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‘Be happy,’ mom advises, and many approve

Updated: July 19, 2013 3:26PM

Jimmy heard the response every gay boy or girl, man or woman hopes for. When he told his “peasant” mother — born in rural Italy in 1933, “barely literate, with a fourth-grade Catholic education” — that he was gay, she said, “Good. Go do what you have to do. Live your life. Be happy! Be free!’”

Here’s what you had to say ...

HARPER: This brought tears to my eyes. Would that all kids had parents who offer this kind of love and acceptance and have this kind of faith in them.

SHIRLEY: I have two grown sons, and I can only hope that I would have reacted to that information from one of them with the same response. I’ve never been tested in that way, but it seems to me it’s the only response. How some parents can disown their gay children is beyond my comprehension.

A story like this might make some people think, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if you changed even one mind?

MARIE: I worked in an emergency room for four years and saw a lot of teenagers come in who tried to commit suicide because they were not accepted. We all want to shine our own light and be embraced for who we truly are.

MARK: I was a lot like Jimmy. I didn’t want to live a double life anymore, “out” to other gays, “in” to my straight friends and my family. The tension between who I was and who I pretended to be was taking a toll on my health. I had migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and eczema.

So, again like Jimmy, I steeled myself up and told my mother. I had to have several shots of vodka before I could do it.

But here’s where our stories are different. My mother told me I would bring shame on our family if anyone knew and if my father found out, with his bad heart, he would die. I would kill him as surely as if I took a gun and shot him!

I asked what I should do. She told me she didn’t care as long as I remained (I’m going to quote her now) her “son” and not her “daughter.”

She actually said priests are celibate, why couldn’t I just be celibate like them? And we’re not even Catholic!

This happened 11 years ago, when I was 27. I spent too many of those years engaged in dangerous behavior because I hated myself too much to care if I lived or died. Thank God I made a wonderful friend who convinced me to get into therapy.

If only I had had a mother like Jimmy’s I can’t imagine how different my life would have been.

I knew it was love ... I knew it was over ... Fill in the blanks and send them to cheryllavin

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