Monday, May 28, 2012

Three Christian Funerals and Three Closeted Sons in Eight Months

by Rev. Stephen Parelli, written Monday, May 28, 2012, Bronx, NY

(The three characters depicted in this writing are real and their stories are true; names have been changed, places are left unidentified, and some descriptions have been altered.)

On a Wednesday morning while traveling out of the city, my husband and I received an unusual text from a gay friend: “My mother is dying right in front of my eyes.” Four hours later: “She’s gone.” It was sudden and totally unexpected. Burt is in his thirties. He has never come out to his parents or siblings, or virtually anyone . . . [For the full article, click here.]

Several months back, a second gay man we personally know lost his father. The son, Craig, in his forty’s, was living in one country in Asia with his lover of four years when it became known that his father was dying in another country in Asia, his parents’ mother-land. With his lover at his side, he went to be with his mother and his dying father, and for many days nursed his father until he died. He introduced his lover as a very close friend who was with him for support and comfort. On the day of the burial, as the guests and family left the site of the internment, the son and lover had to separate.  The family was to have a time of remembrance alone as a family. . .[For the full article, click here.]  

The same week that Burt’s mother died, a gay friend, Antonio, from Latin America, now living in the United States with his European lover of four years, visited in our home while his lover was away to Europe to bury his Christian father.

“I don’t have any friends,” he told us, which is not the Antonio we know. We met Antonio in South America, always at the center of any gathering. Antonio is somewhat quiet, but as a gay man he was open to the world and flowed with the party. But now, he was telling us, that here in America with a closeted professional as his partner, he was all alone. His partner comes out to no one. . . . [For the full article, click here.]

I’ve heard it said: It is better to be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not. Men who step out of the closet know this.

A gay man’s closet is his own closed casket – he is dead and no one sees him (his parents above all), and those who do see him, like Antonio, are dead with him in the closed casket.

And similarly, a mother’s open casket cannot love a closeted gay son – only in his mind. Whatever Burt told his mother as she lay in her casket (so that he could say, “OK, I’m ready now”) will not radically reduce his fear of rejection. Only a loving, understanding living mother gives ac
ceptance.  Why didn't he take the risk when she was alive, to say who he is. Isn't relationship worth the risk, even the risk of running up against the wrath of the church?  [For the full article, click here.]


Andy Silveira said...

Thanks for sharing these experiences! The religious insights are quite apt, as they make us realize how our spiritual life is so intertwined with our lived realities. However, often, from the narrow perspectives advocated by our religious leaders, we are at times stifled and don't dare to examine how are sexuality and our spirituality are extensions of each other. I truly agree with you that we must be born from above and have a new way of thinking!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing these testimonies.

Craig's testimony really inspired me.
Is there a way to get a follow up on his life now? Has he come out to his family and were they accepting of him? I am going through a similar situation in my life right now and would like some advice.

Thank you.

Rev. Stephen R. Parelli said...

Yes, Craig did come out to his brother and sister who both offered support. He has not yet come out to his mother and he may not since she is up in years. He was very surprised to find his brother supportive. He was pretty sure his sister would support him. Think a bit about this: It has been said that it is better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not.