This Is Not a Shaggy Dog Story
Yesterday, I read in Huffpost Gay Voices about a Tennessee dog owner who wanted to euthanize his dog because he suspected the dog was gay. (Just because a male dog mounts another one, does not mean he’s homosexual, it could be a matter of dominance. Anyhow, homosexual behavior is well documented in over 500 different species.)
Luckily, the pitbull/American bulldog mixed dog was spared his death at a high-kill “Jackson Rabies Control Animal Shelter” in Tennessee through a frenetic plea on Facebook, resulting in adoption.
Some LGBT Kids Discarded Like Unwanted Dogs
But the dog tale reminds me of how cruel biased parents can be toward their gay kids. Many, like the dog, are evicted from their homes because they are gay. It is estimated that almost 40% of LGBT kids living on the streets have been kicked out of their homes for no other reason than their parents can’t accept their same-sex orientation. It’s a slow euthanization. Dubbed “throwaways,” they lead a dog-eat-dog existence, often trading sex for drugs and temporary shelter.
What Can a Disapproving Parent Do?
Some parents have such an ingrained homophobia that it takes over their parenting skills. Blinded by their prejudice, their parental love, that used to be unconditional, has now turned conditional. So, how does a parent learn to love unselfishly again when he doesn’t accept his child’s sexual attraction?
Reframe Your Expectations
1. You can hate the sin (if you believe homosexuality is a sin), but not the sinner.
2. Remember that this is the same child you’ve always loved since birth.
3. You are not alone. Kids are coming out younger nowadays while still living under the same roof as their parents.
4. Consider it a compliment that your child revealed a true part of himself, all the while knowing that he is probably disappointing you, but nevertheless taking the risk because he feels secure in your love.
5. You still have an obligation to parent.
6. Studies have shown that kids who are rejected have greater incidence of drug abuse, suicide, low self-esteem, and depression.
Get Started Now!
1. If you are slow to accept, give it time, but you may want to start by:
2. Confiding in a non-judgmental friend, particularly one who has a gay child.
3. Seeking support on-line with such groups as PFLAG (Parents of Lesbians and Gays), with nationwide chapters.
4. Read memoirs written by straight parents of gay kids such as recent bestseller “Oddly Normal” written by a New York Times writer John Schwartz.
5. Keep abreast of gay marriage, LGBT rights on such sites as Human Rights Campaign, Lamda Legal, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), so you’re in the know and can discuss with your child. It shows interest in issues that affect his life and ultimately yours.
6. It is never too late to … give a hug or say “I Love you.” Or in the case of rejection, “Love is having to say you’re sorry.”
What has worked for you? Please leave a comment.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.