survivorship from the high HIV and suicidal rate for a gay person.
I felt even more badly that I raised him to be tough, and that he may have interpret it like just another bullying action. As a matter of fact, I blame myself for not observing the fact that he is a gay boy earlier. I would change the way I raised him in a completely different manner. In the passing 19 years, I wish I could be with him to fight the other bully kids and harsh environment he had to face alone. I wish I could be with him to walk through the pain and to search for his comfort zone together.
Other than my own disappointment and painful experience, I also realized the passage of my son is much more difficult than mine because he has to deal with it all by himself. On his growing process, he must be confused why he is different from the other boys, why people look gay boys with a discriminative eyes, and how should he confront with all the unfair treatments of this world towards him. In addition, he would not know how to tell his parents and his family that he is gay. His fear that his parents, his family, and the society will no longer accept him stopped him from walking out from the “closet”. To protect himself, he could not trust anybody in the world, including and not limited to his parents, because he did not choose to be gay. The only solution, to these separations is “LOVE”. Nothing else in the world can bond the son and father together like love. Love can tolerate everything. Love can cure all wounds. Love can bring hope.
I was lost once in the woods of the current imperfect science knowledge. I am adjusting my “value system” of my life and I am continuing the search for the meaning of my life. It has helped my personal growth, and helped me to broaden my life horizon, because I had a very narrow view. Does my son being gay mean he is not able to bring honor to the family? The answer is definite “no” because I know my son’s value is to help those who need help, particularly those with homosexuality. He is working to change the discriminative perception of the world towards the orientation of sexuality.
I hope I can be integrated as one unit with my son with his value as my value, with his decision as my decision, and with his dream as my dream. I am ready to open the fact to my extended family when my son decides to do so. I learned to grow at the same speed of my son’s growing. Without my son being gay, I would not be able to walk out from a very narrow minded world. I am in my comfort zone now.