New Internationalist

Parent Of A Gay Son

November 1989

new internationalist
issue 201 - November 1989

Parent of a gay son
Discovering that their child is lesbian or gay can be a traumatic
experience for parents. One mother describes how it changed her.

We had no idea that our son was gay. He was 18 when he told us. Our reaction was total shock, surprise. We were very upset. We thought he must have got it wrong; that he was having some kind of personal problem. He did not display any of the stereotypical 'gay' behaviour that the media has made us expect. I did not know then that the majority of gay people don't. Our ignorance was abysmal. Of our three other children, two were married and our daughter had a boyfriend. It did not seem possible that our youngest son could be so different.

We had all the usual notions about what causes people to be gay: domineering mothers, elderly mothers, weak fathers, non-existent fathers. I thought there must be some kind of psychological reason. We, his parents, must be to blame (parents, of course, do this from the first minute that babies throw a tantrum, so there is nothing new about that). 'What have we done to our son?' we asked ourselves. We were very frightened for him. What was going to happen to him? He was going to have a terrible, lonely, cut-off sort of life.

But the main thing we felt was bereavement. The person we thought we knew was gone and in his place was a stranger. Someone that we did not know about, and did not understand. It took us about three months to realize that he had not changed. He was still there; he was exactly the same person. But we had to change. We had to develop and evolve.

What made this easier for me was that I was a mature student, doing a degree course in sociology. So I was able to get hold of books. I just went straight to 'H for homosexuality' and read up all the psychological theories and brought them home to my husband. But we came to the conclusion that this was ridiculous. There were so many theories, and the last one I read said categorically: 'We do not know what causes it.' I thought: 'Good grief. What is the matter with us? He is what he is. He is himself. You can spend the rest of your life wondering why somebody is the way they are.'

We began to open our eyes and see other gay people we just had not noticed before. We realized that there was a whole lifestyle. That he had every possibility of having a happy life. It would just be different from ours. This is the hard thing for parents to accept, the loss of your particular expectations. Gone is the wife and the marriage and the grandchildren. In its place there seems to be an emptiness. But of course there isn't.

The whole experience of Mark's 'coming out' caused me to change my attitudes. For example, I am no longer tolerant of stereotyping of any kind, be it sexual or racial or whatever. I get very, angry with the media now. They do know better and could present gays properly. Instead they just do the easy thing and go for the money. It is not fair to minority groups and I think we are all minorities in one way or another.

Actually I feel we are privileged to have a gay son. We have been given the opportunity to grow and open our minds. Had he not 'come out' there would have been a very large portion of human life that would have remained a closed book for us. A lot of parents feel this way. But it is not always an easy process - to open your mind. Some parents don't even try; and the tragedy and the loss is theirs. This is why I joined the Parents Group in Manchester - to help other parents to open their minds and accept their children for what they are.

Helen is a counsellor with the Manchester Parents Group in the UK.

previous page choose a different magazine go to the contents page go to the NI home page next page

This feature was published in the November 1989 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Never miss another story! Get our FREE fortnightly eNews

Comments on Parent Of A Gay Son

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

  1. #1 Matthew Loscialo 24 Sep 11

    Gay support groups. Parents are welcome to as lots of parnets help there children who are gay talk with other parnets. Also alot of high school students and college student talkw ith each other each month. as the room big so if there a guest speaker you can listen to them or go to the other side of the room and talk with each other as we have board games and lots of great events and outing each month.

    as lot of parnets are very happy that they can talk with other parents and also high school students to colleges students are very happy because there all say this a great place to talk withe ach other.

    Here a great gay social/support group for the glbt people around hunterdon county as we have people who drive out side of hunterdon county to come to the glbt of hunterdon county social/support group. It open to Gay,Lesbian,Bisexual,Teens,Adults,their friends parents,family members.
    as we have parent and staff and other people who what to help out the glbt support group that come to the social/support.

    OCT 11,2011 is National Coming Out Day(NCOD)

    Date and time:

    Next Meeting is OCT 11, 2011 (Tue) 7PM to 9PM

    Quest Speaker:
    Ashley Planned Parent Hood. 7:30pm-9pm
    general meeting/socialization with potential for dinner at local diner

    65 Halsted Street, Clinton,NJ 08809

    for other upcoming social/support group go to

    For November check web site we having a good guest speaker.

    NOV Guest Speaker is Rob De Anthony

    First and foremost let us introduce ourselves to you! We are the board of directors of Our Youth and we are writing in regards to our non profit organization and your great company.

    Our Youth is a non profit organization designed to help gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and straight youth (ranging from 15-21) in the New York / New Jersey area. Our Youth assists the young adults with job placement, college assistants, offering FREE & confidential HIV testing referrals as well as home cooked meals and a weekly support group. Besides providing services within the Our Youth Center we are also out in the community feeding the homeless, walking to find a cure for a certain disease, as well as volunteering at any event we are needed.

    Hunterdon county of nj is a very gay friendly place to life there lot of gay parents who have gay children and are doing great live here. There alot of great thing to do here in hunterdon county nj.

    The support group and social group is great alot of member come and talk with each and somee play board games and other talk with other the room at the library very big some time when we have a guest speaker some play board game at the other side of the room and other talk with other and other listen to the quest speaker. I have been get lot of e-mail and thanks from high school to college and to parents and the young adults who come to this social/support and are very happy there a place to go to each month check us out some time.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Features

All Features

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 201

New Internationalist Magazine issue 201
Issue 201

More articles from this issue

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.