I am a Jewish mother of two boys, both teenagers. I suspect that my youngest son who is 13 years old may be gay. Our family is very religious and my husband has expressed negative views on homosexuality. I’m worried about my son and want him to know that I love him. How do I know if he is gay and what do I say so that he isn’t scared to talk to me about it?
Dear Concerned Mother,
First, I commend you for reaching out to learn more about how you can best support your son. Your concern and love for your son is something all mother’s can relate to and it can be difficult when you to want to have a conversation about sensitive issues, but are not sure how to approach it in the most supportive way.
You mentioned that you are worried about your son and want him to know that you love him. You already have the most important centerpiece of your conversation with your son. He just needs to know that you love and accept him unconditionally. Often times, people go through a period where they might be questioning and exploring their sexual orientation. It is possible that your son self-identifies as gay but has not felt comfortable sharing this part of him yet with others. Since your son has not come out as being gay, but you sense that he is and want him to know you are there for him, I will mention a few approaches you can take when talking to him. During a time when you are alone with your son, you can bring up an LGBT-related topic such as same-sex marriage and speak about it in a positive way. It’s a more general approach that demonstrates to your son that you are a safe person he can talk to about these issues when he is ready without asking him if he is gay. You can also bring up television shows or movies with an LGBT character and point out how great you think it is that these shows represent such diversity. You can add that you couldn’t imagine a parent not accepting a child because they are gay. Again, this lets your son know you are someone he can come out to when he is ready. It may be helpful for you and your husband to connect with community resources in your area such as a local Parents, Families and Friends chapter to talk to other parents with a gay child. Their website is www.pflag.org. I’m so glad you reached out and please don’t hesitate to write again if you have any other questions.
Best to you and your family,