Jason announces to his family that he’s gay. His sisters and his father tell him that it doesn’t make any difference, they love him regardless of whether he’s gay or straight or whatever. But what about his mother? Can she come to accept that her son is gay?
Jason sat in the Aaronsen Family Services waiting room. The receptionist had been friendly and welcomed him with a smile when he arrived for his appointment on Monday at two in the afternoon. His mom had been nervous about not being late, so they arrived about twenty minutes early. As promised, she left as soon as she checked him in with the receptionist. That upset him; he could have checked in all by himself.
He pulled out his smartphone and opened the Kindle app. He started reading David Adams’ Lacuna: The Sands of Karathi, a science fiction novel set in a far-future universe. Jason could bury himself in a good science fiction story, and that’s what he did. That’s why he didn’t immediately respond when a tall woman in a white smock, the kind nurses wear, tried to get his attention.
“Jason, I’m Laura Gardiner. I’ll take you in to meet with Doctor Byers.” Jason finally looked up. She led him through a door and down a hallway to a large office. A tall, middle-aged man stood, smiled, walked around his desk, and stood facing Jason. He wore an expensive looking suit, and his smile reminded Jason of those quiz show hosts on TV.
“Jason, I’m Doctor Paul Byers. It’s very nice to meet you.” They shook hands. “Please, have a seat and we’ll get started.” He gestured to a comfortable looking couch, and he sat in a large leather armchair across from the couch, separated from it by a coffee table that to Jason looked very old and very expensive. That made him wonder how much his folks were paying for this session.
“Would you care for something cold to drink, a Coke or orange juice, or perhaps a glass of water?”
“A glass of orange juice sounds good, please.”
Doctor Byers picked up a phone on the coffee table and dialed, and asked someone to bring in a glass of orange juice for Jason and a cup of coffee for himself. Once the beverages arrived Doctor Byers got right down to business.
“Jason, your decision to tell your family that you’re gay must have required a lot of thought. How long had you been planning to tell them?"
“I suppose, as far as serious planning, maybe a month.”
“What made you decide to tell them on a Sunday evening?”
“It was kind of the vibe at the dinner table. My mom and dad were joking about Jen needing to get started on her college applications, and she kept telling them since she’s only a sophomore she’s got years and years before she needs to get started. Someone, maybe my dad, said something like ‘What’s new with you?’ to me and I just blurted it out.”
“Your father and your sisters didn’t have any problem when you announced that you’re gay?”
“Nope. They were great. Jen first, and she actually lifted me out of my chair to give me a hug. I didn’t know that she was that strong. Thea hugged me and told me that she was fine with me being gay, and that she and Jen had been wondering when I’d tell them. That totally surprised me, that my sisters had figured out that I’m gay. Finally, my dad hugged me and said he didn’t care if I was straight or gay or whatever, he loved me and would always love me. But Mom got all ‘you’re a homosexual’ and that she needed time to think about it. I thought what she said was totally bogus.”
“So how’s your relationship with your mom today?”
Jason stared at Doctor Byers. “You already know the answer. My mom and dad came here and had a counseling session with you. I’m sure you asked that question and they answered it.”
“Jason, I asked you that question because I don’t know what your answer will be. Yes, I know what your mom and your dad told me, but I don’t know what you’re going to tell me. I’m going to ask you a lot of questions that you might think I already know the answers. In every case I’m asking you because I want to know your answer. Does that make sense?”
Jason thought about it for a few seconds. “Yeah, it does make sense. So here’s my answer to your question. I have my mom back. She’s just like the Mom I’ve always had, and she tells me she’s fine with me being gay.”
“When did she change?”
“Let’s see. It was the Tuesday after I told my family that I’m gay. I went to Ron’s house with him after school. He talked me into telling his mom that I’d come out to my family on Sunday. His mom is great, she’s a child psychologist and works with kids. She asked what my mom does and I told her that she transcribes textbooks into Braille for the Department of Education so blind kids can go to school. Or read books for fun, I guess. Mrs. Cantham...” Jason realized that he given Doctor Byers some information that he hadn’t intended.
