I was sad to read “This is Gay Girl, Signing Off” in the March 11 Independent. I am the mother of another gay girl, in her early 20s, and although I didn’t read all the articles written by Penny Patterson, I was always delighted to see them there – a sign of greater recognition that gay men and women make up a significant number of our everyday friends, acquaintances, and workmates.
My daughter reads the column whenever she is in Santa Barbara. When she came out to us, I wasn’t surprised. I was relieved. Relieved that she was finally able to tell us what we had suspected for a long time. Relieved that the gap between us had narrowed. Glad she could now tell us about all her feelings, concerns, and hopes.
I think she found us supportive. I was fortunate in my previous experiences. My first husband was (is) gay. Even before we married he told me, back in the 70s, of his feelings for men. He hated that part of himself. He had tried psychiatric treatment to “cure” himself and wanted nothing more than to lead a conventional, happy, married life. Very much in love, I concurred. Our marriage lasted six years, strengthened by mutual affection and respect, but ultimately we went our separate ways. This clearly was an issue which was not going away and, as he grew older and more confident, he began to see that this was a lifestyle that he could, after all, embrace. We remain friends to this day.
The other experience I had goes back to my school friends. Part of an inseparable “Gang of Four,” one of us never had children. The remaining three (including myself) all have daughters who are gay. What are the chances? One can only conclude that this is far more common than we ever imagined. All three are happy, and in committed relationships.
My daughter brought her girlfriend home last year. She is the nicest young lady imaginable – kind, funny, supportive, gentle – and she and my daughter were as happy as can be, doing nothing more than laughing their way down State Street and eating ice cream on the beach. This year neither is in the U.S. They are living half a world apart due to college commitments. They Skype each other several times a week, supporting each other through the inevitable tough times that arise in their respective new environments. Her girlfriend’s mother, who has strong religious affiliations, found out about their relationship by accident and was initially very distressed. Now she has invited my daughter to stay, and offered her one of their phones on their “family” plan so the girls can text and phone each other for free when they both return to the U.S. this summer.
This seems such a rosy picture it is hard to believe. What it does not describe are the individual and sometimes lonely journeys made by the two girls: the sleepless nights, the coming to terms with difficult emotions and feelings and the longer term implications thereof, and for my daughter at least, considerable heartache. Happily now, that is past, and she is moving ahead in her life with new confidence and enthusiasm.
And how do we feel as parents? Most parents wish for nothing so much as their children’s happiness. One important element is seeing your child able to make good choices in a partner and having the ability to form relationships which strengthen, support, enable, and bring joy. From where we sit at the moment our daughter seems to be in this situation. We consider ourselves therefore to be the most fortunate of parents.—Lesley Levy