It’s official: Ann Widdecombe thinks science has a cure for love. The long-time campaigner against LGBT rights has said in a TV debate that “science may produce an answer” to homosexuality through gay conversion therapy. I can’t even….
I had to join the endless list of people who are outraged and hurt by her comments. But more importantly than screaming, ‘No, no… just no!’ I want to offer hope that she is, in fact, the last of a dying breed. Because comments like this KILL. Read that again.
Young people all over the world are taking their own lives because of stories like this. Gay men and women are tortured, bullied and murdered due to ignorant, outdated and just plain sick thinking like this. Sharing it out loud is so wrong it should be a crime in my opinion. Let’s stop doing anything other than calling this what it is: A hate crime.
My late son, Ryan, was an out and proud gay man who also performed on stage as a drag queen. He was mercilessly bullied through school and campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights throughout his sadly short life. He appeared on the Scottish news speaking about it, and made a video at age eighteen for the It Get’s Better project, which you can find HERE. In it, he even offers his email address to anyone struggling to come to terms with their sexuality, knowing full well it might have exposed him to further online abuse, such was his concern for, and awareness of, the problem. Ryan’s deepest wish had been to be able to open a drag club for families, where people of all ages could be themselves in a safe and accepting environment. Sadly, unstable diabetes put paid to that dream for him.
My youngest son, Kyle, identifies as ‘gay or bi,’ and, as he told me earlier today, ‘Really enjoying the term “queer” right now.’ Both boys came out to me at the age of fifteen. With Ryan, it was always a given and telling me or anyone in the family was unnecessary. We’d always known he was gay. And I’ve learned so much more understanding and have undone beliefs I was raised with myself from a generation that often didn’t thanks largely to the lessons my children have given ME in the days since. When Ryan ‘came out’, there was only one thing bothering me at first. How would I explain it to his five year-old sister, Luci? At the time I felt I had to, but nowadays I wouldn’t even attempt to explain something so natural and human to any child, and this better way of thinking began from the time I told her. I called her to me, inviting her to sit on my lap.
‘Luci,’ I said. ‘I need to talk to you about Ryan, okay?’
‘You see, Ryan likes boys.’
‘Ryan likes boys the way girls like boys.’
And with that she jumped off my lap and skipped off back to play. She never asked me a question – not one – from that day to this. We didn’t have this chat at all when Kyle came out a few short years later. We didn’t need to; I knew this that time thanks to Luci.
A lesson, from my five year-old child, was gifted to me that day. Love needs no explanation. It doesn’t need science to understand, identify or, heaven fordid, fix it.
Kyle’s coming out went a little differently to Ryan’s because I had no idea he had these feelings. Still, the answers I had for him were the same and required no second guesses or pauses. It was instantaneous: love is love, son. I recall there was a family get together or party of some sort, and he called me outside into the garden to speak to me alone. He was so visibly upset, I remember it was a huge relief when I found out all he wanted to tell me was that he thought he might be gay or bisexual. I looked at his eyes, brimming with tears and full of confusion and I wanted to hug him from happiness, as it happened. You see, I knew he had nothing to cry about. He was experiencing intense attraction; wonderful, heady, exhilarative attraction. The sad part was that he was embroiled in an internal battle of shame as he tried to prevent himself from letting it in.
‘Kyle,’ I said, ‘You don’t have to give it a name right now. You have all the time in the world and even then, you don’t need to label it. These are all perfectly natural feelings.’
I remember the look on his face to this day. It was like witnessing a weight being lifted from his shoulders before my eyes and I am so sorry that it had to be like that at all for him. What weight should love and basic human attraction be to carry in this God forsaken world? If science was to even think it had an answer for that, it can go and fuck itself. What does a mother want for her son, but his happiness? And what is the pure, natural, most human reason for everything other than love?
What weight should love and basic human attraction be to carry in this God forsaken world? If science was to even think it had an answer for that, it can go and fuck itself.
People ask me now and again how I knew what to say to my sons when they came out. My reply is simply that it was a no-brainer. All I knew was the truth: I wanted nothing for my children but their absolute happiness. I wanted them to experience fully the intoxicating, goddam incredible necessity of life that is human, loving attraction and connection. I wanted their hearts to be open in a world that wouldn’t terrify them into closing it again. When my sons came to me demonstrating signs that they’d been desperately trying to suppress the happy, total eclipse of the heart and brain that is attraction and love through fear that they were doing something wrong, I couldn’t wait to tell them: Go and be happy, because this is what it’s ALL about.
What I want is that day to arrive when the term ‘coming out’ is gone forever. We are all either in or out of love at any given time. Can we stop telling people who they’re allowed to love? I do believe that, to steal a lyric with meaning from Linda Creed, the children are the future. Let’s try to remember that the likes of Ann Widdecombe belong to a generation that is disappearing.
How do we cure love? There is no cure for love, but I live in the hope that we can eventually cure hate. We just need to keep raising our voices and drown it out. The key to full and final eradication of all this nonsense really does lies with the next generation.