If you are concerned your child is gay, I’m glad you are here. It tells me you’re trying to accept and love your child. Many parents miss this opportunity and both the parents and children suffer. I’ve experienced homosexuality from many angles and feel the way it is handled is of utmost importance to foster a good relationship between parent and child. In this article, I will address the many assumptions parents and others make regarding whether a child is gay or not.
If there is one thing I would like you to take from this article, it is: Gay children who are not accepted by their parents have a higher risk of depression, suicide, drug use and having unsafe sex. Your love and acceptance could change all of those things.
Being a parent to gay child can be overwhelming even if you do not have an issue with homosexuality. You may worry about their safety, social acceptance, ability to get a job, having grandchildren, religious outlook and more. “What are we going to tell grandma?”
Not knowing if your child is gay or not can be equally overwhelming. There are many ways to help your child and help yourself. Sadly, many parents find themselves alienating their children and lose sight of what is truly important; their child’s love and well-being.
It seems that some parents have a heightened sensitivity to their children’s sexuality. Ingrained within us is a natural desire for our children to grow up “normal” without the hard knocks of society. We fear for our children getting hurt and being condemned by society.
We’ve planned play dates with other children to socialize them. We’ve bought our little boys trucks and basketballs and our little girls dresses and play make-up. We’ve dreamed of the day they grow up, marry and give us grandchildren. Anything that differs from our idea of what they “should be” in order to accomplish these ideals alarms us.
Some parents act on every little sign that their child is gay, only to find themselves doing seemingly crazy things to find out.
For 45 years, PFLAG has been helping parents and family stay in loving relationships with their children who may be questioning their sexual orientation and gender identity. We meet regularly at various locations in the Atlanta metro area – see below for a meeting near you.
Take a look at these questions I’ve heard from parents. None of these situations confirm your child is gay. However, the way you react to them may be the difference in your child telling you the truth, if someday they realize they are gay.
“My 3 year old son wears my high-heels. Do you think he’s going to be gay when he grows up?”
Many young boys like to dress up like mommy. They find those strange looking shoes interesting and fun to walk in. Mommy’s dresses look pretty on her, so why not try them on for fun? I’ve seen many pictures of small boys in dresses and high-heels. Some boys even put on make-up and ask to have their picture taken. It’s normal behavior to experiment. We don’t ask the same questions when a little girl wants to wear her favorite blue jeans or put on daddy’s shoes. Let them explore and believe me, your son is not going to be gay just because he tried on some girly things.
If it turns out he is gay in the future, your reaction could leave a permanent mark. If you treat him like he’s done something wrong, he’ll believe being gay is also wrong. It won’t change the fact that he is gay, it will only preclude him from telling you.
Not to say that every little boy that dresses in girls clothing will be straight, but I know many men who are straight, happily married fathers with pictures of them in girls clothing as little boys.
“Johnny and my son play everyday. Their off to the basketball court to shoot hoops and seem like everyday boys. One day they hugged before going to their separate homes. When I ask him why he hugged Johnny he says, “I like Johnny.” Is my child gay?”
Hugging someone of the same sex does not indicate your child is gay. Many straight boys and girls hug their best friends. It’s a comfort measure and shouldn’t be looked upon as a gay action. While it’s true, they may in fact be gay, this is not a definitive marker. Girls frequently hug their female friends and no one thinks much about it. It isn’t as common for boys to hug their friends, but a boy comfortable in his sexuality may feel it’s no big deal. This is especially true if you’ve raised your son to be comfortable hugging people. His male friends are no exception.
“My son said, Johnny is cute. He’s definitely gay right?”
Surprisingly, no. Some children don’t realize the implication by saying such things. Besides, is Johnny a cute kid? Can’t a boy say so? Some of the interpretation has to come from the way he tells you Johnny is cute. Is he stating a fact or saying how he feels? Simply asking him how Johnny is cute can clear things up. Maybe he does think Johnny is soooo cuuuute! or perhaps, Johnny is cute because a girl at school said so, or Johnny is cute because he said something ridiculous and that’s the new trend at school.
“My son spends more time talking to boys on the phone than girls. Do I have a gay son?”
Some boys are very shy about talking to girls. They talk to their male friends about girls, sports, what’s on tv and how bad their fart smells. Some boys just don’t realize the rules of dating include calling their girlfriend on the phone.
Recently, my son’s girlfriend broke up with him because he didn’t call her. He said, “She didn’t give me her phone number.” I said, “Did you ask?” He said, “No, I didn’t want to seem pushy and I was afraid her dad would answer the phone.”
