What if Your Child Was Gay? Not the Answer You’d Expect

My friend called today and wanted an honest answer to a very difficult question. We’ve been friends for more than 20 years. I knew that he was having a tough time with his own mother, but I wasn’t clear as to the extent of it.

He asked me what I would do if one of my kids was gay.

I have never been asked the question, so I’ve never answered it for anyone because my answer will soothe neither parent nor child.

If either of my children are gay there will be a period of mourning. I am not worried about their souls, their social life or the limitations that could be placed on their careers though those would have been valid concerns a few short years ago (not the souls, but the careers). I wouldn’t be grossed out or wondering where I went wrong because it’s all just love and parents have little to do with who we love. I wouldn’t be angry, but I would experience a loss and I’m pretty sure most parents of gay children experience the loss to some degree.

When each of my children was born I started mapping out their futures. Obviously they have free will and probably some different plans than I have, but I looked at my newborn daughter and imagined her starting school one day, and then college. When I’d let my mind wander I imagined her wedding and wondered how old she’d be when she became a mother. With my son I fantasized about him taking after his father. I dreamt of him being taller than me and striding down the aisle to wait for his bride.

Before my children had uttered their first words I’d daydreamed about their futures. I dreamed of my children replicating the best and most important moments of my and my husband’s lives. I only have one frame of reference.

So I told my friend the truth. I explained to him that if one of my children was gay I would be very sad. I’d have to mourn the dreams that I had for them. After that mourning I’d have new dreams. Dreams that would involve two brides, or two grooms. Dreams that could include adopting a baby or having one another way. I’d hope that they’d avoid colleges in parts of the country where they’d be put in harms way.

I don’t think my mourning would last very long and I’m constantly surprised by parents who are shocked when their children come out.

As a parent I never know what I’m going to do. I was a great mother before there were any kids, but now that they’re here I’m pretty sure I’m making a mess of things. There’s nothing my children could do to make me stop loving them, but when they force you to rearrange your dreams I think it’s hard for any parent.

So, yes. I would cry but it wouldn’t be because I didn’t love them and it certainly wouldn’t be because they disappointed me.

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Comments 16

    1. Wow. I’m looking for more about that Paula. I’d love to read a blog about your experience. I think it could be helpful for the adults I know who don’t have parents who would articulate their views. 

  1. I think I’d be proud of them for stepping out into honesty with themselves and the world. But then, I don’t agree with mapping out a guideline for love-marriage-babies that is traditionally found in our culture.
    Hooray for love, though.   If every parent could say that about themselves and their child, coming out might be a lot less painful for lots of folks.

  2. I love this piece. I agree with you 100%! This is perfectly eloquent and stated beautifully. I think most parents mourn the future they had planned for their child but some take longer than others to figure out just exactly what they are sad about.

    1. Well, I’ve known mothers who were terrified that their children wouldn’t have a good afterlife. I understand THAT they believe that to be true but I don’t understand HOW they believe that to be true. 

  3. I have NO idea what my reaction would be. I can try to imagine it, but I won’t really be able to get a handle on it till it happens to me. I will say though that I’ve seen lots of parents come around after a gay couple adopts. There is something about children that brings peace to a family.

  4. I’ve actually been asked this question, and I answered it in a similar way. I would mourn what I dreamed. And love them regardless. Open my arms to them regardless. This is my child. I tell them I will love them no matter what. I mean it.

  5. I had two gay uncles. One of died at 49 and the other at 95.  I don’t know exactly what my great-grandfather said when he found out that his youngest son was gay because my uncle never admitted it.
    Of course he lived with his partner for years so it wasn’t much of a secret but given the difference in “understanding” between now and then I can’t imagine that it was easy.

    My father tells me that my grandfather was very understanding when my uncle came out. He wasn’t happy about it but mostly because he feared that his son (my uncle) would have a hard life because of it.

    As a father I can say that I will love my children regardless but my preference would be for them to be straight for the same reason my grandfather was concerned. 

    I want them to have an easier life and I think that being gay presents additional challenges. But I won’t love them any less if they are.

  6. My child did come out. I didn’t cry, or mourn, or experience a loss. What am I losing? The possibility that he will have a heterosexual relationship? Why would I cry about that? All I want for him is to find love and happiness. It doesn’t matter to me if he finds that with a male or a female, as long as he finds it.

  7. Very honest..  I agree 100%.  The moment those babies are placed in our arms or probably from the first positive pregnancy test, we start dreaming of their future.   We have hopes & dreams for them.  And when something changes that, we have to mourn the loss of what we wanted.  It doesn’t mean we’re disappointed, but adjusting to a new normal. 

  8. You’re right, not what I expected. I thought the only sadness would be about people that might judge your son or daughter based on their sexual orientation. That would be the only hard part for me. I never dreamed of my own wedding, let alone my girls’. Sylvia and I joke that my response will be to continue to ask, “are you SURE?” even as she’s walking down the aisle!

  9. I didn’t have the same experience you did when my children were born. I have never imagined what their lives will be like. I am laying the best foundation I can to prepare them for their futures, but what those will be is a complete mystery to me. I am not usually one for surprises but, in this, I will gladly remain in the dark until they reveal their own lives to me.

    The only thing I can control is how I react to something. My husband and I prepared for gay (transgendered, developmentally delayed, sick) children long before I got pregnant. I’d never want my surprised reaction to be mistaken for disappointment or disapproval, so I am prepared for anything, as are my girls. They know that some women have boyfriends or husbands, and some women have girlfriends or wives, and some women prefer to be alone. The only rule we tell them about is that you can’t marry your family.

  10. I feel like my reaction would be much the same, though I think the mourning part would be more a concern for the hardships my child would face. I did imagine dancing at his wedding once when I was all hormonal and weepy shortly after giving birth, but other than that I haven’t thought much about what his future entails–he’s three and his interests change on a dime, so I have no idea where he’ll end up! I’m sure as the years go by I’ll become more invested in certain hopes and dreams for him, though.

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