Dear Suzie, My son, whose only 16, just told us he was gay. Keep in mind we have only known this for about a week, and it has certianly answered A LOT of questions, but now he wants a \”boyfriend\” he met on the internet and has been secretly talking to for 4 months to come and visit for a week. Even if he sleeps on the couch. Well, we are still getting used to the idea, and I\’ve always said I would would love my children no matter what, but I feel like we are taking things in HUGE strides by allowing a \”boyfriend\” to visit for a week when we only just found out ourselves. We are very open minded parents, and this \”coming out\” has destroyed a barrier that was between us and him for a long time. He\’s a completely different person now. A lot more open, talkative and comfortable around us than before. I appreciate the fact that his coming out has made us a lot closer, but don\’t want to ruin that by being negative of this visit. At the same time, I\’m still his parent, and wouldn\’t make any exceptions if he were a girl with a visiting boyfriend. Shoud I allow this kid from across the country to visit for a week so soon after finding out my son is gay? How open minded can I be? Even if he sleeps in a different room under our watchful eye.
I really do appreciate how difficult this might seem. It must feel as if a tsunami has crashed over your head – and now you’ve been urged to go surfing! No wonder you feel in a quandary. Let’s take a deep breath and begin by recognising the pluses here.
May I say for a start what a lucky young man he is in having parents who have weathered the first storm. It’s always hard coming out and it is such a relief to do it to parents who give unconditional love. You’ve seen what a difference it has made to him being able to tell you. And isn’t it a compliment to you that he wants to introduce his boyfriend – perhaps his first boyfriend – to you. That’s an enormous vote of confidence in you and your parenting.
It sounds to me as if, in his euphoria, he’s trying to cram several years of growing up into a few weeks. A significant number of parents of 16 year olds may have had to tussle with the boy or girlfriend coming to stay issue for some time; he’s throwing it at you now because all of a sudden he can, since it’s out in the open at last.
So what can you do? I honestly don’t think it’s going to erect barriers again for you to say – as you would actually say to a son with a girlfriend, or a daughter with a boyfriend – “We’re still processing this! Can we talk?” And I think your holding in mind what you’d say to a son with a girlfriend, or a daughter with a boyfriend is an excellent way to manage, and one to explain to him. In effect, it’s not necessarily about the gay thing; this is also about the sex thing.
My view on the big “Should we allow them to sleep together under our roof” debate is that I’d far rather my kids were having safe and enjoyable sex in a bed than skulking and sneaking to have hurried, unsatisfactory and possibly unsafe sex behind my back. He is 16 so his sexual activity is legal. Maybe my worry would be more about the fact that this other boy is an unknown quantity to you – and indeed to him. However well they know each other online, f2f may bring up some surprises. I think what I’d do is discuss with him about whether it might be good for the prospective relationship if they took it a little bit slowly, with a first visit in separate bedrooms.
I think this is something you and your son are going to have to thrash out. I certainly don’t think you’re being unreasonable to say “Whoa! This is rather fast!”. I do think if you are clear you’re explaining your feelings, not in any way criticising his actions, you’ll find you continue the very good relationship you all have and come to an agreement that suits you all.