“I shouldn’t have told you her name. Is everything I tell you going to be private?”
“Yes, everything is confidential. I won’t reveal anything you tell me unless you tell me that it’s alright.”
“Okay, thanks for that. Anyway, Mrs. Cantham said she’d like to meet my mom and talk about Braille because sometimes she counsels blind kids and knowing about Braille and how it works would help her. I said I’d tell my mom and have her call after dinner. So, I got home from Ron’s and Mom was just like she’d always been. You know, friendly and interested in what I did at school and she had a snack ready for me. I asked her if she’s okay with me being gay, and she said yes, she didn’t care if I was gay or straight or anything in between, that she loves me unconditionally. She apologized for how she reacted when I said that I’m gay on Sunday, and for how she’d been acting since then.”
Jason realized that he’d been hunched over, leaning his elbows on his knees, talking to Doctor Byers. He leaned back and took a deep breath and let it out.
“I have my mom back, just like she’s always been before, and she’s okay with me being gay.” Jason smiled thinking about how happy that made him feel.
“What do you think will happen next, Jason?”
He had to think about that question for a few seconds. “I don’t know. Probably nothing. I mean, she’s okay with me being gay and that’s about it.”
“What about your family being Catholic? Do you know how your mom is going to reconcile her religious upbringing, which says being gay is not acceptable, and the fact that you’re gay?”
“I didn’t think about that. I don’t really know about that. She hasn’t talked to me about that.”
“Do you think she’ll talk to someone from your Church?”
“Oh my god, I hope not! The priest and Monsignor at our church are homophobes and they are always preaching how gays aren’t welcome in the Church.”
“How does their opinion make you feel, Jason?”
“It doesn’t bother me because this Sunday I decided to stop going to St. Mary’s Church. I’ve also decided I want to go to St. Stephen’s instead. I asked Mom about switching churches but my sisters go to St. Mary’s Church and Thea’s going to be confirmed there, so Mom thinks we should go to church there. If I can’t go to St. Stephen’s, then I guess that I’ll be a Holiday Catholic like my dad.”
“Why did you decide to stop going to St. Mary’s Church?”
“Because of Father Morton and Monsignor Valle. I decided that if the Church believes gays are evil then I don’t believe in the Church. I read something online on the Codey’s World website. ‘God made me and God doesn’t make junk.’ That’s exactly what I believe. I still believe in God, but it’s not the same God as they preach about in church every Sunday. I believe in a loving God, not a god who preaches hate.”
Doctor Byers sat writing in a notebook. That took almost a minute, so Jason used the time to finish his orange juice.
“Do you have a lot of friends?”
“Yeah, I guess I do. I think I’m a friendly kind of guy, and I like almost everybody I’ve met at school. I like to talk, Mom calls me a motor mouth, but I like to listen, too.”
“How many friends do you have at school?”
“That’s a tough question. I think it depends on what’s meant by ‘friends’. There’s a cute story I read titled ‘Friendships’ that says that there are different kinds of friends like there are layers in an onion. So the outer layer are kids I know in my classes but only to say ‘hi’ to. The next layer are my casual friends, the kind I’d go to a movie with as part of a group. The closer a layer of friends is to the core the more important the friends are until you get to the core itself and those are your best friends. What I like about the story is that it says you need all of your layers of friends. So, best friends I have maybe ten or twelve or something like that. If I count all of the kids I know who I’d call friends, even the occasional friends at the outer layer, maybe sixty or even more. Does that answer your question?”
Doctor Byers sat looking at Jason and started writing in his notebook again. When he finished he looked up.
“Jason, I’ve counseled hundreds of kids. I’ve never had any describe friendships the way you have. It’s an interesting concept. Having ten or twelve best friends is also a number that’s uncommonly high. How do you define a best friend?”
“Well, first it includes my sisters Jen and Thea.” Doctor Byers interrupted by putting up his hand palm forward.
“You count your sisters as best friends?”
