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Monday, July 4, 2011

SL Letter of the Day: Mom's Argument

Posted by Dan Savage on Mon, Jul 4, 2011 at 11:28 AM

I'm a 16-year-old gay boy, comfortable with myself and my sexuality. I'm out at school, to my friends, basically everywhere except to my own family. A few months ago, I decided it was time to come out to my parents. I worked on possible counter-arguments to the fight I knew would happen—my parents are conservative Republicans both. When the time came, my dad was fine. He said it was my own life, I could take care of myself. My mother fought, and I fought back against the standard arguments I had prepared for. Then she produced an argument I couldn't counter because it made so little sense to me that I couldn't understand it enough to debate it: she said that gay people don't exist. Gay people are just people who are so self-centered they can't stand to be with someone in the least different from them, even at the level of gender. I kept attempting to argue, but she was stuck on her strange views. The next day was nearly silent. A similar routine happened a few weeks ago, when she found a gay book in my room. She immediately went to her winning argument from last time, and I had no idea how to dispute that. I want to come out, but how do I make her understand that I am something which, to her mind, doesn't exist? I'm tired of being closeted, and I've tried to come out to her twice. I don't know what to do at this point, and if I've done something wrong I don't know what.

Unwilling Closet Case

P.S. I'm going to college next year in gifted program, but I plan on coming back home for the holidays. I'm considering leaving a letter for my mother on the day I leave outlining what I'm trying to say, but I don't know if that's the best idea. Anyway, thanks for reading this, and say hi to Terry for me!


My response after the jump...

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You're out to your family now, UCC, and your mom's bullshit argument can't change that.

And for what it's worth: If dating, falling in love with, and marrying people who are similar to ourselves was evidence of mental illness or sexual deviancy, well, then most everybody's a sicko. Fact is, UCC, people tend to settle down with people who are a lot like themselves—similar class backgrounds, political leanings, education levels, races, religions, etc. (Um, didn't you mention that your parents are Republicans both?) If a pronounced preference for folks who are similar was one big step toward gayness, UCC, there would be a lot more more gay people running around.

Your mom is in denial, UCC, and don't have to join her there. You're gay, you're out, it's done. You also don't have to beat your mom in an argument about gayness in order to come out. You don't have to prove her wrong, you just have to be yourself. (Her argument didn't make you less gay in the eyes of your friends, did it?) And the next time she tells you that gay people don't exist, just smile and tell her that's funny because she has a gay son, just like millions of other moms out there.

As for what makes people gay, you need to read—and your mom needs to read—Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation, by Simon Levay. It's an excellent book, and you can tuck that note you want to leave your mother inside the cover, and leave it on her pillow.—Dan


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Thank you for listening. It's nice to hear from someone supportive—and I'm going to try again. Third time's the charm, right? Thank you again.—UCC

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Don't think of it as trying again, UCC. You're out already.

And remember: parents sometimes have tantrums when their gay kids come out. Don't make the mistake of writing your mom off just because she's being a dick. Let her have her tantrum and tell her—like she told you back when you had tantrums—that you love her still. Hopefully your mom, like most moms, will come around. And if there's a PFLAG chapter in your area—you can find the closest one here—urge your mom and your dad to attend a meeting.—Dan

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