I need insight about my teen's sexuality - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 26 Old 05-18-2013, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 17.5 year old DS told me today he thinks he is bi-sexual. He finds guys as attractive as girls. He's not sure if he's gay.

He hung out with a friend last night. Then this morning I noticed hickeys on his neck. So I teased him and asked him who gave them to him. He's had a steady girlfriend for the last 7 months but they broke up on Thursday evening. So I was tossing out names of girls I know and then jokingly said the fellow's name that he was with last night. He ran downstairs and put a hoodie on to hide the hickeys. Then he came back up and told me I had better sit down. So I did and he told me it was the fellow he hung out with last night who gave him the hickeys. Then he said, "Mom I think I'm bi." So I said oh wow thank you for trusting me with this. I love you. He was relieved. He made me swear not to tell anyone else. I said of course not. We talked about some different issues around this. I told him he didn't owe me anything but honesty and being himself and if this was part of it then fine. I told him I didn't think he should "advertise" this around because we live in a very small rural town. I want him to finish high school without the stress and drama of an alternate sexuality. He agreed. He's not entirely sure of his orientation and I want him to have the privacy to figure this out.  

 

So now what do I do? Have any of you had anything similar? I'm kind of reeling in shock and need to talk but I don't want to violate his privacy either. TIA for insight.


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#2 of 26 Old 05-18-2013, 06:44 PM
 
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I have heard of some type of online source to help support and educate parents with a similar experience. I can't remember what it is but I'm sure others will.

Kudos to you for being such a good mom. I bet he feels very relieved because of how you handled it. :-)

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#3 of 26 Old 05-18-2013, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you. I did not grow up with unconditional love. I want better for my kids. I also want to try to understand them. I'm trying to be stealth in my googling. 

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#4 of 26 Old 05-19-2013, 04:49 AM
 
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I think it's great you are showing him the support and love he needs at this point in time.  I think teens discovering and exploring their sexuality is very normal whether they be bi, gay or straight.  You showing him your unconditional love is what he needs and I'm sure he knows he can come to you with any questions or issues that he faces as he enters this phase of his life.  My 16 yr old became sexually active last year with her bf, however I think I would've handled it the same whether it was with a boy or another girl.  Teaching them about safe sex and using proper protection applies in all situations and at least for me I know that when teens want to have sex they will and we just need to guide them, love them and support them.  Good luck I think you are doing a great job!  Claire

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#5 of 26 Old 05-19-2013, 05:07 AM
 
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"So I said oh wow thank you for trusting me with this. I love you."

 

Honestly, I cannot think of a better response. He'll know from the context that that was your gut response, that you didn't take a minute to be shocked but rather that your absolute first thought was love and gratitude. Yk, I think what you need to do is follow your gut instinct here, I think it is spot on. 

 

The only pointer I can give is to encourage him, and yourself, not to pigeonhole him or his experiences. I'd say if he thinks he's bi after experimenting then he probably is and he will remain so. But he might end up with a man or a woman. One of the problems with being bi is that a proportion of your experiences are kind of invisible, because people tend to label you according to the gender of the person you are in a relationship with, and that kind of a weird thing, really. TBH, hate to say it, but the gay community is, I'd say, variable around people identifying as bi and he needs to be aware that he might or might not get the support he needs there. I think one of the most helpful things a parent could do for a child who has identified, not as possibly gay, but possibly bi, is to recognise that even if he next week enters a relationship with a female, that's still going to be something going on inside him. And ditto if he enters into a same-sex relationship. I think I'm trying to say, when he settles down with a life partner, avoid any suggestion that previously he was going through a "phase". I don't mean bring it up time and time again of course, just be open. Everyone will see him as straight or gay at that point, but odds are, he won't. Bi isn't "not-quite-gay-and-not-quite-straight" its a set of distinct experiences in its own right which don't map onto monosexuality very well. Bi teenagers are not undecideds, or in some kind of a waiting room, and attraction to both genders no more goes away when you're in a committed relationship with a person of one or the other gender than straight people become attracted only to their current partner once they are in a relationship. 

