My 13-Year-Old Just Came Out To Me—What Do I Do?

"Are there things we should talk with him about? Are there things we should watch for as he grows?"

An well-intentioned father recently took to Reddit LGBT to ask members for advice on talking to his son, who just came out to him..

“My 13-year-old son just told us he’s gay,” the dad wrote. “His mother and I are liberals, and we have no problem with it. We didn’t question it. I will admit, though, that even though I’ve had suspicions, I felt a little unprepared to have the talk with him.”

After the poster and his wife asked how long he’s known (“recently”), “We told him we love him, nothing will ever change that, and that it’s totally fine. He’s gotta be who he is.”

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The dad went on to explain that, though they accept him, this is unfamiliar territory: They worried their 13-year-old might be sexually active (he’s not), and about how the news might be received by his peers (his friends know and took it well).

“We also told him, ’We don’t want you to keep it a secret, because you are who you are and that’s okay, but we want you to be careful about who you tell.’ We live in a conservative city in the Midwest with a metro population of about 250,000, and we explained that we wanted to spare him the embarrassment of being bullied, picked-on, or beat-up as much as possible, even though much of that might be unavoidable.”

Straight parents of straight kids get to lean on their own experiences in giving guidance about dating, relationships and sex—not to mention an entire culture that reinforces heterosexual mating practices. Straight couples with gay kids are flying a bit blind.

“Are there things we should talk with him about? Are there things we should watch for as he grows?” he asked the redditors. “What is your advice for us as parents?”

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Commenters responded warmly, congratulating the poster on a parenting job well done and offering practical suggestions— like connecting with a local PFLAG chapter.

“He’s going to be coming out all his life to people who, until otherwise told, will assume he is straight,” wrote one respondent. “That does not ever stop, but it can get easier over the years. Make sure you have his back during these turbulent adolescent years and do your bit to call out those who would think it appropriate to talk or behave in homophobic manners, and refuse to tolerate them or their company if they continue. It’ll mean the world to him.”

“He certainly realized it quicker than me and I applaud him for that,” added another. “I have always been into boys since I was around 10 or 11 but mentally I didn’t accept it until I was 15… It’s pretty cool to see kids just accepting themselves so early now and I feel like my life would have been a little easier had I done the same.”

In an update, the OP wrote, “I forgot to mention, the revelation came during a conversation that his mom was having with him, about another subject altogether, and she was recording video of it on her phone. So, someday, when he’s comfortable with it, we’ll have video of the moment when he came out to his parents.”

At least one commenter professed to be “already cringing” on the boy’s behalf over the video. But hopefully one day, he’ll be more proud than mortified to have a memento documenting his bravery at such a young age—and his parents’ unwavering love and support.

I believe that true, well-told stories have the power to change the world for good. I also love a good listicle.
@KristinaSaurusR