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You are here: Home > Forum > A Place of Safety > General Talk > When parents try hard and still get it wrong
When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65573] Thu, 14 April 2011 11:49 Go to next message
timmy

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13759



You probably know that folk email me and ask me for advice. You probably know that I don't give advice as such, I help people find their own path. Often these folk are teenagers, newly ill at ease because they've discovered they are gay. Often they start out wondering if they might be bisexual and explore their feelings that way. Some are bisexual, some heterosexual, some homosexual.

Recently I've had the privilege of mentoring two young men, each on different sides of the world. Each of them chose to become stronger because of the conversations. each chose to take control of his life. Each unconsciously used the same method to come out to their parents - they left their computer open and the parents read their chat history. And in each case their revelation to their parents has reinforced the relationship with their family, though in different ways. In each case the being gay part has gone well.

As a side issue the parents, no doubt seeing paediatricians under every bush, have mandatorily and politely terminated their contact with me. I would have asked my own son to do the same, and that's absolutely fine. In each case, as in every case, at the outset I told them I would be happy for each and every communication to be shown to their parents and that I would answer their questions honestly, in the same manner that I answered my owns son's questions. And that they were never, not ever, to reveal home location to me, or send me any pictures, clothed or unclothed.

Both young men have come here, certainly to read. I want each of them to know I am proud of them, the way they handle themselves and the way they have handled the difficult time of coming out to their parents. I hope, when they are older, each will choose to get in touch again. I recognise that they may not.

The first of these was 13 and broke contact with me some weeks ago. He is much loved by his family and will be just fine.

The most recent one to depart, a 16 year old young man, is loved by his parents, and yet they have mishandled the rest of the problem. We'll call him Bert.

Bert has just been strong enough to go to his school's GSA. Bert's going there encouraged his very good school friend, we'll call him Fred, to dare to let Bert know that he "might be bisexual, too." After several weeks Fred declared to Bert that he loves him. Bert has just declared to Fred that he returns the love. They have held hands, kissed and cuddled. They are learning about each other before getting more explicit than that. And yet all is not right in the State of Denmark.

Fred is a young man of Bert's age, so that is fine, but Fred has difficult parents. He's afraid of them. He also has a poor self image, and has panics over the way he sees himself. And here's where it all goes wrong.

Bert has been forbidden to see Fred unless Fred's parents are told of the relationship.

This may hurt Fred very badly, possibly leading to self harm. Bert will work something out, He loves Fred, and he knows that loving this boy means he has to catch him when he falls. Fred cannot tell his parents, certainly yet.

Why do parents say they accept their child's sexuality and then forbid any expression of it? Why?

I'm pretty sure that Bert will read this post. He may even answer it. I'm equally sure that he will bring Fred here to read it. I know who Fred is, but I cannot approach him, that would be wrong of me, but perhaps he can find a mentor here, one with the same wholesome attitude I use with young men who need someone to listen to their hopes and fears.

I'd like very much both these boys to find their local PFLAG organisation. I'd like them to find The Trevor Project in case they need to call someone. And I'd like your thoughts on how they should proceed.

[Updated on: Thu, 14 April 2011 11:54]




Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65575 is a reply to message #65573] Thu, 14 April 2011 12:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brody Levesque is currently offline  Brody Levesque

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Location: US/Canada
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I'm going to do a shameless plus for Judy Shepard's foundation named after her slain son Matthew who (MSF) has a marvelous resource for LGBTQ youth called Matthew's Place.

Link: http://www.matthewshepard.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Matthews_Place_Home_Page
Re: When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65576 is a reply to message #65573] Thu, 14 April 2011 12:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
saben is currently offline  saben

On fire!

Registered: May 2003
Messages: 1537



If your son (assume he's still 16) was in a relationship with a girl, but that girl's parents forbade her seeing a boy and hence didn't know about your son's relationship with her. Would you knowingly allow them to see each other, even risking the wrath of the girl's parents who would likely be upset with you for being complicit in their child's deception?

I understand where Bert's parents are coming from. If Fred's parents disapprove and find out it won't just be Fred and Bert in trouble, it'll be Bert's parents, too...


I recommend Fred and Bert do what teenagers have been doing for generations: go behind their parents' backs. In this case it really is better off for Bert's parents not to know- they should try and keep it DADT. At least until Fred is ready...

I wouldn't advise this for younger kids, but for 16 year olds...



