Love Requires Understanding and Taking Responsibility – Nedime

Love Requires Understanding and Taking Responsibility – Nedime

About nine years ago, I experienced a major breaking point in my life. I thought that what I was talking about would have a very negative effect, even a blow in my life. When I look at my current life, it is quite the opposite; I see that it has had an opening, relaxing and developing effect.

I have always cared about respect to differences, different segments and different understandings. I also struggled to keep myself at a point where I did not ostracize who I saw different throughout my life. I took great care in raising my child this way. Looking back after that breaking point, I realized that as a person who thought she respects differences, was not like that at all. Because I have always observed and discovered certain differences about my son since he was young, but I had been a mother who forced him to be a part of majority by making up various reasons for them. In other words, because I saw a difference in him, I took him to a psychologist, accepted the negative effects caused by the psychologist without questioning, and tried to live by ignoring this process.

Then one day I got a letter from my son that broke my heart and shook me completely. When I saw the pink-colored letter lying there on my bed, I opened it, thinking, “I wonder what kind of story my son told me.” The letter begins with his coming out as a gay person and although he was only 17, he wrote that he would understand my reaction when I learned this as if he was my parent.

I got reel back from it. You know as in cartoons, I saw the stars after bump on head… I really saw the stars. At the end of the letter, my son stated that he would not come home for three days and that we could talk after I understand the situation. I could not understand it. At that point, I realized that as a person, who thinks she is respectful and tolerant to differences and to persons who say they are gay or trans, I had been actually a mother who tried to pressure her child, without understanding by considering his sexual orientation as if it is a choice. All my effort was to change my child quickly after learning what homosexuality is and to save him from this choice.

I specifically use the word “choice” because it formed the basis of my former perception. I needed a long journey to learn from my mistake and I would like to share with you how this journey was.

After the letter, I took my child to psychologists, psychiatrists. I wanted to come across someone who knew about this subject, who would understand us and show us the right way. I did a research and we met a really good psychologist. We started going there with my son, but the psychologist’s main goal was to ease my process. However, I expected him to tell to my son, “You are at the wrong point, you are not establishing a right relationship with yourself,” but it did not happen.

Even now, 9 years later, I still remember the feeling of finding that letter. After reading it, my efforts to persuade my son began. I was constantly trying to pressure him with what I call “choice”; and suggesting “Don’t choose that way”. After many research and conversations with others, I began to realize that this is not a choice from the bottom of my brain but my heart was not listening it. I would say to my son, “If this is not a choice but something like what you describe, I will struggle for you as an activist.” Because if even I had excluded and ignored this issue by being so conservative and homophobic, who knows how the outside world would be? This was the first time I was evaluating this issue so deeply and each time my heart and soul were aching. A rebellion, an objection was mobilizing inside me.

When I finally accepted, I said, “Are there things I could not understand in his life, did they affect my child’s sexual orientation?” I questioned myself like that for a while. Later, I met the family support group and starting from that day on, I took care to be a part of them. My point of view, my way of perceiving life and the relationship I have with myself have changed a lot after I learned from each other in the group that this is not a matter of motherhood, that mothers from all segments and from all classes can have LGBTI+ children, that this has nothing to do with the relationship we have with our children, that is, after I discovered this field. My awareness was raised and it became a responsibility. Then it turned into something that affected my personal choices and the pace of my life. In addition, as someone who tries to think about motherhood and love, I have once again confirmed that love requires taking responsibility and understanding.

Respecting and opening up space for those who are different to show their difference is something I value very much and is one of the basis of my connection with the world. I have always cared about the issue of discrimination throughout my life, but while one cares a lot about some issues in this field, at the same time can ignore other issues such as LGBTI+ rights. LGBTI+ rights were a field that I ignored and keep myself away from it, consoling myself by saying that I just respect them.

