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Thanks so much for setting up Good Enough Mother – I love the site and it’s great to know that as a mother I’m not alone.
Here’s my problem – I think my son is gay. Robert is 15 and has got really close to a boy in his school who’s strongly rumored to be homosexual. Robert doesn’t seem to have any interest in girls and sometimes dresses flamboyantly (we come from a small town). It’s creating a lot of arguments at home.
I come from a very church going family and both my husband and myself are active members of our local community. I don’t know if I could handle the idea of a gay son.
He’s still my son and I love him – but I’m not prepared to condone a lifestyle I don’t agree with. If you were in my position what would you do?
I’m going answer the last part of your question first. What would I do if I were in your position? The short answer is I would continue to love my son. He is the same baby boy I gave birth to, the same wonderful, caring, spirited kid who gives me more trouble than I feel I deserve at times. His sexuality does not change any of that.
I firmly believe being gay is not a choice. When I started liking boys as a teenager, it was not a conscious decision; it just happened. I feel that’s the way much of human sexuality is; a switch is turned on a certain time. And homosexuality is nothing new; it’s been around since the beginning of time and it is represented across the animal kingdom.
Instead of wondering and worrying about whether Robert is gay, have you thought about asking him? He might be quite relieved to know that you are concerned and he might be ready to talk about it.
So what if he is gay? Are you afraid that you won’t have grandchildren? Nope, there are an estimated 8-10 million children being raised by gay and lesbian parents in this country. You worry that community members won’t approve of Robert’s sexual orientation? Well, who are they to have any say whatsoever? And honestly they sound like a pretty shallow group. You sure you want to be a part of that? If they really cared about you they would want the best for you AND Robert instead of using it as fodder for over the fence talk. The church? I grew up in the church and have plenty of gay and lesbian friends. They don’t judge me and I don’t judge them. Besides, wasn’t it Christ who said love one another? We need to practice more of that.
Robert is your son and paramount in your mind must be his safety. He needs to know the basics of safe sex, something all children need to know be they gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight. But gay children also are about four times more likely to commit suicide than straight kids. That is why you MUST communicate in an open, non-judgmental way with your boy.
Related: Raising Gaybies: I Want Your Job!
I would urge you to find a PFLAG chapter near you. PFLAG stands for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and their mission is to support and educate families and community on issues of sexual orientations, among other things. I’m willing to bet there would be someone there who has been in a similar situation. They might be able to help you start a conversation with Robert.
And one more thing, Caroline. A gay son is nothing to be ashamed of. He is your kid, the one who was so proud when he brought home the ceramic pot from first grade art and presented it to you with his pudgy hands, beaming because he had made something for the most important person in his life. He loved you then, he loves you now. Make sure you do the same.
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So, GEM readers, what would you recommend she do?
(Editor’s note: This piece originally ran June 26th, 2010)