Amy Dickinson | Ask Amy | News

What a Parent Should Do with a Child Who 'Will Not Stop Being Gay'

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I recently discovered that my son, who is 17, is a homosexual. We are part of a church group and I fear that if people in that group find out they will make fun of me for having a gay child. He won’t listen to reason, and he will not stop being gay. I feel as if he is doing this just to get back at me for forgetting his birthday for the past three years — I have a busy work schedule. Please help him make the right choice in life by not being gay. He won’t listen to me, so maybe he will listen to you. -- Feeling Betrayed


You could teach your son an important lesson by changing your own sexuality to show him how easy it is. Try it for the next year or so: Stop being a heterosexual to demonstrate to your son that a person’s sexuality is a matter of choice — to be dictated by one’s parents, the parents’ church and social pressure. I assume that my suggestion will evoke a reaction that your sexuality is at the core of who you are. The same is true for your son. He has a right to be accepted by his parents for being exactly who he is.

More of Amy Dickinson's response at the Washington Post...

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  1. I read this in my local paper. Interesting how it is all about her. She is not concerned about the son's feelings, only about being embarrassed at her church. It says a lot about her.
    Abby's answer was great, except that it did not mention the mom's incredible self centeredness.

    Posted by: Rich | Nov 21, 2013 10:29:38 AM

  2. I'm I the only one who thinks that question is almost certainly bogus?

    Posted by: Sean | Nov 21, 2013 10:33:27 AM

  3. Most excellent advice.

    @Rich - The columnist is Amy, not Abby. Abigail Van Buren stopped writing in 2002 due to the onset of Alzheimer's, and died this last January.

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Nov 21, 2013 10:33:48 AM

  4. @SEAN, my thoughts exactly. The forgetting of the birthday three years in a row - "I very busy at work" - was what convinced me.

    Posted by: Oxnard Rick | Nov 21, 2013 10:36:51 AM

  5. The original letter may well be a prank or phony but the answer is still priceless.

    Posted by: Ready | Nov 21, 2013 10:37:17 AM

  6. "I feel as if he is doing this just to get back at me for forgetting his birthday for the past three years..." Ya. That's why I came out. To get back at my parents for forgetting my birthday. I had no choice. Killing our next door neighbors didn't work. How else was I to make them pay?

    Posted by: Gigi | Nov 21, 2013 10:38:03 AM

  7. Whether or not the question was real, the answer most certainly was. I hope it was read by the many parents who need a dose of reality.

    Posted by: Jack M | Nov 21, 2013 10:42:53 AM

  8. I dunno-- considering the self-centered "I'll throw my kid under the bus so I can get elected" way a lot of rightwing politicians behave when they have a gay kid, I'm not so sure her statement that she forget his birthday for three years because she was "busy" is that unbelievable.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Nov 21, 2013 10:44:41 AM

  9. LOVE her answer. These questions are sometime a mix of topics generated by letters received and not necessarily verbatim of one specific letter.

    Posted by: Hey Darlin' | Nov 21, 2013 10:45:53 AM

  10. nice job Amy! I loved your answer....but let's not forget this woman's son sounds like he is in a no win situation with his mother.......I have my doubts the mother will heed Amy's advice...........

    Posted by: Bernie | Nov 21, 2013 10:48:59 AM

  11. @ Sean,

    Yes, someone could have written the letter as a lampoon. The unhappy truth, however, remains that you can easily find parents who feel, as that parent seems to, that children exist only as extensions or property of parents. I've conversed, over the years, with more than one parent who felt s/he had the right, quite literally, to kill any child who remained dependent on the parent(s).

    This, I think, must become the next major step in civil rights: the rights of children. Adults must stop using children as symbols, as tools, as surrogates, as non-entities for personal satisfaction. We see the glimmerings of this in public concern for bullying and child abuse, but both still focus mostly on extra-familial contacts like predatory neighbors or abusive teachers. It remains rare, in the face of common practice, to see parents prosecuted for neglect and abuse of their children. Another sad result of the notion of "the sacred family."

