Story Navigation
Notable Individuals

Mark Tobey (1890-1976),

famous artist, dedicated and devout Baha'i, was gay. His life and work were commemorated.. More

Powered by Squarespace
« To Join or Not to Join | Main | I'm not gay... »

A Baha’i Parent’s Epiphany Story Entry:

(An unpublished essay written by a mom, in hopes that our family's experience will be of interest to other Baha'i families with a gay child, in supporting him or her in love and unity:)

May 30, 2012. It was an ordinary day in an ordinary place, when my cell phone rang in the K-Mart parking lot. It was always a pleasure to hear from our 28-year-old son, though on this occasion it was not clear as to what was on his mind. I asked the usual “mom” question to draw him out: “How’s your social life?” (The predictable answer was that he was “talking to a girl,” but that she was not his “type.”)

Today, however, he replied in a voice heavy with resignation: “That’s a story for another day . . . .” For some strange reason, I gently dared to ask: “Alex, are you . . . gay? In the uncomfortable, prolonged silence which followed, I steeled myself for the unexpected reply: “Yes,” he said in a breaking voice. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say.” Though my world had just experienced a seismic event, nevertheless my heart immediately went out to our brave, youngest child—ever truthful, even when it was the hardest thing he had ever had to say.

During the remainder of that phone call, I learned everything I did not know about what it meant to be gay, as he patiently answered my many questions. My mental adjustment was almost instantaneous: our beloved son was now our beloved gay son. My emotional adjustment was just beginning.

Over the coming days, I searched my cerebral cortex for subtle clues that would point to homosexuality. Certainly our son was the picture of masculinity. But . . . yes—there was Alex’s lukewarm interest in an internet dating site to which my husband, with the best of intentions, had unwittingly subscribed on his behalf. And yes, there was the hint that most girls weren’t his type. Yes, our son would often insist, enigmatically, that he wasn’t “as good” as I thought he was. . . . And yes, there was Alex’s one gay friend to whom I’d been introduced; that would be Chris—now known to be the love of his life.

It was a revelation, that day in May, that already he and Chris had made sensible plans for a future together. Already they had become legal domestic partners, and Chris’s house would soon be their shared home. . . . The following summer, after the passing in November 2012 of a State referendum permitting same-sex marriage, they would be legally married in a moving and sanctified ceremony. Leave it to Alex to do it with grace and class, and make us proud.

My husband, too, searched for missed clues as to his son’s “natural nature,” and brought to mind a branch on his family tree consisting of aunts, uncles, and cousins who had never married—as was the case with his own bachelor brother. Dad has become a vocal proponent of same-sex marriage in his own circles. To Alex, he cheerfully rationalized that the new state of affairs was “Plan B.”

That our own religion (Baha’i) condemned the very idea of Alex and Chris’s relationship was a bitter pill to swallow. My therapy was to take up the violin. The violin sang sweet midnight songs to soothe my conflicted soul. It intoned simple harmonies to distract from the dissonant clashing of faith and reason, of immutable dogma and evident truth. It wept for all gay youth rejected and disowned for coming out; for those who were forced to live a lie; and for the more devout among them who contemplated in lonely distress the cruel fates which awaited “sinners” with wayward inclinations. Ultimately, I had to choose between allegiance to God’s Will as interpreted by my faith (which requires celibacy on the part of homosexual members)— and supporting the love of two guys who intended to become family. Love won. In the interest of personal integrity, I had no choice but to formally withdraw from the faith to which I had given about 37 years of my life.

Had our son continued to bear his burden of guilt in silence, this family’s story, like others, could have ended badly. Alex’s coming out was the demarcation between darkness and light, for himself and for those whose lives he has touched. As for me, this being my story, his painful revelation in May was the pivotal moment when latent homophobia, bred of ignorance and holy writ, was replaced by compassion and understanding. My epiphany on May 30, 2012 was a blessing. I was blind—but in a dizzying, transformative, lightning flash, I saw.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend