If you find out that your child is gay, it’s important to put yourself in his shoes and understand that he or she may have fears about not being accepted for who they are.
They may not know where to look for advice… especially if they grew up in a conservative community. It is important to emphasize that you love them no matter what is sexual orientation is. They are the same child they always were, with the same great qualities they’ve always had. Being open about being gay or lesbian is admirable; it is courageous of your child to tell you and the rest of the world who they are.
It’s natural for you to be concerned about it all… worried that they will be judged… that you will be judged. But it’s vitally important that you offer support… to be there for them regardless of your fears or judgments. The following are proactive methods for working through your feelings and your teen’s fears:
Be honest with your child. You may be thrown off guard when he tells you he is gay, even if you suspected this to be the case already. Allow him to be open and honest with you and tell him if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by this news.
Hold you gay son or daughter to the same standards as their straight siblings. For example, if your house rule is not to allow their girlfriends or boyfriends stay overnight, apply the same rules to your gay child.
Or if you allow for your straight child to bring
Let Them Go at Their Own Pace
Do not force them out of the closet. If you suspect your child is gay, let her come out to you when she is ready. She may need to be in the right frame of mind before opening up to you about her sexual orientation. Being gay is much more than a label, it is an identity and a narrative, and it is your child’s right to tell you her narrative when she is ready.
Find her a therapist or psychologist to share your teen’s feelings and concerns with. Members of these professions follow a code of ethics that requires them to be knowledgeable, respectful, and tolerant of LGBT people. You still may want to get a feel for how a therapist’s views LGBT people by discussing the topic with him or her before your child starts therapy. It can be helpful for you to join in on a session or two.
Seek Support for Yourself
Contact Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). This is a national support and advocacy group primarily for parents of LGBT people that has hundreds of local chapters. You can attend meetings to share your concerns with other parents of gay and lesbian children. This will aid in your ability to effectively parent your gay teen.
Be an Example – Show Your Family You Support Your Child – Be Bold!
Be calm and comfortable with the concept of your child being gay when it’s time to share this information about your son or daughter with extended family and friends. Your acceptance of your child’s sexual orientation will foster acceptance by other family members and friends.
Find LGBT Spaces
Find LGBT spaces for him, if possible. See if there is a Gay and Straight Alliance (GSA) group at the school or something similar. The local Pride or LGBTQ Youth Center will likely have teen group nights.
Be Open-minded; Teens Can Be Indecisive
Understand that sexuality is fluid and your child may experiment by having romantic relationships with both boys and girls. She may in fact be bisexual, or she may need time to sort out her sexual identity by interacting with both sexes at some point. In fact, for some teens, experimenting with their sexuality may just be a phase. When I was in high school, many girls experimented by having intimate relationships with other girls but later decided they were, in fact, straight.
If your teen changes their mind or discovers new things about themselves as time goes, do your best to support their journey.
Ask If They Feel Safe
Ask your child if she feels safe in the community and in school. Ask her if she has come out to anyone else. Hopefully, your child has friends who love and accept her for who she is. There may be teachers she feels very comfortable with who may become a source of support.
Warn Them About Homophobia
Be aware that there is still a lot of homophobia in the world. You should realize that he will likely be the target of someone who is unaccepting of sexual differences at some point in time. Be honest with him by telling him that there will be people who aren’t so accepting of his sexuality.
Have a Sex Talk
Speak openly about sex with your gay child. If you haven’t already had a “sex talk” with him, the announcement that he is gay should prompt you to have that talk. Don’t leave this up to the school health teacher; LGBTQ individuals are often excluded from typical sex education classes. Having safe sex is important no matter what your child’s sexuality is. Make sure you son understands the importance of using condoms to avoid STDs.
The best thing you can do as a parent is to love your child unconditionally. Be her rock and make home a space where it is safe to be open and accepted for who she is.