Would You Disown Your Gay Son?
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We are pretty open about our oldest son's sexuality. He is almost 18 and has been "out" for about 3 1/2 years. We are not part of any support groups, though we (with his consent) have never hidden this from anyone. We have told our parents, friends, etc. Corey doesn't yell it from the rooftops, but I think that is more about how he is than the fact that he is ashamed or embarrassed. He just isn't a hugely vocal young man... well, about certain things he is!
I think Roy and I suspected Corey was gay from a rather young age -- around the time he started 8th grade, so I guess he was about 13. Once we suspected, then the "clues" started to hit us in the face. We kept it to ourselves, but I started thinking how I would approach this. There was never any doubt in my mind that Roy and I wouldn't treat him differently. Gay or not, we wouldn't care. Why would we? He was still our son, still the little boy we raised. I wanted to be sure HE knew that. I wanted to be sure that he understood that things wouldn't change for us, and if they did for him, we would help him navigate those waters. And if he wasn't gay, it comes with its own set of challenges. So we would be there for him in that case too.
I told him informally (usually during the "birds and bees" talks) two or three times that if he was gay or bisexual, Dad and I would be ok with that. When he knew, he could tell us -- either way. And if he were gay, bi, or otherwise, we would keep it quiet if that is what he wanted. Or we would march in a gay, bi, or otherwise pride parade if he wanted to do that too. (Hey! I bet it would be fun.)
Corey told me first. We were running to the store, and it was just the two of us in the car. He finally came out and told me that he thought he was gay.
"You think you are, or you know you are?" I asked him. (Hormones have been known to cause confusion!)
"I know I am." He said it with a conviction, and I didn't even question him.
He asked me to talk to Dad, and I said sure. I told Roy, and he didn't even blink. It was easy for him to digest. We then sat with Corey. Roy assured Corey that his feelings for Corey would not waiver and that he was proud of Corey for coming to know himself -- and including us. Since then, it has never been an issue for us. We joke with him just like we do with the other boys. We laugh with him just like we do with the other boys.
"You know, Corey... you won't meet a guy if you hang out in your room on a Friday night." We will poke at him. We say the same thing to Joe, just substitute guy with girl.
Addi has a different "girlfriend" each week, so he says, but he's still a bit young to be out on the prowl (I hope!). And Hayden and Dean still think I'm the best girl!
For us, it just is what it is. We talk the "birds and bees" with him just like we do the other boys too. (Well, pretty much the same.) I did do some research on safe sex for men (gay and straight), as I don't believe a moment of pleasure should be a death sentence for ANYONE. And we did have the "sex talk" with Corey. Granted, we are not necessarily worried about him getting a young lady pregnant, but we want to teach him about safer sex, STDs, and the emotional drain sex can have on a person.
While I won't say that everyone in our family is as accepting as Roy and I, none of our close family has looked down at Corey or put him down in any way for being who he is. But there will those outside the family that will. So we also try to make him understand how best to handle that (not that we are experts).
Now that is how it has gone in our household. But he told me about a young man at his school recently. This young man is gay -- all the kids assumed it, and this young man has finally admitted it to himself and to others. Unfortunately, his family doesn't agree with his "choice." (I put choice in quotes, because I don't think it is a choice, though I know some do.) He told my son that he is to leave his family's home when he turns 18, that he will be disowned.
The idea that a family could do this to their child is so foreign to me, so... I just don't know; I can't wrap my head around it. I guess because for us it is just such a non-issue, the idea that for some families it IS such a HUGE issue is something I don't necessarily understand. I am not saying our family is perfect, we have our issues. But for me, Corey being gay just isn't one of them.
So... I would like to compile stories, interviews, ideas, tidbits anything from teens that are gay, adults that have a gay child (or cousin, sibling, parent) and put them together. Not so much as a "how to" book, but as a compilation of experiences.
Maybe this is a dumb idea, I don't know... Maybe it won't ever go anywhere beyond the blogosphere. But I would love to see if this is something that I can get off the ground. If you have something, anything you would like to share... you agree with my stance... you don't agree... you have a gay child/relative and don't know your feelings on the matter... you reject them... you don't care... anything... let me know. Please!
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Photo Credit: elsie.