“Sure. Why wouldn’t I? We talk about stuff together all the time, ask each other for advice, we go places and do things together, we have each other’s back, those are the things that best friends do.”
Doctor Byers wrote something in his notebook, and after he finished he told Jason that he could continue.
“I suppose I should start with the center of the core of my best friends with Ron Cantham. He’s my boyfriend.” Jason paused a couple seconds expecting Doctor Byers to say something, and he did.
“How close are you and Ron?”
“We’re in love with each other. We do most everything together and we have the same close friends.”
“How do you know that you’re in love with each other?”
“When we’re together I’m always smiling and so is Ron. When we’re not together I think about him all the time and that makes me smile. We love doing things together, even things one of us isn’t excited about doing. It’s being together that’s important. We support each other, like when I thought I’d lost my mom Ron was there telling me to talk to his mom because she could help me, and she did. I love looking at him, he is so cute with his red hair and freckles across his cheeks and nose and his smile. We love telling jokes and joking around with each other. We want to be with each other for the rest of our lives. I know that this sort of love isn’t supposed to last, but we’re going to be the exception that proves the rule.”
Doctor Byers said, “Hmm,” and wrote in his notebook. Jason wondered what the ‘Hmm’ meant.
“What would you tell someone if they told you that you were too young to be in love, too young to even know what love is all about?”
Jason took a deep breath and let it out. “How do they know anything about whether we’re in love or not? That’s something that’s very personal between two people. Would they say that a child can’t love their parents? Is there a difference between that and two teens being in love with each other? I don’t think so.”
“Are you and Ron having sex?”
“No. We messed around once, but that’s all. When we were in the eighth grade we promised Ron’s folks that we wouldn’t have sex until we went to college. So, we’re not having sex.”
Doctor Byers grinned. “Has it been difficult to maintain your promise?”
“Do you wish you hadn’t made that promise?”
“But you still haven’t had sex?”
Jason shook his head, and said, “Nope.”
“Well, I congratulate you two. Many teens your age would have made the promise and would have had sex anyway.”
“Yeah, that’s really easy for me to believe. Uh, could I have some more orange juice?”
As Doctor Byers arranged for Jason’s orange juice, Jason stifled a grin as he thought back to the way he’d answered Doctor Byers’ question ‘But you still haven’t had sex?’ with a ‘Nope.’ He answered a negative question with an ambiguous answer, and his answer really meant that they hadn’t not had sex. ‘That,’ Jason thought, ‘is a double negative and Doctor Byers didn’t pick up on it.’ He and Ron messed around only that one time, of course. It happened the night Ron stayed over at Jason’s house when they worked on his photography project.
Laura Gardiner brought in a glass of orange juice for Jason and another cup of coffee for Doctor Byers. Jason drank about half the glass and set it on the glass top of the coffee table.
“Have you ever had a girlfriend, Jason?”
“I know a lot of girls, and I’ve gone out with groups where there were both guys and girls. But I’ve never had a girlfriend. I’ve never been interested in having a girlfriend.”
“Is Ron your first boyfriend?”
“Yes. First and only.”
“When did you first meet Ron?”
“In elementary school. We met and became best friends right away. We just clicked. We came out to each other and became boyfriends when we were in the eighth grade.”
“Are you two out at school?”
“Yes. We don’t go around with a sign around our necks that says we’re gay, but if someone we know asks, we admit it. Same about being boyfriends.”
“Do you have friends who are gay?”
“Yes, a lot who are gay and a lot who aren’t.”
“Are your gay friends all boys or are some of them girls?”
“I don’t know any girls who are gay. Some might be, but if so they aren’t out to me or Ron.”
“Are you hassled by anyone at school because you’re gay?”
“So far, no.”
“What about the jocks at school. Are they a problem for any of the gay kids?”
“Not that we know of. We know a couple guys who are freshmen like me and Ron and they are jocks and are gay and out. We also know a couple guys who are sophomores and are jocks and are gay and out. None of those guys have any problem with any of the other jocks.”
“Are you happy that you’re gay?”
