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Dear Christine, Mom in Metamora

| April 30, 2018

Dear Christine, I am a straight married woman seeking answers concerning my 13 year old son. My husband and I have suspected he might be gay for a few years. In fact, I know he is because of a note I found in his pocket to a boyfriend. I didn’t share this with my husband. We haven’t approached him about any of it and I am dreading that he may come out to us soon! You see, my husband has threated to reject him, find him a medical “cure” or give him an ultimatum, “Be straight, or get out”

While doing some research online, I came across your column, I am furious with my husband’s beliefs and I am quite certain I would divorce him if he ever treated our son this way. So far, I feel I’m in a holding pattern waiting for the shoe to drop. What can I do now to prepare for what I’m sure will be a crisis in my house? Sincerely, Mom in Metamora

Dear Mom, Your letter is heartbreaking.  You and your family are feeling torn apart, almost, waiting for your son to announce his orientation.  Being proactive is a good start for you and your son, but it may not keep your family together.  Your son, knowing his father, may not come out for many years, as the cost is too high.  So, you may be waiting for that “other shoe” for years to come.

Meanwhile, therapy with a gay friendly or gay/lesbian therapist could be helpful to you, to sort out your thoughts and feelings, priorities and needs.  Also, there are PFLAG support groups, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, that meet monthly in the metro Detroit area.  www.pflagdetroit.org/, (248) 656-2875.  PFLAG uses education and support to parents who have children who are LGBTQIA (…Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual).  They meet the second Sunday of each month and have for 29 years, helping families accept and understand their kids and each other.

Is your husband part of a conservative religious group that is anti-LGBTQIA?    If so, is there anyone who has a faith background who is more accepting that can talk to your husband about various interpretations of the Bible’s very limited verses about homosexuality and how God is love, and love is inclusive?  There are people of faith in PFLAG Detroit who speak about how their faith helps them accept their children, gay and straight. 

Couple’s therapy might be another route, to have a private conversation with a mediator present, to help you hear each other and agree on priorities in parenting and family. 

Your son is only 13, so he has grown up in a world that is more accepting of individual differences and ways people self-identify.  In fact, a couple of weeks ago, Portugal has made it legal for people to change their gender on their identity paperwork without a diagnosis of mental illness by a medical doctor!  Portugal joins Denmark, Malta, Norway, Ireland and Belgium.   http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43740417

To his generation, with gay marriage legal, some of his classmates having 2 moms or 2 dads, the process of coming out as gay or straight is a rite of passage for everyone.  Check out this wonderful video of a mom sharing how her 10 year old son came out to her… as straight!  He took it very seriously and wanted her full attention for his announcement.  https://www.littlethings.com/10-year-old-comes-out-as-straight/

Remember that you cannot change anyone and trying to change yourself is very hard work!  I have witnessed many LGBTQIA people who initially were rejected by their families for coming to this self-understanding.  Sometimes that rift has been 15 years long or more. But I have also seen reconciliation as well.

A transgender male to female was rejected by her whole family of origin and her spouse.  It was very painful, but she made friends in the LGBTQIA community and persisted, attending family events when various extended family members invited her.  By the time she scheduled her sex change surgery, her father and brother were making snide and mean, ignorant comments and refused to talk to her.  But mom came around and decided to attend the surgery and help her brand new daughter in recovery for the first couple of weeks.  The trans woman gave her mom the choice of a new, female middle name, and her mom chose the name she had planned to give to a daughter when she was pregnant with this child who appeared to be a boy.  Within a  year or two of the mom taking her stance of acceptance, and still keeping her marriage together, the father came around and even sharply corrected the brother’s use of pronouns for his sister.  Eventually, extended family came around as well, as everyone could see this trans woman was a wonderfully happy, lively, funny and effervescent person was the opposite of her life as a man.  She was great to be around, whereas, as a man, he was depressed and withdrawn. 

It is so important to be oneself.  We don’t get to choose that for anyone else.  Trust love, trust yourself, trust your child.  Keep in touch and let me know how it is going for your whole family. Sincerely, Christine Cantrell, PhD Licensed Psychologist

 

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