By the age of three, Drake still wasn’t very interested in playing with cars or destroying things like most boys his age. He was very interested in art, his aunt’s newest furnishings, and the color pink. He could recognize damask patterns and he wanted to be a flower when he grew up. At four, when his sister talked of being a tomboy, Drake asked what that meant and then extrapolated that that must mean he was a tom-girl.
So, my husband, Craig, and I had plenty of clues that he might be gay when he grew up, but knowing there is a spectrum of sexuality, didn’t want to pigeon hole him. (We signed him up for the usual variety of kids sports and he was good at them……… )If he was gay this was something he would have to tell us in his own time. In the meantime, as he got older, we made sure he knew we supported gay rights and gay marriage. Whenever, the issue was in the news, we made sure he heard us vocalize our support.
I can’t say I’ve always been so enlightened. I grew up in church and heard the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah like everyone else. At some point in my early twenties it became very apparent to me that being gay was biological and not a choice. How could being gay be sinful when God is the one that created them? It also seems to me a most basic human right to love who you want to.
So, about this time last year we got a call from our daughter, Gabrielle – who was then a sophomore at Harvard and very stressed out about her classes. She was on the phone with me for a while and then spent a good hour on the phone with Drake. She was quite happy after talking with Drake, but I still thought it would be a good idea to visit her. Off I went to Boston. On my first day there she informs me in a very militant tone that she has joined the gay straight alliance and is proudly wearing the rainbow flag on her backpack. I do know she’s not gay, and something seems a little fishy. So, I say, “That’s fine, honey, but you’re already on the rugby team and I thought you wanted to date men. I think you should move the rainbow flag someplace else.” To which, she replies ,”I only want to date men that support gay rights.” And I tell her “you’re not going to get a man to date because they are just going to assume you’re gay” and so the conversation went. Something was definitely up, so on my last day, I asked her, “Is your brother gay?” Her reply was, “You have to ask him that!”
Well, Drake was 15 at the time and up until then I hadn’t wanted to ask…I would be fine if he was, but I didn’t want to offend him if he wasn’t. It’s kind of like asking a woman with a rounded tummy if she’s pregnant – you just don’t go there. And, it was a little scary. If he was gay, how would people treat him? Would he be rejected? Maybe I should just be happy with the status quo of my obliviousness. But, after being with Gabrielle, I felt I needed to talk to him about it.
So, the morning of February 14th, I asked Drake if he was gay. He said “yes” and that he has known since about 5th grade. That was devastating to know that he hadn’t felt like he could talk to anyone about it since 5th grade. He spoke of junior high when he thought he might have to marry a girl for the sole purpose of having a family. He spoke of ninth grade when he realized he couldn’t live like that and could have a family with a man. He reminded me that he never referred to a future wife, but future spouse and that he always talked of adoption. He did say he wasn’t worried about my or his Dad’s reaction, but that of other close family members and friends. He had long ago decided to come out when he went off to college and that was still the plan…for a couple more weeks, at least, until he watched an HBO movie on AIDS, The Normal Heart, and decided after what gays experienced with the AIDS crisis, he could be brave, too, and just come out. Of course, he wanted to do a video, but we talked about the importance of letting his family and close friends know in person and not via video.
Drake was at film camp when I told my mom whose reaction was, “I know”. I said, “Drake wants to know how he should tell Dad” and she replied, “I’ll tell Dad”. Phewff….I thought this would mean her dropping hints to him over the course of a few years and since he doesn’t use social media….But no, I got a call from her that evening and she said, ” I told your dad & he is fine with it. He loves Drake” and the next day my Dad told me the same thing. I’ve never been prouder of my parents. The rest of the family turned out just as easy, if not easier.
Drake told his friends and that went fine, too…. And then he released the video.
I find it ironic, that the people that scared me the most to tell were my more fundamentalist Christian church going friends/ family. I knew the non-churchgoers would be fine and thinking about that saddens me. Some people can’t get past Sodom and Gomorrah to the part where we were all made in his image. I’ve only had one friend spout off, “love the sinner, hate the sin” and in the next breath tell me she has been afraid of this for years, because she could see it in him. Again, I say, God made him this way and he’s wonderful. I have great hope that knowing Drake will help my friend evolve.
I have had many people express their support- the most recent being a card from Mary Lou Hodgins, a dear friend of my parents. I am here to tell you it is a changing world. Many of my contemporaries ask about Drake and how he is doing and how he is treated at school. It really has been a non-issue at school. Kids find out and it’s no big deal at all.
Drake is a very lucky boy. He was born at the right time, with many changes afoot in society. He has a family, friends and church that love him. He knows God loves him. And, he has a strong, confident personality because he is fearfully and wonderfully made.