VN Editors

Your adult child is gay – now what?


Most parents don’t plan on seeing their children come out as being homosexual, and when they do it’s a very shocking, jarring experience. If your adult child comes to you to tell you they are gay, it’s very natural to feel completely lost. Find out what to do next in order to come to terms with what’s happening and continue to be a supportive, strong parent.

The Emotional Reaction

You’re going to feel some strong emotions if your child comes to you to tell you they are gay. If you had visions of seeing your child get married and live a traditional life with a spouse and children, you will have to let these dreams go. Your child may get married, though it may not be legally recognized, and may even adopt a child of their own one day – but your child will not have a traditional life or a traditional path.

It’s natural for you to feel fear for your child, shock, maybe even feelings of guilt and shame. You may think that perhaps you’ve done something wrong as a parent. But homosexuality is not a disease. Scientific American identified distinct behavior patterns in homosexuals that may indicate a genetic or biological cause. Why your child is gay doesn’t matter, so don’t waste your time on this. Once you overcome the emotional reaction and shock of the announcement, start taking practical steps to deal with it.

Getting Practical

VN member silverfox shared her own experience with having an adult child who is also gay. After you come to terms with the fact that your child is gay, “use it to open the communications door,” advises silverfox.

If you’re having trouble understanding, or accepting, your child’s homosexuality, try talking to them about it. They’ve been wrestling with this for a lot longer, and may provide you with valuable insight and information that will help you achieve a level of comfort with this change.

You should also look into PFLAG, even if you feel relatively comfortable with the news that your child is gay. PFLAG is designed for Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. You’ll find tons of support here, and it may help you adjust.

And remember that you can’t live their life for them, and that above all you want your child to be happy. “No one wants their son or daughter to be ridiculed or worse,” said VN member Bea. “Sure, it’s hard to understand at times…[but] it’s not our life and our children deserve to choose what they want and understand who they are and get comfortable with their skin.”

Addressing Your Child

Your own emotional shock to the news that your adult child is gay may be very severe, but try to remember they went through a rough road in telling you. It takes a lot of bravery to come out to a parent, and it’s very likely that your child agonized at length over your reaction and rehearsed what they would say many times over.

Many VN members advised that parents play it cool when it comes to reacting to the news and handling it in the future. “DO NOT make a big deal out of it,” said malarkey. “Because then it becomes about you and your reaction to it.”

“My son came out at 14, and at first we tried to ‘change’ him by taking him to a Christian counselor because we were Southern Baptists, and homosexuality was against our religion.” VN member calewis88 shared her story. “But we soon realized that we were hurting our son and damaging our relationship with him, and that he wasn’t the one who needed changing — it was us and our beliefs that were at odds with who he really was.”

“It’s all about respect and LOVE,” added VN member Steele.

Always be loving when you address this issue with your child, and remember that it’s not really an issue. You may have to adjust your visions of the future, but your child is still very much the same person they always were. If you reject your child, or reject some part of who they are, you will only hurt yourself and them…perhaps irretrievably.

“One of my best friends was gay. He was one of the most talented, charismatic men I have ever known and I still get teary eyed when I think of his death. He committed suicide at 36 years old. One of his biggest issues was the rejection of his parents. They shut him out completely. I wonder if they knew how much agony that created in him,” said VN member Catb4.

You have a chance to get much closer to your child, to communicate with them and learn more about who they are as an adult person. Look at their orientation as a positive thing, and feel happy that they’ve shared their truth with you. The fact that your child came to tell you that they are gay shows that you definitely did something right as a parent.

Addressing the World

The rest of your family members, and your friends, may not take the road of love and acceptance. You may even have friends and family who choose to reject your child, or even you, or perhaps blame you or suggest that you’ve failed as a parent.

The world is becoming more tolerant, but there are definite improvements which need to be made. You may face may knee-jerk reactions of fear, misunderstanding and even hatred. You don’t need anyone who doesn’t accept you or your child for exactly what you are; you don’t need that in your life. Ignore anyone who gives you negative feedback, and embrace the ones who remain positive. You may find out who your real friends really are when you tell them about your child, and this can be a good thing in your life.

Love transcends gender, age, race and all those other factors that seem to separate us as human beings. But differences can actually do a lot more to unite people than similarities. Your child is gay, and that opens the door to a whole new level of friendship and understanding between the two of you. Embrace it, and embrace your child.

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