My oldest son Nate is one of the great loves of my life. He and I have been through so much together; his father and I divorcing when he was three, the sudden death of my aunt who raised me (who we lived with) when he was six, and a lot of the time it being just the two of us. There are so many happy memories too, like Sean joining our tiny family and then the birth of his brothers, whom he adores.
There is one moment that truly stands out as a pivotal moment in our relationship that took place almost a year ago on June 30, 2019.
Earlier in the day, it was when Lil Nas X came out. It was the last day of Pride and everyone was talking about it. I remember that evening casually mentioning it to Nate because like Sean and I, he is a big fan, so it was something to discuss. He seemed to think that it was really cool, but we didn't really discuss it much further.
at 11:59 PM that night, after I thought Nate was long asleep, I got a text from him.
I will not share the exact details of the text, but it was a text telling me that he is gay and he was telling me via text because he felt nervous. We are an extremely LGBTQ affirming and supporting household, so you can feel the magnitude and weight he must have been feeling to feel nervous about telling us about it. Think about all of the kids out there grappling with their sexuality who know they don't have a supportive family, and just imagine how they would feel.
My heart started beating faster and I remember just saying Sean's name several times and handing him my phone. We both looked at each other with wide eyes, and I said that I knew I needed to go upstairs to talk to him. Sean was so rattled that for a second he honestly forgot Nate was even at home. When I say he was rattled, it wasn't out of upset or fear, we just hadn't seen this coming right now.
I went upstairs, and I think Nate knew that I would be coming up. Immediately I gave him a hug and told him thank you for trusting me, with trusting us, with such a big part of his story. That we loved him, we support him, and we are here for him. I didn't say much because I didn't want to overwhelm him, so I left him with another hug and I went downstairs.
As soon as I got downstairs, I started sobbing. Not because I was sad. Not because I was mourning some sort of heterosexual ideal I had for my child. I was sobbing because my twelve year old was the bravest person I knew, because my twelve year old was nervous but ultimately knew that he lived in a home that would love him and affirm him. Because my twelve year old would be able to feel a sort of love and freedom for who he is that isn't always afforded to LGBTQ teens.
So now here we are a year later. I can honestly say that watching Nate blossom and see his confidence soar has been one of the most beautiful things of my life. In hindsight, I didn't realize how the weight of holding that to himself truly was weighing on him. Ever since that night, since that text, I can see a light and a joy in my child that wasn't there. As a mother, that is all I could possibly want.
It feels important to share this story now, to share that I am a black mother of not only a black teenage boy, but a black gay teenage boy. I spoke with him about sharing this, and he gave his permission because I would not dream of sharing a word of this without his permission. As we are starting this month of Pride and one that has been so heart-breaking in so many ways, I want to share this story because I know there very well are other black mothers out there who are raising these exceptional black gay kids, who have so much fear in their hearts over the world accepting them.
I want to show an example of a black mother of a black gay teen who is affirming their child, who is loving their child, who is accepting their child. I know the future will be hard and I know there will be obstacles and there were be people who don't understand. We will not only be fighting white supremacy but also homophobia as well.
I don't have all the answers, but what I do know is that my Nate is many things; he is smart, he is witty, he is kind, he is loving, he is amazing. He is also black and he is also gay. All of those things make the puzzle that he is and regardless of the future, we have his back and we are in his corner. His beautiful spirit is unmatched and I couldn't be more proud of him.
We need to hear these stories, these stories of black families celebrating and embracing their LGBTQ children. Their lives are worthy, their lives matter, their lives are important.