"My parents were the very last to know," says Danny, age 28. "I was born and raised in a strict, Roman Catholic household and I was terrified of how my parents would react, so I came out first to my friends, classmates, and co-workers." When he was 23 years old, Danny wanted to confide in his mother, but couldn't get up the courage to do it face-to-face, so he ended up leaving a note in her car. She came to him later that evening and said she thought it was something he had been struggling with for a while, and that she wished he could have told her sooner.
Coming out to family is hard enough. Can you imagine a parent going behind their children's backs to do it—with their cell phones?
When Ricky was 18 years old, he was still living at home and his mom was paying for his cell phone. He and his mom got into an argument and she decided to punish him by taking away his phone. Once it was in her possession, she noticed several text messages from the guy Ricky was dating, along with pictures of the two of them together. "We didn’t talk for a few weeks after that," Ricky says. "But then she finally asked me, point blank, if I was gay. I said that I was and told her about the guy I had been seeing. She was quiet for a moment, but then she finally looked at me and asked, 'When can I meet him?' That was when I knew that everything was going to be okay." Sure, in this case a cell phone played a role, as did a mother's snooping. But in this case, their argument was a solid catalyst, which wouldn't have caught the son completely off-guard the way the 'Is My Son Gay?' app might have. Advice: My Son Just Came Out Of The Closet
3. The most important thing all three men needed to hear from their parents was that they would love them no matter what.
"When I was 20 years old, I sat my whole family down and formally told them I was gay over Christmas dinner," says Kevin. "Everyone cried a lot, and it didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped. But ultimately, they gave me the best thing you can hope for—love and compassion."
All three of their stories ended happily, but it was a rough road in the process. Based on their experiences, I asked Kevin, Ricky, and Danny if they had any advice for parents who suspect their kids might be gay, or whose kids have recently come out to them. These were their suggestions:
1. Remember that your child is still the same person you’ve always known and have watched growing up.
Kevin’s biggest fear was that his family would treat him differently, or think that he had changed simply because he told them he was gay.
2. Ignore the stereotypes the media churns out about gay people (sometimes by certain, ahem, cell phone apps).
Not all gay men act feminine, and not all lesbians act masculine. "The gay population is just as varied as any other population," Ricky said. "I know gay men who love football, or who think that the entire gay culture is obnoxious and want nothing to do with it. Just try not to make any assumptions about them based on what you see in movies or on TV."