Monday, April 02, 2007

Nice Story

I just read through this story in the Times. It's about a gay kid who was having a terrible time being gay and found supportive parents on the other side of coming out:

ONE month before Zach O’Connor, a seventh grader at Brown Middle School here, came out about being gay, he was in such turmoil that he stood up in homeroom and, in a voice everyone could hear, asked a girl out on a date. It was Valentine’s Day 2003, and Zach was 13.

“I was doing this to survive,” he says. “This is what other guys were doing, getting girlfriends. I should get one, too.”

God, I can identify with that. As a child, I was terrified that anyone would find me out. The reasons why are part of this kid's story:
Still, seventh grade was not easy. “We heard kids across the street yelling ‘homo’ as he waited for the school bus,” Mr. O’Connor says. Zach says classmates tossed pencils at him and constantly mocked him.“ One kid followed me class to class calling me ‘faggot,’ ” he says. “After a month I turned and punched him in the face. He got quiet and walked away. I said, ‘You got beat up by a faggot.’ ”
Finally, Zach's parents sound like really nice people, even if they might not have understood that there's nothing wrong with being gay (I'd bet they know better now):

That night, when his mother got home from work, she stuck her head in his room to say hi. “I said, ‘Ma, I need to talk to you about something, I’m gay.’ She said, ‘O.K., anything else?’ ‘No, but I just told you I’m gay.’ ‘O.K., that’s fine, we still love you.’ I said, ‘That’s it?’ I was preparing for this really dramatic moment.”

Ms. O’Connor recalls, “He said, ‘Mom, aren’t you going to freak out?’ I said: ‘It’s up to you to decide who to love. I have your father, and you have to figure out what’s best for you.’ He said, ‘Don’t tell Dad.’ ”

“Of course I told him,” Ms. O’Connor says.

“With all our faults,” Mr. O’Connor says, “we’re in this together.”

My coming out happened in my twenties and didn't have such Cleaverish overtones. Don't think I'm not glad for Zach. I am, and it's great to read such a hopeful story. He sounds like a brave kid. I hope every kid finds the kind of love his parents have for him.