If I had the wisdom I have today, I would never force my child to go to the psychologist after he left me a letter because it was a situation that I experienced difficulty with, not him. He did not need any help in this regard. If he had a hard time embracing this identity and I had seen it, I might have thought he had to go.

I, who thinks that differences should be respected, have been exposed to things while I was taking him from one doctor to another because he is different. They told me to keep myself away from my child. These were the things that ruin the mother-child relationship, and I can realize this now.

Confronting homosexuality had the effect of changing my perspective on things that is not norm. I was a woman who got married after graduating from university, had a child 4-5 years after marriage even though I did not want children, and led a normal, standard life.

I got separated from my husband before I found out that my son is gay, I was trying to quickly change my life when I came across this issue. I am now discovering that this has liberated my life. To love with understanding is really liberating and comforting. I have also seen that understanding each other built our relationship with my son.

When my son was young, I did not dream about his future; what we call the future is made up of things we assume, so I did not dream of anything for him. Now, I am relieved to see that he is a stronger and more self-aware individual in choosing what suits him. I do not want him to be in relationships and preferences where he feels obligated and stuck.

It relieves me to see that he is not at that point in terms of personality. My wish for him to build a life in a way he wants. I have gay, trans friends. Based on this, my son assumed that when he came out to me, I would say “Is that so, dear, so you are gay” in a very understanding way, but it never happened. During the time I spent understanding and accepting this issue, I saw that; children with their parents standing next to them become more empowered.

After reaching a certain maturity level, they become stronger in coping with life. I will never forget, a friend of mine who is gay in his thirties once told me, “I can fight against the whole world, as long as my mother stands by me.” This influenced me a lot. I also saw this; after I stand by my child, his self-confidence and his relationship with himself became more decent and better. I think that children who are supported by their parents are more advantageous in making peace with themselves, gaining a life and gaining self-confidence.

When we meet with parents whose children came out, I want them to feel that I understand their feelings and their pain if they are experiencing pain (and most of them are experiencing). We say that we have experienced similar things and provide examples from our own lives. We say, “Please give a chance to change the feelings that you see as unchangeable right now” because when I went to the psychologist, I wanted my feelings to be recognized, understood, and even approved. Against a disapproving person, I was on the contrary harsh and getting more defensive. However, when you meet someone who understands you, you lower your guard more easily. We also try to make the family group feel that we understand each other. Apart from that, we share our own experiences, how we overcome the difficulties, the methods with which we can overcome those difficulties, how important solidarity is, and where we can find the strength of solidarity.

I had methods of overcoming difficulties that I can call a strategy. When my awareness was worse, I had never shared the situation with anyone. As my awareness raises, I realized that I need to share and see the reactions. Then I started to come out to my friends. I made strategic choices while coming out. The first friends I came out are the people who are more positive about this issue, would not judge my son, and would not keep themselves away from him. So glad that I came out because I cannot say that I did not have a fear of harming my relations while telling them that my son is gay.

In the end, we create ourselves a world and relation with our friends, but seeing that my fear is unfounded made me feel more comfortable and safer to share it with others.

I came by many people who struggled about differences, gave their lives and paid the price while resisting the discrimination suffered by others, but I know that most of them are homophobic and keep themselves away from the LGBTI+ field. You do not have to experience it to see it.

We should realize how the acts of discrimination support and reproduce each other, while opposing one thing, we should realize how the discrimination against another destroys the things we struggle and work for, we should look at the struggle for life as a whole and see that all of them interact with each other and give the necessary support to all of them.

I see with having on my conscience that I have keep myself away from this for a long time in my life. Of course, I had to support them against the violence, discrimination and neglect they experienced. It is sad for me to realize this with my child, but it is even sadder to realize and not fight back. I attach great importance to fighting together, shoulder to shoulder, against injustice and violence, without waiting for our own children to face these. As mothers, we can say a lot about the rights of LGBTI+ persons and have an impact. We need to find the language and method for this, not only for our own children, but for all persons who are discriminated against, for humanity.