Sometimes well-meaning friends and relatives don’t know what to say or do when they discover that a parent of someone close to them just came out of the closet. Here is a piece written by my teenage grandson, who was faced with this situation several years ago. I find his words to be profound, important and timely.
I never really felt connected to the LGBT community, until my dad joined it. My parents told me my dad was gay three years ago, shortly after they divorced. It was hard at first, but I am happy that he is living the life he wants.
Being the heterosexual teenage son of a gay father puts me in a somewhat unique community of which I am both happy and proud to be a part. Yet, I believe my role within that community is actually to guide those outside of it, helping them to know what or what not to say to help foster understanding.
Here are five things you should never say to a child whose parent has come out of the closet – from someone who knows:
- I’m sorry. Condolences are entirely unnecessary. He’s gay; he’s not under the weather.
- “Your poor mother.” I offer that it’s better for her to know than to live her life in the dark. My mother is recently remarried and on great terms with my father. We still take family vacations together, and my dad attended and danced at my mom’s wedding.
- Does he help you choose what to wear? Does he like sports? No, he never offers clothing advice, and yes, my dad is a huge sports fan. He even once coached my soccer team.
- Can you talk about girl stuff with him? Not really, but honestly, I don’t know a single teenage boy who actually enjoys talking to his parents about that stuff.
- Silence – The worst and most common offense: the averted eye glance or quick change of subject.
While I am fairly new to the community of kids of LGBT parents, I do hope these tips help others understand our place within it.