we were on a serene lake…no waves, barely a ripple. the oars sliced into the water next to the canoe with hardly a whisper, the loons in the distance calling. the gunshots in the distance rang out over the still lake and startled us; the loon answered. i counted the number of times in a row the gun went off…not sure why i was doing that, but hoping that it would make more sense if i knew how many times i heard a gunshot. i asked later if there was a firing range nearby and was surprised to hear that there wasn’t. i’m not aware of any particular hunting season right now, so i am guessing that someone was just out there…somewhere…firing a gun just to fire a gun. the juxtaposition of absolute serenity and gunfire was unnerving. it seemed that northern wisconsin wasn’t the right place for that.
we hike there often. we take the blue trail with dogdog; it’s about 4 and a half miles the way we go. we know it well now, but every time we go we delight in the changes each season makes, the changes the weather makes, the changes we can see, smell, touch, hear. we often hear gunshots reverberating out there. i guess there is a firing range somewhere nearby. so people gather to ‘practice’. not having grown up around guns, i wonder what they are practicing for as i hear a rapid fire of shots, something that doesn’t sound like the measured shots of a hunter. a state park doesn’t seem the right place for that.
my beautiful son is gay. also, he was on the high school and college tennis teams. also, he likes v-neck fitted t-shirts over round neck. also, he used to love ramen noodles. also, he was a fantastic pitcher and an ace shortstop. also, he doesn’t drink the bottom inch from a 2 liter bottle of soda. also, he loves chocolate chip cookies with mint chips in them as well. also, he was the only one in his fraternity who could drive a stick shift. also, he likes to be at the airport well ahead of his flight. random factoids. none of these define him totally as a person. all of them (and a whole lot more) make him who he is.
i remember the day he called me to tell me he was gay and that he was in a relationship. i don’t know if he was nervous or anxious about it, but i suspect that many young men and women have anxiety about telling their loved ones of their orientation. now, i don’t remember having to call my momma years ago to tell her i was heterosexual. why would that be any different?
i cherished his trust – his knowing that nothing i felt about him would change. his choice of who to be in relationship with was just a part of him like his choice of cookie. it changed the picture in my head of the future, but it didn’t change my support of him or my excitement about his future or my love of him.
they – young men and women – were in a bar. in a vacation destination town – orlando, florida. i would anticipate that there was much laughter, much talk, much dancing. maybe there was an expression of physical attraction between people there – a public display of affection. i hope so. i cannot wrap my head around the kind of hatred/discomfort/bigotry that would push a person to take a gun and kill people. shots rang out. people (sons and daughters of moms just like me) died. the surrealness of an individual’s hunting season that had opened at this venue make my blood run cold. a gay bar isn’t the the right place for that.
i am the very proud mother of a gay son. and i, like all mothers, want to believe that he has the freedom to be who he is as long as he is not harming anyone else or himself – just like my rule for my daughter. there is no right place for this kind of maiming and killing. i want to protect them both – my girl and my boy. i try to trust the world around me, around them. i pray for them to always be safe.
and i ask – where is the right place for that??