Coming Out as a Family??

This is post is about our son, The Graduate. I’d love your input, but it’s a very personal topic for me and my family. Read and comment carefully, or else!

OK, Papa Bear part done 😉

The Graduate is an awesome kid! He’ll turn 19 as a freshman at Purdue University this fall. In a house full of turmoil for the last decade and a half, The Graduate has been steady, kind, loving, and even prayerful. From the earliest age, he has been what I think is the epitome of a Christian. He brought home stories from the Christian based pre-school that would blow our minds. This was just at the point that I was saved, and he would teach me things about the Bible, about God and our relationship with Him. The Graduate has not changed as he’s grown.

He is intelligent, funny, talented, and has a great, encouraging circle of friends — more so than any of our other children (dare I commit this to a public forum?). I think the other children would admit, The Graduate has applied himself well, and picked up some deep talents and good grades, and has generally done life well so far. He is fluent in Spanish after spending 11 months on a high school exchange program. He is one of the top musicians in the state in his area of performance, and will carry both of these talents to the university level where he is interested in exploring a medical profession.

The Graduate told us this spring he is gay. “I have been seeing someone and want to ask him to Prom. I didn’t want to have to lie to you about it and just say I am going to prom with a group, so that’s why I want to tell you now.” He is amazing at all times!

The theological part of my brain (my brain has a LOT of different parts) has been going CRAAAAZY!

But this post is about the family part of my brain. You are my son – I love you!!

This conversation took place last night and this morning: Marie (that’s my wife) told me The Graduate changed his Facebook status to “In a Relationship” with [Boyfriend] – I guess it’s been up for a couple of days. She wants to ask him to take it down because she is not ready to have the discussion with her family.

It’s been at least two days – enough time for a few cousins or aunts to see it on their FB Newsfeed. He also came out on Twitter about a year ago (essentially at school / friends). There is no taking this information back. I think my wife is putting her own feelings and anxiety about addressing her family in front of The Graduate’s feelings. I told her so. We resumed the conversation this morning. She said, “YES that is true, but my feelings matter too.”

THIS is starting to identify the root issue. Marie reverts to her FEAR of what others think of her and our family, and then ACTS on that FEAR. As I realized her anxiety, I really started to listen. It was interesting all the excuses: trying to protect her 80 year old Catholic Parents, protecting The Graduate’s Feelings from family who might not understand, minimizing The Graduate’s need to post his status because it’s just a high school relationship. But all these are dancing around the real issue – MARIE is scared to talk to her family. MARIE is afraid they will judge her. MARIE is intimidated by the questions they will ask.

I agree, my wife’s feelings do matter. But sometime our feelings will lead us in the wrong direction. For the record, I have no problem telling my family, and think they will be supportive (and maybe not surprised). I also don’t think Marie’s maily will be surprised and will also be supportive.

This will be the topic of Marriage Counseling #6 today. . . stay tuned!

Your thoughts??

Advertisements

49 comments

  1. Tough subject. I think both you and Marie are right. She should be supportive of your son, but she may be having trouble dealing with everything right now, which is understandable. She probably needs a little time to wrap her mind around the situation and may actually be scared that her family won’t know how to take it. She might not even know how she feels about it yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t what to say really. You are clearly very proud of your son and so you should be. For wifes fears I can not comment, I have know understanding of how it must be to be afraid to tell her family. I am sure she is supporting your son and clearly loves him dearly. Personally anyone who had an issue I would tell I have no room in my life for. What I am sure of, is that your son will continue to make you proud.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Congratulations to The Graduate for coming out. That took a lot of courage. I think Marie needs to recognize the amount of bravery it took for her son to come out to a Christian family and be proud that she raised him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! We are both very proud of him there is no doubt. Though I was saddened that he did not feel comfortable before as he said he has known for about 6 years, and I’m sure our Christian dynamic held him back from opening up. We are glad he has now. My wife’s family is not as supportive of her (or at least that’s her fear). Funny (or sad) how both generations are worried about their parents’ reactions. Some things we don’t grow out of I guess. Thank you for your encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think coming out is a gradual progression with many shades of gray. Facebook is a tricky issue because any status posting is broadcasted widely. It is really a question of everyone’s comfort level.

    I let my bible study group and my small group know about my participation in SF Pride parade, but I declined to post on Facebook because I know it could result in some misunderstanding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your perspective on this. The conflict comes with the difference between my wife’s speed and my sons speed. Different generations do things differently. I’m trying to lead them both through this labyrinth which is difficult bc they are going different directions. I want them both to know I love and support them!

