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A Mother, a Gay Son, and the Healing Power of Poetry
A mother writes a poem to help her deal with the revelation of her son's homosexuality and becomes a children's book author in the process.
So says poet and children's book author Ruth Nott. The poem she wrote decades ago to help her deal with her son's homosexuality is now a children's story about friendship and acceptance.
It began when Ruth's son, Bill, was just fourteen-years-
Ruth explains, "The pink dragon was his homosexuality. But the rest of the poem was based on our many moves while my husband was in the Air Force. My children were continually forced to lose old friends and make new ones."
With the encouragement of others, Ruth eventually turned Dragon Tales into the children's picture book New Friend, True Friend. It was illustrated by Debbie Hefke. She recently submitted her book to The Gittle List, a competition exclusively for self-published children's picture book authors. Ruth hopes to earn a top ten spot on the annual list.
Ruth says her son's love and support for others cannot be denied. "Bill has been the backbone of this family since he was a teen." Ruth's husband suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 1975. His illness required a lot of her time and attention. Bill helped care for his younger brother and handicapped sister while Ruth was with their father in the hospital. "He got out my recipe book and learned to cook during those days and has been an excellent cook ever since."
Bill didn't come out to his family until his first year of college. "By that time it was no shock to us. We loved him. We accepted him and his friends. All of us. We still do. The only thing which bothered me and his siblings was from the religious point of view. The Bible seems to condemn homosexuality. I cannot condemn my son."
Ruth told Aviva Gittle, host of The Gittle List book competition and owner of Aviva Gittle Publishing, "I am just an ordinary, boring, gray-haired, retired housewife. I've never had an outgoing personality and never sought to reach the heights that some of your entrants have achieved."
Aviva feels Ruth should give herself a lot more credit. "It takes courage to accept something that flies in the face of our core beliefs. Few people know the origin of New Friend, True Friend, but Ruth knows it. She had the guts to publish it."
Ruth says Bill did not read her poem Dragon Tales. Her son does not know that he was the impetus for New Friend, True Friend. "I never told him I was thinking of his secret when I began the poem."
Ruth Nott loves her son. She did before she knew he was gay; and she did after she discovered the truth of his sexuality. Although loving him was a given, accepting his being part of the LGBT community was not. Ruth says the words every son who comes out to his family wants to hear, "He is a good man and I believe God loves him."
The fourth annual Gittle List book competition is exclusively for self-published authors of children's picture books. Each year, Aviva Gittle selects ten books to promote during the holiday season. Go to http://gotogittle.com/
Aviva Gittle Publishing writes and publishes stories for children in English and Spanish. Aviva's website, www.GoToGittle.com, shares the stories of authors, illustrators and others who create books and creative media for children.