All in the family

Sirens, I’m hoping the collective has some helpful advice for me. This past week, my friend learned that her teenage son is gay and she came to me for an ear to listen and some advice.

Overall, I think this has taken my friend, who has a heart of gold, by surprise. She has very little knowledge of gay people, although I know she does have some friends who are gay and I know that she does not hate gay people (let’s just get that out of the way). But she is a Christian and holds to conservative tendencies. I think more than anything else, she never expected to have a gay son and part of the shock has been processing certain expectations that won’t happen (he won’t be taking a girl to prom, for instance). But she did tell me that she told her son right away that she loves him and that him being gay will not change that. And that seems like the best place to start. (I’ve certainly heard much worse, even horrible, things happening to gay people coming out to their parents.)

Now, as regular readers know, I am very pro-equality, gay-friendly, queer-loving whatever you want to call it. I have been an ally for decades and have a member of my own family who is gay. I have marched. I have rallied. I have organized events. And my friend knows this about me.

I did my best to listen to my friend talk about her feelings. I tried not to be judgemental when she said things that were maybe just a little too stereotypical (one of her fears is that her son will get into drugs, because she believes that gay scene has more drug use than non-gay youth). I patiently corrected her on some of her assumptions, “Does he understand what he is choosing?” Forgive her. She doesn’t know any better, yet.

I tried my best to be a good friend and balance her need to vent with facts I could give her about being gay. But I admit, I felt limited. I had this feeling in me that I wasn’t doing enough to help her work through her fears while also educating her enough that she doesn’t emotionally harm her son. And to be clear, that is one of the things that is worrying her the most. She doesn’t want to accidentally hurt her son or make him regret that she knows the truth. Honestly and truly, I believe that above all she wants to make sure her son knows how much she loves him and that nothing happens that makes him want to retreat from her. Her heart is in the right place.

So, my Sirens, I come to you for guidance. What advice do you think I should give my friend? (I have already mentioned PFLAG to her, so that may help.) What about books or other resources? She mentioned wishing she could just read a good book or brochure that would give her more information and answers. Please help me help my friend fill in the blanks. She’s already a great mom, she just needs help in an area she’s never learned about before.

3 thoughts on “All in the family

  1. PFLAG is a great resource, but she may not be ready to jump into an organization.

    Since she is Christian, it might be helpful for her to have a pastor to talk to, even if its not her regular church. In Reno, we’ve got several folks (U.U. or Episcopalian) who would fit the bill. I’m sure you’ve got similar resources in Vegas. Maybe even a “gay friendly” service?

    Wish her good luck!

  2. When I told my father I was queer, he also said he’d still love me. Unfortunately, he added, “… but if I ever run into you in public and you’re with one of your friends, pretend you don’t know me.”

    I gave the old man a copy of “Loving Someone Gay”, by Don Clark (which has been updated for modern use). I’m not certain that it was helpful for him, as he has never mentioned it since, but it’s been 20 years and he can now say the phrase “that way inclined” as an indirect way of saying “gay” so I choose to believe that it enlightened him!

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