This from MCV, one of our local gay newspapers was a good read I thought. The part where his mother thought that her son had died when he told her he was gay was a good insight into how some parents must view their gay child.
|Condoms and coming out|
|Wednesday, 14 November 2007|
Navigating the complex intersection of sexuality, family and culture is no easy journey, writes Ryan Perdio.
My birthday, last year. Out with the whole family for a Sunday night dinner, my mother hands me a present and insists that I open it in front of everyone. The look of restrained excitement and anticipation on her face should have made me suspect that something was up. The parcel turns out to be a box of condoms.
Less an example of her enthusiastic and somewhat warped way of showing motherly concern for my health and wellbeing, the strange gift was, in fact, a gag. A playful gesture and a simple, albeit significant, reference to how far things between us have come.
My parents were understandably upset when they found out I was gay.
I came out at 16, the arduous conclusion of several challenging years of self-doubt and self-exploration. Along with being an extraordinarily moody teenager due to the difficulties of dealing with my sexuality, I was also quite the strong headed and stubborn youth. My parents and I regularly butted heads. They were the authorities, and thus the people whose seemingly unreasonable rules - imposed purely, of course, to make my life difficult - I disobeyed.
The old world views they were raised with back home clashed with the autonomy that I’d adopted as a consequence of growing up in Australia.
Like many Filipino families, ours is an exceptionally close one. This strong sense of togetherness is largely due to the belief and importance placed on the cultural identity of the family unit, which Filipino society is especially driven by and centred upon. It’s within this identity that we should, as individuals, find reason and purpose, at least in theory. Parents nurture their children; children tend after their parents, and so on. But it’s a double-edged ideal. While on the whole the family is a wonderfully welcoming and encompassing environment, it can also be prove to be strict and inflexible. Problems arise when something, or someone, deviates from what is regarded as the norm. As, clearly, I had done by coming out.
My parents’ way of dealing with my revelation was to ignore it, and me, completely. When not locked in her room crying her eyes out, my mother refused to acknowledge my presence; a stark contrast to the mother whom I had had regular hearts-to-hearts with. I felt alienated and helpless; not to mention guilty for causing her so much grief, and angry at the lack of sympathy that I felt I was due.
My father, on the other hand, acted like nothing had happened. He went on treating me much the same as he had before I came out, which proved to be both a relief and a nuisance. While it made me feel normal, his lack of acknowledgment also frustrated me. I wanted to speak to him and to open up on how I was feeling, but I couldn’t bridge the gap.
It seemed an eternity before I slowly felt a change in both their attitudes. A gradual shift. And now ten years have passed.
Which brings me back to my birthday dinner. I feel slightly mortified as I hold out the box of condom for everyone to see, but laugh it off along with everyone else. As we finish laughing our collective heads off over my somewhat unorthodox present, my mother points to the attached card I haven’t previously noticed. She insists I open it and read aloud the message within: ‘Happy Birthday! Don’t use these all at once!’ Time has definitely been a great healer and equaliser.
A few years back, I asked my father why he acted the way he did when I first came out.
“At first I thought that you were just going through a phase, so I didn’t make a big deal of it,” he told me. “But when I realised that you weren’t going to suddenly change back to what you were never before, well, I thought, why continue to worry?”
And my mother’s response?
“I felt like my son died. Not you specifically, but my image of my son. The one who will get married to a lovely wife and have beautiful children,” she explained. “So, when I found that that wasn’t going to happen, I grieved. For that son. And when I was done, I found that I still had the same son, but one that I really needed to get to know. And he turned out to be someone that I equally adored... Plus now, I have another daughter also!”
Ah, parents. I guess you’ve gotta love ‘em and accept ‘em as they are!