      Like

  5. He’s a man now transitioning in life, it is his social media profiles. I would say support him all you can, as for your wife and her fears about not ready to tell family members. Is there ever really a time to prepare for something like this? I know it’s obviously more commonplace in certain pockets of the country than in the Midwest, but hell it’s 2015 not 1960.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I think society is judge mental as a whole. Your wife’s feeling and fears are very real. As a parent myself I cannot imagine how I would handle this kind of news. I would absolutely love my kids no matter what. There is nothing they could do to make me turn away from them. Some things just take time. Hearing something of this magnitude takes time. Maybe she wants to digest this herself before trying to explain or defend it to someone else. As a woman and a mother I can tell you that we hold ourselves completely responsible for everything that happens in our children’s lives. We can’t help ourselves and it’s so hard as our kids get older that we have to surrender control and accept them for who they are. One day at a time my friend. It will all eventually be okay.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your insight! I think maybe you know my wife better than I do. I want to be able to allow my wife to feel protected, but also recognize our son is becoming a man and making his own decisions without is as well. That you for your encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My daughter came out as bisexual about a year ago. She was 14. Then over time she also came out as gender flexible. She states she feels very comfortable in her skin because my husband and I don’t make any issue of it. Not any. This is our child and we love her and hope one day (when she is older LOL) to love anyone she brings into our family. She is completely open in our family and community.

    However, telling her bio-dad was tough for her. He doesn’t want any of his friends or family knowing. He is very active in his church and is worried about what they will think of him. This has led her to feel he is ashamed of her.

    Parents need to let children decide the pace at which they tell others whether fast or slow. Sure we have our own feelings but putting them on the back burner is the most helpful thing you can do. Support them. Stand up for them.

    Be their rock.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting read, once again! Kudos to you for realizing that something is wrong in this picture. Keep in mind that blood is thicker than water (on both ends). Tread lightly.

    As a person that has recently come out of a relationship where my mother was called nasty names, I was verbally and mentally abused, and it wasn’t good, KEEP UP THAT PAPA BEAR ATTITUDE. Don’t be afraid to open your mouth. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. First of all – like the switch back (with a twist) to the original gravitar. Is that what it’s called? Second, fostering an atmosphere of bravery has given your son the strength to try living in truth. You’ll all find your way in dealing with each other’s truths. I’m kind of choked up by your love and commitment to each other. Great job! I wish I could hug all three of you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! You are so sweet. This was the first thing I read this morning and you made my day! Thanks for noticing the gravitar transformation 🙂 and thanks for speaking of truth. The truth is my son is gay, my wife has a lot of irrational fears, and I love them both!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, are we hugging now? *HUG*

        My daughter was very scared to come out to me, and then to my father. He’s taken it a LOT better than expected. Basically, he cussed under his breath, shook his head, and went on with his life. No one was disowned, no big fight, none of the drama that she feared.

        I don’t know Marie’s family, but they may surprise her–in a good way!

        MORE HUGS!!!!

        Cheers!

        Jules

        PS. Hug!

        Like

  10. Our daughter came out ten years ago at age16, and I understand your wife’s feelings. And it is OK to have those feelings. No one teaches us about this particular subject or how to handle it. I will admit that my first thoughts were selfish, too. I wondered about the wedding I had pictured in my mind since the doctor said “IT’S A GIRL!!” I wondered about grandchildren I wanted someday and thought I might not get to have. I worried about telling my family, my friends and my co-workers. For awhile, when people would ask if my daughter was dating I would deflect…”no, she’s too busy with…” horses, school, work-whatever it was.

    Then, the New Year’s Eve after Caitlin came out I made a vow that I would hide no more-it was my New Year’s resolution. I didn’t ever want her to think that I was ashamed or embarrassed of who she was-because who she was was AWESOME. She was smart, funny, hard-working and ambitious. She was kind and loving and a good friend to so many people. She happened to be in love with another woman. Like heterosexuals, who she loved was just a tiny part of her has a whole person and said nothing about her character, integrity or heart.

    The next time someone asked me “Does Caitlin have a boyfriend?” I responded, “No, but she has a really great girlfriend!” I owned it! And you know what-it was FINE!! There were the usual questions-what did my husband and I think about that? how long have you known? I just answered honestly and I haven’t looked back since. I would suggest that your wife take this first step with someone she knows is “safe.” I was with co-workers I knew would take it “well.” And really-if someone is going to be ugly about it, they just are-and there is nothing you can do about that. Honestly-it says more about them than it does about your son or your family. Sometimes the people whom you least expect to understand will surprise you the most! In our case it was my 89-year-old Catholic grandfather! Obviously you all have fostered a sense of safety and love in your home or your son wouldn’t have felt comfortable sharing with you. In the end, who else’s opinion really matters?

    Caitlin turned 26 on Monday, and has been with the same woman for 9 years. She recently graduated from The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine and is a veterinarian here in Ohio. Her girlfriend is finishing a dual Master’s Degree in Social Work and Public Policy at Ohio State. With the Supreme Court ruling, we are now anticipating that long-ago dreamed-of wedding with great joy-and I know that sooner, rather than later, I will get to be a Grandmother!

    Good luck to you and your family through this journey. You are blessed to have each other.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for this and for the great advice. One step at a time. Our son hopes to be a veterinarian as well which is why he chose Purdue! Still a long road ahead though!! Thank you again for taking the time to write and share your story!!