 

This is the icing on the cake, though, and I'm only mentioning it. You sound like an awesome mama and I am really sure you do know what to do and say. Your boy is amazingly lucky to have you :-) and if you hadn't posted asking for pointers I would not have mentioned this stuff, just said how awesome you were :-)

 

I also really don't blame you for suggesting he keep quiet on this one til out of high school, especially if you are rural. I think that's a judgement call only you and he can make.

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#6 of 26 Old 05-23-2013, 03:10 PM
 
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"Alternate sexuality"? Well, my first bit of advice involves you coming to terms with the fact that your son may be gay, and not considering any form of LGBTQIA to be an "alternate sexuality". Humans, like some animals, are naturally gay. This is a scientific fact that has been proven, but actual news coverage of this fact is lacking since it's not a major issue that affects a large group of people (although nearly 20% of the population worldwide seems pretty large to me, but I digress, there are many factors keeping this fact from being general knowledge). He probably sees your internalized homophobia manifested in certain ways (it is astounding to me how many people think they are "ok with gay people", yet say and do things to the contrary: I.e., statements like "is that a boy or a girl?", any reference to gendered items or stereotypes, etc. may seem like jokes, but to a gay kid, they are signals hat being gay is not ok).

Please don't make this about the place you live. Numerous studies have shown that rural towns are accepting of gay people, as long as they aren't trying to legally marry/adopt/etc. Transpeople are the only group left that faces the majority of communities' discrimination... It's really amazing how even rural/ uneducated people support others' right to exist, as long as they aren't transgendered. THAT is the last remaining group in this country left to endure the burden of bigotry en masse: while individuals may disagree politically, few rural conservative religious bible thumpers are left who would actively discriminate against gay/bi people, yet place all of their misplaced rage on transpeople instead as "abominations". Go ask the pastors and preachers in your community, they will tell you that "God will judge" when it comes to homosexuals, but they aren't doing anything to prevent them from leading a "normal" life. In a day and age where even conservatives are liberal where it comes to gays and lesbians, maybe not permitting them legal relationship status, they don't wish them any more harm harm than any other. Except for the crazy evangelicals, of course, and even some of them agree that homosexuals will meet their judgement, it's not their duty to persecute.

The political climate in rural areas has changed immensely in the past 10 years. Even if people in your community make anti gay slurs, they are probably still "good enough Christians" to live and let live. While your response was good, you still need to evaluate your own homophobic demons before you can be a good ally to your kid.
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#7 of 26 Old 05-23-2013, 03:31 PM
 
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Also, I am not trying to demonize you in any way. It is just an unfortunate fact that the majority of queer kids have straight parents, so their knowledge of LGBTQIA issues aren't that of, say, a black kid who is being called the N word at school, whose parents have likely endured the same thing. So many queer/trans kids grow up with parents who may be accepting, but lack the knowledge to truly help them that other minority parents have... Educating yourself is the first step. I live in a medium large city, and my DD has never encountered any issues as the child of a queer person, and her openly gay friends are not ridiculed at school. So I guess what I am saying is let your kid be who he is and don't suggest that he shouldn't be "because people don't understand". My family is from a rural area, and they are open about the fact that I am gay and no one has been alienated because of it.
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#8 of 26 Old 05-23-2013, 03:41 PM
 
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I think it's important to remember that this mother came to this board to ask for help. She came here assuming that she's in no way perfect, and looking for insight. I would hope help and advice could be given in a non-judgemental manner with compassion at the forefront, especially considering the unconditional love and compassion she has shown her son.

Putting an unfair label on someone, no matter who they are, is not helpful. It doesn't serve to change the person who is having the finger pointed at them, it just makes them shut down. Even if someone is not completely perfect, it's important to first look at their intention. Is their intention to love or to hate? I can tell this mother is coming from a place of love. That means more than anything.

I did have the thought that it should be up to the son when or where he wanted to come out. But I also understand the mistrust that grows in a community where bigotry is paramount. I can't blame the mother for her concerns; she's his mother for Christ's sake. She loves him. She doesn't want him to suffer. Does this equal homophobia? I don't think so. She's looking at it from where she stands, which is valid. She came to us so we could expand her field of vision in a kind and compassionate manner.

