Part 1: Disclosure

Homosexuality, some people say, is not an aberrant lifestyle, and even if

it were, homosexuality would at most be a "victimless sin." The premise is

that if you have two consenting adults, the only people affected by

homosexuality are gays themselves. This, however, is not the case. Social

creatures that we are, all our actions, behaviours and attitudes, affect

those around us: our friends, our families, our churches, and ultimately

society as a whole. In this two-part article, I will focus on how the

"coming out of the closet" of a gay male alters and redefines his

relationship with his father.

You Are What?

Here is an all-too-common scenario: Jerry is your 24 year-old son. You

are, as his father, a very hard working man. You may not be exactly where

you wish to be in life, but you endure. Jerry, on the other hand, has his

whole life ahead of him. He is young, energetic, and above all the one who

will carry on your family's name for at least another generation. Granted,

Jerry has seemed a bit peculiar at times but you credit this to his age.

"One day he will grow up," you mutter.

One day, Jerry calls a family council. You automatically sense that he is

very distraught. After some banal cordialities, Jerry blurts out, "Mum,

Dad, I'm gay." You think this is some kind of joke. Or maybe he means gay

in the archaic sense; you know, gay at one time meant "happy". But Jerry

continues, "Furthermore, I am moving in with Cliff, my lover." This is not

funny anymore. The fact is that the meeting is getting out of hand. And

yet, you intuitively realise that Jerry is telling the truth.

Your mind denies the situation by blanking out, your heart is overwhelmed

by a peculiar sense of loss and you soul is suddenly bombarded by a wide

variety of emotions. All this takes place in a split second, but later on

things will seem to get worse. You look up at this stranger before you and

ask yourself, curiously and almost innocently, "I wonder where my son

went?" and "Who is this boy?" The question before you is: What are you

supposed to do? How are you supposed to respond? The first options come

to mind:

1. Should I kill him? Your wife thinks that this is a tasteless joke. You

know that you are not joking. But, as soon as this thought is formulated

you push it aside. After all, this person looks, talks, and behaves like

Jerry. Maybe he can tell you where your son went.

2. Kick him out of the house? This is the most common response of fathers.

This is basically the "out of sight, out of mind" philosophy. As long as

you do not acknowledge Jerry's existence you do not have to worry about his

homosexuality (whatever that is). Some parents will simply ignore their

child while others will go as far as legally disinheriting him. Still you

continue to wonder, "Where is my boy?"

3. Maybe we can heal him? If you come from a Christian or conservative

background you will not acknowledge homosexuality as an alternate

lifestyle. All you have to do is convince Jerry that gay is wrong and that

he needs to be healed. You will read him Scriptures, preach, pass on

"anti-gay" literature while calling him an abomination and quoting AIDS-

victim statistics. The only reason you would consider reaching out for

help is because Jerry needs it. You are healthy but Jerry is sick. Why

does Jerry respond so negatively to your attempts?

What Is Going On?

Before you take any action, there are some things you must consider:

1. Grief. You have gone into emotional shock. This means that you will

fully experience grief. After all, as far as your preconceptions are

concerned, your child is quite dead. Before you is a stranger that does

not conform to the child you so fondly remember. At the emotional level,

you will go through the same turmoil that a divorced person, a widower, or

a recently assaulted person goes through. Denial, shock, guilt, physical

symptoms, anger and bartering with God are some of the stages of grief you

will go through. Your loss is very real indeed. You thought you knew him;

now you do not. All of your expectations are shattered. Ironically, this

is probably the most intimate your child has ever been with you. He is

disclosing an aspect of his being that has been concealed for quite some

time. His reasons for sharing become irrelevant when you realise that his

mask is finally off. That nagging thought that maybe you never really knew

him should not be brushed aside lightly. The road to healing will probably

be hindered by that which you fear the most: The acceptance and headlong

confrontation with your feelings.

2. Guilt. You are asking yourself, "Where did I go wrong?" This is a

normal question, although often over emphasized. The tendency will be to

seek out the source responsible for your son's homosexuality, Having

determined this, then you can expend all your energies blaming someone.

This someone is, usually out of convenience, yourself. This kind of black-

and-white thinking gets people into a lot of trouble. Homosexuality is a

very complex issue and simply blaming yourself because you have, "Failed as

a parent", will do no good to you, your family, or your son. For now,

accept that you indeed share a degree of responsibility and that a bit of

guilt is normal, if not healthy, but that your son is ultimately

responsible for his choices and actions. Do not allow guilt to become all-

encompassing; you still have quite an array of emotions to deal with. In

Part two, we will cover some of the roles of a father.

3. Shame. What are people going to think? Shame is the flipside of guilt.

Not only do you feel like a failure, but now you have a whole world waiting

to confront you. You already know how many of your co-workers feel about

gays. Indeed, you probably have participated in an occasional "harmless"

gay joke. Now you realise that your son is "one of them." Your shame

runs so deep that you will go into the closet yourself. A lot of effort

will be expended in hiding your new found knowledge. The church that once

was your succour and protector will be viewed as your inquisitor and

accuser. You will feel like an alien when surrounded by your loved ones.

It will help you enormously if you learn to admit that a large portion of

your shame is covert pride. Your manhood is now being questioned; your

male ego has been bruised; your parenting skills have been proven wrong ...

or so you think.

Questions That Need To Be Asked

Any relationship takes a tremendous amount of energy to develop and

maintain. Yet the thing most people do with alarming frequency is take

each other for granted. A step that is essential before you move to action

is questioning. You need to ask yourself some HARD questions and be as

brutally honest as you can be. What is a father? What does it mean to be

a man? What is the role of my Church/Pastor? Where is God? Is there any

relationship that God cannot heal? What are my strengths, weaknesses? How

can I express my love for my son? Where do I draw the line? When do I

give in?

Because you are experiencing great emotional turmoil, these and many more

questions will assault your consciousness. Therefore, it is to your

advantage to be aware of this and use questioning constructively. Through

prayerful introspection you will be able to perceive a semblance of order

in an otherwise chaotic situation. This process should:

1. Allow you to show where you stand in your faith and clarify your set of

values and

2. Allow you to confront some very unpleasant aspects of your personality

which through great effort on your part have been buried for a life time.

By now you are asking why is all this necessary? After all, Jerry is the

one that is sick. The only way that you may be of any assistance to your

son is if you are healthy. You will need to swallow your pride (or repent

for it) and prostrate yourself before God. The Lord wants to bring healing

and restoration to you just as much as He wants to for Jerry

-- Lou Carriere


For further information about homosexuality or about other areas of sexual

brokenness, please contact:


G.P.O. Box 1115


Phone (08) 371 0446


This article is reprinted by permission from

Metanoia Ministries

P O Box 33039

Seattle WA 98133-0039



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