"My son came out to me 2 years ago at 12. As his mother i always knew and im perfectly okay with it. He’s currently only out to me and his best friend but wants to come out to his wider circle of friends. Unfortunately we live in a very small southern town that is extremely homophobic and i’ve been refusing to let him so far for fear of what may happen to him. We move to Minneapolis in 2 months and i want him to wait till then. How can i explain that it just isn’t safe to be openly gay right now?"
-Question submitted by Anonymous
Kids and Teens are a lot like Grown ass ladies** in that, they never want to be told what to do. Anytime my dad gives me business advice i’m like ‘WE’RE ALREADY DOING THAT’ or ‘YEA BUT WE’RE DIFFERENT’ or ‘YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT’ … that’s half because i’m a brat and half because i’m just a people and as a people I know that we all hate being told what to do. YOU KNOW WHAT I LOVE THO? I love it when my dad asks me questions, I love it when he asks me for updates on our business, I love it when he asks me what I think and I love it when he asks me if I know about something he just read up on.
That’s what I think you should do. I think you should ask your son “Do you think it’ll be hard to be out at school” or “Do you think people will act differently in Minneapolis?” If he doesn’t want to wait, ask him why. If he does want to wait, ask him why. Support him in whatever decision he makes because, honestly ANONYMOM, he’ll do what he wants either way. If he wants to be out at school now because he has some KristinRusso in his blood and he WANTS people to know that gay people are cool and he WANTS to fight them on their reasons for thinking otherwise… let him do that.
I think you can express your concerns, but express your concerns after hearing his piece, don’t tell him he’s wrong. He’s not. Regardless of age or knowledge of the world none of us are wrong in the way we feel and the opinions we have, know that and respect him. He’s your son after all, you’re on his side, make sure he knows that.
Agree agree agree agree. Also I like that we can refer to something as ‘having KristinRusso’ in your blood.
Let me tell you a story about when I was a teen. It is a little different, but I think the lesson is still similar. When I came out to my parents, my mom was like OH HELL NO. She pushed very hard in one direction (against the gay) and so it left me with only one conceivable option: to push back as hard as I could in the other direction. Half the time I had no idea what I was even fighting against, but I JUST KNEW I WANTED TO WIN. For me, ultimately, it meant that I didn’t truly explore my feelings and my identity until many years later, when I finally felt I could stop fighting for what I believed to be true.
Your son needs the space to think about who he his and why he wants to come out in his home town. The best thing you can do, which Dannielle said up there, is to tell him that you are sorry you have been refusing to let him express who he is, but that the reason for that was because of how much you love him, and how much it scares you to think about the cruelty of other people and how that will affect him.
See if you can compromise with your son. Tell him that, if he wants to express who he is at school, you want the permission to reach out to administrators and teachers to make sure that at least someone in the school building is looking out for him and making sure that things are as safe as possible. Your concerns are extremely valid. Neither Dannielle or I can possibly imagine how terrifying it must be to know that thing you love the most in this world could potentially be put in danger.
I think though, that facing that fear may be the cornerstone of being a parent. You have created a human who has thoughts and goals and needs that are entirely different from your own, and there is always going to be some risk in letting that human push forward in those decisions (whether they be right or wrong). Yes, telling your five-year-old that they cannot eat more than 3 cookies is reasonable. Yes, telling your 14=year-old that he has to finish his homework before getting on the internet is reasonable. When it comes to his need for self-expression, though, I think the best bet is to talk to him about your fears, ask him what his thoughts are on the situation, and work together to find a way where you both feel that you are able to be yourselves.