“I work at Sipps, a not-so-gay gay bar in Gulfport, Mississippi. The reason I choose that wording is because even though we tend to cater to the local gay culture, we are an all-inclusive experience for people of all walks of life, socioeconomic classes, and sexual orientations. I was at the bar like I am most Thursday nights, tending to a few patrons, when our phone rang. I picked up, expecting someone to ask about a party booking, or one of our events from that weekend. And as soon as I finished our stock greeting, I heard a lady of the other end of the line ask me, ‘Is this a gay bar?’
Usually, when someone asks that question, I can expect them to hang up or awkwardly back out of the conversation after I answer. And my answer is always, ‘It’s an everybody bar.’ But not this time. No, this time, she had a few follow up questions. She wanted to know things like if I was gay, and what I would want from family if I was newly coming out. I wasn’t really sure what to think.
This is how the full conversation went:
Me: ‘Good evening. Thank you for calling Sipps!’
Lady on phone: ‘Is this a gay bar?’
Me: ‘Well, we are an everybody bar, but yes, mostly gay.’
Lady: ‘Can I ask you a question?’
Lady: ‘Are you gay?’
Me: ‘YES MA’AM’
Lady: ‘What was the one thing you wanted from your parents when you a came out?’
Lady: ‘My son just came out to me, and I don’t want to say anything that may mess him up in the head.’
Me: ‘Well, I think that you should just make sure he knows that you love and accept, wait do you accept it?’
Lady: ‘Well umm, yes, if that’s what he wants.’
Me: ‘You should definitely let him know that you love and accept him! I think everything will be ok from there!’
Lady: ‘OK, well thank you.’
Me: ‘You are very welcome and good luck!’
She’d called because her son had just come out to her, and she was unsure how to react. She didn’t seem against it, just that it had shocked her and she wanted to make sure she did whatever the right thing was. So, she called a gay bar for advice. I told her exactly what any of my friends, or bar patrons, or any LGBT American would say: ‘Tell him he is loved and accepted.’
It really warmed my heart to have her call and ask for that advice. One of my regular patrons said it best: ‘This is called progress. When a mother doesn’t know how to react, she asks for advice. And that isn’t just good motherhood, that is a sign that the fight for equality is only becoming closer and closer to being over. Thank you, stranger, for reaching out for help when you weren’t sure what to say or do.’
I have been completely honored to help raise awareness, not just at home, for all LGBT individuals around the globe. But I would be remiss if I did not say that the real hero here is the nameless mother who loved her son so much, that she sought advice on how to find a path that would not only allow him to finally live his truth, but also helps her to be the loving and accepting mother that so many LGBT Americans have not had.
If anything can be taken from this, it’s that parents and family and friends all around the world should know that loving your person is the absolute best thing you can do. Have discussions with your kids about how being gay is nothing to be ashamed of. If your son comes out, ask for help if you don’t know what to do or say. Have the uncomfortable conversations. It doesn’t matter if you feel awkward or stumble over your own words. I promise. Actively talking about this issue will eventually work out all of the kinks.
I’ll never be able to stress just how lonely being an LGBT American can feel. So many of us live in the proverbial closet for most of our lives, out of fear of rejection. And those of us who work up the courage to come out, seem to always suffer at the hands of that same rejection that we all fear. And out of that, ‘gay culture’ was born. When we couldn’t be accepted, we accepted ourselves.
I challenge all people to treat their LGBT friends, brothers, sisters, cousins, great aunts twice removed with all the love and respect, and common human decency, that you would want for yourself. Conditional love can scar someone’s soul for the rest of their lives. But unconditional love can heal all wounds.”
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