To be mom to a gay teenager just means a slightly different set of worries.
My son, aged 18, is very tall, has broad shoulders and piercing blue eyes, a shock of dark hair, a computer-brain, a sense of humour so dry it would make a camel thirsty, and a black belt in karate.
He’s also gay.
His coming out to me, when he was 16, was an unfussy affair, discussed while I was preparing dinner one day and he was doing his homework at the kitchen counter. It went like this.
He: ‘Mom, you know I’m gay, hey?’
He: ‘How long have you known?’
Me: ‘Practically all your life.’
He: ‘Me too.’
I then sliced another onion and he went back to his books.
Things aren’t quite so easily cut-and-dried at school, though. My son is, however, fortunate in being both unusually goodlooking and unusually bright (and having a black belt no doubt helps), and as a result has managed to avoid most of the slings and arrows endured by his less naturally gifted high-school brothers-in-arms (if you will forgive the pun).
Not that they make themselves known: if there are indeed other gay boys and girls at his school (and simple statistics will say there are), they’re not telling. And the school administrators are singularly unhelpful – when petitioned by some brave (albeit anonymous) souls to allow same-sex partners to attend their Valentine’s Ball last year, the response was a resounding ‘No!’
One of the things that saddens me about my son’s having to remain in the closet at school just to survive, is how he’s missed out on the huge excitement – and, to my mind, important learning curve – of teen romances. While my 17-year-old heterosexual daughter changes boyfriends about as often as she does her profile pic on Facebook, and is thought none the worse for it (to the contrary, in fact), my son conducts an unnaturally low-key social life, entirely devoid of sweaty palms and racing pulses, first kisses, fumbles in the dark and all the other nasties that make up young luurve.
‘Don’t worry, darling,’ I tell him, ‘when you get out into the world, you’ll meet a whole slew of new people – and many of them will be just like you.’
Which is true – university, as everyone knows, is a whole different ballgame from school.
But now I have another worry: what if my son, deprived for years of the hormone-addling excitement of teen romance, flies entirely off the rails when he finally has access to it? Will he develop a crush that crushes him? Is the first lothario who comes along going to lope off with his heart?Is it harder for gay teens to find love? Do you have personal experience of yourself or your child coming out?