Can a lesbian get gay?
When children are gay
But often the tolerance does not go far. The statement “I have nothing against homosexuals” becomes obsolete for many people at the latest when their own child confesses to be gay or lesbian. Old prejudices arise, fear of the reaction of family, friends and acquaintances breaks out. The future of your own and that of your child suddenly doesn't look so rosy. Parents worry about the child's career path and watch their own ideas about a future with grandchildren and daughter-in-law or son-in-law vanish into thin air. Everything they once dreamed and hoped for their child seems to be swimming away. AIDS, so far little more than a word, is becoming a terrible threat.
Wedding of the first gay couple in Stuttgart
Most of these fears stem from ignorance. Let's be honest: What do we really know about the life of homosexuals, about their difficulties in a heterosexual world? What do we really know about AIDS? Not much, because many of us (at least consciously) don't know homosexuals. After all, homosexuals only make up between five (officially) and ten (unofficial) percent of the population. That sounds like little, but it is a lot. In Germany, however, extrapolated to the population, that is four to eight million homosexuals.
To start, think about a few facts about homosexuality that will make it easier for you to deal with if your child reveals to you that they are gay:
- Homosexuality is not a disease, but a disposition that one is born with. There are always some “psychologists” or other saviors who claim that homosexuality is “curable” or that homosexuals can be “turned around”, but this is nothing but charlatanism with which some people try to get the money out of worried or even stubborn parents to pull the bag. You are gay or lesbian as you are blonde or brown-haired.
- Most guys, for example, realize relatively early that they are different from the others, but often don't know exactly what is different now. Even if they do, it usually takes a while before they actually say it, and for many it takes longer before they tell others, especially their parents. They are afraid of hurting their parents and are unsure of their reaction.
- Upbringing cannot change whether someone is homosexual or not. Homosexuality is not cultivated. It is just there. In this respect, it is not due to an overpowering mother or a non-existent father. Nobody can be raised to be homosexual.
- Homosexuals are usually just as successful in private and professional life as heterosexuals. Sometimes it is a little more difficult for them because they struggle with prejudice, but many emerge stronger from it.
- The only difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals is their sexual orientation. In principle, however, is this a private matter or do you as parents ask your heterosexual children about their sexual practices? Do you care if your straight son has special sexual preferences? Certainly not. So you shouldn't really care what your gay child is doing in bed either.
- The immunodeficiency disease AIDS affects heterosexuals and homosexuals equally. You can protect yourself against this by using condoms. It is the task of parents to make clear to all of their children the importance of protection.
There are no general indications that a child is homosexual. However, there are some things that can often be observed. Above all, this includes behavior among friends and towards parents. Anyone who discovers that he is homosexual or suspects it is initially unsettled, and this applies equally to schoolmates, friends and parents. The young person cannot be sure of the reaction to anyone. So he withdraws, waits or looks for new friends if he already has contacts with other homosexuals. On the other hand, many young people withdraw from their parents anyway during puberty. They begin to disconnect and live their own lives.
If you assume that your son or daughter is homosexual but have no certainty and shy away from asking directly, the best thing to do is to signal that homosexuality is not abnormal for you. You can do that, for example, by bringing the conversation to a gay colleague or a lesbian actress. It is important that you speak positively about homosexuality. Express that for you a person's life style and sexual orientation have nothing to do with his or her character.
When you ask your child, ask your question in a way that he or she can evade without lying if the child does not want to reveal himself to you just yet. So not “Are you gay / lesbian?” But “I've noticed lately that you don't get any more visitors and you often go out alone. I thought about the reasons for this and now I just wanted to talk to you about it. " You will notice from the reaction whether you can delve deeper into the conversation. If your child feels pressured, you can offer to postpone the conversation.
"Mom, Dad, I'm gay / lesbian"
What should parents do when they hear this phrase from their son or daughter? Most importantly, reassuring your child that you love them, whether gay, lesbian or not. The child needs to know that it is and will remain your child. Otherwise you should keep calm. Nobody expects you to cheer with joy at such an opening, not even your child. On the contrary: it will probably be very insecure and may have wrestled with itself for a long time before it made this confession to you. Perhaps it is still struggling with its fate itself. It will understand if, for example, you say: “This comes as a very surprise to me. I have to think about it first. Let's talk about this in more detail tomorrow. But whether you are gay or not does not change the fact that you are my child and that I stand behind you. "
This will give you time to be clear about your reaction for yourself, to find out more if necessary, or to talk to someone you know about it. The worst thing parents can do is cast off the child. You may not believe it, but there are still parents today whose reactions go so far as to expel their son or daughter. These children inevitably end up on the street, and especially gay boys, unless they find help elsewhere, on the street prostitute. Some see suicide as the only way out when rejected by the family.
This is how parents can help
- Don't ignore the subject of homosexuality when educating your children. Your children need to know that you consider homosexuality normal and that they can talk to you about it.
- Don't hide it if you're surprised, but be sure to reassure your child that you will still love them, regardless of their sexual preferences.
- Be patient and do not focus on your own questions in conversations, but rather on your child's questions and difficulties.
- Girls and young women are more sensitive to the issue of children than men. Be careful with this when it comes to the conversation.
- The white wedding and children are not the first topic to discuss - wait for it to be brought up.
- Refrain from wisdom such as “only the right person has to come” or “you are still so young, it will be fine”. Many think that a lesbian woman is only a lesbian until the right man comes along, but that is only wishful thinking of ill-informed parents.
Even if you find yourself unable to cope with the situation, you can make this clear to your child without abandoning them. Be honest and admit it and seek professional help, for example from family counseling or a parenting group. There are now groups for parents of homosexual children.
Wedding couple with mother
At the end of this article you will find the relevant addresses where you can obtain further information.
And one more tip
If you are reading this and have already kicked your homosexual child out, give your heart a poke and bring it back, or at least try to fix the relationship. However, only openness helps. Admit that you acted rashly and became a victim of your own prejudices. Your child will likely accept it if you change your behavior accordingly.
What to do with gossip
Whenever word gets around that someone in the family, neighborhood or circle of friends is homosexual, people inevitably gossip. Gossip is best met with openness and truth. If you notice that family or friends, acquaintances and neighbors are clapping, don't be silent, go on the offensive. Ask what exactly it is about, where the information the gossips have come from, and try to be factual. Make it unmistakably clear to the gossipers that the relationship between you and your son or daughter has not changed as a result of their homosexuality.
Certainly it can happen that one or the other neighbor, friend, Uncle Otto or Aunt Emma cannot be convinced despite all attempts at clarification. In this case, prioritize as hard as you can.
Important: It makes sense to tackle gossip. However, this does not mean that the parents should be the ones to tell the world that the child is homosexual. It is up to the person concerned who he wants to trust and who does not. If you're not sure who he or she told you, ask.
Useful sites on the Internet
The website of the Federal Association of Parents, Friends and Relatives of Homosexuals e.V. Here you can find information on everything that moves you when you are confronted with homosexuality for the first time and the addresses of local parent groups.
Federal Center for Health Education, Advice and Brochures
Here you will also find the addresses of local AIDS organizations, advice and brochures
On this page gay and lesbian associations have come together and provide extensive information on the subject of homosexuality.
A site especially for lesbians. There are book recommendations, chat rooms, etc. - simply everything about lesbian life
More contributions by the co-author here in our family handbook
Maximilian Geißler, born in 1963, is a part-time book author and homosexual himself.
Andrea Przyklenk, born in 1957, is a freelance journalist and author. She lives near Stuttgart.
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