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#9 of 26 Old 05-23-2013, 03:45 PM
 
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Onyxfire, sorry, I thought your first post was a little harsh hence my last post. Your second post does clarify things. I still don't think it's fair to call her homophobic, but I do understand that bigotry is insidious and it's important to notice it when it comes up.

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#10 of 26 Old 05-23-2013, 03:56 PM
 
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onyxfire--Hate crimes against gay people still very much exists in many small, rural communities. I'm not sure what has given you the impression that its only the transgendered folk who get the demonizing. People, as a whole, are coming to terms with homosexuality, but its still something that is taboo in many areas. A lot of people simply dont have the every day exposure to gay relationships to help them understand that there's nothing to be afraid of. I think the OP is doing her son a favor by warning him about being open about his sexuality. Teenagers are a big target for hate crimes, especially among other teenagers. I think its wise to use one's own judgment about their particular community in order to understand what will and will not be accepted. Not everyone wants to be apart of helping gay people be included; some just want to ensure they wont be harassed, beat up or killed.

Also, for many people homosexuality or bisexuality are alternative sexualities and that's okay. I feel that everyone has their own reference point and a lot of people simply arent exposed to homosexuality enough for it to be non-alternative. I think the OP is doing a wonderful job with handling her son's sexuality. A lot of people take years to get where she is at and that shouldnt be downplayed.
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#11 of 26 Old 05-23-2013, 04:18 PM
 
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PrimordialMind, what education do you have regarding LGBTQIA issues? While I appreciate your opinion, as an individual who is trained in helping LGBTQIA issues, it isn't helpful in this situation.

Like I said previously, I live in a medium-ish city, where plenty of hate crimes occur. Yet, that rate is no lower or higher in rural communities. I am guessing, from your previous statements, that you don't have much factual basis for your opinions. If you did, you would know that hate crime rates are actually higher in cities than rural areas. I am speaking as not only a member of the LGBTQIA community, but as a person who worked with youth in these communities for many years. I myself was out as a teenager, when the political climate was such that the majority openly denied LGBTQIA individuals rights. I was bullied, beaten up, harassed, changed schools numerous times, and absolutely hated myself, even though my parents were supportive. Your opinions on this matter, while well intentioned, have nothing to do with experience and are as hurtful as telling a child of color or disability to pretend that they aren't in order to "fit in". Your opinions are doing so much damage to the psyche of a youth who needs to fit in as is, without lying about who you are.

Pretending to be something you're not is extremely psychologically damaging. Even if your parents accept you, having them tell you to lie about yourself will cause years and years of internalized hatred. You are not doing your child a favor by sheltering them.
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#12 of 26 Old 05-23-2013, 04:27 PM
 
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I meant to add that even though I got beaten up, I feel emotionally stronger now as a person, more than people I know who hid it for years. Hiding causes way more damage than being true to yourself. Very few people are actually murdered or seriously injured as victims of hate crimes, while the majority of LGBTQIA people live forever with the psychological damage of being told they are wrong or "less than" because they had to hide it.
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#13 of 26 Old 05-23-2013, 07:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your candor.

 

I want to clarify the secret part of our conversation. He told me he is not sure if he is Bi. He thinks he is, but is not sure. He says he's only felt this way for a month or two. So in light of the fact that this realization is new to himself, I just wanted him to be discreet so he could figure it out for himself without concern of the general population at his school. I know how damaging secrets are. I've lived with them all of my life. I do not wish that for him or any of my children. After I posted my original message, I was able to speak with him further. I did not want him to think I have shame or I am forcing him to deny any aspect of himself. He said he understood. I did tell him (and am 100% sincere) that he can be himself whenever he wants too. I told him it's up to him and he doesn't have to keep anything secret on my behalf. He said he knows he will loose a few friends if they find out. I told him that is how you know who your real friends are. I know people in our immediate community will accept him because he's a really great kid. Frankly the part I am wrestling with is having to tell my parents. My dad can be downright mean. He loves my son even after declaring that he would never love a black grandchild (my son's father is black & we are white). He got over that. I am not confident he would get over this. Not that any of this is really any of his business and frankly I am at a point in my life where I would tell him as much. It's just a painful process to go through when you disappoint my folks. And this would disappoint them in a big way and I don't want my son to see this side of them. 

