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

Askamy
(image via imgur)

DEAR AMY:

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

DEAR 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

Comments

  1. Rich says

    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.

  2. Gregory In Seattle says

    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.

  3. Gigi says

    “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?

  4. bobbyjoe says

    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.

  5. Bernie says

    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………..

  6. Chuck Mielke says

    @ 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.”

  7. oncemorewithfeeling says

    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.

  8. Sparky says

    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.

  9. says

    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.

  10. hugo says

    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.

  11. BuckeyeWxGuy says

    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.

  12. denizo says

    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.

  13. Pete says

    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.

  14. Imael says

    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.

  15. anon says

    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?

  16. Paul says

    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!

  17. Lars says

    My whole gay thing (up to and including my marriage this summer) is little more than an attempt to spite my parents for not attending my piano recitals. Obviously.

  18. says

    As a transgendered teen all-too-often experiences parental discrimination and prejudice, “IMAEL” (eyeroll to the troll) it is entirely fitting.

    Stop being upset that this straight woman is standing up for Transgendered youth, as well as gay youth. I know you get terribly butthurt that trans people are being accepted more and more, and you’re still a cowardly shell of a gay man, but that’s not the fault of transpeople nor their allies.

  19. Critifur says

    So now everyone has talked about how fake the inquiry seems(that was my initial thought)and even if it how great a response Amy gave. Has no one noticed how Amy also seems to advocate for possibly kicking the child out of his home? She says, “If you cannot learn to accept him as he is, it might be safest for him to live elsewhere.” Oh great and where should that child go? The street? I agreed with everything else she suggested and then that? What an idiotic suggestion. If this is real, well a parent like that will doubtlessly take the easiest way out, no self realization about how wrong they are, just toss the kid out.

  20. rroberts says

    As already pointed out, the sender might be a dad.

    Is it a fake letter? SO WHAT? Why do we assume that any letter sent to an advice columnist was actually sent by the supposed ‘sender’? I also doubt that a respected advice columnist would have any lack of letters/topics to choose from, so why would she make something up?

    The most important part is Amy’s response, which is outstanding. And if the message gives pause to other confused parents of gay kids, then so much the better.

  21. says

    I don’t think she’s telling the mother to kick the kid out, exactly – more pointing out that due to the mother’s intolerance, the kid is currently living in an unsafe and emotionally-abusive home environment. She made it rather clear that the mother is the problem, not the kid nor his being gay.

    I don’t see it so much as a suggestion than as a “wake up call” – “Hi, Mom. You’re a toxic influence on your son, and he may very well be safer not having you in his life.”

  22. Judith says

    I agree with Imael but for a different reason. Why is Amy trying to confuse the mother even more by equating the son with a transsexual? The mother needs to be educated that her son may be gay, but he is still the same boy that she has known and loved. By using a nonsense term like LGBT people, she might be sending the message that the son really thinks of himself as a girl. This is why LGBT is so misleading and dishonest and has the potential to hurt LGB youth.

  23. woodroad34 says

    She’s ‘betrayed’?? Honestly, this mother should not be a mother; she’s immensely selfish and me-centric and apparently her church indulges her. The kid needs to move away and forget this hopeless, inane excuse of a “mother”.

  24. says

    Aw, troll is now using the name “JUDITH!” LOL

    Honeybun, what’s the problem? Same one as Rick? That when your fam found out you were gay they kept buying you sassy lingerie? 😀

    “LGBT” harms nobody but miserable closet cases who hate everyone who has a real life.

  25. SFRowGuy says

    @Jack M Problem is those people don’t have a clue or care … except care only for themselves. The letter may or may not be real, but I can only think that there are countless people that would send in such a letter. They don’t because they either don’t want to admit, even anonymously, that they have a child that is gay, or are too self absorb to do so, only lamenting why THIS has happened to them.

  26. tinkerbelle says

    Doesn’t matter if the letter is fake — they probably often are. The point is the response, which should become necessary reading by anyone who’s not getting “the gay thing”.

    Well done Amy. And thanks.

  27. says

    That letter smells heavily of trolling.

    “They’ll make fun of me for having a gay child”?

    “I feel that he is doing this to get back at me for forgetting his birthday for the past 3 years”?

    It sounds like it was written by a bored 12 year old who needed something to do when his parents banned him from 4chan.

  28. Levels says

    Anyone who believes or says that this story is fake or implausible is a heterosexual anti-gay troll.

    They are the same people who descend upon gay-bashing articles to say “I smell a rat”, or “This story smells fishy.”

