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After learning you have a gay child, a typical reaction is to go into the closet yourself. You may be reluctant to discuss it with your friends or family. You might feel ashamed, thinking you did not do a proper job of parenting. You may fear for your child’s safety if anyone else finds out.

You should not resist your time in the closet. Embrace it. It is a time for reflection, for formulating and, hopefully, answering your questions. While you’re in there, try to learn as much as you can about sexual orientation, even if this means pushing yourself out of your normal comfort zone.

At some point, you need to come out of the closet, just as your child did. Its hard to live a life dodging the perennial questions that relatives ask about your child’s love life, or sitting quietly after a friend or relative makes a crude comment about gay people.

Equally important, once you have come to understand homosexuality better, you’ll be more sensitive to the prejudices and inequities that gay people experience every day in our society. And you’ll want to change it. This is part of becoming an advocate for gays and lesbians. Being an advocate means talking to people about homosexuality and gay rights. And, naturally, some of the first people you will tell are your family and friends.

Suggestions

Answer your own questions first

It is essential that you are comfortable with your child’s sexual orientation before you talk to your family. They will have many of the same questions you did. Their acceptance will be much quicker if you are confident in your understanding of homosexuality and can answer their questions, or at least broaden their thinking. They will probably ask many of the same questions that you did.

Start with the easy ones

Some of your family members will be more open than others. If possible, start with the ones you believe will be the most accepting. This will give you a chance to try out your delivery and possibly learn something about the more “difficult” people at the same time.

Be prepared for rejection

Some family members and friends may have a very closed mind when it comes to homosexuality. If so, try to understand the source of their homophobia. This may show you a way to help them come to a better understanding. Consider inviting them to attend group meetings with you.

Be prepared for surprises

Keep in mind that while you may lose some friends, you may become much closer to others. Don’t underestimate your family’s willingness and ability to be supportive.

Be patient

Don’t expect a family member or friend to be accepting right away. Keep in mind how long it took you to become accustomed to it. If someone is not accepting at first, don’t give up!

Remain calm

Because homosexuality can be an emotional issue, you may hear some offensive comments about gay people, which will put you in a defensive position. Be prepared for this. Your arguments will be much more persuasive if they are calm and reasoned, rather than emotional and distraught.

Allow enough time to talk

Your friend or family member may have a lot of questions. Try to find an opportunity when you will have enough time to talk and you will be free of distractions.

Become an advocate

One of the best ways to make the world better for your gay child is to simply talk about it. This may be difficult at first – so start slowly. Put a gay-friendly bumper sticker on your car. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Write or call your elected officials to show your support of legislation that gives equal rights to gay people.
Topics: gay, lesbian, child, education
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