FATHERS OF GAY MALES
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
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
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
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:
LOVE IN ACTION
G.P.O. Box 1115
ADELAIDE SA 5001
Phone (08) 371 0446
This article is reprinted by permission from
P O Box 33039
Seattle WA 98133-0039
MINISTRY TO HOMOSEXUALS
Database Listing - Ministry To
Christian Resources on Homosexuality on the web
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