My Son is Gay
From the files of Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (FFLAG), the following letter demonstrates how a mother coped with the revelation that her son is gay… and reveals that social prejudices still cause him problems.
My Son is Gay
Jane Harris, 36 lives with her sons Phillip, 19, and Joe, 11, in Kent. She works for social services.
'By the time Phillip went to nursery I knew there was something different about him. He was a very polite, gentle boy and straight away the other kids started calling him a girl. Shortly after he started junior school I wondered if he might be gay.
Phillips' father and I split up when he was 18 months old, so I raised him as a single mother. When he was younger he loved playing with toy cars, Ninja Turtles and computer games. But by the time he was about eight his friends were mainly girls. I remember feeling scared that society would reject him if he were homosexual. But I told myself we'd handle it.
Secondary school was very hard for Phillip because he was bullied badly and called 'queer' and 'poof'. He was shoved around and punched in the face, which made me furious, but when Phillip finally came out to his classmates, the hassle stopped. One day one of the thugs came up and asked him: 'Are you gay?' Phillip said 'Yes.' The bully said 'OK, I'm sorry' and never taunted him again.
During his early teens Phillip had girlfriends but nothing lasted more that a few weeks. When he was 14 I asked him if he was gay, he denied it. He didn't come out to me until he left school at 16. All his mates had signed his shirt and one of the inscriptions read: 'To my favourite gay.'
One night we sat down and Phillip said 'You saw my shirt didn't you?' I knew that was his was of telling me that he's gay, so I just hugged him and said: 'I've always known, love.'
Later on I heard him say to a friend on the phone: 'I told Mum and she was great.' I was so relieved - now we could chat openly about his feelings. I did wonder whether Phillip's sexuality had been influenced by the fact that his Dad wasn't around and he was surrounded by women. But I believe people are born gay.
Today Phillip's at college and has loads of straight and gay friends. He loves his music and he's out all the time. He's single right now, but I'm happy for him to bring his partners home for the night. We've discussed safe sex and I trust him to be careful.
All the family are totally accepting of his sexuality. My 68 year old mum lives with us and chats away happily to his gay mates. I didn't tell Phillip's brother Joe straight away because he was a young child, but now he's 11 and is cool about it.
I've never had a bad reaction when I've told people that my son's gay, but sadly homophobia still exists. Phillip has been beaten up three times in the last two years by crowds of young drunks - total strangers who assaulted him simply because he's gay.
Recently I joined a support group for parents and friends of gay people because I wanted to channel the anger I felt about Phillip being attacked into something positive. Some parents are upset and confused when their sons or daughters come out. But your child is still the same person you've always loved.
©Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
- A Guide for Parents and Families: In this three-part article we discuss the way reactions can be driven by prejudice and fear at exactly the moment the child most needs love and support. Part one deals with the nature of homosexuality and dismisses some widely held misconceptions.