“My daughter asked to take another girl to the school dance as her date. Does that mean my daughter is gay?”
Some girls don’t have a boyfriend and in today’s world girls frequently go with other female friends to dances or even prom. It’s a safe way to go to these events and not feel alone as well as not be left out. While it may be an indication your daughter is gay, it’s not confirmed.
“My daughter said she likes a girl and she wants to date her. Is she gay?”
While it’s obvious your daughter is considering her sexuality, it’s not a hard-fast guarantee she is gay. Many teenagers, more often girls than boys, experiment with the idea of same sex relationships before settling on a heterosexual relationship.
You have a wonderful opportunity here to talk with her openly about her feelings and I suggest you do that with loving care. She’s telling you because she trusts you. You’ve proven you are a nurturing parent and she’s willing to hear your viewpoint. You don’t have to agree and you don’t have to bake a cake and have a party, but you don’t have to condemn her either. As a matter of fact, if you condemn her, she will likely run headlong into the relationship just to spite you. If she is gay, you will have created a barrier that will be hard to overcome.
Using tactics to prove your child is gay or straight.
Here are some things I’ve seen parents do and they simply don’t work…
One father pulls out magazines with swimsuit models to see if his son will take notice, while another tells gay jokes to see if his son will be offended.
A mother offers to take her daughter for birth control just to watch for a reaction or talks excessively about hunky men on television and asks which guy she thinks is cute.
Tests like these will not prove or disprove your child is gay. You’ll only make them uncomfortable and if they are gay, they won’t tell you.
Why won’t my child just tell me they’re gay?
It’s not always your fault when your child doesn’t tell you they are gay. Don’t take it personally.
Here are a few reasons your child may not tell you they are gay that have nothing to do with you. Obviously, if you are doing any of these things they could be the reason your child doesn’t tell you.
- Television shows gay people being abused, chastised and murdered just for being gay.
- Friends at school or other family members talk about gay people negatively, making them afraid to tell anyone.
- They play on a sports team and are afraid the other team members won’t let them to be part of the team.
- The church talks about homosexuality being a sin. Some people will deny being gay to prevent being kicked out of their church or chastised by the members.
- They don’t want to be gay and are doing everything they can to avoid it.
- They are not ready and/or don’t know how to deal with being gay.
- Some people don’t feel it necessary to share their personal feelings about anything, including being gay.
- They are ashamed and don’t want anyone to know.
- Sometimes they don’t even know they are gay.
- Maybe their not gay.
- There are things you may be doing that make them feel they cannot tell you.
- If your child feels you will over-react or have strong opinions about homosexuality, they will almost certainly keep the secret.
- If you tell gay jokes your child may feel embarrassed about telling you they are gay.
- If you talk badly about homosexuality your child may fear you will hate them for being gay.
- Gagging, gesturing or changing the channel when you see gay people on television will make them afraid to tell you.
What can I do to know if my child is gay or not?
There is no test. There is no perfect conversation. There is no amount of discontent that will change them.
Create a dialogue between you and your child. It’s best if you started this from the time you started talking to them as babies, but anytime is a good time to start. Let your child know you love them unconditionally and mean it.
Many parents say they love their child no matter what, but when confronted with things they disapprove of it becomes a gray area. Your child needs to know they can tell you anything and at the very least you will listen with an open ear and logically talk with them about their choices.
If you want your child to feel comfortable to openly tell you they are gay, leave the door open. You will not turn your child gay by letting them know you accept the idea. When you see gay people or talk about them make sure it isn’t negative. These are opportunities to express your acceptance towards gay people and open the door for your child to tell you about themselves.
If you’ve created an open dialogue with your child and you feel safe doing so, you can ask them how they feel about homosexuality and if it leads there, ask them if they’ve ever considered being gay. Be careful not to accuse or degrade the possibility if you want an honest answer. If a straight child feels like you think they are gay it can be equally harmful as not accepting a gay child.
If your child seems to be confused about their sexuality make them an appointment with a therapist who specializes in sexuality. Be careful not to choose a therapist that is based solely on a religious principle. Your child will feel alienated and as though there is no place to turn. They likely already feel alone.
Most importantly, don’t assume your child is gay until you know for certain and don’t assume your child is not gay either. Regardless of whether they are gay or straight, they are your child and they need you. As their parent, you need them too.
This article was reposted from Hubpages.
Originally posted 2013-05-27 16:35:20.