My loved ones and I: Corinne, 57 years old, “I had to accept my son’s homosexuality before supporting him”

My loved ones and I: Corinne, 57 years old, “I had to accept my son’s homosexuality before supporting him”
My loved ones and I: Corinne, 57 years old, “I had to accept my son’s homosexuality before supporting him”

“I will always remember the day our son came out to us,” says Corinne. “That was ten years ago. I had thought Thomas was weird for a while. He was absent, nervous, irritable. I put it down to the French baccalaureate exams that were fast approaching. Thomas has always had a scientific mind and this subject was not particularly his strong point. In short, I was worried, without really worrying. My husband kept telling me that I was worrying for nothing and that I had to let go at all costs.

I felt an intense pain squeezing my chest like a vice

Nevertheless, when our son told us that he had something very important to tell us, I felt an intense pain tightening my chest like a vice. So much so that I thought I was having a heart attack. In the space of a few seconds, I imagined the worst.” This Parisian press officer still sees her son, sitting on his bed, painfully searching for words.

A mother in search of answers

“He didn’t say the words ‘homosexual’ and ‘gay,’” she said. “He was probably afraid of being too blunt and hurting our feelings even more. So he explained things in a more roundabout way, saying that he didn’t hate girls—he had even ‘tried’ twice, he told us—but that he was more attracted to boys. He also said that it had taken him almost seventeen years to accept who he really was, so he understood that it might take us a while to come to terms with it, but he had to tell us. He couldn’t stand lying to us anymore.”

The mother remembers her husband’s reaction very well. “Christophe didn’t seem to have understood what our son was telling us,” says the fifty-year-old. “He reassured Thomas by telling him that it was definitely a fling and that, at his age, he too had questioned his sexuality, before understanding that he definitely liked women. He told him not to worry, that everything would quickly get “back to normal”. I think he was in total denial. He didn’t hear what he didn’t want to hear.”

The first thing that came to my mind was, “Why?”

In Corinne’s head, on the contrary, questions quickly come flooding in. “The first one that came to mind was ‘Why?'” she confides. I am almost ashamed to say it today, but I immediately wondered what we had “missed” in our education to have “a son like that”. I had been a good mother, it seemed to me, and Christophe, even though he was away a lot for professional reasons (he is a purchasing director in an SME), had always been a loving father. Our son had never lacked anything. It was stronger than me, I couldn’t help but feel guilty and try to find explanations.

I also blamed myself for not having seen things coming. And, above all, I was sad not for myself, but for Thomas, who would perhaps never know the joys of fatherhood (for my part, I had other children who would probably make me a fulfilled grandmother). I was also worried about him. I was afraid that his life would be more complicated, that he would be marginalized and rejected by those around us, or even attacked in the street. In short, this was not at all the destiny that I had imagined for him.

Time to accept

That evening, Corinne didn’t even have the instinct to comfort her son. She cried all the tears in her body. “I refused to face the truth,” she explains. “It was all the stranger because, before knowing about Thomas, I had absolutely nothing against homosexuality. I told myself that we had to accept everyone as they were. But now that it was my son, I no longer saw things in the same light at all. I was so ashamed and so afraid of what others would think that at one point I even said to myself that we could perhaps keep this unspeakable secret to ourselves. I didn’t want Thomas to be thrown to the wolves.”

When I see how happy they both look, I tell myself that that’s the main thing.

While Christophe withdrew into silence in the days that followed, Corinne tried to be open-minded. “I spent hours on the internet,” she explains. “I looked at forums and read many testimonies from homosexuals – both men and women – but also from parents of homosexuals, and I understood that Thomas had not chosen his sexual orientation. He was born that way. And we, his parents, had nothing to do with it either, but we had to help and support him, because of the prejudices and discrimination he would inevitably face. For my part, I knew right away that I was ready to evolve and love my son as he was.”

Corinne then had a long discussion with Christophe. “He always had more trouble accepting the idea that his child was homosexual,” she said. “So I advised him to get help and, after a while – I would say a year – he slowly began to get closer to his son, even if he has never since frankly broached the subject with him. He remains modest. But I want to say: it doesn’t matter. Thomas now lives with Guillaume and, when I see how happy they both seem, I tell myself that that’s the main thing. And then, finally, everyone around us reacted rather well. To my great surprise, very few seemed surprised to hear the news.”

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