Columnists » Ask Phyllis

Gay teenager’s mother denies son’s homosexuality

by Phyllis Steinberg
Tuesday Oct 12, 2010

Dear Phyllis,

I am the mother of a 30 year-old gay man. He came out when he 16, but before he came out I remember a cousin of mine asking if he was gay. Since I was clueless (or in denial, depending on your viewpoint), I responded, "No".

In retrospect, I realize she was very much more aware of my son's being gay than I was.

Fast forward 14 years later; today, I realize her 17 year-old son is gay, and she is in denial, which I think is okay. Everyone comes to face reality at different rates. Is there any suggestion you might have to help make her more aware of her son's identity? (By the way, I am sure of my cousin's identity, as confirmed by my gay son.) Or should I just let the situation ride its own course without interference from me?

I know my cousin loves her son, and that is the most important thing. I just wonder what I might say when she talks to me and mentions that she doesn't understand why her son isn't dating.


Dear Norma,

I am experiencing a situation similar to yours. My friend Debbie has a son who I suspect is gay. In fact all of our friends thought Evan was gay since he was a young child. Evan is now a sophomore in college. Debbie hopes he will meet a girl he likes and she frequently talks about a time in the future when her son will get married.

I have given a great deal of thought to what would be the best way to help Debbie, who is either "clueless or in denial". It is clear to me Debbie is not ready to deal with the possibility she has a gay son. Evan too may not be ready to deal with coming out to anyone, including his mother. It is not my place to out him. Instead what I have done is to let Debbie know for several years I have been part of support groups for families with LGBT loved ones. That way when Evan finally comes out to his mother, Debbie will know she can come to me as a friend and that I am able and qualified to offer support to her.

Should your cousin talk to you about why her son is not dating, you may simply tell her that her son will begin dating at his own pace when he is ready. You do not need to explain further.



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