Today it finally happened. It's happened before, but staff was on duty. Today, one was on vacation and the other was meeting with people outside the building.
Last Friday was the opening of a large collaborative exhibit with Historic Harrisburg. The LGBT Center's part of the exhibit is a series of black-and-white photos of men getting into drag. They were part of a troupe known as Lily White and Company, which was started by my friend Paul Foltz. Lily White presented staged, rehearsed shows back in the '80s and '90s, performing benefits to raise money for various AIDS organizations in the area. Paul is also staff costume designer for the local community theater and other theaters, too. A few of his costumes are on display at the HHA Resource Center. They are spectacular. Collaborations don't happen very often here, so it was a big deal Friday and will continue to be a big deal for the next month.
We had a few people come in to look at the pictures today. We also had a woman visitor who looked like she had to screw up her courage to come in. I'm told I have a good welcoming smile, so I flashed that and asked if I could help her. She told me her 13-year-old son came out to her over the weekend and she wanted information on what she and her husband should do.
This has happened before, but I could ask one of the staff to talk to the person. I couldn't beg it off on anyone today. It occurred to me that it might be wise to try to collect my thoughts, but I also thought I shouldn't not talk. First I congratulated her on being a good mother...her son obviously trusted her well enough to drop The News on her.
She was surprised by The News, but she was also smart enough to seek out information...support groups for him, information for her and the father. During the conversation, she told me the son was autistic. That threw me...what should I say to that? I gave her information on the Center, told her about the youth group, for which her son is one year too young, and I also gave her our Executive Director's card.
We have a reasonably large book and DVD library. I offered her the DVD White Frog which deals with a boy with Asperger's Syndrome, now part of the general umbrella of autism. I figured he'd like some of the teen heartthrobs in it and the parents could get some information. She asked me about Wise Kids, about three kids in a fundamentalist church...the boy is gay, the preacher's kid is full of biblical doubt, and the other girl looks forward to going to a xn college. The mom thought that might be interesting. Then I thought about the old reliable Loving Someone Gay and found a copy for her.
I still have a buzz of having done something important, something good. It's not what I usually do. That I had to do it reminded me that each gay person is a surprise to her/his parents, and that it takes a lot of trust to tell anyone, especially one's parents. I did OK on the information, but I think I'm most happy that I thought to compliment her on being a good, trusted mother. She may or may not know the problems some gay kids face when they tell their parents. Throwing a child out of the house because s/he is gay is truly screwed up. Wanting to understand is just so incredibly cool.