SL Letter of the Day: Out and In

Comments

1
A little heavy on the BITCH.
2
@1 A little heavy on the stupidity. If the kid wasn't okay with being referred to as BITCH then he likely would not have made it his sign off.
3
1, wtf are you talking about? It seems to me that the only reason you'd write that is because you see yourself in her shoes-- you're willing to damage your children when they force you to grow emotionally.
4
Your mom's reaction wasn't about you, it was about her. And I think Dan's right - it was mostly about "I'm not prepared for this". Which is her problem, not yours - part of your job as a kid is to grow and change and develop and be, whether or not parents are ready. Part of your job is to present your parents with truths they may not be comfortable with.

Chances are, your mom is kicking herself for handling that exchange badly, and preparing herself for the next one. Because she knows there will be a next one, because she knows that you're gay.

My daughter has told me that I handled her coming out just right, but from inside, it didn't feel all that right - I was stumbling and feeling my way, trying not to screw up but really not sure how to tell her what she needed to hear when I wasn't quite sure exactly what that was.
5
Imagining her son as a bottom might be a particularly difficult shift for mom to make.
6
You did nothing wrong. Your mom blew it. She got this one wrong.

But don't assume that it will always be that way, especially if she professes to be liberal. I've known lots and lots of gay guys who have come out to their parents. It doesn't always go so well at first. Unless you are noticeably effeminate, most parents assume we are straight (most kids ARE in fact straight). So it often comes as a shock and surprise when we come out to them. In their shock and surprise, they sometimes say things or make decisions that are... less than helpful. Even harmful. But we all do that. Haven't you ever said something, and when you thought about it later, you realized it was wrong? Well, parents sometimes do that too.

So your mom blew it. Lots of parents do. Some of them never come around. But many of them realize they were wrong and they later become very supportive. Your mom might too. In fact, if she is as liberal as she claims, I'd say the odds are pretty good. But it may take a few months. Or at your age, it might take a couple of years (because most parents have a hard time accepting that their kid is growing up and becoming sexual until they're older).

Good luck. And Dan is right. Send her to PFLAG. It helped my parents a lot when I came out to them 25 years ago.
7
@3 - You're always going off on tangents.
@2 - Now I see it, the acronym in his user name. Pardon me!
8
This is a sad story. I remember the 'you're too young' comments from my mother around any discussion of girlfriends! God knows what she'd have said concerning boyfriends. Meanwhile, dear old homophobic dad was trying desperately to encourage any/all interest in girls, 'cause he was 'worried about me'. RE: he was terrified I was queer.
All any of it accomplished was to make me even more ashamed sexual feelings, gay or straight. Don't give in to any shame, BITCH. Hang in there, lie if you must (without guilt), and like Dan says, the good will outweigh the bad in short order. I'm sorry your 'liberal' mom is not supportive, but she'll come around eventually. My 'liberal' mom did.
9
Not clear if written by a male or a female, which makes the use of gender-specific pronouns confusing. I was thinking it was a young lesbian and then Dan says she will be with an amazing, loving man some day!
10
"'Safe' is defined as a place where kids aren’t punished for having inconvenient feelings, and where they aren’t expected to be more mature than they’re developmentally able to be." -- Carolyn Hax

Your mom isn't safe right now, but she might be later. Don't beat yourself up for doing what you had to do.
11
@9- lesbians rarely refer to themselves as homo. Just sayin'.
12
Plus, mom may be worried about extra hurdles her son may face, extra pain and possible bullying and want to keep him safe. Also, she may be fearing this means no grandchildren.

I hope she comes around, and sooner rather than later. Best of luck, LW!
13
Sometimes I'm slow on the uptake but this quote from Dan:
"And homophobes—even liberal ones—don't see gay people when they look at us, BITCH, they see gay sex. That's why rightwing Christian homophobes run around calling chaste gay people "ex-gay." If you define gay people by gay sex acts, then gay people who aren't having gay sex aren't gay people anymore."
really puts in perspective for me. I hadn't thought about it that way but it totally makes sense now. Thanks for enlightening me, proves you can teach an old dog new tricks! Well maybe not the homophobic ones:)
14
My mom said "I know. I was waiting for you to be comfortable enough to tell me." The emphasis being on MY comfort. Which is the way it's supposed to go. You're telling your parent(s) something about who you are, not the vase you broke or the car you crashed. It's not supposed to be about them. Which is why Dan (politely) kicked the shit out of BITCH's mom: she made it about her and not her scared, in-need-of-support son. He didn't go absolutely apeshit because she can still turn it around if she stops being selfish; in the meantime, BITCH, don't internalize her blunder. You're doing fine.
15
The LW is male.
16
I think you were too harsh on Mom in the third paragraph, Dan. She can be surprised, disoriented, without being homophobic. Indeed you likely hit the hammer on the head in the very next paragraph: kid probably isn't, in her mind, even sexual yet, and so how could he have come to conclusions that determine his future so profoundly as this. Just give her a little time, BITCH, and please be ready to forgive her.
17
Considering that the mom is politically (although it seems not personally) liberal, she's probably not going to pack the boy off to ex-gay not-therapy. All her liberal friends would shun her. She's also probably not going to kick him out of the house or pack him off to military school—what would the neighbors say? However, she might insist that he take the neighbor girl-his-age out to a movie so that she can keep her head in the sand a while longer.