Look at this tree. I cannot make it blossom when it suits me nor make it bear fruit before its time [...] No matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.
Master Oogway
Re: When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65577 is a reply to message #65576] Thu, 14 April 2011 14:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13759



Saben wrote:
> If your son (assume he's still 16) was in a relationship with a girl, but that girl's parents forbade her seeing a boy and hence didn't know about your son's relationship with her. Would you knowingly allow them to see each other, even risking the wrath of the girl's parents who would likely be upset with you for being complicit in their child's deception?

Your hypothetical case does not apply. Fred is gay. He is afraid of being thrown out of his home if they ever find out. You aren't even comparing apples with oranges. You are comparing forbidding a heterosexual relationship with saving a teenage boy from disaster, and you are also agreeing that the hopes of both boys must be sacrificed upon the altar of parental ownership of the child.

Your further advice on meeting when and where they can is valid.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
icon13.gif Re: When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65578 is a reply to message #65576] Thu, 14 April 2011 15:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brody Levesque is currently offline  Brody Levesque

Really getting into it
Location: US/Canada
Registered: September 2009
Messages: 733



Shem? What the hell does a relationship between a girl & a boy have to do with 2 "GAY" kids?

Also, as I AM a parent, and you ARE NOT, what exactly makes you think that a parent may or may not agree with another parent regarding decisions that affect the progeny? You don't make any sense there. Adults handle things on a much different scale as well as rugby pitch than teens....

[Updated on: Thu, 14 April 2011 18:56]

icon7.gif Re: When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65579 is a reply to message #65578] Thu, 14 April 2011 16:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13759



Be fair. The rest of what he said was right Smile



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65581 is a reply to message #65578] Fri, 15 April 2011 02:25 Go to previous messageGo to next message
saben is currently offline  saben

On fire!

Registered: May 2003
Messages: 1537



Never heard of an analogy?

My point is that EVEN IF it was a socially acceptable straight relationship parents might have concerns.

Unless you think that somehow gay teens wanting to fuck are more deserving of fucking than straight teens?



Look at this tree. I cannot make it blossom when it suits me nor make it bear fruit before its time [...] No matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.
Master Oogway
Re: When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65582 is a reply to message #65577] Fri, 15 April 2011 02:31 Go to previous messageGo to next message
saben is currently offline  saben

On fire!

Registered: May 2003
Messages: 1537



You can't imagine a heterosexual girl who's emotionally in need of a relationship with parents who would throw her out if she pursued the relationship?

I'm just saying there's plenty of cases where one set of parents are cool with a relationship but another set of parents aren't.


My point, though, is that I totally understand that Bert's parents don't want to be party with anything that could piss Fred's parents off.

That's why it's best if Bert's parents don't know. That way they can't be accused of being party to "immorality".

It's great that Bert tried to be honest with his parents. But it didn't work, so now's the time to just do what he thinks is best for Fred. Parental approval be damned.



Look at this tree. I cannot make it blossom when it suits me nor make it bear fruit before its time [...] No matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.
Master Oogway
Re: When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65583 is a reply to message #65581] Fri, 15 April 2011 05:16 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ray2x is currently offline  ray2x

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Location: USA
Registered: April 2009
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The support these two boys could access is way more than what was available a generation ago. PFLAG, Sheppard, GSAs, etc. Plus sites like this, YouTube, Facebook, and so on. And many married gay men on this site that offer role models and guidance for gay youth. Forgive me, but with a wealth of help and support which is available for any gay, bi, trans, straight youth today, I can't imagine that there is not a way for Fred or Bert to handle their relationship and situation. Even for the parents, there's so much available for reference, support and guidance in which to access. I wish the boys well, as well as to their parents.



Raymundo
Re: When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65584 is a reply to message #65582] Fri, 15 April 2011 08:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13759



It's nothing to do with pissing Fred's parents off. It's to do with Fred being disowned, disowned for life. This you ought to understand with an LDS upbringing.

It's to do with Fred's terror of discovery. Romeo and Juliet this is not. This is a matter of Fred's continuing parental support. It is a matter of Fred's privacy if he is outed, of Fred's personal wellbeing if he is not.

Fred is an intensely emotional person with a poor self image which happens in bursts. When 'up' he is a sunny, sweet, gentle, charming soul. When down the down-ness makes Bert weep tears of frustration because he loves Fred deeply. Quietly, Bert has show me what Fred has said when he is down. No boy should think like Fred does about himself.

