According to Emmene Moi, the makers of the Is My Son Gay? application for the Android phone, it was only supposed to be a joke. The app was released last month and featured a 20-question survey that parents could use to determine their child’s sexuality. These questions ranged from, "Does your son like diva singers?" To, "Does your son have a good relationship with his father?" The app came under immediate controversy, and was officially pulled from the Android marketplace last Friday afternoon.
Although it was mired in offensive stereotypes and devoid of any scientific research, its very existence might have left some parents thinking: Wouldn’t it be nice if we did have an app for that? Community: Using Technology To Strengthen Your Relationship
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Having the birds and bees talk with your child can be complicated enough, let alone discussing all the added intricacies of sexual orientation. In our current culture of gay teens committing suicide, and of the recent decision to overturn Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, it is more important than ever for your children—no matter what their age—to know that they can come to you and discuss these things openly.
As someone who was raised in a conservative, Christian environment, I know that the issue of homosexuality can be a touchy one...especially when it involves a lifestyle choice that may run counter to a family's beliefs. Yet, even with my upbringing, my parents taught me that people are people. Regardless of their skin color or sexual orientation, they deserve to live as who they are and treated with respect.
So for a moment, let’s put aside technology. In fact, let’s also put aside politics, religion, culture, and any other issue that generally get pulled to the forefront of this discussion, and focus on the most important element of all: the relationship between parents and children. Regardless of your voting record, religious beliefs, or cultural traditions, you may come to a point where you either suspect that your child is gay, or that he or she admits it to you openly. If that happens, what are you going to do? As a parent, how will you respond?
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I interviewed Danny, Ricky, and Kevin—three gay men in their twenties—and asked them what they thought of the 'Is My Son Gay?' app. We also discussed what it was like for them to come out of the closet to their families. As I spoke with them, I noticed a few emerging patterns that parents can potentially learn from:
1. They all came out to other people before coming out to their parents.