“Why My Son Coming Out as Gay Didn’t Go at All Like He Expected” originally appeared on Quora and The Fatherly Forum, and was reprinted with permission.
My son David was very definitely born gay. One of his favorite words was “pretty,” which he would chant over and over while stroking my clothing. He liked to do many things most folks consider “little girl” activities, and he didn’t care for many “little boy” activities at all.
Well, we didn’t care. Dave is Dave: cute, funny, scarily intelligent, curious, and could put ideas together in a way that got him in more trouble than not. In junior high, he told us about a girlfriend, and went to a few dances, but we didn’t do any sigh of relief or anything because we really didn’t care one way or the other. His two brothers and sister didn’t care, either; it just wasn’t something we made any kind of deal out of.
Towards the end of high school, Dave started applying to colleges. The one he picked was an all-male college, despite having had some other very good offers. No surprise to us, off he went, calling when he needed money, going to friends’ homes for vacations, having a blast and carrying pretty good grades. Normal college stuff.
After college, Dave’s back, and working, and he finally brings home a “friend.” That’s how he introduced our quasi-son-in-law: a friend. We exchanged normal pleasantries: “How ya doing, nice to meet you, stay for dinner, yada-yada.” Then Dave and Rob moved in together. Oh good, Dave’s found someone. And then I made a mistake, which, at the time, I thought was the right thing.
Dave’s sister called and I was giving her the run-down on her siblings, and I said, “And Dave and Rob will be over, too …”
“Dave’s significant other.”
“Oh, that’s nice for Dave.”
But then my daughter called Dave, and they chatted awhile, and then Dave called me.
“Mom! How could you tell my sister I was gay just like that? Coming out is important, I wanted to do it myself!”
Huh? I was surprised. In my mind, Dave had been “out” pretty much his whole life and no one cared. What was he going to do? Hang a banner across the front of the house that says “I’m GAY!”??
His sister didn’t care too much either way. She was just happy for her brother. So it was all okay in the end, but I felt badly that I had “taken away” something from Dave he felt was very important. I felt badly because the rest of us didn’t think it was important, at all. It just was important to Dave.
Now that his state has passed gay marriage laws, Dave and Rob will be getting married soon. That’s nice, I’m glad they get a chance to be like everyone else. But the way I see them has not changed: that’s Dave, and that’s Rob, and that’s fine with me.
So, I think for us it worked well because no one really cared except Dave, and he never thought he was hiding some big secret. He just hung around with folks who told him how traumatic or life-affirming or soul-cleansing coming out would be, so he wanted to try it. I always get a slight cringe when I think that I ruined that for him. Why would he think we cared? We always supported him because he was Dave, not because he was gay.
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