    Posted by: Chuck Mielke | Nov 21, 2013 10:51:04 AM

  12. well met, AMY!

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Nov 21, 2013 10:51:29 AM

  13. The letter looks very much like a joke. I hope it is

    Posted by: danswon | Nov 21, 2013 10:54:52 AM

  14. Anyone reading advice columns and asking themselves if the letter they're reading is fake, is reading advice columns wrong.

    You may never know when your friends are lying to you, how are you going to know if an anonymous stranger is? Advice columns are for entertainment value provided by the letter and the answer, not whether the letter is "true".

    That being said, all the people on the Internet insisting this letter is fake is, frankly, weird. Even though parents torture and kill their children every day and we've all seen the most horrible stories of child abuse, it seems that forgetting your child's birthday and not wanting him to be gay is so crazy that it must be fiction. I don't get that.

    In conclusion, Amy is excellent at her job.

    Posted by: oncemorewithfeeling | Nov 21, 2013 10:56:02 AM

  15. I dunno - not sure it's a fake. I know a lot of terribly self-involved parents.

    There's a college student I know that just got busted for fighting at our school, and his mom's Facebook feed was all about her marketing BS. She's an icy cold, unfeeling frau, and that could well be her (or her ilk) writing that letter.

    Posted by: Sparky | Nov 21, 2013 10:57:04 AM

  16. the whole "My child is gay! But what will people think about MEEEE??" thing is all-too-common. and preposterous.

    your child comes forward with a painful secret that they've been holding their entire lives, in fear of the bigotry and prejudice out in the world and at home....and a parent gets angry at the child for being exactly who they've always been, and starts to think only abou how "it affects them"...BLAHHH..

    I must say, i do love that "change your own sexuality for a year to show him how easy it is" - and the capper is the "your child might be safer living somewhere else" thing. truth truth truth.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Nov 21, 2013 11:00:26 AM

  17. I'm at the age where I would like to forget my own birthday.

    Posted by: Perry | Nov 21, 2013 11:08:08 AM

  18. you can hope that parents aren't this stupid. but either way amy kick ass.

    Posted by: m | Nov 21, 2013 11:17:51 AM

  19. Doesn't matter if the original letter is bogus or not - either way the response is perfect - can be read as a joke in response to a prank, or as a comment on how ridiculous the initial inquiry is, if it really was a serious one.

    Posted by: hugo | Nov 21, 2013 11:23:57 AM

  20. People are assuming it is his mother who wrote the letter. I think it sounds more like a father's response to a son's homosexuality, particularly the "too busy @ work" comment.

    Posted by: BuckeyeWxGuy | Nov 21, 2013 11:24:15 AM

  21. WTF? How is it that a single person here could fail to realize this letter is embarrassingly, painfully fake? Is there some noxious gas in the air driving IQ's down? Sure, the answer is great, but please... this is cringeworthy.

    Posted by: denizo | Nov 21, 2013 11:33:14 AM

  22. People who are so desperate to say this is fake are likely uncomfortable with the fact that this kind of thing happens every day. There are parents who care more about what their church will think than remembering their son's birthday. Trying to quickly dismiss this as a hoax does a disservice to the thousands of kids who struggle with parents like this.

    Posted by: Pete | Nov 21, 2013 11:41:11 AM

  23. The letter is fake. The response is cool. However, I don't care for Amy's use of the phrase LGBT people. Theres no such thing as LGBT people. There are LGB people and there are T people, and the letter had noting to do with transgenders.

    Posted by: Imael | Nov 21, 2013 12:13:44 PM

  24. If the mother is convinced that her son is saying he's gay just to get back at her then that's all she has to tell her "friends". I'm surprised she didn't think of that herself. In any event, who writes to an advice column looking for timely advice when it takes months to get published if it gets published at all?

    Posted by: anon | Nov 21, 2013 12:40:52 PM

  25. Why assume the person who wrote the letter is the mother? I guessed it was the father, although my father has been the supportive parent. Ask Amy is the new Ann Landers; serves up common sense daily!

    Posted by: Paul | Nov 21, 2013 1:10:36 PM

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