Need help re: parents with gay (adult) children

I need some advice for a friend who’s mother is not dealing with his homosexuality.

I kinda hijacked this thread in the Pit (sorry guys!), as the OP’s mother is incredibly understanding and supportive of her gay son. This made me think of a dear friend of mine who has recently come out. He and his mother were once exceptionally close, and now they barely speak. She’s devastated and he’s tortured. To top it all off, she’s fighting cancer.

Now I asked the good folks in that thread if there are any support groups or networks for parents who struggle with their child’s sexuality. I plan on passing the info I received along to him , but I’d like to ask the same question here. One of the big problems, of course, is getting that parent to take the first step (any advice there?)

Also, for either parents who have gay children, or gay people themselves, how did you deal with the whole coming out process? Was it a struggle, and how did you overcome it? If your parents were not understanding, how did they eventually change (if they did)? And if they haven’t, how do you deal with it yourself (eg, outside help, friends, support groups, etc.)?

To give a few more details, he’s mid-thirties, came out very late in life, has a great boyfriend now (finally!), a very successful career, nice home, etc…and is probably the nicest, kindest guy I know. A parent’s wet dream, all in all – except (for some people) the fact that he’s gay. As I said, he used to be very close to his mother, who is in her own right a very successful businesswoman. A tough old broad, if you will. And now that he has a boyfriend, he wants to spend the holidays with him, show him his hometown, introduce him to his family, etc. All the normal stuff you want to do when you’re in love and want to share that happiness with others. Of course, this is out of the question as far as Mom is concerned.

Anyway, you get the gist. So if anyone has any good advice, please speak up. It’s really killing him, and I hate to see my sweet friend suffering so much. It’s a terrible situation, made worse by the fact that she may not be around too long (hopefully twenty years, but quite possibly only a few). In other words, there really isn’t endless time for her to slowly come around.

Thanks much in advance,


Here’s a good website to check out:

Lotsa good stuff here. Worth it for everyone here to check out.

Thanks, I’ll check it out and pass it along to him.

Anyone else? First-hand information/experiences would be greatly appreciated.

Does 17 count as being an adult for coming out? If so, my experience was rather smooth compared to that. My mom cried for about 2 days straight, and then (seemed) to accept the fact that I’m still her son, and that she wouldn’t be able to change my preference. My dad didn’t care period. YMMV.

And a thread.

Personal anecdote ahead. Kinda boring.

I came out when I was 20 (I’m 31 now). The only person I “officially” came out to was my aunt. She was doing my taxes and asked about a place I was doing some part time work at. I explained that it was in the glbt community. We talked and talked for about a half an hour and then she asked if I was gay. I said yup and she was excited that she was the first to know. She then asked if it was ok if she told the rest of the family to which I replied “better you than me”.

She did.

My mom took it pretty hard at first and I gave her her space and we talked when she was ready to. She said she always knew ever since I was a little kid because “I liked to read more than I like sports.” I told her that had nothing to do with it. I said it “was because you listened to Abba when I was growing up”. :smiley:
So yeah, she was sad at first but then came to realize that as long as I was happy and healthy she was behind me 100%. The rest of the family is honky dory with it as well. I’ve played music with my SO at my sister’s wedding, gone with him to familial pig roasts, and shared birthdays. (And did I mention that my family is populated with Republicans?)

My dad found my gay porn stash when I was 15 while he was ransacking my room for drugs, how was that for handling coming out?

Fortunately or unfortunately, there was hetero-porn in the same general area (I was buying from catalogs and they’d send freebies with orders) so in my mind I could alibi the gay porn by claiming they just sent it. We yelled at each other for a while and he left my room. After he left the house (he was commuting between states at the time so I could finish high school in Michigan) my mother (who was in the middle of a year-long bout of very poor health) asked if I was gay. I denied it, she made a comment about how the gay people she had known led sad and pathetic lives (she has no memory of this).

And there it sat for about six years, as our relationship became more and more strained (not just for that reason but that was a big chunk of it) until I finally got sick of it and came out.

That was 15 years ago and our relationship still hasn’t fully recovered.

If the mother has any interest in salvaging the relationship, she needs to start now.

I have a roman numeral ‘II’ at the end of my name. Named after my father. Yep. It was always vaguely implied while I was growing up that one day I would marry and have a son of my own with a roman numeral III at the end, as though I were being passively groomed into this role where I would carry on some kind of continuous legacy.

This did nothing to help the identity struggles that a young growing boy deals with, and when I started accepting my own sexuality it became even more stressful, until finally – at the age of 18, I couldn’t take it anymore and told my mother that I was gay.

She promised me she wouldn’t tell anyone, and then, less than 60 -SECONDS- later, my father storms up to me demanding to know if it’s true – I kid you not.

The next several days were a poor mishmash of my parents telling me that they’re disappointed in me, but blame themselves, and repeatedly asking if I need counseling for my ‘problem’, eventually even leaving the name and phone number of a local pastor in my room. My parents don’t even go to church.

I haven’t seen my parents, or anyone in my family, in about 2 years now. There are letters exchanged occasionally, but I’m in no great hurry to see them again, either. There are lots of unanswered questions…I like my grandparents a lot, and sometimes wonder if I’ll ever see them again. I found out earlier in the year that my sister had a child, and wonder if my niece will ever know who her uncle is.

My advice basically boils down to this:

If a person dreads the thought of coming out to someone, then it might very well be because coming out at that time isn’t worth it. I was already 18 when I came out to my parents–if I had just shut my mouth another few months, I could’ve been out of the house by then and lived a much happier life and then come out later on when I was in a better, more confident state to do so.

On the other hand, if I already knew that my parents would’ve taken it well and been more accepted, I already would’ve come out to them a long time ago. But not all parents are cool like that.

Sorry–it’s a long reply, I know…but I get emotional when I read about topics like these.

I don’t recall how my mother reacted when my brother came out, but it certainly didn’t seem to strain their relationship. My father said, “That’s the worst kept secret of the century,” or words to that effect. It didn’t strain their relationship either.

When my brother was diagnosed with AIDS in late 1989 he moved to Seatle (my famliy lives in VA). When he became so incapacitated that he couldn’t care for himself both my parents went to live with him and they were both by his bedside, holding his hands, when he died. They never, ever stopped loving him. He was their son and they were proud of him.

Thank you all for your generous replies. I hope you don’t mind if I pass these along to him – a bit of solidarity may be helpful to him.

Personally, I find the whole matter heartbreaking. It’s one thing if a parent realizes the additional struggles and difficulties a gay person will have to face in life (and, of course, no parent wants their child to suffer); it’s quite another to add to that pain.

I guess the sad truth is that some people will just never come around. Hopefully, as the tide of civil rights and general perception slowly changes, the next generation of gay kids won’t have to face such an awful burden. Until then, I suppose the only thing I can say is that there are plenty of people out there who admire the heck out of you all for having the strength to deal with this undeserved adversity.