Any parent who finds out (not has suspicions confirmed but finds out) that their kid is gay has some major adjustments to make. Especially if this boy is an only child, his mom has to deal with significantly diminished likelihood of biological grandkids and chuck any dreams she had of him marrying a nice girl (though not dreams of him getting married at all). She also has to accept that his life is going to be difficult in ways in which straight men's lives are not.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's also possible that the mom will come down from her OHMYGODWHATDIDMYBABYBOYJUSTTELLMEEEE?!?! in a day or two and say, "Son, that thing that you told me the other day? I think I freaked out and reacted badly. Do you want to have that conversation again?" but that's my faith in humanity.
19
Dan, this strikes me as the most perceptive thing you have written in a long time.
@18: This kid's path has the potential to be every bit as fulfilling as any straight kid's. And if you actually knew any gay people or talked to any that were out, you might realize that no one chooses to be gay because it seems that that's what the cool kids are doing.
20
I have always been supportive of everyone. I may not march in parades but I am liberal and I supported and support equal rights for all people.
My son came out to me in a text message. I freaked the fuck out. I cried hysterically and I didn't (and still don't really) understand why.
His message to me was basically him asking me (as the only Christmas present he could think of) to be the supportive parent when he came out to his right wing Christian Dad.
Once I calmed down I replied and told him that of course I would support him in every way possible. And I have. I am so proud of him in every way. He is an exceptional young man and I wouldn't change a thing. And I'm in no hurry to be a grandma.
But my initial reaction still bothers me. I wasn't sad or disappointed, just very shocked. Even open minded people can be constrained by the limits of what society seems to dictate.
21
20

You must be so proud.

If only every mom's son could be as exceptional as your son.

What a world it would be!

Your son is truly Just As Good as any other kid alive.

They should clone him.

(they will have to, won't they, or the species will go extinct....)

23
@18: Fuck off and die, you piece of shit.
24
She panicked. Give her some time.
25
@18 -You lie.

@21/22 - I'm sorry about your life. You're still evil, dirty, and disgusting but I really am sorry. I'll pray for you.
26
23

very eloquent and persuasive.

do you have anything else?
27
25

what will you pray to?
28
18 & 20 are soulless, hateful and damaged individuals. 18 is just vicious in its attempt to wound, terrorize and bully a 15 yr old kid. The thing that spurs their irrational lashing out at you, BITCH is they are freakin' scared to death of your courage. You will be somebody and they will only be soulles, hateful and damaged. Haters are everywhere, but so is love if you are open to accepting it. From your scared mom, from true friends, from people you don't know yet. It gets better. Welcome to the Family. We need to cherish and support our baby gays while they learn how beautiful they are just as the Creator made them.
29
Very neatly covered. All I have to add to our blossoming Sunshine is that the Biological Family is the ultimate PLU club. The resulting insularity can be a strength, but, if regarded as nothing but a strength, quickly becomes a great weakness. But it is not insurmountable, and there are various paths your mother can take that will lead to a better relationship.

Homophobic parents (or those who are at least on the spectrum if not outright 'phobes) remind me of Dennis Philby's father (an electrician) in the White Ghost episode of Cracker. They may say they're proud of their boy from Rumford who goes off and succeeds in Hong Kong, but what they really want is for him to join the firm, take the wages and move two streets away. They go around saying, "I don't know what's wrong with the boy; I can't get rid of him," while inside they're beaming at the huge compliment.

But I also think of the moment in when a young widow realizes for the first time that her small daughter is a person in her own right, "...she is herself. If there is love between us, we will be friends all our loves, but if there is not love between us she will grow up and we will be strangers," or something very like that.

