Dear Christine, Fearing Fatherhood in Farmington

Dear Christine

I am 16 years old, now the thing is I’m not really sure of my sexuality, but I think I’m gay.

This weekend I had a talk with my grandma (this is when they start telling me my duties as a man and other crap) and she spoke about family and how I’m the only male of my generation with my granddads surname, so should I not have children, our surname kinda dies with me.

When I told her i don’t want kids, she threw a fit and lectured me about how I’d be killing a legacy. We also watched a popular TV show which features a gay couple, and she said to me “and I hope you don’t like what you see.”

Also, my mom is very homophobic (my dad seems more accepting) and if she found out about me, there will be a sh*tstorm. What’s worse is that even she expects me to carry on the family name.

Normally, I don’t care what people say (even my parents, but they know that I don’t want kids) but the way my gran spoke to me made me think. Part of me thinks that my family is selfish for expecting something of me that I’m not comfortable with, but another part thinks that I am being selfish for not wanting to have kids for the family.

I am not the kind of guy to just sleep with someone, so I won’t be having kids unless I actually marry the woman.

It seems that so far my only solution (which I am greatly considering) is either studying abroad and hopefully finding a job there so I can stay, or moving out of the country after studying and running away.

I know I’m only 16 and shouldn’t be worrying about kids, but let’s be honest, this is going to haunt me for a long time, so I might as well think about it now. So far I have no plans of coming out to my family.

What I want to know is whether I should go through life faking being straight, marry a woman and have kids with her? Also, any other advice would be appreciated.

Signed, Fearing Fatherhood in Farmington

Dear Fearing Fatherhood, Hey! Last time I checked, most families didn’t want their 16 year old kids having babies just to carry on the name! You are too young for all this pressure! If you aren’t out to your family, then I’d encourage you to not come out until you’ve got more support in your life to cope with your family’s dreams and expectations of you.

So, what do you do? It’s hard to be out and proud with homophobics in the family. You are not alone, however. There’s support, here on the internet, and in the real world (Affirmations Youth Program would be a good place to start If you have a parent (your dad seems more possible here) have him check out Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, PFLAG, a national nonprofit organization with over 200,000 members and supporters. There, your family can get facts and information about having a gay kid, and they can discover that it is completely possible for you to have your own children, even as a gay man! Science is wonderful! For PFLAG in general, check out this site: www.pflag.organd for PFLAG Detroit’s area chapter see www.pflagdetroit.orgor PFLAG Ann Arbor, and for the PFLAG Detroit/Family Reunion in Detroit, see [email protected]

I do not recommend trying to pretend to be straight to the point of marrying a woman and having children. That’s not fair to the woman, or children, and it’s certainly not fair for you. Focus on school. Graduate High School, and the College. Studying abroad is a great way to learn more about yourself as an independent adult (I studied in Jerusalem for a year). There are others who make sure they move out of the family home as soon as they are able to support themselves, some even moving out of state, where they can explore who they are without family pressures.

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Gay men have kids all the time these days. There’s women who will be a surrogate for you, allowing her egg or someone else’s to be mixed with your sperm and implanted in her for the pregnancy. There’s also plenty of foster children and children who need adoption. They might not carry on your genes, but they are children who are here and desperately need a family to belong to and to love them. I just heard an interview with Elton John on the radio last week, and learned he now has two sons, Zachary (2.5 y o) and Elijah, 9 mo old) both born of a surrogate mother. He has been legally in a civil union with David Furnish since 2005, and is a staunch supporter of gay marriage in the United Kingdom. The United States is changing rapidly in attitudes and laws about gay marriage. There are currently 13 states that allow gays and lesbians to marry, and fifteen countries around the world that recognize gay marriage. The Federal Agency that collects taxes in the US, the IRS, recently ruled that gay and lesbian couples who are legally married in any state or country must now file taxes as a married couple. Social Security also just announced that same sex marriages will be recognized by the Social Security Association, allowing gay couples retirement and disability income rights, among others. There are lawsuits going through in Michigan and Ohio and other nongay marriage states that are working to overturn the state constitutional amendments that were made 6 9 years ago to forbid gay marriage. You’re 16. By the time you’re ready to marry anyone, male or female, I’m guessing it could be 10 years. That is a long time with how quickly change is happening in acceptance of gay and lesbian families and marriages. By the time you finish college, you may well be out, living in a different state from your family and you may be out and happy with life. And they may see what more straight but not narrow people see: you are still their son/grandson, and they love you for who you are, nothing more, nothing less. Take care, and keep in touch.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067

Click here to email Christine.

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