Eager to talk but equally wary, Marie sat outside a coffee shop and divulged the secret she’s hidden for eight months.
It started last fall with a letter from her son Allan. Marie didn’t get very far down the page before she lost her breath, before she saw the two words her 29-year-old son was not supposed to write: I’m gay.
It seemed as if he had torn off a mask, Marie said, and exposed a face she’d never before seen.
Despite increased acceptance of homosexuality, parents like Marie still are shocked when the word is suddenly associated with their children. They expect their sons and daughters to be heterosexual. And when they learn otherwise, they grieve.
“For weeks, I couldn’t stop crying,” says Marie. “I didn’t want to talk to anyone.”
Now, she’s passed that stage and faces the next hurdle: She must decide whether to stay in the closet — enduring the gay jokes, the probing about Allan’s lack of girlfriends — or to step out, like her son, and stand by him.