Real World’s Mike Manning And His Mom Of The Month
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
You might recognize cutie Mike Manning as one of the eight roommates on MTV’s The Real World: D.C. And while he surely helped create a positive image for GLBT youth, both by being out on national television and by spending his time in D.C. working with the Human Rights Campaign, it’s Mike’s mom, Susan, who may walk away as the biggest inspiration to viewers after the season wraps.
"In high school I hung out with the type of guys who I knew wouldn’t be okay with me being gay. Sadly, I was even the guy who would make fun of the gay kid in high school, which sucks. In high school I didn’t even let myself think about it. I wrestled, I played hockey, I swam. I did things to keep myself distracted. I didn’t want to think about my sexuality, but I always kinda knew that there was something different about me. Something was missing.
Well, by my junior year of college I started dating a boy. I woke up one day and said, ‘I’m done caring what other people think. I need to be honest.’ I’m so blessed with an all-around great family. We’re a really close family, and this was eating at me that they didn’t know. When I would tell my mom that I was going out to a movie, but I was really going out to a gay club, I felt bad that I was hiding that from her.
I was getting ready to leave for Mexico for six months to study abroad. Right before I went to Mexico, I wrote them a five-page letter and explained everything. I told them I was dating a boy and I was happy and I wanted to include them in my life. They spent the time I was in Mexico coming to terms with everything. My dad was more the literal thinker at first. My mom, of course, worried about my safety but then also asked, ‘Does this mean I’m not going to get grandkids?’ Once I convinced her that I was still having kids, she calmed down a bit.
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My mom actually came to visit me [during filming in D.C.], which was huge. She came out and took a tour of the HRC with me and even brought my brother and sister as a surprise. My mom and I actually had lunch with one of my bosses at HRC, and I think it was that lunch that did it. We talked about the gay culture in America and the work that HRC is doing. By the end, she was crying and said, ‘In the beginning, I didn’t want you to do the show at all. Now I feel that you made the right decision. I think you’re going to do some good in this world.’ And now she’s asking me to send her HRC stickers so she can pass them out around town!
She’s always been motherly, and I always knew I wouldn’t be one of the kids who are kicked out on the street. But I did fear that my parents might be disappointed in me, and that’s almost worse. But it’s been amazing. My mom wants to order the film For The Bible Tells Me So, which deals with Christianity and homosexuality, and send one to her mom, send one to her sister, send one to anyone who has a problem with homosexuality. She wants to help change people’s minds. She has her HRC sticker on the back of her car and she passes them out to her friends. She’s been nothing but supportive.
We had an interesting talk recently, and I said, ‘Wow, Mom, you’re kinda on my team now. You’re not just understanding me, but you’re an ally.’ And she said, ‘Well, Mike, it was a period of transition. It was almost like I had to mourn some of the hopes and dreams I once had for you, but then there was a process of creating new ones.’
I hope that [her being on the show] is seen not just as a supportive mother flying to D.C. to see her son, but that she was able to come to terms and find true acceptance and support over a lunch on a Sunday afternoon. If that inspires some parents to be a little more open-minded, I think that would make her very, very happy.”
... written by Anthony Chappell,
February 23, 2010