There may not be a more anxiety-ridden conversation – for either party – than the coming out discussion. Some people plan out every exchange in their heads, or gradually work their way up to the “big” coming out with a variety of smaller conversations with known sympathetic parties.
I’ve been on the receiving end of a few of these “build-up” revelations, and it’s both the easiest and most difficult thing for me to respond. You see…I don’t care if you’re gay. My typical response is “Okay…do you want a hug?” I don’t want to downplay the importance of a friend or relative’s coming-out, especially when it’s still such a momentous thing for many people. At the same time, my attitude echoes a dear friend’s: when I saw her for the first time after learning she had a girlfriend, I asked her how things were going. Her only comment on her sexuality was, “Straight people don’t come out and tell you they’re straight, so why should I have to come out and tell you I’m not?” I’m honored by your trust, but telling me you’re gay will really only change which cutie I’m pointing out to you in a crowd.
That’s why this dad’s preemptive response to his son’s plans to come out is so touching. After he overhears his son talking on the phone with his boyfriend about when and how to come out, he leaves a short and sweet note in which he tells his son – we’ve known, we’ve always loved you, and we approve of your boyfriend. It’s a coming out reversal, and gives hope to not just his son but to every LGBT teen who’s heard the story and remembered that they are never alone.
For my part, I hope to never have this conversation with one of my children. My husband and I share the same philosophy on being gay or straight, and we are blessed with LGBT family and friends who will show our little ones as they grow that love is beautiful, whether you love a girl or a boy. So when our son is a teenager and starts dating his first significant other, I hope the conversation is as simple as, “Mom, Dad, this is __________. We’re dating.” And I don’t care whose name comes up in that sentence as long as s/he is a good person who will show our son respect and affection.
If we do have a coming out talk, though, it would be nice if I could beat him to the punch like the dad in that article. I just really like being right.