At the age of 21 my friend Gayle ran into her parents’ room in the middle of the night and said, “I’m gay.” Her small-town Alberta parents looked at her, said: “we know,” and fell back asleep.
She was expecting a much different reaction and later told me that it was anti-climatic, all the secrecy, the stress and anxiety and then that was it?
Many kids aren’t so lucky. Their parents are uncomfortable, sad or even angry. We’ve had friends kicked out of their homes, alienated from their parents and left alone to fend for themselves. We’ve also seen family relationships heal over time.
It’s hard to imagine that you would choose never to see your own child again because of who they love. It is shocking to me that a parent's attitude about homesexuality would take precendence over their own child. Michael LaSala author of Coming Out, Coming Home: Helping Families Adjust to a Gay or Lesbian Child says that the parents who believe that being gay is biological adjust better to a gay child than the parents who think it is a choice, or that it is their “fault.”
This article has some ideas on how to handle the ‘coming out’ of a child. The idea of moving to acceptance from fear is obviously harder for some parents than others.
We try and teach our kids about tolerance but I am surprised that not all parents are on the same page as us. So how would we react? I think knowing that your child (no matter what age) will encounter discrimination is a tough for a parent. So if one of my kids is gay I would feel sad knowing that it will not always be easy for them. But I would be thankful that it is a lot better now than it has been in past generations. And I hope they won't feel like they have to wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me anything.