    It’s just another manifestation of the false conviction anti-gays have that all persecution, oppression, and discrimination of gays is ‘just a myth’.

    They’re the same people who believe Scott Lively types who think that they only persecutors of gays are other ‘butch’ gays.

    Pathetic. Don’t be fooled LGBTs. They posture as ‘one of us’ but they aren’t. Real LGBTs have the sensibility to know when they see something not just possible but plausible.

  29. says

    @Levels: Disbelieving the veracity of the letter does not mean that we are denying that such situations exist, idiot. A lot of us dealt with this sh*t ourselves when while growing up. It’s the weird phrasing in the letter that makes it seem shady, not the situation in itself.

    If anyone here is trolling, it’s definitely you, with all your self-righteous histrionics.

  30. HailStorm says

    @ Fury Of Firestorm;

    “…idiot.”
    “…all your self-righteous histrionics.”

    Have you no sense of irony, troll? Keep using inflammatory language while calling others ‘troll’, troll.

    If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it.
    Why so defensive? Hmm?

    Oh! It’s the WORDING that makes it fishy… Right… Because homophobes are alwyas super articulate.

    Sure sure, I really believe you’re gay and went through this “sh*t”, because you’re just so patient and polite with other LGBTs who come to the support of those who might feel discouraged by the notion that even other gays can’t acknowledge gays’ pain.

    Go flame-war somewhere else, FuryOfFirestorm.

  31. says

    @Hailstorm: Don’t believe i’m gay? You’re free to click my name and see my Tumblr page where I post about gay issues or my love for hairy men. Or check my profile under my screen name at Bear411, BearUnderground, and BearForest. Of you can go to my Facebook page where my status is listed as gay.

    How about you offer up some proof to prove your sexuality, hmm? Of course, that would mean not hiding behind a monitor like a troll does, right?

    Your total trolling score is 3/10. I gave you 2 extra points for switching your name from Levels to a screen name that’s a play on mine. *claps*

  32. Mike says

    Brief thought. Agree with most of you but wait, PLEASE backup here. This is admittedly a small point and yet WHY does the PHOTOGRAPH of the original “Ask Amy” newspaper column NOT match the digested TEXT below it that most of you seem to have read and commented on?

    For example, in the last part of ¶ 3 of the photograph of the original column it clearly says ” . . . I’m very at busy work.” [sic] This is translated in ¶ 3 of the digested text to “I have a busy work schedule.” The word schedule is NOT even in the original letter.

    Either way the letter, a composite or not, is ALL TOO REAL! And I thought that the advice given was excellent for several reasons. Primarily she gently, (Too gently I thought.) lets readers know that bigots are egomaniacal twits motivated by the church. (Ha. This churchy group is ruled NOT by WWJD: “What would Jesus do?” but WWJT. What would Joan think”) and perhaps most important of all that being gay is NOT a choice . . .

  33. Monsieur DuMonte says

    You see, the problem is, people (including the writer who responded) are taking the first ad seriously, when it is of itself satire. Mrs. “Feeling Betrayed” obviously isn’t serious- she’s poking fun at the stereotype placed on people who don’t support gay marriage, etc. It was actually quite clever, but it seems no – one quite understands the joke…

  34. Chadd says

    My parents forgot my birthday about every other year, more often thru my teens and I’m as gay as a picnic basket, so clearly we have found the cause. I doubt the letter is fake because it could have been written by my parents. They have said and expressed exactly what that letter says. What that woman doesn’t know is that in 20 years from now, if her son is like me, he will be happy and he will not have spoken to her in over a decade.

  35. Derrick from Philly says

    @ CHADD,

    thank you for sharing that very important and emotionally moving thought. It’s comments like yours that make these blogs worth reading.

    I (and other Towleroad visitors) wish you the best in life.

  36. Crystal says

    Who said anything about the letter being from a mom? Maybe it is from a dad? It merely says “My son.” I really hope the initial letter is a fake “I’ve asked him to change his sexuality” and casually throws in missing 3 birthdays because they’re “busy at work”–wow.

  37. Neil says

    Merely dismissing the letter as an obvious fake misses the point of the advice, but it’s also a bit insulting to our intelligence to suggest that no-one could have written such a letter. I do think the letter is plausible, regardless of whether it is actually real or not.

  38. FFS says

    Crystal, it’s the last line, “He won’t listen to me, so maybe he’ll listen to you,” that gives it away that it’s the mom.

    Unless, the dad’s a big ol’ nelly closet queen, himself.

