The day my son told me he was gay
It was a couple of months ago that this occurred and I hadn’t actually intended to blog about it but it is something that I was thinking about again the other day so thought I’d post it on here.
So, to cut a long story short, my son “came out” to me when we were driving home one day. I was actually half expecting it because his Mum, my ex-wife, had rung me a few days before to tell me. When she told me, although I kept it to myself, I was actually quite angry. Not because of what she had said about my son but because she started the conversation by saying “Don’t get angry…I know you won’t get angry but don’t get angry.” Why say to someone I know you won’t get angry, don’t get angry? Then, what really angered me was that she actually told me that my son was gay. Now I know what you’re thinking but no, I wasn’t angry because he is gay, I was instead angry because that was his news and that should have been for him to tell me, not her. I felt like she had robbed him of a defining moment and that he’d had taken from him the opportunity to see my genuine instant reaction to the news. Okay, rant over.
So anyway, there we were in the car and I knew that he was nervous so I tried to remove his need to open the conversation by saying “So, your mum tells me you wanted to tell me something?”
He fidgeted for a moment longer and then, with prompting, said “Erm…I’m gay.”
My initial instinct was to respond “So…are you coming out…or are you coming out out?” But I wasn’t sure if he knew of Mickey Flannigan’s comedy so didn’t know if he’d even get that reference. Instead I just said, “So?”
“Erm…well that’s it.”
“Oh, is that all?” I waited for a moment to allow my response to sink in then continued. “Mate, I don’t mind who you are or what you want to do in life. These are your choices, not mine.”
“Oh…did you know already?”
“Your mum mentioned it but that doesn’t change anything mate.”
“Oh. I thought you knew anyway because I read some of your blogs about it.”
(I’ve previously written blogs about children struggling to come out to their parents and the unnecessary anguish this can cause) “I wrote those ages ago mate. I didn’t know then, no.”
I gave him a pep talk about how much it didn’t matter to me and that there was no reason for it to matter anyway. Being gay is like being left handed or having blond hair, it just is and that’s all there is to it. I did then give my son two pieces of advice which you, dear listener, may wish to pass on to your son or daughter should you find yourself in the same position.
“What I would say though mate is that you shouldn’t rush into this, before going the whole hog and dating a gay guy why not try dating a few straight boys first.”
“Er, what?” At this point he merely rolled his eyes at me.
“Oh and also, make sure you wear protection. I don’t want you coming home telling me you’re pregnant!”
“What are you talking about?” It was at this point that my son metaphorically slapped his head into his hand as he realised that I was going to take his revelation to me about as seriously as I take everything else in life.
He was staying over so the following morning I woke him and asked, “Are you still gay then?”
“Yes, of course…eh? Of course I’m still gay!”
“That’s okay, just checking. Didn’t know if it was a phase or a fad or something. You want any toast?” (Admittedly the toast thing probably isn’t overly relevant to this blog but it’s real life so I’ve kept it in).
I have since mentioned to my son that I’m glad he’s come out of the closet because it’s freed up some much needed hanging space in there.
Though the conversation and events above are actually true, my son knows very well that there’s little he could tell me that would phase me. I think that he’s also beginning to learn that I don’t see any reason why they should phase me anyway. When his mum had told me initially she had slightly over-hyped it almost as if she had wanted it to be a drama.
As I said to her at the time, “Why should it bother me, it’s not really my business is it?”
“But he’s your son, of course it’s your business.”
“I’m just saying that whether or not he’s gay doesn’t actually affect me so what does it matter? He doesn’t need my approval.”
Though I responded to this revelation by my son in a tongue and cheek way I am actually quite passionate about people’s rights to be who they are and to choose how they want to spend their lives. I think that for a person to have to struggle with deciding whether to, or how to, tell their parents that they are gay (or anything else) is so tragic and yet so avoidable. I’ve spoken to my son in the past about this, some time before I knew he was gay, to let him know that if he ever needed to he could come and talk to me about anything. Even then though it is hard for children to address certain subjects with their parents partly because their school friends will perhaps warn them against it but also because of the media and the way such issues are portrayed. Certainly if you are a parent and are reading this and disagree with or disapprove of your child being gay or bisexual or transgender or wanting to be known as non-binary etc. then, trust me, firstly, you’re not going to stop them from feeling this way or being this way and secondly, you made this person, you brought them into this world without their consultation and you have a duty of care and moral obligation to help them reach their full potential (whatever that may look like for your child). Otherwise, all you’ll end up doing is pushing them away, and for what?
I could witter on about this for some time, instead I shall simply direct you towards an earlier blog of mine, “An open letter to parents whose child is different.”
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