"I am a proud mom of two sons. One is straight the other is gay. We had no idea that our younger son Chad was gay when he came out at 16. We were shocked, upset, scared, and concerned. My initial reaction when he told me was not a good one. I literally fell apart in front of him. That was 19 years ago and I still have issues today with the way I reacted. I reﬂect back on that moment and wish I could change it but I cannot. So instead I became a loud voice , a mom with a mission. I educated myself. I joined and became an active member of PFLAG, serving as president of the South Orange County chapter for 5 years and as a Volunteer Regional Director for 3 years. I was an invited speaker for the Equality Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. I could not change the past but I could help change the future for my son and for the LGBTQ+ community.
When our son told us he was gay, little did we know how positively it would impact our lives. Him coming out and us coming out as parents of a gay son has enriched us in so many ways. We could not have imagined back on that day when he was 16 that our lives would be better for it. It did take us a year after Chad told us he was gay to feel comfortable in telling family and friends. Why? The reason is that we needed time back then. We did not understand. We loved him and supported him and felt his pain for what he was holding back from us but we still did not fully understand how difficult the decision was for him to come out. Once he did, we saw a miraculous change in him. He was able to be his true self and with that he became more calm, comfortable, and happy.
We then educated ourselves. We began to speak out. We began our journey as parents of a gay son. To all of the parents who are struggling with their child being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or gender non-conforming remember this: they are still your child and need your love. To all the young people who are struggling to come out, remember this: be proud of who you are and love yourself.
Barbara Miller Pisetsky