Updated: Oct 17, 2021
My name is Denise and I grew up in the oil and gas industry. Home was not a sanctuary. Alcohol has played a huge part of my life and by the age of nine I was molested by a family friend, while at age 16, I was raped. My prognosis of being able to conceive was maybe 90% against me. Today I have two sons, 28 and 26. I’m a very happy, strong and independent woman still in recovery.
I love my sons just the same amount, but I love them differently. I try and love them the way they need to be loved. I also have a beautiful daughter-in-law and two grandsons who are the light of my life.
2015 was a significant year for me. I was going through a divorce, my 80 year old mother had two strokes that pretty much took her memory, I quit my job on the road to come home and stay with her, I relapsed, and my beloved schnauzer was run over and killed. This all happened within a five month period.
One evening, my youngest son, Dalton, came over and asked to speak with me in the garage and I was all too glad to get out of my mother’s home for a while and have a nice visit with him. However, I could tell something big was on his mind and could feel the heaviness of his heart. To this day I can’t recall the entire conversation, but I most certainly remember him telling me he was gay. My first reaction was SHOCK. How had I not known this?
I’m sure my facial expression showed what my heart and stomach were feeling – worry and fear. As a young girl I’d been raised Pentecostal, and although I don’t currently attend church, my faith was still strong and the Word of God was branded in my mind. What I felt was fear for my son’s soul. What would eternity look like for him? But then I looked at this beautiful, loving and compassionate human being who God had created and given to me – to love and care for – when the odds had been so against it. And I knew. My God does not make mistakes. And in that moment, everything fell into place. So many things regarding Dalton started to fall into place: his drive for knowledge, the tenderness he possessed, the absence of girlfriends. Not that he hadn’t brought girls home to the farm on weekends. He had! But they were just his friends, even though in our minds we wondered, “Is this the one?” Remember, we are a small town in the Bible Belt. We hunt and fish. We raise cattle and show them in Future Farmers of America. Friday night football is not an option.
When Dalton came out to me, he was already in a relationship, and still has the same partner today. I adore his partner and would lay my life down for him, because he has the same good heart as my son and loves him. I had met him once at Dalton’s and my combined birthday celebration with my oldest son and his family. On the way home, my oldest son was so upset and I couldn’t figure out why. I STILL DID NOT KNOW DALTON WAS GAY!! I just stated that I didn’t have a problem with Dalton bringing a friend to the party.
So the puzzle piece of my son’s life had been placed and it wasn’t the picture of what I thought the box would look like. But I imagined the courage and vulnerability it took him to come out to me and I realized how very much I loved him and always had. I understood my son. His choice in a partner was his; he was an adult. I told him as much, and that nothing he could ever do could change my love for him and I meant it. We cried that night while I held him in my arms. My tears were from the fear of what me might have to face in this sometimes ugly world. I think he cried from relief!
I cried myself to sleep that night grieving the visions I’d had for him. I raged at the helplessness I felt. But my life changed for the better that night. I’m not going to question my faith. I still know there’s a God – I’m still alive! See, I always heard that God gives battles to the strongest, and I’ve been made strong through life’s trials, so yes, I’m up for this battle, too. And I’m proud of my son and his accomplishments.
Since that night my life has been enriched by multiple people who live a variety of lifestyles. I see my son in a whole new light; I see the life he was meant to live, and he does it so well and eloquently. I’ve met a whole new group of people I like to refer to as my Tribe. They are the most respectful, fun-loving, and compassionate group I’ve ever known, made up of other parents that I can now call friends and family. Truly, I am blessed. When I look at my son and his partner I see love, thoughtfulness, playfulness, spontaneity, and healthy giving and taking. Dalton and Kell have both gone on to be successful lawyers in D.C.. Through thick and thin they have it together and are making it work.
I’m still new to some of this, but I’m fierce when it comes to my tribe, and I will forever be indebted to this special group for opening my eyes to what love really means and looks like.
I hope some of you are inspired by this story. It is about love, acceptance, and courage. Your children can grow up and have true love – as long as they’re given courage and a voice.