I'm not gay, but if I get in a corner that I can't get out of, I want Dan on my side.


Dan, did you get a follow up email? I see this was six years ago.

My advice in these situations is to find welcoming religious people. They are out there and they can give you a spiritual home. Of course going to an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will wig out your conservative Catholic parents more than you being gay ;-)


Old letter, but for others in that situation:

It could be hard to get the parents to spring for $130/hour licensed sex-positive therapist when they'll want to spend their money on a sex-negative Catholic therapist or use a free peer-to-peer lay men's support groups, (more dangerous) Catholic priests or (very dangerous) youth / bible-study leaders.

So wander into a UCC (United Church of Christ) or UU (Unitarian Universalist) church and ask to speak to the pastor. UCC is more Christian ("The only time Christ is mentioned in a Unitarian Church is when the janitor falls downs the stairs.") but either will be not just non-judgmental but actively supportive and could connect you lots of local resources, supportive families, and the children growing up UCC or UU communities are going to at least accepting if not militant advocates for gay rights.


So much hatred, oppression, misery caused by fairy tale no more real than the Olympian Gods it replaced.


I wonder what happened to this kid. I hope they're happily gay at college, or something.


Given the age of the letter, the parents might have come around and all is well.


Your mother was a gem, Dan.


And the Olympian Gods were a lot more gay-friendly.


The first time I read this, it was well before my kid was out. When she outed herself to me, I basically shrugged and told her that if she found someone who respected her and treated her well, that was all that mattered. What's funny is she seemed more bothered by outing herself when I didn't ask about her sexuality in the first place. I haven't told any family members and told her that when she wanted to, she could tell them. I didn't spend all this time and energy trying to raise someone just to be a jerk when they figure out who they are.


Put me in the lie camp. I have a crazy parent who just. won't. let. anything. go. that they don't support/understand/believe in. If that's the case (and it sounds like it might be), lie your way through the rest of your adolescence. It's a bad habit to pick up (it can be hard to let it go), but it's better than getting angry and turning that anger on yourself and others. Those are probably worse habits and harder to stop. Hope things worked out for this l-dub.


Christopher J @2

The female ministers in ELCA might also scare the kid's parents!

As for the LW, it's amazing to see just how gracious he continues to be toward his disapproving parents as he sinks into a very low place. Oh, he's sure they still love him, probably just as they proclaim to love all sinners, even the specifically "disordered" ones (in Catholic teachings). And the talk of his gayness being because he's got the Devil in him is just so depressing.

OTOH, he may have been exaggerating that he didn't look forward to telling his mom that he wants to have a dick in his mouth! Um ... what about just talking about kissing? TMI, LW, TMI!


I hope the LW found that 2013 comment love bomb, and hope he's doing well in 2019.


I think the main goal here is to get Mom and Pop is to just stop talking about your sexuality. At the next family faith-out, tell them that you obviously have a lot of praying and thinking to do if you’re to overcome your sinful desires, and that you are now not having sex before you turn 21, and point out that their constant banging on about the unnatural lusts and satanic impulses is making it harder for you purify your mind. If you want them to be aware of how much worse it could be, you could even hint darkly at a vVocation (“Priests are ‘celibate’, so If it’s God’s will that I wait 5 years...”).Delight your parents and tell them that, in the meantime, you’ll happily date some girls to see if you’re attracted to them. Then go on friend dates with teenage lesbians. Lesbians are awesome, and, you know what, music by angry girls with guitars isn’t that bad. Also, keep in mind that a gay/lesbian combo double date looks exactly the same as a boring hetero one, except in the G/L version, it’s the guys dressed up to the nines and the girls with low maintenance haircuts. Then spend the rest of your school years making friends and enjoying the company of people whose company you enjoy - there’s honestly no need to rush into the gay sex thing, you’re not going to be any good at it for least ten years, and sodomy is not likely to go out of fashion among the gays anytime soon.

Also, always remember the Bible is a book of stories, and is no more (or less) a guide to human behaviour and morality than, say, the Complete Works of Shakespeare. And, look, the Gospels are fair examples of Roman biography, but Suetonius’ The Twelve Caesars ’ has a lot more kinky sex and political intrigue - hell, Claudius is even murdered and then becomes an immortal god, just like Jesus.


I've been reading Savage Love for, what, 30 years? More? I don't believe I've ever been so moved by a letter - or by the response.

I really wish we could have an update on Me.


Dan's response was very moving, especially his late mother's wise words. The letter writer sounds like a really great young man. I hope all is going much better for him now he's 22.


Great advice. I hope that this now-22-year-old man is out and happy and that his parents have come round. Dan, given the age of the letter, I hope you checked the organisations you linked to are still active? I think a lot has changed in terms of queer acceptance in the past six years, but for religious conservatives, possibly not.


This needed an update.

Mr Kenai is quite right; the chance of a sixteen-year-old being able to impose a good therapist on dedicated, religious conservatives is practically nil. For LW's unlucky successors, the parents may well be avoiding therapy as part of hoping to contain the damage, but, if they get the idea, may well use a therapist who fits their views as a weapon. I'd advise gay sixteeners with parents like these to keep therapy out of the conversation as long as possible. Teens have so few cards they can play in these situations, but there is always Not Talking About It (parents of this sort often want to keep the gay as secret as possible) and also It's Affecting My Studies (especially for those with high GPAs).

In my own case, I was unable to avoid the disaster of conversion therapy, which had only the consolation that I emerged more securely gay than I began. I was younger than this LW. It never occurred to me to tank a grade on purpose, though; I'm not sure how far I could have gone in that direction. It feels a little like being a nurse who thinks of letting her enemy patient die, but then realizes that, of course, one just can't do that.

