What do you say when your only daughter admits to being a lesbian? You say nothing; your tears say everything. For my friend “Leila,” it is a moment no mother—or father—is ever prepared for. She and her husband “Orly” were thrilled to be treated to lunch at a high-end mall by their only daughter, 30-year-old “Chesca,” after almost a year of living alone in her own pad. But somewhere between the main course and dessert, Chesca dropped the bomb: she’s a homosexual, and in fact has a female partner sharing her condo.
Leila said she and Orly were both too stunned to speak. She was on the verge of tears and yet held them back lest the other diners noticed. She couldn’t believe her ears, and although she felt it would be utterly wrong to say “It’s okay, we love you no matter what,” she found herself mouthing those words. She added: “Nag-beso-beso pa nga kami nung partner niya” when Chesca, feeling accepted, called up her partner (waiting in a nearby café) to join them.
Back home, the rest of the day was flooded with tears for Leila and Orly. Where did they go wrong—they would re-examine the past. They have four sons and a daughter, and sent them all to good Catholic schools. Like all parents they looked forward to having grandchildren and happy marriages for all of them. And because Chesca is the only girl, Leila had even fonder dreams for her, including that one shining event when she would march down the aisle as the mother of the bride. “We raised them well, they were good and well-behaved kids. What happened?” They never would have guessed their only daughter would turn out a lesbian—or were they in denial?
It now came into light—that one incident when Chesca was a little girl, Leila recalled. She had bought a really pretty and expensive dress for her to wear to a family reunion but the girl doggedly refused to wear it despite her mother’s pleas. It was Orly who successfully goaded her to wear the special dress, but Chesca pouted and sulked all day. Should we have taken a hint then, she mused.
“But it’s too late to change things, she says she’s very happy now,” Leila said, “we can’t even tell her it’s a sin, because that might alienate her. They hear Sunday Mass regularly and receive communion but I dare not challenge that. Chesca is a polished debater—she’s even smarter than our smartest boy—I don’t think I can win any argument with her.”
Leila and Orly still hope against hope that Chesca would revert to being straight. They are still coping with the initial shock, and wouldn’t know how to disclose it to Chesca’s brothers, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandmothers. Confused, Leila asks me: “How do we open it? It’s such a shame. There has never been a same-sex couple in the clan. Should we just invite Chesca’s partner to our next family gathering and let them disclose themselves? I’m sure it will be embarrassing because Orly and I are not really comfortable with their so-called love relationship. We smile and hug on the outside but inside we are sad and don’t understand it. What would you say to Chesca if you were us?”
Tall order. All I can offer is empathy, though I told Leila that instead of thinking of what to say to her daughter she should just take a deeper look into herself, stop crying over what might have been, let go her dreams for her, of someday bonding with her as they share motherhood stories. It’s a bitter cup to drink but Leila needs to face the reality of the moment, and trust that all that is happening in Chesca’s life is part of her journey towards finding herself in the love of God.
Chesca is 30; in choosing to love another woman instead of a man she used her God-given free will. Our paths to fulfillment are as individual as our fingerprints. Life is full of mysteries. Who knows—perhaps it is in that relationship where Chesca may eventually learn to desire God as her one true love. Perhaps Chesca will one day realize that happiness with a lover is not a peaches-and-cream-forever-and-ever thing; nor is it enough to fulfill oneself as a human being.
With her lady love time will come when she may have to struggle against all that couples go through: jealousy, infidelity, power play, envy, fights, betrayals, all sorts of abuse, even violence. Chesca probably feels on top of the world right now but once the initial blush of romance fades, she will need Someone more brilliant than herself to show her the way to the Love that never dies. And that is why she needs to be reminded most of all that she has a Friend in God.
As a final note I told Leila that maybe her parenting dilemma now is teaching her to love selflessly and unconditionally. No matter how carefully we raise our children, we come to the point when we have to surrender control as parents. Their life is now their own to live. Especially their love life. But although we shouldn’t pick love partners for them, we can always remind them to always nurture their Friendship with God. And that’s the truth.