George and I continued to work on forgiveness, and now we moved into another critical area of therapy, acceptance. I needed to learn to accept myself for who I was, as that would not change. We would start to discuss the coming out process with family and friends. I made the hard decision to come out to my mom. How would I do it, where would I do it? Would I pull a “pass the potatoes, I’m gay” in front of the whole family? George said that I would know when the time was right when the moment was right to come out. That day did come. One afternoon I was visiting Mom at the new house that she and my brother just bought. We sat at her kitchen table drinking coffee, talking about life and how vastly different things were from just a year or two ago. The conversation grew quiet, and I grew deep into thought. This was the right time. Here, alone, one on one, with just her and me at the kitchen table drinking coffee. It was the right time. She knew something was wrong, Mothers always know; then I just calmly and with extraordinarily little fanfare told my mother that I was gay. She began to weep. I asked her why she was crying. And so, the process of understanding began, her understanding my life and my understanding her fears for my life. She expressed her biggest fear that I would die of HIV/AIDS and have a tough life. We talked about it for the better part of the day. I would be candid with her, and she asked if I had been with a man; I said yes, without going into the details of my sex life. She did not need to know everything. She asked if I used protection and if I learned how to use a condom; I said yes. Then the course of the conversation grew even more intense. She asked if she could pray for me. My mother had been going to a born-again church in the south towns, and she believed that people could be changed with prayer, and she believed that I could be cured of my homosexuality if I allowed people to pray for me and pray over me. I was unsure what to say or do. This was not something that I had considered as a possible reaction. She was right; my life would be hard if I chose to accept who I was. She was right. There was a chance I could contract HIV and die of AIDS if I was not careful. In the end, I accepted her invitation to attend church with her to pray and to be prayed over. If for no other reason but to say I tried and show her that I was open to all things. That Sunday came, and I met my mom at her house and drove together to the church. The service was lively, with a small band playing Christian music. The sermon was ironically about forgiveness, so the message resonated with me. Then it got real, people were praying in tongues, and I had never seen that before, for it was something to be seen and heard. At the end of the service, the pastor asked if anyone would like to receive special prayer, meaning did anyone want to be prayed over for any reason, health or otherwise. I kissed my mom on the cheek and walked up to the church’s front, and the pastor asked me why I had come forward. I simply said, “I’m gay.” The pastor laid hands on my forehead and began to pray. We prayed for several minutes and knew what was supposed to happen, but I felt nothing but anxiety. I wanted it to end. I knew that the only way to end this would be to fall to the ground under the weight of God. So, I did just that. I fell to the ground. After a minute or two, I got up, hugged the pastor, and thanked him for his prayers. I went and sat back down next to my mother. She was beaming with pride. I was thankful that it was over. It was a quiet ride home from church; Mom and I did not speak of what had just happened. I knew what I have always known, you can’t pray the gay out of someone. But for my mothers’ sake, I gave it a shot.
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