If two teen friends, one G and one L, both being bothered by their parents, decide to team up for common self-preservation, good luck to them, but one shouldn't go looking for that sort of situation.


Every time the tech savvy at risk youth (who by now are middle-aged) run a re-print, they should be obliged to first dox the heck out of that original email and try to track down the LW, and confidentially invite them to offer an update.


not actually dox in the public disclosure sense but in the internet-detective find-out-who-it-is sense, so they can ask if person wishes to update on what happened


Especially if it is a gut wrenching letter like this one where we are all hoping it turned out OK.


My mother won the disclosure from me that 'it was what it looked like'--that I was 'gay'--when I was 17. She couldn't deal, and as a devout Catholic went off to corners to cry--everything made her cry--and to side-chapels to pray (likewise). My father was more disapproving--raucously, hootingly, mock-incredulously disapproving--but seemed, if anything, hurt by my lack of manliness, which he thought reflected on him. They burdened me with guilt; but there wasn't much more coercion than this.

Like everyone else, my heart goes out to Me, and I hope things are better now. 'It gets better' because you find the strength to make it better--or you simply move on to a new context.

One point not yet raised (in the re-run) is his saying he'd like dick in his mouth. 16 is a good age to start getting this; it was when I started, and it bolstered my self-belief in the face of prejudice.


Remember to use incognito browsing and otherwise cover your various electronic and phone trails if your parents might snoop and use them against you. No one should have to do that, but it can be necessary to stay safe when others have power over you.


Poor kid. I hope it turned out alright for him. Any update from the intervening years?


SublimeAfterglow @5 My fellow Muses and I take exception to being called fairy tales. Myths are so much classier!


Ok, so I’m old, and maybe this isn’t a thing anymore... but most of the gay guys in my high school would be out to a few female friends, and those girls would fight for the chance to be the guy’s pretend girlfriend for family-fooling purposes,


The odd thing about Catholics is that they have a priesthood full of gay men -- including Cardinals who are dabbling with the seminarians as we've just discovered -- and yet somehow have issues with homos.

As far as religion, the ELCA Lutherans and Episcopalians are both wide open to gays yet still definitely Christian... and liturgical so familiar to a nice Catholic boy.

I guess I'm not a big advocate of "coming out" to people who are liable to have major issues unless you've sorted out what exactly it is you are. So wait till you've had a few relationships / encounters /something before you tell dad you're gay, lest you find some hyper liberal chick and decide you're some flavor of poly and bi...

@26 -- He was in an all boys boarding school, so he didn't need a beard like that.


Sounds like his dad's bi.


Yeah, neither 16-year-old boys nor 16-year-old girls should tell their parents they want a dick in their mouth. Nor 36-year-olds of any gender. Parents don't need that sort of detail; after all, you wouldn't want to know that much about their sex life!


good to repost this letter and remind us this is still important to talk about, especially now.
ya I felt I was going to cry it was so sad.


Get a job, save your money, get out. When you don't depend on them for food and shelter anymore, you can finally attempt to have an honest relationship, or an honest assessment of whether you even want them in your life, based on just them as people and not their material support. Sad, but true. In the meantime, just keep your head down, avoid getting drawn into their religious/homophobic republican nonsense. Just get money, look for scholarships, jobs, roommates. And open a Roth IRA at 18. Financial independence = freedom.


I can't imagine things were easy for his four 'almost perfect' siblings, either--whatever their sexuality. 'Me' finds it crushing to live up to his parents' highly prescriptive, stringent expectations. Let's hope he's discovering that he doesn't have to. (Well, that sort of mind control over a person's sense of loyalty and responsibility can last a lifetime--but the bonds can slacken).


Ms Oid - I'll be generous and assume five out of six such girls would have good motivations, but the sixth would be Natalie Stathis (the protagonist of Robert Rodi's first novel, the name of which rhymes with Rag Bag). Unless the threat were considerably more extremely than this LW's, I'd advise any young gay not to enter such a one-sided camouflage - the side effects are not good for one, the possible pitfalls are exponentially higher than if they're both closeted, and overall the minor benefit just isn't worth it in most cases.


I'm so sorry that you're going through this in your family. You have been given many links in the responses. I wanted to share two more. There is a book published a long time ago that I found helpful in the 80s. It is written by Brian McNaught, who is a gay Catholic. The book that I read, which addressed issues of faith, is called A Disturbed Peace. It was published in 1981 and is hard to find. Here is another book of his On Being Gay: Thoughts on Family, Faith and Love. It is available on Amazon. I was fortunate to know Brian when he lived in Massachusetts. There is also a group for gay Catholics, Dignity. They have Masses in many major cities. I attended the one in Boston for over a decade. I wish you well and you will be in my prayers.


@18 Mr Vennominon - you've never had a lesbian best friend? I have always found them very helpful, not only for explaining the rules of most sports, but also for inoculating me against the juvenile "girls are yuck, throw them in a truck" level of misogyny that is all to common in gay men.


Mr Pan - Even before I became a GGGM in Amsterdam in 1998, I didn't require such explanations. And, as my best tennis discipline was mixed doubles, I didn't need that inoculation.

I think I was socially active in a pocket of LG amity. Around here, I don't think we even needed the quotas some of the national organizations imposed to increase female inclusion.

It's not having any particular type of friend I wouldn't recommend; going looking for "an X friend" or "a Y friend" is just a bit too calculating for my tastes.


Mr vennominon - Ah, I see the source of our misunderstanding. I did not intend to prescribe, but only to suggest a possibility. I would even propose that the friends we look for are not often the friends we find, but the friends we find are always the friends we need.

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