 

My son does have some friends in whom he has confided so he is getting support there. I suggested some adults we know who might be helpful for him too but that will be his decision.

 

I never considered myself homophobic, but I guess there are underlying cultural beliefs that creep up. To me, this is how I think it would feel to have my daughter come home and say she was pregnant (in less than ideal circumstances). There are things I worry about as his mom, but never once do I want him to doubt that i love him and will accept him and support him. Basically we all have expectations and hopes for our kids. I don't think most people in our society (rural Canada) consider that their kids may be anything other than heterosexual. So I mean no disrespect in the use of "alternate sexuality". 

 

I don't want to make my feelings his burden in any way. He has asked me not to tell anyone, including my husband (not his father). So I really have no one to talk to about this so I do appreciate the input here. My son does know what keeping secrets has cost for me and my family so I believe he knows my heart. I have always told him that I am human so I may not always react exactly the way he might want me to, but I always love him. I am so glad he chose to confide in me regarding this. I know it's extremely personal and really none of my business in the end. He told me that if I didn't accept him, he'd have to kill himself. I told him there is nothing on earth worth that. 

 

Frankly he seems happier and more relieved since this all came up. I think he's feeling some freedom to be who he is and explore himself. We all know how important this time of life is to transition to a fulfilling adult life. He said he felt relieved for telling me. 

 

As a side comment, I have heard the gay animal reference many times and came across it in my readings since Saturday. I live on the farm with 150 odd animals. I struggle with a direct comparison of humans to animals. Frankly girl cows may jump on each other every now and then, but they don't carry on like a cow and a bull. Same with dogs. Also, animals don't seem to have the psychological and emotional attachments to each other that humans have. 

 

I did find PFLAG in Canada and they have a chapter in the major city near me. So I was going to make contact there. 

 

None of this is the end of the world of course. It's just like a dance when the band changes the tune. You start a new dance.

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#14 of 26 Old 05-23-2013, 07:23 PM
 
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You are so insightful. Your son is one lucky kid.
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#15 of 26 Old 05-23-2013, 10:13 PM
 
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PrimordialMind, what education do you have regarding LGBTQIA issues? While I appreciate your opinion, as an individual who is trained in helping LGBTQIA issues, it isn't helpful in this situation.

Like I said previously, I live in a medium-ish city, where plenty of hate crimes occur. Yet, that rate is no lower or higher in rural communities. I am guessing, from your previous statements, that you don't have much factual basis for your opinions. If you did, you would know that hate crime rates are actually higher in cities than rural areas. I am speaking as not only a member of the LGBTQIA community, but as a person who worked with youth in these communities for many years. I myself was out as a teenager, when the political climate was such that the majority openly denied LGBTQIA individuals rights. I was bullied, beaten up, harassed, changed schools numerous times, and absolutely hated myself, even though my parents were supportive. Your opinions on this matter, while well intentioned, have nothing to do with experience and are as hurtful as telling a child of color or disability to pretend that they aren't in order to "fit in". Your opinions are doing so much damage to the psyche of a youth who needs to fit in as is, without lying about who you are.

Pretending to be something you're not is extremely psychologically damaging. Even if your parents accept you, having them tell you to lie about yourself will cause years and years of internalized hatred. You are not doing your child a favor by sheltering them.

I'm curious, are the hate crime rates higher in cities because there is simply more people or is it truly higher? I wasnt comparing rural towns with cities, but rather, hate crimes against gay, bi, lesbian or queer people versus transgendered. While i dont doubt that transgendered people deal with more violence than others, you made it sound as if anyone else in the LGBTQIA spectrum doesnt have to deal with much oppression anymore. While physical violence has gone down, I highly doubt emotional or verbal violence has changed much. Its difficult to calculate statistics on that since a lot of it is subtle and happens behind closed doors. I've had many friends who are gay, lesbian or bi and they've had issues with their family accepting them. This is a real issue, it hasnt disappeared.


