My mother won’t accept I’m gay

Dear Suzie, I am 16 and i have recently come out to my mum that i am gay, and have a boyfriend, which hasn’t gone down well at all. The 1st person i told was my best mate, and she was cool with it, so i told more and more people resulting in my whole school year knowing, and no one has bullied me, broke me down or anything. i havent lost friends, in fact, i have been reunited with some friends that i havent spoken to in years. to them i am not their gay friend, i am just the same person to them. which is great! I came out because of my boyfriend – he didnt force me into it, it was my choice, but i did it because i love him and know he would support me no matter what. But then i told my mum and she has really broken me down saying that it will ruin the family and i should try the “normal” life before living on such a hard route. she keeps saying “what has she done wrong?” and “why do you have to waste your life?” and currently i dont know what to do. The other day really hit me hard. she threatened to leave, but the only reason she is staying is for my younger brother (of 14) but she doesnt want me “infecting” him with my “evil” ways. she says i need help to get my head straight. it broke my heart. and to top that off she said that i had a choice – lead the life i am living and live hard and have the posibility of losing my family OR dump my boyfriend, become straight – therefore who i am not, try it out with a girl, she also says i am never allowed to see him as a mate either so basically lose someone i love so much AND my best friend. and i cant do that. Now my boyfriend, he is 19, which in some people’s eyes is wrong, but i dont know what to think. my mum says that because he is that age, all he wants from me is sex, sex, sex, but i barely see him as he goes to uni some miles away and we have been going out since valentines day. we havent had sex yet and we have only talked about it a few times but not a main subject. he is the kindest, sweetest, most conciderate, caring person i know and my mum wants me to lose that. i went through a time where i wanted to run away, but he told me i cant because of my education which is so important and i need to do well. he wanted me to do that, giving up to be with me. i dont think that is the mind of a sexoholic, do you? I’m scared i am going to have a breakdown as i cant do anything right. please help me. i don’t know what to do.

I’m so pleased for you that your lovely friends know what’s what; that gender orientation is no more important than the colour of your eyes or the shape of your nose. You’re the same person whether you happen to be attracted to your sex, the opposite sex, blonds, brunettes, or redheads.

And I’m really, really sad your Mum – the very person you should expect to give you unconditional love – has allowed bigotry and prejudice to have poisoned her attitude. You’ve done exactly the right thing – been honest and upfront with her, and behaved , as has your friend, in a thoroughly ethical manner. Such a pity she has not.

But she has. And what you need to recognise is that that’s her problem, not yours. I know she is your Mum, and you’d like and expect to respect and trust what she says. You’d like to think she’s grown up enough to say “Hey – I don’t know about being gay and it frightens me. But you’re my son so since I love you whatever, I’ll just have to put my reservations aside.” But she isn’t and she can’t, so you’re going to have to be grown up for both of you.

I have to say that the very people who are most anti-gay tend to be those who have struggled with their own sexuality – and that’s a fact that has been shown in research. Perhaps your mother herself had longings for a friend when she was young, and since she has swallowed hook, line and sinker the myth that homosexuality is evil she reacts with such guilt, fear and anger to it.

So let me just settle a few things. You’re gay because you are. You’re gay for the same reason that one person is has blues eyes and another has brown. It’s not a choice or a lifestyle but a fact of life. She didn’t make you gay by doing anything just as you don’t become gay by deciding to. And you can’t ‘become straight’ – do you think you can change the colour of your eyes by wishing it? No, of course not. Well – it’s equally not on the cards for you to alter your sexuality.

And being gay is only a hard route when people are homophobic; if she doesn’t want you to have a hard time she should start by being kind, accepting and loving and setting other people a good example. As you’ve found, more and more people, especially people your age, are totally cool about it now. It’s just not an issue. Most people know homosexuality is ‘natural’ in that it appears in other species at the same rate as it does in human beings. You can’t turn your brother gay from proximity any more than you can be turned straight by living with him. But…it is worth noting that your are slightly more likely to be gay if you have a gay sibling.

Don’t dump your boyfriend, please. He sounds delightful – the ideal person to be anyone’s first love. Kind, considerate, caring – what’s not to love? You’re 16; over the age of consent for sex, whether straight or gay. You have the law on your side.

If your Mum really would throw you out to stop what sounds like a thoroughly supportive and encouraging relationship then I strongly suggest you speak with an adult you can trust to explore other arrangements until you can go it alone in further education. Could you live with another relative or maybe one of the families of your lovely friends, until either your Mum comes round or you can get a grant to go to college? If you can’t think of a relative or friend’s parent, speak with a teacher and make it clear this is about homophobic bullying by your mother. Your school wouldn’t want you to drop out and may be able to help and advise you to another solution.

I would like to think that when she has to face up to the misery she is causing her son she may be able to change her behaviour. I think she’s confused and worried, which is an explanation of what she’s said and done but not an excuse. She’s the one who needs help, and it is out there if she’d ask for it. If she would get in touch with other parents in the same situation, coming to terms with their kids coming out, maybe she could change – ask her to contact Families And Friends Of Lesbians and Gays. And Gays Lesbian and Gay Foundation can offer information and advice and a sympathetic, listening ear to you. I do so wish you the best of luck!

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