  39. says

    Sorry, I just copy this answer from my Yahoo comment, please do read it.

    I was gay myself, and I’m asking God great help for me to change.
    Hi, I’m author of a book about how a child can become gay, you can check it at
    http://tagtd.com
    There are many reasons why people can become gay.
    1. They are not around with men, or not mostly with them, and the child don’t have people on his background talking a lot about women.
    2. At age as young as 5 I’ve seen a young cute boy, holding a girl’s ass, and they are both stranger to each others, I look at the boy, and he just smiled at me. Because at young age, some child are already trained by their parents to love women. Even my nephew when he saw a woman riding on a motorcycle, he said, “wow, sexy.” Which I know he learned it from his uncle. But being far from father, not teaching his child to be strong, or things about girls, will make the child blank about women.
    3. Being friend with men, and talking lots about sex, will make the men’s hormone more active, for me, and having practice it day by day, will make a man think of a woman always. But having no male friends, and less active, will make the mind not operate like the other normal man.
    4. Having sex experience or sexually abused by heterosexual is worst thing, because it’s what happened to me that’s why I become gay. And I don’t have a father who tells me to be strong, nor about women, and no brothers to help, even though I have, and no male friends.

    Actions to become straight:
    1. It’s very hard to become straight, it’s a process, and here’s the process:
    a. Religion is not just a BS,
    b. Accepting God Christ is GREAT, but knowing and saying this to GOD as your prayer.
    FATHER GOD, you are the creator of me, and you know who I am. Through the help of Jesus Christ our Lord, please help me change my gayness. Please bring me HOLY SPIRIT to change my eyes, my heart, my lust and my struggle with my gender.

    What I did to help my self to stop from being gay.
    1st. I quit looking at a boy, if there’s a boy, and you see great body, quickly blur your view, or look down, or look left, wherever you’ll avoid that person or that man.
    Do that everyday, and you’ll see someday, you’ll ignore men when you see them walking by.
    2nd. Satan can put a lot of work on your body, and tease you more about women, but asking from HOLY SPIRIT a great help, will make your heart stronger and will help you change. It happened to me.
    3rd. Whenever you’re thinking of sex about man, quickly close the videos, quickly take off your sight from those magazines, and pray to God. Or do other things, but praying to God is best, or reading the Bible. Doing other things will make you practice that when you see hot men’s body, you quickly can ignore it, because you can quickly put your minds to other things. For example, if you see hot boy, on advertisement, don’t click it, or don’t look at it, minimize your browser, close it, or restore it or scroll down, just don’t pay attention to men, and you’ll help yourself with that. Until you practice yourself not paying attention or getting easily attracted to men.
    4th. Mind set- Always think of man like, they have balls, so what, you have balls as well!!! You say, theirs are bigger than yours, that’s why you’re attracted, then say, fine, mine is small, who cares, this is what God has given to me, and i’ll just be contented with it.

    There’s so many things about being gay that we can do, and here I wrote is not more than enough, but please do visit my website, and get my book, it’s full of stories about how a gay person can become gay. And don’t worry, it’s for free, unless you are very kind to donate.

    Just read the book, and there’s so many things there that will discuss how such parents will avoid children from getting sexually abuse, or to turn to become a gay person.

    My book is available at
    http://TAGTD.COM

    AND TO ALL GAYS WHO WILL HATE ME with my post, telling gay is not bad, NO ONE ON EARTH IS MORE F****** GAY THAN I WAS! But being gay, serves you a lot of troubles, and it’s really hard being gay. Some parents will wonder why, some men who doesn’t like gay will laugh, but just read my book and you will understand why.

    I wrote the book, because GOD told me to write it, so I can help people. Please do share it to your friends, on facebook, twitter, to your other social networking site. etc.
    Sorry for my Grammar.

  40. ThomT says

    Really doesn’t matter if the letter is fake or not – the answer is on point and totally accurate. There are certainly some folks reading “Dear Amy” that are in desperate need of the reply she has provided. Maybe they didn’t forget it child’s birthday but they are certainly in denial or upset about having a gay child so Amy’s response should have given them a more positive (and accurate) spin on how the situation should be handled.

  41. ThomT says

    @TON PALIIN – What a crock, how about going elsewhere and peddling your book of BS fiction? God told you to write it? Seriously? Give me a break. Go out an marry some woman and ruin her life when, in a couple of years, you discover that you haven’t really “changed” and are sneaking around in the back room of bookstores or bus station restrooms.

    And an important thing to remember – prayers are nothing more than wishes made by religious people and they provide exactly the same results.

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