So, stay safe, Sunshine, build a good support system, help your mother's conscience along if you can, and make your predecessors proud. We're not that hard to please. Your chosen family awaits you, and it can be a grand one.
31
I meant 21 not 20. You sound like a great right wing Xian Dad. 20.
32
BITCH, please read comment 20. Please also totally ignore 18. Some people are so threatened by the idea of sexual orientation being innate that they just have to create an illusion that it is a choice. They can only continue to fight homosexuality if it is a choice, because if it isn't then they are just being bigots. They don't want to admit they are bigots, so they can't accept that sexual orientation is not a decision people make, it is just a part of who they are.

@18, science (real science, not made up crap) is on the side of sexual orientation not being a choice. It is somewhat fluid in women, but even that is not something we choose. There are physical differences in our brains that can be seen under a microscope and in certain brain scans. Gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender men and women all have differences in our brains that support this not being a "choice". And LGBT people can live equally happy and fulfilling lives as straight people. Oftentimes they can be happier, because they have had to work harder to be themselves, they have developed into stronger people. If they can get past the bullshit we straight people heap on them, they usually have amazing lives. Lay off of your "choice" crap, and go back under your rock where you belong.
33
28, project much? You have disturbing fantasies, as is the case with hetero pedophiles who are 95% of all child molesters.
34
Ms Rarely @20 - Thank you for being supportive of your son. I am tempted to draw a moral from your story that right wing Christians are not good reproductive selections for those not of that ilk, but then again, some of them become that way after reproducing. Also, if only RWCs reproduced with other RWCs, while fewer gay teens would have the unfortunate experience of an RWC parent, those who did would all have two, a fate I should not wish on the harshest of my detractors. It's a tough call.
35
Good luck, LW.
I hope your mum will come around soon.
38
I've been thinking some more about the night my daughter came out to me.

After she went to bed - she'd had a little cry, and there'd been lots of hugs and "I love yous" - I lay awake for a while. And I got a shot of fear. What if the haters are right? What if she's going down a path that is bad and wrong, will lead to her destruction, and if I was harsh with her I could save her from, from, whatever it is that they say I should be saving her from? It was a scary minute, but it was only a minute. Warmth and openness and tolerance and support and love have proven to be the right way so far, I'm not giving up on them now. Every choice I've made in my life springing from fear and hate has turned out wrong, and every one motivated by love and warmth has turned out right.

But I don't know if I blame a parent for falling, for a minute, for the lies of people like @18, especially if that's what she hears all around her. I would blame her, though, and hard, if that's where she stayed. It's not just love on our side, after all, but reason and reality-based thinking.
39
BITCH, I am pretty liberal, but the first time a friend came out to me I was shocked. I got over it, and we are still friends, but it was disorienting. Sexual orientation is so much a part of the narrative we write about ourselves and our friends and our families. (And no, I wasn't thinking about sex at all when he came out, I was thinking of the girl I thought he'd had a crush on.)

If your mom never suspected you might be gay, it must have been a shock for her. Possibly a "no wedding no grandchild" shock, although those are both changing.

The odds are good that she will come around. Please try to forgive her when she does. And good luck with everything.
40
First a petty note--jeez-louise, Mr. Savage, but a bit of a rush job? Quite a few more typos than the norm, it was a bit jarring to read Dan's response.

And a more substantive quibble--coming out a Second and Final time in 3 or 6 months sounds rushed to me. Better for BITCH to give his mom a year, or two, I'd think.
And really, given the implicit threat from Mom that made BITCH very understandably back off, isn't this a situation where BITCH might be better served waiting until he's got some money banked and a back-plan if she freaks and kicks him out? That to me suggests that the Second and Final coming out may have to wait until BITCH is 18 or even older.

Just sayin'--be careful, BITCH, and seriously consider delaying Coming Out Round Two for a hell of a lot longer than 3 months from now. Better to be closeted than homeless and living on the streets.
41
@39, I agree with you, and the others who have said that shock makes it hard. When my best friend (whom I had just asked out) came out to me in high school, I was tempted to reject his friendship for it because I was coming from a very different emotional space than was necessary to deal with that sort of revelation. This was despite having multiple gay friends and a gay sister. The point being that I grew up surrounded by loves of all types but was still susceptible to selfishness in my reaction to one particular person coming out. So, I agree that if your mother had had a particular image of how your life might go, she could be forgiven (if she apologizes/admits her error) for failing to react appropriately.
42
@5, you clearly are suffering from exactly the same issue as the mom. You don't have to be able to comfortably imagine the exact way someone might like to fuck, in order to accept them as a human being. Especially not if that person is a CHILD. Once again, gayness being equated only with gay sex itself.

