I’m okay with my son being gay… as long as he’s not a bottom

I’m okay with my son being gay… as long as he’s not a bottom

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Hi Jake,

My 20-year-old recently came out to me as homosexual. I had a feeling something was going on because he was hiding a lot from me, and I also found some “evidence” on his computer (including your website). In some ways, I’m relieved, because I knew something was off between us.

That said, I was raised in a family where homosexuality is highly discouraged. We are church people, and it’s challenging for me to divorce myself from that way of thinking. I’m trying my best, and learning from my son in the process. He tells me that he’s always felt this way, and that being gay is not his choice. While I’m still wrapping my head around it, I’m getting there.

One issue I struggle most with, however, is that it’s hard to imagine him having sexual relations with another man if he’s the submissive partner. I realize I might be overstepping, but it would help me come to terms with his new identity if at least I knew he was the masculine, dominant one. I don’t like thinking about him in another way.

Is it okay to tell my son that I accept him being gay, as long as he isn’t the passive one in the bedroom? I think that would make it easier for me to come to terms with all this.

Father Figure(ing things out)

Dear Father Figure(ing) things out,

I’m glad you reached out to to us for guidance. Navigating a family member coming out is new territory for a lot of parents. We tend to focus our support on the LGBTQ+ people who are struggling, but it’s natural for family members and friends to also have questions, concerns, and a lack of knowledge about how to handle changes in their relationships.

What’s most important for you to understand is that your son needs you to love him unconditionally. That means, you accept him fully, for exactly who he is, with no requirements tied to your love and support.

As queer people, we struggle enough with embracing our identities, so asking him to then have a certain sexual position or role in his relationships is simply not an acceptable demand.

What you’re conveying if you require him to be a certain “type” of gay man is that you’re only accepting him if he fits into a mold that makes you feel more comfortable, rather than putting him first.

No offense, but this isn’t about you right now. It’s about you supporting your son during what is probably one of the most difficult things he’ll ever go through.

While I understand that you might have certain associations about what it means to be gay, I believe you need some education around this, so let me do my best to explain…

With two men, just because someone is in a “passive” role in the bedroom (often called the “bottom”), it doesn’t mean they’re any less “masculine” or “dominant.” Thinking they are is actually rooted in misogyny, where a more “passive” role is somehow seen as inferior. I would encourage you to try and clear out these ideas, so you can see your son through fresh eyes.

Just like with heterosexual partners, gay men have intimate moments with each other, and there should be no value placed upon what happens during that private time. I’m sure you wouldn’t have appreciated being told you could do certain things with a female partner and other things were off-limits. Why should a gay person be any different?

Beyond that, what your son does in the bedroom as a fully-formed adult is actually none of your business as a parent. Hopefully, you’ve encouraged him to try and make the best choices possible when it comes to safety, and finding healthy partnership, but his preferences are his to figure out on his own.

Instead of asking your son to modify who he is, you’ll need to work through your own feelings of discomfort by talking with friends, family, a therapist, or reaching out for community support. It’s perfectly okay to ask him questions, so that you can learn how to best support him, but any conflicting feelings you have should be processed elsewhere, until you come to a place of unconditional acceptance.

Your son is the same person he always was, regardless of his sexual orientation, or sexual preferences. You can’t pick and choose which parts of him you like, and which you don’t, or you’ll be conveying that something about him is still “wrong.” This is damaging for a queer person, who is simply trying to be fully authentic and accepting of themselves.

At the end of the day, this experience with your son will teach you a lot about yourself and your biases, so that you can grow as a person, and as a father. Sure, it’ll take some courage and bravery, but if your son can do what he’s doing, so can you. After all, you’re sharing the same genes.

Ask Jake is our advice column by Queerty editor and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Jake Myers. If you have a question for Jake, please email [email protected] for consideration.


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