Last week, Reddit user HeMeYou claimed he had discovered his son was gay after stumbling across the Google search history on the teenager's iPad.
He wanted to be there to support his son, but didn't know how to approach the subject, so he turned to Reddit for advice and left the following message.
"I found out my 13 y/o son is gay... He hasn't told me, but I want to support him. What can I do?"
I'm 38, and a single dad to my 13 year old son, 14 in four months. 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.
Replies flooded in, with messages of support and advice.
From anecdotes from people revealing how their dads supported them coming out..
To praise for the open-minded way he was approaching the subject.
A few days later, HeMeYou posted a thread updating everyone on what he ended up doing.
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.
Thank you all so much for your feedback and suggestions on the last post. All of you are so kind on this subreddit, so many of you sent me PM's explaining how I was a super dad and it honestly brightened my day.
For those curious as to what I will be doing next, I've already started doing some research in LGBT Youth Communities and I think joining one would be a perfect start to helping my son develop into the person he has the potential to being.
Thank you all again...
BuzzFeed News spoke to the dad, who chose to remain anonymous, and he revealed his relationship with his son had always been very loving.
I try and spend as much time with him as I can and I always look out for his best interests. I wouldn't say I'm necessarily strict with him but seeing as I am a single dad there are naturally moments when I have to put my foot down and be a dad.
He described the response on Reddit as "overwhelmingly helpful and kind."
Many people sent me messages telling me what a wonderful job I did, and I also got hundreds of messages from people explaining their story of coming out. I've read every single comment and message that was sent to me, and while I didn't reply to any, I did learn a lot from it and I am thankful.
Naturally, I got a few messages that were extremely homophobic and hateful but it was such a small percentage that it almost feels encouraging.
HeMeYou said discussing sexuality with your children is a difficult thing for any parent to do.
I feel like the child has to be mature enough to comprehend the idea of sexuality and understand that not everyone is wired to love or be attracted to the opposite gender.
And when asked why it's such a hard thing to have to talk about, he answered:
There are many reasons, but I think one of the more obvious reasons would be that if LGBTQ matters aren't a weekly topic in the family then the child won't know for certain whether their parents are OK with it.
Another reason, I believe is that for some children telling their parents that they are gay or lesbian isn't really seen as saying "Mom, Dad, I love my own gender" but rather kids see it as a more embarrassing topic about sexual preferences, and it doesn't matter whether you're gay or straight having a topic about sex is going to be tough for most kids.
To other parents who are concerned about their children worrying about coming out to them, he had this advice:
If the child grows up with hearing their parents talk about several forms of LGBTQ related topics shed in a good light then it will be seen from a very young age that being LGBTQ is perfectly OK.
I believe within a couple generations it won't even be seen as a big deal.
For the meantime I think that as long as the parents keep a loving relationship with their children and really emphasize that no matter what, they'll love their child, it will be as easy as it can get for the children of this day in age.
When he shared his story on Reddit, people wanted to show their appreciation of how he approached his son coming out.
HeMeYou suggested people could make a donation to The Trevor Project, a charity that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention in LGBTQ teens.