Is my son gay?

I secretly looked at his search history. Apparently he's attracted to the same sex and wants to disown his parents


Cary Tennis
November 10, 2010 6:19AM (UTC)

Dear Cary,

I'm pretty sure my son's gay. I just took a road trip to New York City to look at colleges with him and his friend and I observed very loving behavior ... so I checked his computer history and there were many search inquires about falling in love with friend and how to have sex, but what made me sad was the search on how to disown parents.

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My gut feeling is to let him tell me on his own time frame but I'm so sad that he feels he would have to disown us. There are three gay couples in our family -- all women -- and his grandfather's brother committed suicide at a young age and I've always understood it that it was because he was gay and my son is aware of this. I know that I and the extended family would support him but I don't want him to think that he would have to disown us because he's too ashamed to tell us; should I ask him or try to subtly let him know that it's OK?

He knows that I lived with a gay guy for two years and that I loved him but this feels completely different. There are clues all over Facebook but my question is: Ask or not?

I almost feel like he would leave and blame us and say we wouldn't understand, when the truth is I would support him in any choice he made (except disowning us) or is that part of his choice?

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I love him and don't want to lose him -- he's 17 and we want him to go to college and everything is paid for. I don't want him to throw an education away. So should I ask him?

BTW, I do really like his potential love interest.

Wondering

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Dear Wondering,

Let's put aside for the moment the question of being gay or not.

Your son needs to know that he has your trust and your support. He needs to know that whatever he may become, he's going to be accepted. You need to open your heart to him and humble yourself.

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You might begin by apologizing for looking at his search history.

There are many reasons why a parent may from time to time violate a child's privacy for the child's own good. But this was not one of those times. There was no ticking time bomb. There was no murderous stalker. There was simply your son, becoming who he is.

You're going to have to trust him.

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That doesn't mean supporting every crazy endeavor he might think up. But it means accepting things about his nature that you don't understand or approve of. It means letting go of some control, ceding some power to him. It means admitting that he is on the cusp of adulthood and autonomy. It means not standing over him, but standing shoulder to shoulder with him.

So that you both confront the immensity together.

Can you do that?

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Do you support him in his quest for personhood? Can you support him through the terrifying ordeal of listening to his own soul and trying to be true to it?

Can you support him unconditionally?

That's what this is about.

As to the gay thing, if you want to have a conversation about that, I would tell him that you support him in the process of discovering his sexual being and his place in the world. Tell him that however he chooses to identify you will support him and love him and try to protect him. Tell him that this process doesn't stop, that it keeps going.

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And let it go at that.

You don't need a definitive answer. By showing him respect, you may earn the right to hear his honest thoughts as he works this out.

Just be there for him. Have patience. Trust that he will find his way.



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Cary Tennis

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