Perhaps you asked yourself, “Is my son gay?” Maybe you thought, “My son is gay.” Or maybe the thought never crossed your mind before he came and told you, “Mom, Dad, I’m gay.”
Is It My Fault That My Son Is Gay?
When I found out my son is gay I wondered if it was fault. I wouldn’t let myself think it consciously. I “knew” it wasn’t true but in the recesses of my heart I wondered, “My son is gay – is it my fault?” My son came out in 1989. In years past there was a stereotype that homosexuality was caused by strong mothers and absent fathers. My son’s biological father, my ex-husband, was mostly absent and I was a strong mother and very close to my son. No one really believed that anymore but I was raised during I time it was thought to be true and it stuck in the back of my mind. Even though I knew it wasn’t true, when I found out my son is gay, I didn’t want anyone saying that might be the reason because I wasn’t sure it wasn’t my fault. It took me many years to admit that to myself and let it go.
Several years after I found out my son is gay, I read an article in the paper about a study that showed that a part of the brain is smaller in gay men than in straight men. When my son was 3 months old, being a young inexperienced mother, I turned away from the changing table for a moment and he fell off onto a linoleum floor. After this report came out, I wondered if that could be the reason.
The reason your son is gay is just that your son is gay. It is not your fault. You didn’t do anything to cause it and there was nothing you could have done to prevent it. It’s not because of something you ate when you were pregnant or some trauma you suffered. It’s not because of a trauma he suffered. It’s not because of something you did or didn’t do in raising him. He’s gay just because he’s gay.
My Son Is Gay…Is It His Choice?
According to the American Psychological Association, “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” Most gay men will tell you they have known they were gay from a very young age. When I think of this question, I ask myself, “When did I choose to be straight?” The answer is simple. I’ve always known I was straight – it wasn’t something I chose. In today’s culture in many parts of the world, including America, the gay community is subject to a lot of harassment and criticism. would someone really choose a life where they will be subjecting themselves to this on a regular basis?
Will he be subjected to bullying?
Has he been subjected to bullying? That’s a hard question to answer. We know from what we read in the news that kids are bullied for many reasons. We also know that kids often don’t tell adults when they are bullied because they are embarrassed. Some of the signs that kids are being bullied include:
- Unexplained physical marks, cuts, bruises and scrapes
- Unexplained loss of school supplies, clothing, lunches, or money
- Clothes, books, electronic items are damaged or missing or child reports mysteriously “losing” possessions
- Doesn’t want to go to school or other activities with peers
- Afraid of riding the school bus
- Suddenly sullen, withdrawn, evasive;
- Marked change in typical behavior or personality
- Appears sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed and that mood lasts with no known cause
- Physical complaints; headaches, stomachaches, frequent visits the school nurse’s office
- Difficulty sleeping, nightmares
- Waits to get home to use the bathroom. (School and park bathrooms, because they are often not adult-supervised, can be hot spots for bullying).
- Suddenly has fewer friends or doesn’t want to be with the “regular group”
- Ravenous when he comes home. (Bullies can use extortion stealing a victim’s lunch money or lunch.)
- Sudden and significant drop in grades.
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
What do you do if your son is bullied? Stress to your son you are always available, are concerned and recognize bullying may be a problem. Emphasize that you believe your child and you are there to help. Let him know that you love and support him no matter what. Keep the lives of communication open and become an advocate for your son. Teach your son to be proud of who he is, to be confident in who he is. He will feel that way as you accept him and feel that way about him.
Seek the help of a professional if the signs continue, intensify, or your gut instinct tells you “something is not right with my child!”
Is his life in danger?
When I learned my son is gay I had two immediate fears. This was one of them. Would he be subjected to gay bashing? Could he defend himself? Whether hate crimes against LGBT individuals are up or down, parents worry about their children. I worried about my sons before I knew one of them was gay. And when I learned my son is gay, I knew that he would be putting himself out in the world in such a way that could make him a target. There are measures that your son can take to help prevent hate crimes and still be true to who he is. Be careful not to give him the message that he should hide who he is.
Here are some common sense tips (frankly, we can all abide by these!):
- Go out with friends – Whether it is daytime or night time, you are always safer in a group.
- Study your environment – Stay alert. Know what is going on around you. Know the places to avoid and the places that are safe in and around your neighborhood or when visiting friends.
- Steer clear of dark places – This seems obvious but it’s important to remember. You are most vulnerable when you can’t see them but they can see you. Be sure there are always people around in case you need help.
- Keep your cell phone ready – but don’t be distracted by it. As said above, it’s important to stay alert and you can’t be alert and aware of your environment if you’re talking or texting. Have emergency numbers at the ready on speed dial.
- Always let someone know where you are going – this is called leaving a trail. Whenever you leave the house, make sure that you let your friends and family know where you’re headed.
My son is gay. Is he more susceptible to AIDS. Perhaps. Young gay men are still getting AIDS The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 63 percent of new HIV infections in the U.S. annually come from gay men. In 2010, more than a quarter of new infections came from youths between 13 and 24. The diagnosis of HIV being a death sentence is a thing of the past, with new medicines. I’ve thought a lot about why 25% of new infections are from young men. No scientific research, just my opinion! I think young people have a sense of immortality and view HIV/AIDS as a manageable disease. They don’t know what it was like for people with AIDS in the 80’s and what it’s like to die from it.
Your son does not have to be one of the 25%. Keep the lines of communication open. Be sure that he knows he is loved. Encourage him to learn how to prevent AIDS.
Will he find love and have a family?
When I learned my son is gay, my very first thought was “He won’t make me a grandmother.” When I look at this question today I realize that question is asked by parents every day – whether their child is gay or straight. As parents, we want our child to be happy and often we define happiness the way it was defined for us or the way we experience it. I wanted my son to be a father because I knew he would be a wonderful father. I could never image him being married as a gay man. Things change! Last year, after 22 years together, my son and his partner married. They don’t have children. That is their choice. I know many straight married couples who choose not to have children.
You may be wondering about the difficulties of gay men having a family. There are a variety of ways two men who love each other and want a family create that in their lives. Some have children through a surrogate. Some do private adoption. Some go through the foster system to adoption. If your son wants to marry and have children that will be possible for him. Yes, it isn’t as easy as getting pregnant and having a baby. What’s wonderful is that the desire is so strong to create a family, the effort doesn’t matter.
My son is gay. Your son is gay. I love my son. You love your son or you wouldn’t be reading this page. I hope I answered some of your questions and put some of your concerns to rest. For many parents, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you have more questions and concerns, let’s set up a time to talk about them.