You make some pretty harsh statements about me without understanding where I am coming from. I did not mean what i said in terms of "hiding their true selves". If a gay man wants a boyfriend he should have a boyfriend, but it would be wise to, say, not kiss in public if the community around them is not open to it. You can have a relationship without showing it off, in other words. I find it odd that a lot of people in the gay community see it as important to show off their relationships. I have never felt the urge to do that when i've had relationships with men nor with women (yes i'm bi). What are people trying to prove? That its okay for them to be gay? They dont need to prove that to anyone, its not anyone else's business. If you want to express your love in public then go ahead but dont be surprised if you create negative reactions. They happen. I've seen them, I've had friends who experienced them, it still very much happens. And i think that when someone like the OP says she's looking out for her son by encouraging him to be cautious, shes not trying to hide who he is. She's simply looking out for his safety and theres nothing wrong with that. We all need to figure out who we are in a safe environment if its possible. No one needs judgment when they're discovering themselves. Maybe in time he will feel comfortable being fully open about his sexuality and maybe not. Whats most important is how HE feels about himself, not what anyone else thinks.

OP, you are doing a wonderful job with your son. I can tell how much you love him and want to support him, which is definitely the most important thing. He feels freer now to explore which is amazing. A lot of people dont experience that sort of freedom so you've already gone above and beyond what is "expected" of you. Great job, mama smile.gif
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#16 of 26 Old 05-23-2013, 11:28 PM
 
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Human sexuality is fluid. Things can change  back in forth in some people. It is OK to  be unsure.

 

Support your child. Find him a good therapist if you cant.

 

If there is  a GSA near you, it might be a safe place for him.   http://gsanetwork.org/

 

Safety is OK. You son need to figure out how and when to come out on his own. Mine did.

 

I have a gay furry son.

 

 

I am bi an poly.

 

 

It is still hard and interesting.

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#17 of 26 Old 05-25-2013, 10:14 PM
 
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You are so insightful. Your son is one lucky kid.

I second this post.  

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#18 of 26 Old 05-26-2013, 08:05 PM
 
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 And i think that when someone like the OP says she's looking out for her son by encouraging him to be cautious, shes not trying to hide who he is. She's simply looking out for his safety and theres nothing wrong with that. We all need to figure out who we are in a safe environment if its possible.

 

I agree. We've lived all over for my DH's job, and the attitude towards gays varies WIDELY in different parts of the country. In some places, it is quite easy for teens to be out of the closet. In other places, it really and truly isn't safe. A parent who knows what it is like *where she and her teen live* and wishing him to be safe is completely normal. None of us can tell her that her son would be safe if he were open about his sexuality, because none of us can know that for sure.

 

I think that he is a lucky kid to be able to be open with his mom, and evidently she has done some pretty big things right before this or the conversation never would have happened. clap.gif


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#19 of 26 Old 05-31-2013, 08:59 AM
 
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OP, while I disagree about not being open in public, I do want to apologize if I came across as being harsh. Like other posters said, you are definitely doing a good job. However, this thread struck a chord with me, and it is a knee-jerk reaction to tell parents of queer kids to not hide that fact. Like I said previously, I grew up in a rural, religious area and was out in the 90's when even the children of liberal-ish parents were not very accepting of gay kids. As a teenager, I was a gender bendy queer Puerto Rican kid (part black part Latin part Eastern European, go figure) who wore skirts with bow ties and skateboarded and landed the male lead role in almost every school play even though I am biologically female. So every day was a battle for me. I feel like I am a little more candid and forward thinking than others might be, because I could never "hide" the fact that I was a person of color who was also a tomboy (while I could pull off a skirt with high top Chucks, I still looked ridiculous in a church dress. I wore slacks or a plain skirt with a button down to church since I was, like 8). I don't know if you are familiar with Brittney Griner, but that was basically me in high school. I was a better skateboarder than most guys, and landed their roles I. Theater productions, so there were a lot of people who hated me for that, even though I was better at it than they were. I had a really hard time, but without that experience, I don't know if I would be the proud queer single parent I am with a Master's degree that I have become. My brothers never finished college, even though they were raised the same way I was. They all had straight male privilege and expect things to be easy for them and never worked against any kind of opposition besides racism (which is pretty hush hush in this country, very few people have been overtly racist towards them since we are pretty light skinned), while I always had a hard time. And I wouldn't trade that for anything. Just my $0.02.
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#20 of 26 Old 06-01-2013, 11:03 AM
 
