Moises: ‘I think my son is gay’

·4 min read

CARLO: Hi, Singlestalk. I was a huge fan of your column way back when I was starting in my career. You’re like a virtual friend. I’m now married, blessed with a good 14-year-old son. He’s bright and caring. someone who will likely one day make his mark. There’s something about him, though, that worries me. And over the long weekend, I caught him wearing his mom’s high heels and her lipstick, too. I know this is a parental concern and your column is about singles. I’ve got golf buddies but this isn’t a topic I can openly talk about. I need my virtual friend back.

DJ: I did my own research and gathered that the New York Times ran a story about parents with male kids. They are Googling “Is my son gay?” 28 more often than “Is my son a genius?” While there are certain gender non-conforming behaviors like playing with mom’s make-up kit or high heels, assuming your son is gay is not that simple. The best indicator you should look out for? When the kid says, “I’m gay.”

Still, I suggest you wait for your child to open up to you. Let him take the lead. If indeed he is in the closet, allow him to come out on his own terms. Don’t pull him out. For now, make him feel that your home is a safe space. I’m not saying put glitters to the shower or switch off the GPS every time it says, “Go straight.” If the family is watching a movie together, for example, and an LGBTQ character comes up, affirm to him that you and his mother are accepting and supportive of the LGBTQ community. Or point out certain LGBTQ celebrities and role models in dinner conversations. Just open the closet door. Adolescents—straight or not—go through certain social pressures. A lot of them have their WIFI on looking for opportunities to connect. Assure him that in your family tree, he is in the fruit section. Reinforce his belief that you have his back no matter what. He will take it from there.

I also learned that knowing one’s sexual orientation—whether gay or straight—is something teens recognize from a very young age. Those who don’t also say that they always felt different from their peers but didn’t exactly know what. They may be overwhelmed with stress driving them to hide inside the closet. That’s why they dress so well. Seriously, it’s likely for your child to feel alone.

If ever you see him again in his mom’s high heels, have a conversation with your son and ask what made him curious about the stiletto. Watch your facial expression and tone of voice. Or if you sense that he wants to talk and is not doing so, ask gentle open-ended questions like how did school go that day? If you listen carefully and respond wisely, he might share his thought process which can lead to a dialogue. Not all boys who like to wear heels grow up to be gay. And if he is, it may be hard for you to think straight. But at least you’ve been around. You understand life and the world better. He’s still a teenager. Perhaps still trying to figure whether sparklers are gay cousins of the fireworks family. Probably scared and nervous, too. He needs his dad and his family more than ever. This is the time to demonstrate what family is about.

Start educating yourself about the LGBTQ community. In the same study I mentioned earlier, people typed “Is he gay” into Google more commonly than “Is she gay?” People are more curious about husbands, dad and grandfathers than wives, aunts or grandmothers. This is not the kind of research I’m suggesting that you do. Don’t be a “Marites.” Rather search for resources that lead you to becoming a better parent and support to your son.

Don’t wait for the big coming out, if ever it happens, to start learning. It matters to show love and support for him even if you don’t fully understand everything yet. And not withdrawing from your role as his dad—mentally and emotionally in particular—is probably the most important way to help him feel a sense of being cared for and accepted. It may take time. But hear your son’s heart. What if he’s gay? It’s like being left-handed. It’s not right or wrong. No matter who and how he loves, what matters is he loves himself for it. He is your child. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters?

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