I’m Ashamed of My Gay Son – An Inquiry
In this inquiry from the book, I help Tom to use the UI on his son, Brandon, who has just announced to the family that he is gay. Tom challenges his most deeply held assumptions about his son, and about gay people and women in general.
Tom: My son, Brandon, just told me he is gay and I believe that homosexuality is wrong. I knew when he was a kid that he was more feminine than other boys. I put it out of my mind. I wanted him to “man up.” But he didn’t. I’m wondering if I did something wrong, if I didn’t father him correctly.
Scott: Can you find your son?
Tom: Yes, he’s my son, of course I can. He has lived with me all his life. I know him really well.
Scott: I didn’t ask whether you know him or have lived with him. I asked whether you can find him. Is the thought “Brandon” your son, Brandon?
Tom: No, that’s just the name we gave him at birth.
Scott: Is the thought “son” him?
Tom: No, just a word.
Scott: Is the thought, “Brandon is gay” your son?
Tom: Yes, that feels like him. And it doesn’t feel good at all.
Scott: Whenever a thought feels like your son, it just means you are referring to a memory of him. And as that thought comes up, there is some emotion or sensation happening in your body along with it. These emotions and sensations are not always conscious. In other words, we aren’t directly aware of them. So become aware of them now. What emotion or sensation happens when you think the thought, “Brandon is gay?”
Tom: Sadness and a bit of embarrassment, and shame for feeling embarrassed.
Scott: Is the word “sadness” your son, Brandon.
Tom: No, that’s just a word.
Scott: How about the words “embarrassment” and “shame?” Are those words your son? Take your time. Really stare at each thought until it begins to fade.
Tom: No, just words.
Scott: Then just let those words fall away. Bring attention into your body and really feel directly what shame and embarrassment feel like when you aren’t placing words on those energies.
Tom: Yeah, I’m feeling that. It feels very uncomfortable. I can see myself wanting to escape these feelings.
Scott: When you aren’t labeling it, is that energy in your body your son, Brandon?
Tom: No, those are just feelings.
Scott: Let those feelings relax on their own, as if you have no agenda to push them away or make them stay.
Tom: As soon as I felt them, they became more intense. I saw a desire to get out of my body and go back into thinking. But I stayed with them, and now they are dissolving away. I can definitely see that, on some level, those emotions were playing into the words, “Brandon is gay.”
Scott: Are the words, “Homosexuality is wrong” your son, Brandon?
Tom: No, I know those are just words.
Scott: Pay attention to your body when you answer. Is your body reacting to the thought, “Homosexuality is wrong?”
Tom: Yes, I feel a strong contraction in my gut.
Scott: Are the words, “I feel a strong contraction in my gut” your son, Brandon?
Tom: No, those aren’t my son.
Scott: Drop those words for a few seconds and experience the contraction by gently observing it. Just notice that there is an inner, aware space in your body. Let that space be aware of the energy without labeling it. Take all the time you need. Is that energy your son, Brandon?
Tom: Yes, for some reason, that feels like him or closely associated with him.
Scott: Whenever a sensation feels like someone, it just means there are still some words or pictures coming through. Can you see any words or pictures?
Tom: Yes. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but what came up was, “My manhood is being challenged.” Wow, Brandon’s homosexuality feels personal to me, to my own sense of being a man. I can see how society has shaped my view about what a man is supposed to be. And that has nothing to do with Brandon.
Scott: It has nothing to do with you either.
Tom: That’s a little harder to see.
Scott: Use this inquiry on that belief later. For now, let the words, “My manhood is being challenged” fall away for a few seconds. Just look directly at the thought and watch it disappear. Then feel the energy of contraction without words and pictures around it. Is that energy your son, Brandon?
Tom: No, and it’s not me, either. It’s just energy. And I can feel it relaxing now. Funny how I thought that was Brandon and also that it was me.
Scott: Look at the mental picture of Brandon as a young child, looking feminine in your eyes. Is that picture Brandon?
Tom: It’s a picture of him, yes. That’s him, as a child. I actually try to put that picture out of my mind most of the time. You just brought it up and I can see that I take that picture to be him.
Scott: Let the picture fall away naturally by just observing it. What emotion or sensation is arising?
Tom: I’m feeling sad and disappointed.
Scott: Are the words, “I’m feeling sad and disappointed” your son?
Scott: How about the energy of sadness and disappointment when you aren’t describing it with words?
Tom: Yes, that energy feels like him.
Scott: That just means that some words or pictures are coming to mind again. What are they?
Tom: I’m embarrassed to say this. The thought, “Women are weak” came to mind along with the thought, “Brandon looks weak too.” It’s incredibly painful to see that I believe this. I must believe this about all women, including my wife.
Scott: Is the thought, “Women are weak” your son?
Tom: Ha ha, no, not at all. I can see that this is mostly about me, my ideas around manhood, and even my fear of women or feminine energy. It feels threatening.
Scott: Are the words, “It feels threatening” your son, Brandon?
Tom: At first it seemed like those words were him, but when I dropped into my body and just felt the fear, without calling it fear, it wasn’t so bad. It washed away. So no, the words aren’t him. And that energy is not him.
Scott: Is that energy in your body your wife or women in general?
Tom: No, that seems ridiculous now.
Scott: Look at the words, “I didn’t father him correctly.” Are those words Brandon?
Scott: Take a moment and rest here in the present moment, letting anything arise, any thought, emotion, or sensation. Can you find Brandon, your son?
Tom: Not really. I do see a picture of him kissing a man. That feels like him.
Scott: Notice the emotion or sensation arising?
Tom: Yes, disgust. I’m dropping that word to just feel what disgust is really like when I’m not labeling it. Let me see…is this energy Brandon? No, it’s not him. And when I look back at that picture, I see that’s not him. That picture and those feelings have to do with my own beliefs about manhood and homosexuality.
Scott: Can you find Brandon?
Tom: Yes, he is sitting at home right now.
Scott: Is that picture in your mind of him sitting at home your son, Brandon?
Tom: Oh, that’s interesting. No, that’s just another mental image. I don’t even know if he is at home now. I’m seeing something amazing. Everything I’ve taken to be Brandon is a thought with emotions and sensations. I’m feeling such a great spaciousness now, such a peace and lightness around this whole issue of Brandon being gay. I can see that I love him. I mean…I love my story of him. I can see that I’ve always only had a story of him. It’s like I’ve never met him. I’ve never allowed him to be who he is. I only wanted him to be my image of him. And so much of that just came from my beliefs about men and women, and homosexuality. This is such a release of all of that.