I’ve known…

On the subject of coming out to one’s parents, I’ve always remembered the story one acquaintance told: “When I finally came out to my mom, she said, ‘I’ve known you were gay since you were two.’ And I thought, ‘Gee, thanks, Mom, why didn’t you tell me? It would have made my teens a lot less confusing!'”

Growing up gay, particularly before the 90s, the best you could hope for if your parents learned you were gay was a reaction like his mother’s. Truth be told, since we had no positive role models, and what little we knew about the family members of gay people were that they were all ashamed or hostile to their gay child, we didn’t even hope for that.

In my early teens I recall whispers about someone’s cousins being kicked out by his parents, for instance. In my later teens I knew one classmate who was accused of being gay whose parents sent him to “reform school.” Another who was actually caught having sex with another guy was kicked out by his parents and wound up living with relatives in another city (how the quarterback of the football team who he was having sex with was able, somehow, to convince everyone in authority that the much smaller, skinnier kid had somehow forced him into the situation is a tale for another post).

When I did come out to my own parents in the early nineties (I was a gainfully employed adult living in my own place in another city, by then), their reaction could best be characterized as, “I never had any clue, I don’t accept it, and someone must have done something to you to make you think this way.”

Even today, we are surprised to hear of anything as loving and accepting from a parent as this letter that a teen-ager in Michigan received this week from his Dad:

 Michigan dad put his son's fears about coming out to rest with this loving letter.
Michigan dad put his son’s fears about coming out to rest with this loving letter.

You can read the story of a teen named Nate, from Michigan, and the note from his Dad in this story.

Note: since apparently I wasn’t being clear: I am not Nate. That isn’t my letter. My father’s reaction was, as noted above, pretty much the opposite of this in every way.

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