“I Just Found Out That My Son is Gay”

“I Just Found Out That My Son is Gay”

Updated 2/11/22

Although gay and lesbian individuals continue to find more and more acceptance in our society, coming out can still be daunting. For a parent, it can be a struggle to know how to support, understand, and how to show up.

When your son comes out to you, it can shift many things in your life. There is a lot to manage for a parent in these situations. You want to be there for you kid, you want to protect your kid, you want to protect your family, you want to cope yourself, and you want to have some connections with your community.

Problems for families in these situations usually come from fear and misunderstanding. Some parents don’t fully understand sexual orientation. Some may think that their child is going through a phase, can change this part of their lives, or that their son is making a choice. Then there are also parents who have moral concerns that are based in their own religious beliefs.

No matter how much fear is there, you can’t make a gay child change their orientation. Conversion therapy has proven to be harmful, so no matter what information you come across that tells you this is changeable it’s not.

The best thing that parents can do in this situation is become informed and more educated, so that they’re better able to help the family move through this potentially stressful time.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have your own process to go through of understanding and healing. It’s just important to balance your own journey with supporting your child through their process as well.

Opening up and encouraging dialogue.

Most parents want to be supportive of their kid after their kid comes out. Remember that most issues involve misunderstandings. So if your son misunderstands what you’re trying to convey, this can cause tension.

Another struggle that families often face is avoidance. Sometimes people avoid talk around a person’s orientation by avoiding discussions about relationships or coping with coming out, etc.  Avoidance can leave your son interpreting the silence as if you’re uncomfortable or unaccepting. If you find that you avoid topics, you may want to assess your own levels of discomfort. It’s important to identify these things so you don’t react to blind spots and accidentally hurt your son and your relationship with him.

Get updated information. 

Many of the parents I have worked with respond to some outdated fears. For example, there is fear about their sons safety or others might fear things that are now manageable such as HIV. It’s important to understand that HIV isn’t a certainty for gay men and for men who are HIV positive, there are medications now that are able to control the virus itself.

Although there are challenges for gay men, there are places of acceptance and belonging that gay men find.

These are just a couple of concerns that parents have, but myth-busting can help you feel more secure with this reality.

There are also several unknowns for families when someone comes out. They do not know if they’re going to have grandchildren, if his partner will be considered to be part of the family, or if other family members will even accept this.

The best thing that families can do in this situation is to be honest with themselves about acceptance and understanding. Asking themselves if they feel self-conscious, uncomfortable, and/or saddened by their son’s sexual orientation is important. When this is acknowledged, the parent can work on gaining a better understanding and seeking out their own help.

It’s important that parents have their own feelings, take responsibility for how they feel and have places to be open and process.

It’s much easier for a young gay adult to hear from their parent that “I am trying to understand, but this is my issue, and I am working through it”, then hearing that they “made” the parent sad or hurt. If your kid has just come out to you, it’s important to look inward, identify how you feel, and look for resources in your community. You might need to find someone you can be open with and it can even be a good idea to find a therapist. Some smaller communities don’t have as many trusted resources, but there are more online groups and supports than ever before.

Be cautious about how you share your struggles. Although it’s beneficial for people to hear a parent’s perspective, it can still be hurtful to hear that their parent is struggling. One recommendation to have is to ask your kid how much they want to hear. Even if your kid wants to hear your perspective though, be gentle about what you share and lean on the side of caution. For example, you might tell them, “I’m processing a lot of it” or “I’m learning and growing” rather than really negative feelings.

The openness can open up lines of communication, encourage both sides to cope with these changes, and facilitate future healthy family roles. The parents may benefit from participating in support groups such as PFLAG. If there are no local support groups for you, there are also online forums that you can participate in as well. PFLAG is likely to direct you to these options when they’re needed. These are excellent forums for people to learn that they’re not alone and get suggestions on how others have handled similar situations.

Having a son who has come out can be a difficult time for families and the one who has come out. Although most parents want to be supportive, they often just don’t know how or what to do in an unfamiliar arena. Some deny that they’re struggling with this, while others avoid the topic altogether. With proper support and counseling, however, families can gain education, learn to communicate without hurting each others’ feelings, and build solid connections.

  1. thank you, i will definitely use this when i come out to my parents. 🙂

    • Yeah,
      It’s a tough place to be in, and it is hard to consider their perspective when we’re going through our own difficulties. Let me know how it goes.


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