It will stay forever in my memory as a special day because it held, for me, sudden understanding -- a dawning. Paul, the younger of our two sons, now graduated from college and working in Durham, was home for the weekend.
"Mom, are you busy?" he asked on Sunday afternoon.
"Well, I'd thought I might go to the Chatham Historical Society meeting. It's here at the church this afternoon. But I don't have to go," I added.
"Could we go for a walk, then? I'd like to talk with you."
We started down the street by the parsonage, cut across the lawn below the cemetery, and presently found ourselves seated under a large old tree. There Paul told me what he had on his mind, very simply and honestly. "I am homosexual," he said.
How had I not known? In all those twenty six years, how had I not become aware? Now, in one brief moment, so many things fell into place. But first -- first
"Paul, when did you know?"
"It was when I was in my early teens," he said. "When I realized that I was different from the other kids, it was as if a huge black hole opened up in my life."
I was weeping now, in agony for this son, this perceptive, compassionate, shy person, this lonely, self-effacing, often angry person. He had gone through those adolescent torments alone. If only I had known. Angus and I had tried to understand, tried to help. We had encouraged and supported as best we knew. But still we could see that as a teenager and even in college Paul seemed often remote, unable to focus in order to use his talents to the full, unable to realize and appreciate his attractive attributes. I had noticed in the past few months though, that he had seemed less tense, more outgoing and self assured. Now he explained that after years of private struggle and despair he had finally gone to a counselor to ask for help in changing his sexual orientation. The counselor told him that he could not change Paul's sexuality but assured him that he would listen and support him in his quest for discovery and growth. Feelings of gratitude toward that counselor surge through my heart and mind even as I write. How fortunate Paul was! He faced his situation in honesty, came with hope and determination, and was met with understanding and acceptance. I am sure that this was life-affirming for him.
As we continued to talk, Paul said that he had told his brother, Stephen, that he was gay several months before and that Steve had encouraged him to tell me. I was gratified that they both trusted that I would understand. It was not difficult for me to do so. I had loved Paul for all the years of his life. Now he had taken me into his confidence, trusted me with a most intimate and important part of his inner life. He was still my same beloved son. Now I was crying again as I realized the kind of misunderstanding and discrimination he would surely experience as a gay person. Though to me he was still my fine, talented, caring son, Paul, to many he would be first and only "a homosexual."
As we finished our conversation, Paul asked, "Do you think I should tell Dad or do you want to tell him?
"I think he would appreciate it if you would tell him," I said. And that was the way it was.
Angus and I are fortunate. Our faith is in the boundless love of God for all persons. We are confident that none are excluded. We find reason for this faith in the words and acts of Jesus himself We believe that Paul's sexuality is not his choice but a "given" -- an orientation. We believe his sexuality is not a mistake or perversion, but that, like all sexuality, it is a gift to be used in a loving and responsible way.
It was and is our intention to honor the trust that Paul has placed in us, and to support him in his continuing growth as the person God intended him to be.
-- Catherine M. Cameron