During winter break my wife and I went to Israel for a short vacation. Every morning I would walk the streets of Jerusalem for about an hour starting at 8 AM. On my first day there I bumped into an aquaintance who used to live in my neighborhood, but moved about nine years ago to another part of the city. Around the time when they moved there were rumors about their son.
We stopped to chat for a few minutes about our flights, our wives, kids and we said that maybe we would bump into each other on the following day. We found it amusing that we never see each other in our home town but in Jerusalem we literally bump into each other.
As we went our separate ways, I stopped in my tracks and decided to figuratively go down a road and not turn back.
I turned around and called out to my friend again. When we got closer I touched his arm and said, "I have to ask you a question. You can choose not to answer." I then asked, "is your son gay?" He replied, "I am not going to answer that."
To which I interrupted, "the reason why I am asking you this is because my son came out about two months ago."
At this point, we located a park bench and proceeded to tell our respective stories.
His son came out to his parents about nine years ago, but he is still not out to the world. Only a select few of their friends and family know that their son is gay.
After we talked for a while we decided to meet again later on in the week. We arranged to meet for tea on Shabbos afternoon. As we sat together under the warm Jerusalem sun we all discussed our experience as parents of gay children. We revelled in our sons' accomplishments and in their midos. We shared some of the funny stories and we cried as we shared the painful and cruel ones.
As it turns out, this was the first time in nine years that these people were able to share this experience with people who have a similar experience.
As we were leaving, the wife told us that when her son was at an especially low point she tried to encourage him with her own pearl of wisdom. She advised him that "Hashem doesn't create junk."
A few weeks later, as we were enduring the cold of the northeast, I got a call from the wife asking if we would like to go with them to a lecture by Rabbi Steve Greenberg. Before the lecture began, she turned to me and said, "had you not stopped my husband, we would not be sitting here tonight. This is the first time in nine years that we are attending a public event such as this."