My son came out to me in the form of a text.
I was working on my computer late one night last September. Enzo was staying at his dad’s house that particular evening. I had my nose deep into something I was writing when his text came in. The text, which was sent to both his father and me, was succinct, yet in my mind, absolutely beautiful. It said, “I’m gay. But I’m also very tired, so I’m going to bed. We can talk later if anything is needed to be said. I’m sure you both know already.” He went on to tell us how much he loved and respected us and to explain that he’d sent the text to both of us “to be fair.” I replied, “I love & adore you, darling. Sleep tight & we’ll talk tomorrow. I am proud of you for being who you are!”
I was surprised and exhilarated. I was only surprised because at the particular moment when the text came in, my mind was miles away, wrapped around some copy I was wrestling with. The last thing that I expected was for my 13-year-old son to come out to me and via text at that. But my surprise instantly gave way to pure joy and busting pride. As I read the words on my phone, I knew that it was a monumental moment in Enzo’s life. I was blissfully happy for him. If it hadn’t been 11 o’clock at night, I’m sure I would have run out to the grocery store, bought a cake and taken it over to Enzo. It was and is a celebration.
Enzo came out with guns a blazin.’ Shortly after he texted his father and me, he posted the news on Facebook. The next day, he informed his friends at school. He had already told a few privately prior to his coming out. I was blown away by his bravery and assuredness. He was strong, proud and unflinching. He later told me that he was a little scared but he wasn’t sure of what. However, he said that he knew he “came from a supportive household” and that everything would be OK. Needless to say, when he shared that particular sentiment with me, it was most definitely a soft puppies and butterfly kisses moment. I melted, drunk on mom love. And Enzo was right. I did already have a sense that he was gay. But I knew that it was his story to tell and in his own time.
From my perch, Enzo’s coming out has had a profound and empowering impact on him. He moves through the world with more confidence and is completely comfortable in his own skin. Whereas in the past he struggled academically, he totally turned things around this school year. (He’s discovered the benefits of math lab and study hall.) He’s pursued new interests, put himself out there and stepped up to the plate in a million new and exciting ways. He and a friend started a Gay-Straight Alliance at their school. He also attended a conference for kids on leadership and diversity. Of course, he is every bit a teenager; his room is a mess, his friends are everything and I, sad to say, am sometimes an enormous embarrassment, especially when I offer to show him some of my best dance moves.
It takes a lot of courage to stand up and tell the world who you are. It’s something that many adults can’t even do. And for a young teenager, this process is even more complicated by social dynamics, changing hormones and peer issues. At a time in life when there is enormous pressure to fit in, it takes some balls to rock that boat and claim who you uniquely are without apology. Enzo inspires me. He is the epitome of bravery. When I feel sacred or start to go wimpy over one thing or another, I think about Enzo. He reminds me what I’m made of.
It is Gay Pride weekend around the world and there are all kinds of events, parties and parades going on here in Seattle. Last year during Gay Pride, I asked Enzo if he would like to go downtown with me for the big parade. I had an inkling that it would be meaningful to him. He enthusiastically said “yes,” and donned his best Lady Gaga outfit for the occasion. It was a beautiful day full of vibrancy, color, joy and inclusion. Everywhere we went, people stopped to talk to Enzo, take his picture and give him a hug. One of my fondest memories of that day was when one of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence briefly ducked out of the parade to come up to Enzo and tell him that he was fabulous. The day was a lovefest like none other and I was happy that my blooming son had the opportunity to see and experience what Gay Pride is all about. I don’t know if the seeds of courage were planted that day but I am deeply grateful to the Seattle gay community for opening its arms to a young man who was on the cusp of joining it.
For the record, no teenagers were mortified in the creation of this post. Enzo has not only given me permission to write about him but has actually encouraged me to do so. I am the proud mother of a gay son. This is our story.
“…if you’re going to try, go all the way, there is no feeling like it, you will be alone with the gods and your nights will flame with fire, you will ride life straight to perfect laughter.”
– Charles Bukowski