I was playing on the Mariah Carey slots in Vegas and a friendly circa-mid-40s ish guy sat down to play on the machine next to me. I was sitting with my best friend, both wearing pink (naturally) and after chatting a little to the guy about Vegas, he nervously asked if he could ask us a question.
I knew where this was gonna go as it always does so did a bit of an inner eye roll but indulged him anyway. He then asked if we were together so we said no (we’re best friends and he has a fab bf) and he asked if we were gay, so we said yes. He then said he thinks his 13 year old son might be gay and wondered if he could ask us how best for him to navigate that.
He lit up when talking about his son, and I nearly started crying at how much he clearly loved him. The guy wanted to know how to make his son feel most comfortable about himself whilst not being too overt and glaringly obvious in forcing a conversation about his sexuality.
This man is so sweet. From rural Arkansas and said whilst things are so much better now, he still just wants the world to be totally equal for his son. Marco (my friend) and I said he sounds like he’s doing all the right things and that making his son know he’s loved is the best he can do.
We both gave a couple of anecdotes from personal experience, largely relating to condoning abstract things when you see them like normalising conversations around gay kisses on TV or calling our family conversations that might shame potential queerness.
We also mentioned not accidentally policing things so as to shame him - for instance, often out of a sense of protection and love parents can frown on a child’s behaviour or outfit because they’re worried for their safety when on a night out etc...
But we stressed that if this was their feeling it’s important to vocalise this exactly, rather than leaving the child ruminating over the parent’s intentions and second guessing why they said what they said.
So in terms of advice to friends or relatives of a potentially queer person, what would fellow queers advise is the best way to make it known they have their love and support without causing an uncomfortable conversation that might force someone to come out before they’re ready?
For instance - when I was about 12, my v obviously straight brother and I were watching a soap with my dad and there was a gay kiss on screen. I vividly remember my dad saying if either of us ever thought we were gay that we would still be just as loved by our mum and dad.
Knowing that nothing would change stuck with me hugely and I remember that convo as if it was yesterday - it was *clearly* said for my benefit but was comfortable enough that it wasn’t a direct exchange and I appreciate my dad so much for this.
I literally still have shivers thinking about that wonderful man. The difference he’ll make to not just his son’s life but to so many others by having and open mind and a loving heart is unbelievable. There’s hope!!
He also said that the younger brother (10 y/o) had expressed his disapproval of drag queens he’d seen on TV because it was ‘weird’, so the dad explained in earshot of the elder son that if that’s how they want to dress and they feel comfortable then that’s great.
He’s clearly doing all the right things and is making his son feel as comfortable as he can. Take notes people this is how it’s done!! Particularly given that the boy is growing up far out of a metropolitan city this kind of unconditional love and support is invaluable.
Still just mulling over this - the dad clearly has no gay people in his life to ask so did his best to ask people with that experience to help make his son’s life and journey though potential queerness as seamless as possible.
DMs always v open for anyone with any questions about how best to handle a situation like this! Or for any queers struggling and wanting to talk.
To warm your hearts even further I just have to say I’ve had over 50 parents / relatives of queer kids reaching out in my DMs to express their support/appreciation for this thread and it is GORGEOUS to know there is so much love for LGBTQ youth in the world today.
Also on a purely selfish level the joy I’m getting reading all these messages is overwhelming. Obviously can’t share them but just know that there are so many happy queer kids telling me beautiful stories in my DMs all because of this wonderful dad and the conversation he started.
Also one of my favourite responses to the thread is:
‘Express support at times when it’s not a discussion’
This is exactly what my dad did for me and it so perfectly made me feel loved without placing me in an uncomfortable position to have a conversation I wasn’t ready for.
Seeing a lot of people share this re ‘how to make LGBTQ kids feel comfortable at home’ / coming to terms with themselves etc. which is 100% important and the biggest point here but also normalise the conversations around straight kids too so they grow up to be just as tolerant!
by Jack Remmington (Twitter/JackRemmington)