Friday, May 20, 2011

It Gets Better!

I'm not going to bog my blog down with a huge introduction. I'll only say that one of my most favorite people and her son, are incredible for sharing their story to spread awareness for a cause that has touched my heart and made me laugh and cry...and want to smack ignorant people around. So without further yammering from me--Stephani Hecht sharing her wonderfully strong son Cody's story.

I was both honored and humbled when asked to blog on this day. Not only is The Trevor Project a wonderful and much needed organization, but I have a personal connection because I am the mother of a gay son.

Before I go on, let me preface this by saying I have his permission to share this story with the blog world. Coming out can be a difficult and very personal time in an individual’s life. But, if Cody is anything, he’s brave and he’s always willing to put himself out there and take risks in order to help others.

Looking back, I now realize I always knew Cody was gay. Not because of anything he did or said, but because a mother just always has a way of knowing these kinds of things. The truth became even clearer last summer when he was getting his senior pictures taken.

The photographer was an older man and while he was really sweet, he had no ability to read body language. Cody was having trouble loosening up for the pictures, so the gentleman kept urging Cody to “think of some cute girls” to make him smile. While I’m certain the man didn’t mean any harm, the look on Cody’s face whenever he said it, nearly broke my heart.

I wanted nothing more than to reach out and give Cody a great big hug. To tell him that’s it’s okay. That I understood him. That I would always love him no matter what. There was just one problem, Cody hadn’t come out to me yet. So I had to hold back and hope that he would soon fell comfortable enough to confide in me.

That happened a mere two weeks later. The rest of the family went to bed, while Cody and I sat up and talked. Our discussion went on until the early hours of the next morning. In the meantime, we looked at various websites, PFLAG and The Trevor Project were just a few. It was four in the morning when Cody finally turned to me.

“Do I need to say it?” he asked, his voice wavering just a bit.

“I already know, but if you want to practice on me, that’s okay,” I replied.

He took a deep breath and said, “Mom, I’m gay.”

I gave him a hug, told him I’m so damn proud of him and we’ve been so much closer ever since. Over the course of the next few months, Cody came out to all of our family. Everyone took it in stride and there was no hate thrown his way. Even better, I’ve never seen Cody more relaxed and comfortable in his skin.

I only wish coming out was that easy for all kids. All too often, however, the exact opposite happens. Teens are bullied, harassed and thrown out of their homes, all for being gay. One of the local GLBT youth centers, Affirmations, even has a shower and clothes donation room set aside to aid those kids who have no home. The Ruth Ellis Center is another Detroit organized dedicated to helping out GLBT homeless youth.

As for Cody, this has been a great year for him. Not only is he happy, but he founded the first ever Gay, Straight, Alliance at his high school. While he’s had some slurs thrown his way, on the whole, he’s really well liked at school. He also has a strong core of friends who’ve supported him all along this journey.

Many people have told me that Cody is so lucky to have such an accepting mother. I would like to argue that I’m the one who is lucky. My son is smart, sweet and most of all he’s brave as hell. I couldn’t ask for a better kid.

Now, a little bit about the It Gets Better Project. This year, in response to the rash of gay kids committing suicide, Dan Savage started a YouTube campaign. He uploaded a message on YouTube, directed at GLBT youth. In it he told the kids that, not only did he understand what they’re going through, but he urged the kids to hold on because things DO GET BETTER! The project took off like crazy and soon thousands of “It Gets Better” messages were uploaded to YouTube. I decided to share, both the Google Chrome commercial that highlighted the project, plus my favorite “It Gets Better” message. It was compiled by some employees from Pixar. Both videos are moving and always manage to bring a tear to my eyes.

-Stephani Hecht

It Gets Better-Google Chrome commercial

Pixar employees-It Gets Better

Donation Links:
The Trevor Project-
PFLAG National-
PFLAD Detroit-
The Ruth Ellis Center-
It Gets Better Project-
Mathew Shepard Foundation-
Human Rights Campaign-
All Out-

Allure Van Sanz T-shirt
Erotic M/M author Em Woods EBook.
Erotic M/M author Stephani Hecht EBook
M/M Regency era Author Ava March eBook His Client


AllureVanSanz said...

Thanks so much for visiting and sharing you and your son's story with us today, Stephani. I'll be keeping the giveaway open all weekend so we can build up some awareness for this.


