Amy Dickinson has a syndicated advice column called “Ask Amy,” and when a mother writes in asking for advice about how to get her 17-year-old son to “stop being gay” because she’s worried people are going to make fun of her, Amy points out a very sad truth: the emotional damage inflicted by homophobic parents on their gay children is so detrimental, often their children are better off without them.
I recently discovered that my son, who is 17, is a homosexual.
We are part of a church group and I fear that if people in that group find out they will make fun of me for having a gay child.
He won’t listen to reason, and he will not stop being gay. I feel as if he is doing this just to get back at me for forgetting his birthday for the past three years — I have a busy work schedule.
Please help him make the right choice in life by not being gay. He won’t listen to me, so maybe he will listen to you.
— Feeling Betrayed
You could teach your son an important lesson by changing your sexuality to show him how easy it is.
Try it for the next year or so: Stop being a heterosexual to demonstrate to your son that a person’s sexuality is a matter of choice — to be dictated by one’s parents, the parents’ church and social pressure.
I assume that my suggestion will evoke a reaction that your sexuality is at the core of who you are. The same is true for your son. He has a right to be accepted by his parents for being exactly who he is.
When you “forget” a child’s birthday, you are basically negating him as a person. It is as if you’re saying that you have forgotten his presence in the world. How very sad for him.
Pressuring your son to change his sexuality is wrong.
If you cannot learn to accept him as he is, it might be safest for him to live elsewhere.
A group that could help you and your family figure out how to navigate this is PFLAG.org. This organization is founded for parents, families, friends and allies of LGBT people, and has helped countless families through this challenge. Please research and connect with a local chapter.