How I Learned About THAT…

In support of those who walk this path alone …

This blog post was originally written in Russian about ten years ago. In the information vacuum of nowaday’s Russia, it was reposted multiple times and hopefully helped a large number of young gay people and their parents to navigate life challenges. 

I thought that at the present moment, this post is valuable only from the historical perspective. But to my surprise, it turned out that many people are still not completely aware of what it means to be homosexual. And I decided to write this post again, this time – in English. Here it comes.

***

People often ask me when did I learn about Vlad’s sexual orientation. The short answer: shortly after he had figured it out about himself. Which was a little bit after Anna suspected that it was the case. At that time, he was a couple of months short of being fourteen, and I’ve noticed that he looked sad and concerned for several days. I was bugging him with the questions, what was wrong, but he brushed off my concerns. That could not deceive me; I was sure that something serious is going on. Finally, I got a chance to talk to him one night when everybody else was out.  

I asked him to share with me what was wrong. He started: you are going to be very disappointed with me. Perhaps, you won’t love me anymore, but I need to tell you something. I think that I am gay. 

… I am not going to say that I’ve expected that. I didn’t. I asked him what made him think so. He explained. And although all of this was entirely unexpected for me, I immediately realized that it was true. I felt like a thousand pieces of the puzzle magically came together. That was it. 

*** 

For about two years before that, it looked like “he is just not getting it yet”, which was strange. By that time, Igor, who was six years older, was repeatedly asking him whether he already realized that “a girl may be pretty.” All Vlad ‘s teammates from the school cross-country team already had crushes on somebody. Girls were constantly chasing him over the phone and the internet. Sometimes he would start to see somebody, but I could not detect any genuine interest in these relationships from his side. Palatine is a small place, and at that time, everybody in town was talking about the fact that Vlad started to go out with Hally, a girl from their high school. She possessed very bold manners and a deep, almost manly voice. Everybody was talking, but I could see that Vlad did not really care about these relationships, that he did not have any feeling toward Hally, and no desire to move forward. He just felt that he “had” to have a girlfriend. 

So I asked him why in the world he is going out with Hally. He said that he wanted to make sure that “that’s not what he desires.” For which I replied, that I will love him no matter what, but would he please never use other people and their feelings for his experiments. 

I told him that he can talk with me about anything at any time, and asked him whether he wanted me to share with Anna. He said: yes, you can share with her, but I think she has already figured that out. Which was true.

I was experiencing all sorts of emotions at that moment, including lots of worries about how Vlad’s life is going to turn out, but the most pronounced was a huge sense of relief. My biggest fear was dismissed – I knew that he can love and be loved.

After this conversation, he went off exploring his identity for about two weeks :), so that I almost haven’t seen him. At the same time, he started to attend an LGBTQ Youth Group in the Countryside Church in Palatine. For all the incomers, they were providing condoms and a safe space to share their thoughts, fears, and hopes.  

Through the rest of the summer I heard Vlad’s theraputic phone conversations with Hally, during which he was explaining to her the same-sex love. “Well, Hally, tell me: are there any boys in school excpet me, whom you like?.. OK, what exactly do you like abou him?.. See, that exactly what I like about other boys: how they smile, how they turn their head, the way somebody looks at me.. all the same. No Hally, this is not about you! People are born that way!

Then there was Kyle, with whom Vlad had his first serious relationships. Even though their relationships were completely unhealthy, even though Kyle, like many other young gay people at that time, was emotionally harmed by his father and later by other emotionally damaged gay people, even though I breathed out when they finally broke up… it was love. What Vlad has experienced was a real thing. It was then when still not quite believing that my worst fears are over, I asked him: can you tell me now, what love means? And Vlad replied: love means sitting together in a car on the parking lot, holding hands and listening to the music.

… It is a scary thing when you realize that you are different. It’s a scary thing even in the most liberal society to recognize that you are a minority. What could Vlad possibly think when he was saying, “you probably won’t love me anymore?” Unfortunately, there are parents who don’t. Who would lock their sons in the basement until he will be cured, as Kyle’s father did. Or they stop talking to their sons, as Scott’s parents did. They demand that their children “fix themselves.” They would take the car keys away, as Trevor’s parents did. They would kick their children out of the house – too many families… I can’t even count the number of these young gay people who stayed in our house, for the evening or for the night, those who spent hours in Anna’s and Vlad’s therapy… 

… Gay people are not “demonstrating” their sexuality. They are striving to be recognized as equal… 

3 thoughts on “How I Learned About THAT…

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