Karenna Colcroft said...

Stephani, your son is very brave, and very lucky to have a mom as understanding as you.

My daughter wasn't quite eleven when she came to me and said, "Mom, I think I like girls the same way I like boys." I reassured her that that was okay. She's almost sixteen now and still hasn't dared to tell her father or most of his family (except for one cousin). Throughout middle school, she was harassed by kids who called her "dyke" and "queer", until she shut them up one day by saying, "When you call me a dyke, you're only half right."

Anonymous said...

This is a really great post. It's a real shame that kids have to worry so much about being accepted for being themselves. No one should have to live in fear for who they are.

Education and awareness is the only way to alleviate discrimination. Thanks for sharing.

~Renee Vickers

Susan said...

Thanks for the great post. The Trevor Project is such a great cause. I am so glad there is more public awareness of these way of life.

Sensei J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc. said...

A standup kid and a standup mom (that means talks straight and does what they think is right no matter what)

Pommawolf Emeraldwolfeyes said...

Thank you Stephani & Cody!

Thank you for sharing this with us. For too many years people remain silent about this.
Having raised my children in a better way than many were in my generation...**sshh** {we won't tell my age will we? *S*} When I was a teenager...with my gay friends that I loved them just as they are...who they are. I didn't care, and I taught my children my same. We are who we are. We love who we love, and to hell what anyone else thinks about it. Stand by, support and be a friend just loving and supporting those we love.
It's just that simple.
I'm going to tweet and post on Facebook and already posted on my little blog.

Kate Madison, YA author said...

THank you Stephani and Cody. This is such a great cause. It's so sad how difficult a concept like acceptance is for some. Hopefully, this campaign and others will help people to grow.

Chris said...

Oh, I hadn't seen the Pixar video before. *blots eyes*

I'm glad I've had the chance to get to know you and Cody, Stephani! Both so very brave.

(I am not entering the contest.)

Jason said...

Stephani, you are an amazing woman, an spectacular mother, and an awesome friend. Thank you for all you do, not only for your own son but for the gay community. You are one of the reasons that it is getting better for us all.


Stephani Hecht said...

Your comments are all so touching that I have tears in my eyes. Thank you so much for your support and wonderful comments.

Anonymous said...

Stephani, you are a wonderful mother, and Cody is so lucky to have such an understanding, loving mom. You are also lucky to have such an outstanding young man for a son. Hugs to both of you.

AKell said...

Too bad everyone doesn't have such understanding parents then there wouldn't be such hatred. You son was brave to come out not only to you but to other kids in high school which is a hard time for everyone.

Fiona McGier said...

When my favorite aunt's youngest son called me to say he'd moved back to the area I invited him here for dinner. He said, "You know I'm gay, right?" I said, "Yeah, so?"
He loved being in the kitchen, telling me that watching my 4 kids interact reminded him of growing up as the youngest of 4 himself, before his mom passed away when he was 14. He asked me which was which, pointing at my kids. I explained the oldest boy was the one with diabetes, the second boy was the self-proclaimed "jenius", the 3rd was my long-haired hippie son, and my daughter was the baby. I said, "Kids, this is Reed, he's gay. Let's eat." And that was that. He's always welcome in my house, and my daughter loves to tease him, asking him, "Now as a gay man, how do you feel about that?" He calls her names, she responds, and then they hug.
Being gay isn't scary when it's someone you love. It was harder to get used to my son's (and my only brother's) diabetes. Being gay isn't a disease, nor is it a choice. It just is.
And thanks for that Pixar video...I have seen many of the others but not this one. Brought tears to my eyes.

David L. said...

Stephani, it has been just recently that I found your work on Amazon and have fallen in love with your gift. You are truly an amazing person and Cody is truly blessed to have such an understanding mother. And you are correct that you are lucky to have such an awesome son. I wish my parents were as understanding as you. It really does make life much easier in many ways.

And Cody, Thank you for being brave enough to come out and for making a difference in your school with the GLSA that you founded. You may never know who you have help with such actions, but know that you have! - Blessings always - David L.

Stephani Hecht said...

Thanks, everybody. I'll make sure to pass the messages along to Cody. Most of all, thank you so being so kind and supportive. As a mom, I can tell you it really does make a difference.