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Mom Wonders If She's Wrong For Telling Her Son He's 'Obviously Gay'

Photo: Polina Tankilevitch / Pexels 
two boys kissing

The mom of a 17-year-old boy wrote into the subreddit r/AITA wondering if she handled a situation with him in a way that was insensitive, despite her intentions.

The mom wondered if she was wrong for telling her son that he’s ‘obviously gay.’

She explained that her son, who she described as “fairly masculine [and] straight acting,” has grown very close with an 18-year-old guy over the past 7 months. She’s witnessed what she takes as hints that they’re boyfriends, saying, “He sometimes baby talks to this boy, hugs him all the time, has called him handsome, share clothes, sits away too close to each other to the point where they're basically cuddling.”

She continued her explanation as to why she thinks they’re dating, which hinged on the fact that her son sees this boy every day, “and for the past 7 months he now always smells great, has his hair fixed really nice, and dresses nicer.”

mom wonders if shes wrong for telling her son hes obviously gayPhoto: cottonbro studio / Pexels 

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The mom asked her son if he planned to invite the boy on a trip they were taking, calling him his boyfriend in the process. Her son’s response was to say, “I’m straight, that’s not funny.” The mom reported laughing, then said, “When I realized he was serious I started laughing even harder.”

“I told him he was very obviously in a relationship with a guy and did a terrible job at hiding it, he got emotional and started asking me not to tell his dad,” she said, explaining in her post that her husband already knows because “it was so obvious.”

Her son became upset and told her she outed him before he felt ready and he hasn’t spoken to her since. She then wondered if she could have been more sensitive and had a discussion with her son about his relationship with the boy.

By not letting her son come to her when he was ready to open up, she took away his opportunity to share his sexuality on his own terms.

While the mom’s intentions weren’t malicious, and she seems to accept her son for who he is, the way she approached him about his supposed boyfriend did cause harm. The step forward would be to acknowledge and own the mistake, and open space for her son to share how he feels.



As one person explained to the mom in the comments, “You forced him to confront that identity before he was ready.” This person advised the mom to tell her son “that however he chooses to identify is okay with you and that you love him regardless and will take any future cues on how to proceed from him.”

Another person said that assigning names or blame to how she confronted her son wasn’t actually productive. The more important part of her parenting duty is “making sure your son feels safe, comfortable, and loved.” 

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They offered guidance on one path the mom could take to make amends to her son, noting that the first step would be to apologize for laughing at him, then apologize for “making an assumption about his identity and trying to ascribe your take onto him.”

They also expressed their belief that her son and the boy are “the only people who get to make decisions about what they are, or are not, to each other.”

Photo: Ece Ak / Pexels 

“Whether he has those feelings or not is not for you to dictate, nor demand he explains to you,” they said. “You can explain that maybe it felt obvious or clear to you, but you realize now that your take matters far less than his, and you’re sorry for imposing your perspective on him or making him confront revelations about himself that he may not have been ready to fully address.”

Others noted how scary it can be for queer kids to come out to their parents, especially when it isn’t fully clear how their parents will react. 

One person explained that the mom not only minimized his fears by laughing, she also didn’t recognize the presence of those fears, “because you haven't done the groundwork of establishing that he'd be safe to come out to you.”

Sexual identity is a deeply nuanced facet of human nature, one that doesn’t always remain static through the course of a lifetime. No matter what the mom assumes about her son’s sexuality, he clearly needed to hear that he was safe and held in her company, which she wasn’t able to provide him at that exact moment.

Becoming a parent doesn’t translate into being a perfect person at all times, yet it does mean you’re tending to someone else’s emotional landscape. In order to heal the hurt her son clearly feels, the mom needs to put in the work to own her mistake by coming to him openly and taking accountability for what she said and did. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers parenting, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.