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Good for you for being awesomely open. But his experience is not yours. Some people need time to figure out who they are and how they want to come out.

 

And safety first.  I do not want any LGBT, Fury, Poly kid die for a CAUSE. Ever.

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Originally Posted by Alenushka View Post


And safety first.  I do not want any LGBT, Fury, Poly kid die for a CAUSE. Ever.

 

or beaten or sexually assaulted.

 

I would considered the relative "safety" of different cities when looking at university options. I would want to help my child create a safe space for themselves to be open and authentic -- where they can be who they are and feel accepted and supported.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#22 of 26 Old 06-01-2013, 11:58 AM
 
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double post


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#23 of 26 Old 06-14-2013, 10:08 PM
 
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Stephanie95 - are you familiar with PFLAG? www.pflag.org Support for parents and families. Perhaps worth checking out. I don't know whether they have online discussions (in my area, they have in-person support groups).

Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)

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#24 of 26 Old 06-21-2013, 02:40 PM
 
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First, good on you for being accepting and supportive. I think you handled it perfectly. Second being Bi is a little misunderstood both by the straight community and the gay community. There are a lot of typical sterotypes or ideas people have about being bi-sexual that aren't true. I would probably educate yourself on those because if and when he does decide to be more vocal about it you could be there for him when people make these comments.

http://www.biresource.net/

http://www.biresource.net/Bi_Ally_Brochure.pdf

Also, I agree with the other poster about finding little support in the gay community and being labeled as either straight or gay depending on your partner at the time. It does lead to feeling invisible.

I also agree that sexuality is a fluid thing and can fall in different places within the continuum at different points in ones life.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterosexual%E2%80%93homosexual_continuum

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klein_Sexual_Orientation_Grid

I would add that when you learn more that it would be helpful to share what you learn with him. Even if it is just in the form of offering him articles etc or saying I was reading and bringing up something specific you think might help him to know or think about .... Just to give him a place to open up and talk about it if he wants to. Even if he seems like he doesn't want to talk about it and is not bringing it up, most likely he NEEDs to talk about it. So, just knowing that you are interested might give him more of a space to do that.

I think by not bringing it up because he isn't bringing it up could make him feel like it is a secret even though you were obviously accepting. Especially if he is keeping it a secret overall. I would just get your feet under you a bit and learn about it some more before you do so you feel confident. Talking about it with him will help normalize it for him. And it is exactly that - normal. Being bi, or gay or straight or poly etc. are all normal expressions of human sexuality.

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#25 of 26 Old 06-22-2013, 11:16 AM
 
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There is wonderful online LGBT Antropology class at the City College of San Franciso.

 

 

http://www.ccsf.edu/Schedule/Spring/online_courses.shtml

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#26 of 26 Old 06-30-2013, 11:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stephanie95 View Post

 

I never considered myself homophobic, but I guess there are underlying cultural beliefs that creep up. To me, this is how I think it would feel to have my daughter come home and say she was pregnant (in less than ideal circumstances).

 

 Good for you for being so self-reflective on this issue.  If you're still thinking, "not exactly what I wanted for my kid," then that's an honest response, but not 100% accepting of who he is.  To me, it wouldn't be like an unexpected pregnancy.  It would be like left-handedness.  A completely normal variation that either occurred due to genes or womb environment.  I guess I don't like the pregnancy analogy because there is an aspect of choice in getting pregnant (not including rape, of course), and sexuality/attraction just is.  It's not a choice.  


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