Will your children be gay?

To those of you who “disapprove” of homosexuality on religious grounds;

or those who feel legal marriage should be reserved for male-female couples;

or who feel homosexuals should have distinct legal status in regards to military service, teaching or other child-oriented professions, or clergy;

or who would consider a politician’s homosexuality to be a negative attribute:

What is your likely reaction to be if a child of yours comes to, in adolescence, and tells you that he/she believes that she/he is gay?

Please consider this question seriously.

And to those of you who ever had to have “that conversation” with a parent, please offer advice to others—children and parents—who might find themselves in the same situation.

(Note: please try to refrain from focusing entirely on how I framed the question. I hope that, though it’s hardly bulletproof, you’re able to understand the question I’m asking, and who I am asking it of. Please lets preemptively declare the myriad possible tangential debates regarding this word choice or that one to be hijacks, and please start a new thread if you want to dissect the minutiae of the terminology.)

While I probably have nothing of substance to add to this topic, I applaud your sanitizing of the OP (from the earlier one) and hope you get some sincere responses this time.

Are you asking if I’d love my child any less? No. This type of love is not dependant on what he does or does not do. If he came to me and said he robbed a store, would I love him the same? Sure. My love is based on who he is, not what he does. I know it could be said he’s a homosexual, or he’s a theif, but I don’t think he gets his identity from what he does either. Will it change my personal belief? Well, if my personal belief was dictated by what made me comfortable, I would have changed it a long time ago. Now lets take it one step further, what if my son invited me to his wedding, would I go? Yes. Not going doesn’t rectify any situation, and, as hard as it would be for me, my son is responsible for his actions, so again he’d know my belief, but I would love him anyway. Laying down the law never changed anyone. The law can show you what you’ve done, why it is or isn’t right, but it can’t change you.

The direct answer to the title question is “no”, they won’t. In my particular subset of society (i.e. ultra-orthodox Jews) the concept is unheard of. I’ve never heard of a single case of anyone turning out to be gay other than through media reports, so it is obviously extremely extremely uncommon, if it exists at all. (Of course there may be some closeted guys for all I know, but I don’t know that the parents of these hypothetical closeted guys are in on the deal either).

But to what the OP is really driving at: if my kids did announce that they were gay, my reaction would be pretty much the same as if they announced that they have a predilection for any other sin, like driving a car on Saturday. I would hope they would find it within themselves to resist it. I would not stop loving them or drive them out of the house etc., but I don’t see myself hosting their gay partners either. Or lending them the car on Saturday.

But I should qualify that it’s easy to pontificate about what you would do in some hypothetical situation. In situations like this, there can be a dynamic that takes hold and turns things in a different direction.

Would you believe that your son is going to hell?

If by “unheard of” you mean “hushed up and not talked about,” you may be right.

It’s hard to know for sure who is going to hell and who isn’t. I could be going to hell myself for all I know. As I understand it, you’ve got to sum up an enormous amount of complex factors, including the amount of temptation involved (so that a heterosexual gets no credit for not having homosexual sex, while a homosexual who resists sometimes and succumbs other times gets credit and demerits as warranted), as well as how the person acts in other areas of life. You can’t just sum up a person in terms of one activity and make a determination.

In sum, who is or is not going to hell is best left to God, which is also where it happens to be. And on a personal level, it is a mistake to focus on whether other people are going to hell or not.

I doubt it. There are a lot of things that people try to hush up and not talk about, but generally with a remarkable lack of success. Usually these are the very things that provoke huge scandals that everyone talks about. I’m pretty sure that if there any appreciable number of gay guys out there I would have encountered some, or at least heard about it.

Well, which do you think is more likely:

• Being born an Orthodox Jew causes heterosexuality

• Being raised an Orthodox Jew causes gays to live lives of closeted despair

With respect, Izzy, this is both monumentally naive and spectacularly hubristic.


Neither. I think it is very likely that while there are genetic factors which predispose people towards being gay or straight, there are also environmental factors which can influence as well. (I’ve discussed this in several previous threads). So I think the likeliest scenario is that the societal influences are, in this case, enough to significantly influence the number of people who turn out to be gay. IOW, most of the people who are predisposed genetically to be gay, nonetheless turn out straight due to societal and environmental factors.

I acknowledged earlier that there could be a small amount of people who stay secretly gay. But they apparently keep it up. (IOW, you never hear of a marriages in trouble because a partner turned out to be gay, or of two gay people hooking up etc. etc.). So I don’t think the scenario of someone announcing themselves to family members as being gay is very likely.


Call it what you wish - I disagree.

Have you ever heard of the film Trembling Before G-d? Or Rabbi Steve Greenberg? You must have an extraordinarily small world Izzy.

IzzyR, nothing personal, but I’m with the other posters here. “There aren’t any gay orthodox Jews around because I haven’t seen them” rates up there with “This rocks keeps tigers away.” :wink:

Case in point- my paternal grandfather wasn’t Orthodox, but he was very strictly Jewish. As a result, my aunt stayed in the closet until after he died.


I’ve heard of both of these. I specifically alluded to media reports in my first post. But the media covers a wide wide world, and generally covers it poorly. The media has very little understanding of the Orthodox Jewish world, and generally gets confused in trying to distinguish the different subgroups. I referred to ultra-orthodox jews specifically. I imagine that in “modern Orthodox” circles it would be more common, as they are more influenced by the popular culture. I also refrain from commenting definitively about Modern Orthodoxy, as I am not as familiar with those circles.

