I just got finished watching the movie “Philadelphia.” If you haven’t seen it, click on the name of the movie to read about it.
The movie moved me in multiple ways. The first thing I did after watching it was tell my guy how much he means to me and how much he’ll always mean to me. Now, the second thing I’m doing, is telling you how important unconditional love is.
Tom Hanks’ character – Andrew – has wonderful parents. Not only are they OK with him being gay, but they support him as he struggles with AIDS in the early 90s. That’s tough. Both Andrew’s partner and his parents got my attention. As classy as they handled their son’s sexuality and sickness, there are parents who – nearly two decades later – would be completely classless.
Right now, there are parents in this country who kick their kids out when they find out they are gay. They hit them and scream at them. They tell them what failures they are. It’s said that a big reason for this is that the parents are scared. They didn’t talk about such things growing up – and being gay was bad back then – so they don’t know any better. Many times, the phrase “they’ll come around” is used. Sometimes parents do “come around” and other times they don’t. Makes sense, right? We’re taught for years to believe one thing and suddenly that ‘thing’ is all wrong. These things take time, people say.
Yes, they do. I understand that it takes time for a parent to be comfortable with the idea of their child being gay. I understand that it takes time for a parent to fully accept that their child is gay. I get that it takes time for a parent to advocate for their child after accepting them for who they are.
What I do not and will never accept is that it takes time for a parent to show their child love. We toss around the word ‘love’ so casually now – everyone does it. I do it. But you know what? People toss around ‘unconditional love’ all the time, too. It’s easy to say you love someone unconditionally when everything is just as you want it and just as you planned it. But the true test of true unconditional love is when your son walks up to you and says something that hurts…and you still love him. It’s when your daughter walks up to you and tells you she made a horrible decision…and you still love her.
We may not always understand why others do what they do. But parents have an obligation to truly love their children unconditionally when they say they do. They may have problems with the way things are going and they may not understand the decisions their child makes. But they love them regardless.
The same is required of romantic relationships. I’m convinced this is one of the reasons so many marriages fail. We fail to truly love unconditionally. We take the little things that this world – that this country – has said are important and we apply them to our lives as if they’re some unspoken gospel on how it has to be. But each relationship is different, each person is different. Love that is truly unconditional – and effectively showing that love – go a long way.
So next time you say you love someone unconditionally, think first. Like my dad always told me as a child, “Don’t say something if you don’t mean it.”
Oh, and you know what he told me when I came out? If not, you should look it up. I’m one of the luckier ones.