BITCH, hang in there. I don't know if a couple of months will be enough time to wait before coming out to your mom again. One thing to keep in mind: Are you getting your driver's license right now, or will you be soon? If a car might be your only mode of transportation to an LGBT youth center or other type of support group for young gay people, consider delaying your coming out until you've got your license, and seeking support outside your home first. It would probably help so much for you to be able to talk to people who are going through the same thing.
43
Shitty parents are shitty.
44
It might be helpful for him to look at the blog borngaybornthisway.blogspot.fr which has stories by gay people who knew they were different from an early age, even before they had sexual feelings. That is probably the case with him as well, and if he could explain to his mother that his orientation goes way back, before hormones, and that look! it's very common! it might help her accept the idea that it's not just a phase, that he was drawn to other males in a romantic way when he was young and that's how he knows now that he's gay.
45
Mostly spot on Dan though I think the homophobia charge was overdoing it. It's really just the "cant accept my kid is becoming an adult part", my dad even though already having a out bisexual son reacted almost the same way to my little sis coming out, heck the TWO MOTHERS of my sisters wife reacted this way when my sister in law came out to them, calling it a phase and "copying your mothers"...
Parents will be parents, mine forbade me for almost a year to have my then girlfriend sleeping over in my room because they found HER "not ready" even though I was allowed to sleep at hers from her mom from the start. (Which meant by the way she was sleeping in my sisters room who wasn't out yet :-) since they where friends).
46
@45 - so if she had told her Mom that she was straight, she would have gotten the same reaction? "Mom, I like a boy" would have been "just a phase"?

Sounds like you have some issues accepting that your Dad is (or was) a bit of a homophobe.
47
@ 46, not homphobe, more worried as parents are about their children and how life will treat them.
If my dad in amsterdam ( who didnt call it a phase btw, he just needed some adjustment time) was already worried i can see how a mum in the US could be
48
@47, "worry" can be a nice cover for bigotry.

If mom was "worried" about her daughter being into black guys no one would have a problem terming her "worry" as racism.

Sure, mom is "worried" about her son being gay. But that worry is fueled by anti-gay attitudes, it doesn't excuse them.
49
People fling the "homophobic" label too easily, in my opinion. For most parents, especially the supposedly liberal ones, it's more a question of "homo-ignorant." Yes, fear comes into it — fear for a child's future (often based on the outdated notions of a previous generation).

Had I come to my parents at age 15 and said, "Mom, Dad, I've decided I really don't want to go to college. I've decided instead that I want to open a florist shop after I graduate from high school," I would have gotten exactly the same response from my parents that BITCH did. I wouldn't call that "anthrophobic," nor would I call BITCH's mom necessarily "homophobic," just scared.
50
Dan, you're awesome. Great advice.

BITCH, my ex-girlfriend had a similar experience the first time she came out to her mom, at the age of 22 or so. Her mom was talking about dating or something, and my ex said something like, "What if I swing the other way?" (I don't think she could bring herself to use the word "gay" with her very conservative Catholic family.) Her mom said, "If you do, I don't want to know." Ex said "Just kidding." End of conversation. This was probably a couple years into our 6-year relationship, and her folks did their best to keep from acknowledging our relationship all six years, though I was there for every family function. I'm not in contact with her anymore, but I hear from a mutual friend that she is very happy with her wife, and when they had a commitment ceremony, her parents attended. I don't know if this helps, just want you to know you're not alone.
51
One of the most important things I've learned in my life is that a promise or guarantee made under duress and/or coercion is not binding.
(Everyone's favorite objectivist writer taught me that one.)
52
Mmmmm. I can feel for both these people. Part of Mom's issue is that the LW has "come out" to her in more ways than one. Most parents try to ignore their children's sexuality as long as possible, gay or straight. I think part of her reaction, manipulative as it may be, was an effort to preserve what the parents of all teens want to believe, that their children are not sexual.
53
Eh, mom sounds like trouble. I'd put off coming out of the closet to her again until she paid for BITCH's college diploma and BITCH has a full time job for fear she dumps him on the street.
54
Good advice, but I have one caveat: If you think your mom is even close to throwing you out/sending you to boot camp/whatever it is homophobes do with their kids, don't come out again until you have a safe place to go to. That means either wait till you're 18 and out of hte house, or have a friend whose understanding parents will let you stay with them if hte coming out goes badly. Don't mean to scare you, but don't come out again in only 6 months without a backup plan.