So your apparent analogy fails because it is nothing like the reality of the situation. Your further advice to take happiness together wherever and whenever they can, that is good advice.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65589 is a reply to message #65581] Fri, 15 April 2011 13:37 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brody Levesque is currently offline  Brody Levesque

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Registered: September 2009
Messages: 733



"Never heard of an analogy?

My point is that EVEN IF it was a socially acceptable straight relationship parents might have concerns."

Okay so Shem, are you really Gay?
icon5.gif Thesaurus required?  [message #65590 is a reply to message #65581] Fri, 15 April 2011 13:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13759



Was 'fuck' the essential word here? I'm not really happy with gratuitous use of it unless it has no reasonable alternative. Most teenagers still want to make love, or simply enjoy sex.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
In defense of the use of "that" word ...  [message #65591 is a reply to message #65590] Fri, 15 April 2011 16:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
The Gay Deceiver is currently offline  The Gay Deceiver

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Location: Canada
Registered: December 2003
Messages: 869




... however gratuitous or not, in truth that is likely how most mid-teen-aged boys would reference their activities on that scale. Making love or having sex doesn't quite cut it within their sphere of influences.

Addressing your other concern, I would like to add that regardless of whose doing the mentoring, it is of paramount import that the two boys be "really and truly" listened to and not dictated to. It is they, after all is said and done, who have to navigate through the mine-field of their own making regardless of what we say; with it being best that whatever advice is given be relevant to their, one or the other, or both, not stepping on one of them.

Faith may be another concern, and if one or the other is, or both are, especially religious, then spiritual needs will have to be considered in addition to all else.

I've never been a big fan of lying. One lie may begat a host of others that can never be undone. It is always best to speak the truth when dealing with family, whatever the issue; BUT, and this is the caveat, it is not necessary to give all the details either. I give by way of an example from my own youth, before I had formally come out to my family, a question and answer.

"Where are you going?"

"Clubbing."

"Going with anyone?"

"Probably. Maybe Paul or Mike or Geoff."

"Where?"

"St; Joseph's and Yonge Streets. The Club Manatee. I may be reached at this telephone number (111-111-1111) should there be need. Ask for Derek."

"When will you be home?"

"Late, likely after the last GO-Train. Don't wait up. I'll call if there is any change."

Everything asked and answered is the truth. Barely. What is not spoken is the nature of the club, it being a gay, non-licensed, no-alcohol disco for youths under the age of 25 only. Derek and his partner René were the owners, and manned the door like truant officers who could keep their mouths shut. Too, it operated from dusk until dawn Thursday through Monday nights only. The Club was listed in the Telephone directory with it's address; but not a display add, nor was the nature of its' business stated. Each of the youths mentioned could be reached and it verified that they likely would be going, and all three were known to my parents so it likely raised no eyebrows or alarms.

My point in the aforementioned being that it should always be possible to answer parental queries with a truthful answer; it simply requires a certain readiness on the part of the boys, and the preparation of thoughtful (and honest) responses to the most likely questions that might arise.

Never, out and out lie. That is the certain road to one or the other, or both, winding up on the street with no where to go.

Warren C. E. Austin
The Gay Deceiver
Toronto, Canada



"... comme recherché qu'un délice callipygian"
Re: When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65592 is a reply to message #65584] Fri, 15 April 2011 21:00 Go to previous messageGo to next message
saben is currently offline  saben

On fire!

Registered: May 2003
Messages: 1537



I see what you're saying. There are definitely factors that make it FAR more likely for a gay kid to be disowned- but gay kids aren't the only ones that are disowned.

But there are Christian parents that disown their Jezebel daughters. (Often it does take the girl getting pregnant- which at least is one thing Bert and Fred have going for them- there's no accidental "evidence" that springs up over 9 months).

When I came out to my mum... that's the first thing I realised- that because she had got pregnant at 15, she could actually understand the fear I had in coming out to her. She could understand the fear of being disowned and the fear of shame that I had.


I guess my point was that to me it's less a "gay" issue than it is a "when you're a teenager parents can be shit" issue.

I guess your point is that even if Fred and Bert break up, Fred still has the exact same fear of being disowned? That- I'll agree makes the situation different- at least in terms of how Fred/ Bert need to proceed. I don't think it makes it any different for Bert's parents, though. Bert's parents are rightly worried about being implicated as co-conspirators should they "permit" the relationship.

My analogy doesn't hold in terms of what Bert and Fred themselves should do, but I do believe it holds in terms of Bert's parents reaction. The reason I compared Bert and Fred to a straight couple, though, was to try and point out that Bert's parents aren't getting it wrong because of sexuality- they are just getting it wrong because they don't recognise the vulnerability of their son's partner. Bert's parents, at least, could have had the exact same reaction if their son wasn't gay.