      Like

  11. What Amy Johnson said! When I came out to my Catholic parents at 22, they said they loved me, but they needed time to process. Like your wife, my mother was afraid that her relatives would think that my gayness reflected poorly on her and her parenting. She was also afraid that she “didn’t know me anymore” and that I was completely changed. It took her about a year to see that I was still the same person she had always known and loved, and that nothing about me had changed at all – this is who I had been all along. It helped that the rest of my life reflected well on her parenting :). I have a good job, a wife of 4 years who is a college professor (we’ve been together for 9 and had a very traditional wedding), and a second son on the way. I’m active in my church (not the Catholic church, but a Christian one at least) and a high school youth advisor and member of the Youth Advisory Committee. I say this because she needed to see, over time, that being gay was an adjective, not a noun – it’s just one part of me, and not the most important part. You are doing everything right. Keep reminding your wife that she does not want your son to feel ashamed when it appears he is finally comfortable with himself – hiding it will cause shame, and really, being gay is not something to be ashamed of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I hope in 10 years our son will look back and see the same love we have for him as you remember. I’m also so glad my son is living now and not in an age that I think existed not too long ago where he’d have no choice but the express his sexuality in dimly lit basement bars and back alleys. He’s had his boyfriend (that was hard to write) over to our house a few times at our encouragement – small steps.

      Thank you again so much!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Small steps is fine! Remember that as confident as he may seem, he’s likely just as nervous as you are about taking this boyfriend home. Just remember that you raised a good son who will make good choices in the people he dates – which is really the most important thing! And yes, times are much safer now (most places). Fortunately.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. one of the most difficult/saddening things in this for me, is he said he had been coming to terms with this since sixth grade – six years of “coming to terms” with such a huge part of his life. In our conservative Christian family, it took him six years to tell us. Probably BECAUSE of our chonservative Christian family it took him six years to tell us. That makes me sad! I don’t want him to feel that way – ever! remember what 18 was like – sort of – i know he is nervouse about life in general – i hope in this we can show him we are still his parents and he can come to us.

        Like

  12. Hey Chris –

    You’re doing great! And it sounds as if The Graduate is right where he needs to be. As a young adult it’s his life, and the fact that you have raised him with the character to be fully and honestly himself shows. You are justifiably proud of the man he has become.

    While I understand your wife’s fear, the decision is not hers, nor is the responsibility to explain or justify his identity to the rest of the family. That’s for your son to do, and from what you say here methinks he is up to the challenge.

    I never came out to my parents . . . it was my dad who “came out” to me. My partner and I had been together for quite some time, and on the occasion of his 65th birthday celebration (attended with my partner) he took me aside on my brother’s back deck and said something I will never forget:

    “You know Jeff, I’ve done my best to raise you kids and help you be who you are. I can’t make your decisions for you, you are grown up now and you need to be free to live your life and find your way. All I care about for any of my kids is that you are good people, and that you are happy. I only want you to be happy.”

    Pretty advanced for a practicing Roman Catholic in 1982 who couldn’t bring himself to use the word “gay”.

    May your son, your wife and your family experience joy in being genuinely who you are!

    Thanks Dad!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jeff – a lot of people have given is some great encouragement. What makes me sad, if I didn’t say it earlier, is that he has been “coming to terms” (to use his words) since he was 12 and didn’t have anyone to tLk to. I imagine so many like yourself were in the same situation. Thanks for reaching out.

      Like

      1. Chris –

        Quite true, and even more so in the mid 1970s when I was his age.

        You can’t go back but you can make this moment and every moment going forward an opportunity for him to know that whatever it is going on in his life he can share with you , but I suspect you’re already down with that.

        Live in blessing.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes . . . Don’t Push Send is still in early development. I think it was an issue with the theme I was using and how it displayed on some devices / browsers. I’ve been playing with themes, etc. I think it should work now . . . and stay tuned as I work on developing it.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s so hard because our feelings aren’t always in line with our intellect. Who knows what other underlying issues there are for any of you. I won’t presume to give advice, but will pray for you and so many others (in my thankfully inclusive church) who face these issues on a daily basis.

    My life would be less without the gay men & women who are in it. I gave up on the theology a long time ago. If there were an easy answer in that respect, we’d have gotten it by now.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely! This is a tough issue for many people to hash out, but Christ died for all of us, and it’s a good thing. And He died for people, not issues. Enough said, time to pray instead :0

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Jesus teaches us to love wholeheartedly, completely, with enthusiasm and grace. We can only accomplish this through being honest in all aspects of our lives. Your son is living honestly and in doing so is helping your family to learn to do so too. Your son sounds amazing and it is obvious that you are really proud of him. For now that should be enough. Bask in the fact that your child is happy and you have done a great job,

    Liked by 1 person

  15. There is no easy way to handle this. It sounds like you know exactly what to do: love your wife and son through it. Be patient with your wife. It takes me more time to get used to things sometimes, too. Continue to lead your family as God leads you. He is giving you wisdom even now.

    Liked by 1 person

I'm an open book - would love to hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s