A Parent's Story

The shock of hearing our son say he is gay is one we will always live with. Although I had my suspicions, until he put it into words, you hope it will just not be true. My husband had no idea and was utterly devastated, as too, was I. My son wanted this kept a secret for the moment so there was no one we could talk to and felt there was no way of sharing this sadness and our unhappiness, and being Jewish made it no easier. We adore our son and still do but we didn't know which way to turn for help.

We went through all the possible emotions you could think of and I even went to see a psychiatrist to see if that would help me over the depression I felt. I read in the paper an advertisement for a help group called FFLAG (Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). In desperation I 'phoned the number and without giving a name told a very nice man about our situation. When I mentioned I was Jewish, he gave me the number of the Support Group for Parents of Jewish Gays and Lesbians. Eventually I plucked up the courage to 'phone, all the time wondering what if I know the person on the other end? What if this person knows my son and tells someone?

I had no need to worry because everything I told the lady who spoke to me was in the strictest confidence. At that time, I didn't give my surname or my son's name but that wasn't a problem because she let me tell her what I wanted to, and when I felt ready to reveal more she was there to listen. She asked me if we would like to come to a meeting that took place every two months in different peoples homes, but at the time I wasn't up to that and my husband didn't want to go.

It took us eighteen months for us to be ready to go to a meeting and by then my son had told most of his close friends, though not his work colleagues, and we had told some of our family. They were very supportive but they couldn't really understand because they were not in the same situation.

When we went to our first meeting, of course, we were absolutely terrified - we didn't know what type of people would be there or, again, if we would know someone. We arrived and sat outside for ten minutes trying to pluck up the courage to go in. Eventually we did and we received a very warm welcome, it made us realise that we were not the only family in the world going through this, also it wouldn't have mattered if we would have known anyone (which we didn't) as everyone was in the same boat and had had the same experiences to lesser or greater degrees.

We went round the room and everyone there told their story. We thought we wouldn't say anything, which would have been fine too, but halfway through we found ourselves speaking about our experiences and we were relieved to find out that we could talk to people without being judged and who knew exactly what we were talking about. It was such a relief to be honest with a room full of people for the first time in a long while without having to make excuses about why our son wasn't going out with a nice girl.

We will go back to the meetings to join in again with other people like ourselves, ordinary families who just happen to have a gay child. I hope that we can also help others to see that there is help out there if you want it. Nothing can ever take the sadness away of not having grandchildren or not seeing our child get married, but we are learning slowly that there are worst things in life that can happen to you and we still have a son who we love and respect and always will.

That was quite a few years ago and now we have learnt to accept our son and love him for the wonderful human being he is. Now we just would like him to be happy with his life and find someone who he can share his life with.

Ruby Lee