“Yes, I am. I’m in love with Ron, and that wouldn’t be possible if I wasn’t gay. I like who I am. I’m always happy. Well, except I wasn’t very happy when my mom had a problem accepting that I’m gay. Anyway, I like who I am and wouldn’t want to change. If someone had a pill that would make me straight, I wouldn’t take it.”
“How are you doing at school? Do you like your classes?”
“I’m getting all A’s. I like school. I’m taking AP Computer Science, and that’s as a freshman. I’ll be taking AP Statistics next year when I’m a sophomore. I like math, and I find it easy. I want to get into UC Berkeley and major in computer science when I’ve finished high school.”
“I’m impressed, Jason. You are rather unique, you’ve been speaking easily and clearly with me. You haven’t been reticent at all. And you’ve answered my questions without any hesitation. I’ve enjoyed talking with you.
“But, our time is almost up, so it’s time for me to summarize our meeting. When I counsel a male gay teen there are usually four options that I explore.
“First, I might conclude that the boy is not gay but is simply experimenting with other boys as an outlet. It is very common for boys to experiment during puberty. Many prepubescent and pubescent boys find it difficult to relate to girls, and experimenting with another boy is a channel to relieve sexual tensions that are at a peak during puberty. It’s also a channel that provides safety from the possibility of pregnancy that might occur if a boy is having sex with a girl. My conclusion is that you are not experimenting, and none of the reasons a boy might experiment as an outlet apply to you.
“Second, I might conclude that the boy is bisexual, that it’s genetic and not experimental. While he might have some gay tendencies it is possible that he could overcome them and relate to girls and marry, have children, and live the life of a heterosexual male. Bisexuality is complex, and some bisexual boys will not be able to lead a life as a heterosexual adult but may continue to explore relations with another male or both a male and a female at different times. My conclusion is that you are not bisexual.
“Third, I might conclude that the boy is gay, that it’s genetic and not experimental, and that he is not bisexual. My conclusion is that does apply to you. My conclusion is that you are a gay teen, you are comfortable being a gay teen, it appears that you have a serious relationship with another boy, and based on what you said, it appears that the two of you do love each other. Usually we provide reorientation counseling for a boy who’s gay so he can begin to understand his feelings and can accept himself as a gay male. I’ve concluded that you have a very good understanding of your feelings and you accept yourself in a healthy, realistic manner. So you won’t need any reorientation counseling.
“Fourth, unlike most of the gay teens I counsel, you are already out to your parents and they demonstrate they still love you even though you’re gay. You’re out to some of your friends, yet you are somewhat careful who you tell. You might want to be a bit more cautious and if someone you don’t know very well asks if you’re gay, ask them ‘why are you asking me that?’ instead of saying ‘yes’ and if they press you say ‘sorry, I’m not interested’ and walk away.”
Jason grinned. “I like that idea. One thing I might do that’s different is when someone asks if I’m gay and I know them and I feel comfortable telling them then I’ll say ‘yes’. If I don’t know them, I might say something like, ‘Why, are you gay?’”
Doctor Byers smiled. “That’s reasonable. What would you do if a bully began hassling you?”
“Try to walk away. If that doesn’t work, then look around for someone I know or a teacher or someone on the staff and shout that I need their help.”
“That might work. What if they slug you?”
“Protect myself as much as I can. After they leave, find some witnesses and report them to the administration. But there’s almost none of that at Hillcrest High. At least, I don’t know of any attacks. I’d say the kids are gay-friendly. That’s been my experience.”
“Have you considered taking a self-defense course?”
“Yes. Ron’s dad suggested that we take one of those classes. I asked my dad and he agreed. We’ll have to find the right kind of class for me and Ron, one that’s not all the mumbo-jumbo stuff but concentrates on defense. I’m taking Weight Training in PE this semester to build up my muscles, so I’m pretty strong. I think I could protect myself if one guy started to hassle me and I ended up in a fight.”
“Do they have a self-defense class at your high school?”
