If only all parents were this actively compassionate when it comes to their kids’ sexuality.
If only all internet commenters were this forthcoming with kindness to total strangers.
If only.. Nope, that’s it actually. Those two things would make a better world.
Here’s the lovely thing that happened between some humans with internet connections: A single dad, who wants to remain anonymous to protect his son’s privacy, published the following post on community forum Reddit under the name HeMeYou:
‘I’m 38, and a single dad to my 13 year old son. The other day I asked my son if I could borrow his iPad and he gave it to me. After my first attempt at Google searching something I noticed that he forgot to delete his history as a lot of the search terms were along the lines of “I’m gay what now?” etc…’
‘I love him regardless of which gender he loves, in fact when I was slightly older than him I had a few flings with guys, which he doesn’t know about, so I am 100% supportive.
‘He has seemed slightly down recently, as in, he isn’t as cheerful as he once was, and I desperately want to tell him that I love him regardless of which sexuality he is.
‘What are my options? Should I wait for him to tell me? Or should I make a few hints at it?
‘I’m worried that if I don’t hint at it, that he will be worried about something that he really doesn’t have to be worried about… if that makes sense.’
The sensitivity of this note is touching, and raw. He could have just ignored his son’s search history, or kept it to himself, or brought it up brashly with him in a typical well-intentioned dad kind of way.
Instead, he made a very sweet and concerted effort to find the best way to support his kid. Sure, he could have asked a friend or a therapist, but that way he’d have to reveal his son’s secret on his behalf and before he was ready for the world to know. Making yourself emotionally vulnerable on the internet doesn’t always turn out to be pleasant.
But the response to this dad’s request was utterly lovely. Here are a few replies:
1. Google “how to tell my son I will love and support him no matter what” and leave it in his search history. :)
2. You could always try the subtle-as-a-brick-wall approach and ask him what he thinks about gay marriage or whatever when you both hear it on TV or the radio or something … then you can share your opinion on the matter and make it clear that gay or straight, you love him unconditionally and would be proud of him.
3. My dad wasn’t really comfortable ‘talking’ about it when I first told him, but a few months later when I woke up one day when had gone to work and sat at my desk, there was a paper open to a sports article with the headline “My son’s gay. Not that it matters to me.” Definitely wasn’t unintentional. Always appreciated that from him.
SEE? People can be sweet on the internet!
Days later, the dad posted an update on the whole situation:
‘Firstly, I’d just like to thank all of you who commented and gave me advice on the previous post, and because the post got so much attention I thought it wouldn’t be fair for me not to make an update.
‘As many comments suggested that I do, is to slightly hint toward the notion that I am perfectly happy with having a gay son, while letting him do the work in actually saying the words “I’m gay”, and I thought that was a very good idea.
‘I started off with talking about general media with him, for instance I mentioned how awesome it was that Tim Cook (CEO of Apple) came out as being gay and I asked him what he thought about it and I was completely expecting him to give a typical teenager response like “yeah.. its good” or something like that but he actually gave me a detailed response which I absolutely loved because for the first time in a good while I’ve actually held a conversation with my son that felt really… rewarding.
‘I also wanted to talk to him about how I’ve noticed that he’s not been acting as cheerful as he usually has and I sort of gave the cliche spiel of “I love you no matter what and I just want to see you be happy” but I didn’t get much of a response that time apart from “yeah I know..”
‘The next day as I picked him up from school I thought I’d ask him about any crushes he has, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t say a gender when I asked him, so instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ I used ‘they’ etc.. Here is that conversation as I remember it…
Me: So, do you have a crush on anyone?
Son: Uhm… no..m..maybe..
Me: Ohhh so who is the lucky person?
At this point he sort of looked at me slightly confused, I’m not 100% sure why, but I’m assuming it is because I said “lucky person” rather than “lucky girl”.
Son: Just someone from my french class…
Me: Oh yeah… so what do you like about them?
Son: Just.. stuff..
Me: Okay.. but.. like what?
Son: I donno they’re just kinda funny I guess…
‘At this point I dropped the conversation but just before I did I told him “Well, whoever it is, they should be so lucky to have you as a boyfriend..” and while I didn’t see it, I certainly felt as though he was rolling his eyes at my cheesy comments.
‘At the dinner table the same day, while we were eating we had a couple minutes of silence, not much was heard apart from the cutlery and my son finally said “I actually wanted to tell you something in the car, but I was afraid you’d get in an accident..”
‘I looked up from my plate and looked at him straight in the eyes… I could see he was thinking about something and all I could think of was “OMG this is it…” he said “Dad..” with a couple seconds of silence “..I’m gay”.
‘I looked at him and couldn’t help myself from smiling, and I told him “____, you know I love you so much… right?” and I got up and gave him a huge hug. He even started to cry on my shoulder and because of that I couldn’t help myself but shed a couple tears.
‘We talked for a bit while finishing our dinner about how I can’t emphasize enough that I love him regardless of which gender he loves etc…
‘After dinner and after he finished his homework we both lay in our pajamas on the sofa, while I was watching the Cooking Channel and he was playing on his iPad.
‘I had my arm around him and he was leaning his head on my chest, and all I could think of was that I’m the happiest father on earth right now.’
Feel free to pass this on to anyone who may need it.
And no, we’re not crying either.