Your original post meandered a bit, but I took from it 2 main points:
1) Bert's parents, despite loving their gay (or bi) son, won't permit him a relationship
2) What should Bert and Fred do?

I tried to address both of those points. The analogy was my way of saying "Bert's parents have legitimate concerns (that might exist if their son was straight) for not permitting their son's relationship."

Do you think Bert's parents should grant Bert and Fred special consideration just because they are gay? Because I don't- I think it is fair and equal handed to say "we'll only permit our child to be in a relationship if their partner's parents know- we don't want the repercussions of them not knowing". Bert's parents are BERT'S parents... Fred's well-being is not their primary concern, their primary concern is ensuring that Bert isn't getting in trouble by Fred's parents eventually finding out, and a secondary concern is probably what Fred's parents might say to them if Fred's parents find out. Fred isn't their kid, though.




Anyway though... It's frustrating that I didn't make the point of my analogy clear enough in my first post and that the purpose of it has been misunderstood. Because, as you seem to realise, that isn't the important part of my post.

The important part was: "Bert, do what you can for Fred with or without your parents' approval- because Fred needs you."

[Updated on: Fri, 15 April 2011 21:02]




Look at this tree. I cannot make it blossom when it suits me nor make it bear fruit before its time [...] No matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.
Master Oogway
Re: When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65594 is a reply to message #65592] Fri, 15 April 2011 21:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
saben is currently offline  saben

On fire!

Registered: May 2003
Messages: 1537



From the OP: Why do parents say they accept their child's sexuality and then forbid any expression of it?

This is what my analogy was speaking to. I don't agree that Bert's parents are forbidding ANY expression of his sexuality. They just want Fred's parents to know. Which given the circumstance is unreasonable to ask. But they just don't want their teenager having a covert relationship- which itself isn't a sexuality thing (though sexuality complicates the picture).



Look at this tree. I cannot make it blossom when it suits me nor make it bear fruit before its time [...] No matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.
Master Oogway
Re: Thesaurus required?  [message #65595 is a reply to message #65590] Fri, 15 April 2011 21:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
saben is currently offline  saben

On fire!

Registered: May 2003
Messages: 1537



Timmy, I've heard your podcasty things before and you sound like you're from a very "Queen's English" background.

It may be rare to "fuck" in Received Pronunciation- but in my English it's fucking common! Sad)

For me- it's the default word to talk about intercourse. Calling fucking something other than fucking means I'm trying to emphasise something specific about the act. "Enjoying sex" sounds like a term from a sanitised sex-ed book. "Making love" is what people on a PG movie, or chick flick might do.

Fucking's just what normal people do (in my everyday language). It's not in itself a coarse word to me. I can go out of my way to avoid the term, however, if gratuitous use runs contrary to your proper "British sensibilities" (I'm teasing, by the way)



Look at this tree. I cannot make it blossom when it suits me nor make it bear fruit before its time [...] No matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.
Master Oogway
Re: When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65597 is a reply to message #65594] Fri, 15 April 2011 22:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13759



Knowingly or unknowingly they are bullying their child to do as they require. That is one issue.

The other issue is the question of whether they can be trusted not to speak to Fred's parents. If they do that they may cause serious and real harm.

And yes, the analogy, one which fails for me still, was the lesser part of your post. I suggest we disregard it and stay with practicalities.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Thesaurus required?  [message #65598 is a reply to message #65595] Fri, 15 April 2011 23:00 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13759



I don't think I have ever fucked in my life. I have made love, or had sex. Usually I've enjoyed it. As a teen I didn't want to fuck. The word is too harsh for what I wanted, and yet I wanted sex in capital letters. I use the word, but very rarely in the context of sex.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: When parents try hard and still get it wrong  [message #65600 is a reply to message #65597] Sat, 16 April 2011 00:56 Go to previous message
saben is currently offline  saben

On fire!

Registered: May 2003
Messages: 1537



I'd probably also say that Bert should ward off that possibility by talking to his parents and explaining the stakes, if he hasn't yet.

"Fred's parents aren't like you mum and dad. I've heard of gay kids being kicked out of home or beaten up. He's really scared something like that could happen to him so they can't know that Fred and I have talked about this kind of stuff."



Look at this tree. I cannot make it blossom when it suits me nor make it bear fruit before its time [...] No matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.
Master Oogway
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