by Callum Lee
Somewhere across time and space, there is a father telling his son that he was terrified for years before he came out. He has told him many things over the years, clichés like “it’s just a phase,” and “your life will be so much more difficult now.” The mother parrots phrases like these, but in a more Biblical context: “you know this goes against what God says,” and “this is a sin.” But the thing is, the son knows what sin feels like. He knows what it’s like to be 5 years old, stealing a chocolate bar for the first time and understanding the criminal weight behind it, the burden of guilt and pleasure and panic. Sin feels like cheating on a test or taking money from a purse. Sin looks like suicide, like homosexuals, like tattoos on your body or hate in your heart. At 12 years old, he realized that his options were an early grave caused by self-hatred, denial, and shame, or that he could love himself and live.
The father tells him that nobody is meant to be happy. Happiness is fleeting, joy is forever, and joy is only found in God. This is the argument he gives the son when he says that being who he was meant to be makes him happy. Going back into the closet would mean certain death, absolute misery, total despair, but the father argues that life is discontent anyway. Why not soldier on normally? Being queer is only a hinderance to life’s chances, anyway.
The parents’ worst fears look like this: the child turned away from every opportunity, beaten down by the world, unloved by all except for them. Or maybe, their worst fears look like this: the child’s happiness found in a lifestyle they never wanted/approved of. Because each day that unfolds looks more like the latter. The son has flourished away from home.
He’s found friends that love him for who he is (none of them are perfect: there’s always the ones that ask weird questions or still have the same idea of toxic masculinity in their heads, but they’re trying, he’s teaching them). He’s discovered the space he needs to accept and appreciate himself, learning about the little joys in life and how to stay steady despite hardships. He’s remained strong through difficulties, realized more about himself in the past few years than any other. He has started to repair the damage his parents have done to his identity and to his heart, and he doesn’t ever regret coming out. They say it’s harder this way, that they’ve always wanted better for him, but he can’t change how he was made, what he wants. There’s a happiness inside him. It’s warm and content, and it looks like self-acceptance.