“I haven’t seen it in the schedule, but that’s a good idea. I’ll ask my PE coach next week when we go back after spring break.”
Doctor Byers looked over his notes and wrote some more, then looked up and smiled.
“I’ve covered what I wanted to talk about with you. Do you have any questions for me?”
Jason sat and thought for a few seconds. “I can’t think of anything. But thanks for asking.”
“Then I think we’re finished. I’ll report to your parents that I concluded that you’re not experimenting with another boy, that you are gay and that in my opinion it is genetic. I will offer to have a joint meeting with you and your parents if all three of you agree. Don’t decide yet, Jason. Talk it over with your folks, alright?”
Jason realized that Doctor Byers knew that he planned to say he wouldn’t agree. “Okay, though they’ll have to convince me that I need to go to yet another meeting about me being gay.”
Doctor Byers looked at Jason. “What do you mean by ‘yet another meeting?’”
“I’ve met with Father Darcy at St. Stephens Church and now with you. I really don’t think I need to have another meeting.”
“I know Father Darcy. I assume your meeting was interesting and stimulating.”
Jason grinned. “Yes, it was both of those things. I’m going to meet with him again this time next year.”
“I still encourage you to listen to your parents about having a joint meeting with me. These counseling sessions aren’t just for you, Jason. They are also for your parents, especially for your mother. If she still has any remaining doubts, it’s important to get together and resolve them.”
“Maybe. I’ll see what my folks have to say about a joint meeting.”
“That’s a good idea, Jason. Let me take you out to reception and see if your ride is here.”
His mom hadn’t arrived yet, so Jason and Doctor Byers shook hands and Jason sat down and continued reading his story while he sat waiting for his mom to arrive. She arrived about ten minutes later, right as he was in the middle of reading an exciting part.
As they drove home Betty began asking questions.
“How did you like your session with Doctor Byers?”
“It was okay. You’ll probably find out from him, but he decided that I’m not experimenting and that I really am gay, and that it’s genetic.”
“Isn’t that what you expected?”
“Yes. The question is, is that what you expected?”
“Yes, it is.”
“So I’m good? That I’m gay is still alright with you?”
“Yes, that you’re gay is still alright with me. Actually what it is, is, and whatever it is doesn’t make any difference to me. You're my son and I love you unconditionally.” She glanced at him and smiled.
Jason grinned and briefly touched his mother’s arm to show that he appreciated her response. “I love you too, Mom.”
“It’s almost three thirty. What do you have planned for what’s left of this afternoon?”
“I’d like to invite Art and Larry Grant to come over to play tennis and go swimming sometime this week. I’d like to include Leshawn and Kevin, and Marcus. And of course I’d invite Ron too. Is that okay?”
“Sure. I haven’t met Art and Larry Grant, have I?”
“No, they’re Leshawn’s cousins. They live somewhere around Alcosta High because that’s where they go to school.”
“What day do you want them to come over?”
“How about tomorrow?”
“That’s a problem. I have my Braille Transcribers Association meeting tomorrow and I won’t be home until around one o’clock. Can you schedule it for Wednesday? Why don’t you call them and invite them, and after that let me talk to their mother and find out when they can come.”
“Okay. Sounds good. If they can’t come over on Wednesday, then could it be Thursday or Friday or Saturday?”
Betty laughed. “Yes, of course. Any day except tomorrow.”
Jason started planning what they’d do. Tennis first, then swimming. Except they only have one court, so the ones not playing tennis could swim. Or maybe they should play doubles. That way more guys could play tennis. He’d have to talk to Ron and see what ideas he had.
Maybe he and Ron could act as matchmakers to get Marcus and Leshawn together and maybe that way they might become boyfriends after a while. A tennis and pool get-together with seven guys seemed like a great idea, but planning it seemed like a lot of work. But if Leshawn and Marcus became boyfriends, it would be worth all the effort.
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This story and the included images are Copyright © 2011-2013 by Colin Kelly (colinian). They cannot be reproduced without express written consent. Codey's World web site has written permission to publish this story. No other rights are granted.
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