Rabbi Steven Greenberg is not only a Modern Orthodox Jew, but a left-wing modern orthodox Jew at that. He is not someone that people I know would ever relate to, even if he was not gay.

I’ve never actually seen Trembling Before God, but I would bet that most or all of the subjects are also left-wing orthodox Jews, or people who became religious later in life. And further, this is not a study of anything. This is a moviemaker that wanted to make a movie about a particular subject - he undoubtedly looked all over till he found enough people to put together a movie. There are over a half million Orthodox Jews in this country - if this guy could find a few guys to put in his movie that doesn’t mean that the percentage of gays in statistically significant.

Marley23, the difference between strict-but-non-orthodox jew and ultra-orthodox jew are so vast so as to make your example meaningless.

Would your children understand, Izzy and Svt, that they were, to whatever degree, a disappointment to you? That you felt that they had made bad choices, and that if it were up to you, they would be different from how they are?

(And to expose my own prejudice, I’m having a VERY difficult time picturing either of you hugging your child and saying, “I understand that you feel you have to [steal]/[drive on saturday] but I still love you for who you are,” so I’m reluctant to accept those examples as adequate parallels.)

Would your child understand that you may brag of other children, “My younger son married a great girl and has two beautiful kids,” but you will never announce to your bridge club “My older son has been in a loving relationship with a great guy for 12 years and I’m helping them adopt a little boy from China”?

Would you rather have your son participate in a commitment ceremony with another man who is, say, head of surgery at Massachusetts General, or marry a crack addict with three children of different fathers and a federal record for kiting checks? (Despite the flipness of the example, the question is a serious one. “Neither” is not an answer.)

I’m sure they would. It would be a sad situation, all round.

I’d like to think that I would. But, as I mentioned earlier, you can never be sure of what you would actually do.

This sounds like your first question above. Same answer.

This is not something that I’ve devoted any time to thinking about. No idea.

You’ve missed the point of my example. My point is that if you’re in a place that voices a strict disapproval of gays, the gays people don’t cease to exist- they just don’t tell you they do exist. Homosexuality if something that exists across continents and culture, so I find it rather difficult to believe there are simply no strictly gay Orthodox Jews (unless you’re going to define those terms so as to exclude them on purpose). There’s a huge gulf between “I’ve never heard of it” and “it doesn’t exist.”

A response to your second question, lissener. (I haven’t had That Conversation, precisely, but I’ve had similar That Conversations.)

I will note, first of all, that part of the reason that I did a coming-out conversation with my father was because I didn’t expect him to react intemperately. Which comes into my first thought about coming out; if one’s going to do it, one should know why. My reasons were, first of all, that I like my dad, am fairly close to him, and want to be able to talk with him freely about important parts of my life. And secondarily, the feeling of being actively closeted causes me a lot of distress.

So, knowing why one’s coming out is good, in my opinion; it gives a structure to what one’s saying, and if one can say something like, “Dad, you’re important to me, I respect you and your opinion, and so I want to include you in this important part of my life” it’s a good, upbeat point to start from.

The really critical thing I think is that coming-out wasn’t about me. I mean, the reasons for doing it were about me, but actually doing it was about Dad. He had questions and concerns, and it was my responsibility to answer them, put his mind at ease, and generally discuss the things that raised flags for him. I initiated the process, but he was in control of what happened (so long as he didn’t do anything freaky, which he didn’t). I think knowing why one’s coming out helps with this part of the process; I’ve been told that a lot of people’s first reaction to a coming-out is, essentially, “Why are you telling me this? What reaction am I supposed to have here? What am I supposed to do?”

The likelihood that I’m gonna win the lottery isn’t statistically significant, but the likelihood that SOMEBODY’S gonna win the lottery is EXTREMELY significant. What possible relevance does statistical significance have in this discussion?

“What would you do if your child grew up to be the president of the United States?”

“That’s not a statistically significant likelihood.”

“Fine, whatever, granted. What would you do?”

Marley, you missed my earlier post in which I explained why I think it is possible for homosexuality to be significantly less common in the community at hand. This is not relevant in your case.

The assumption by people in this thread that because something is kept quiet it can be kept so quiet so as to not manifest itself at all is not credible, IMHO. You might have cases of people keeping a secret from certain other people, or from the larger public, but the idea that you can have a widespread phenomenon that will never appear at all is not possible.

There are child molesters and other unsavory characters who do their darndest to keep their activities as secret as possible. But every so often some scandal breaks out. Or you hear some wispered gossip about such-and-such. And child molesters are a lot less common than homosexuals, and are more stigmatized. Again, there is no way that their could be widespread incidence of homosexuality and have it kept so secret that members of the community have never heard of a single instance. Believe it or not. I do. So I don’t worry much about the question in the OP.


I answered “what would you do” seperately. The statisitically significant issue relates to the title of your OP, which asks a slightly different question.

Don’t you think it behooves you as a parent to think about it? Would you rather be blindsided? We don’t relish the idea of writing a will, but we understand the necessity. (Yeah, I know, we’re ALL gonna die, but we write a will because we don’t know WHEN we’re gonna die; that “surprise!” is the parallel I’m drawing.)