When it’s not “just a phase”

This teen told his mom he was gay. She won’t accept it. So how do you talk to parents who won’t listen? Read on for our elder’s suggestions on how—and how not—to handle the situation.

Dear EWC:

Hello, I am 14 years old male and I live in Brazil. So… let me explain what I have been going through. For the last 4 years I have been questioning my sexuality. I hid it from everyone and by the beginning of the year I already knew my feelings and was ready to tell my parents. That happened when the pandemic had just started and my father was still working, so… one night after my mother and I finished watching a movie, I got the strength and told her I was gay, I came out to her, and…

She said it was just a phase, that I should be homophobic, and that I couldn’t be gay. That got me devastated; I even lost the strength to tell my dad. And for the last 9 months I haven’t left home or had time to myself… And on the last weeks, I feel my heart aching, because I want to tell them, I want to be accepted… I want to someday get a boyfriend really bad… I don’t want to hide it from them, but I’m too scared, terrified of what they’ll say or do. I would really like some advice:

What should I do? How should I tell them? Should I tell them? Thanks for your time.

Kind replies:

Thank you for writing. I feel for you and the difficult situation you are in.
What’s positive is the four-year process you’ve been on, questioning your sexuality and identifying as gay at the beginning of the year. That shows strength. So does the fact that you told your mother. I am very sorry that she could not accept you. It is no wonder that you are devastated. And that her insistence that you’re going through a phase affected you so negatively, making it impossible to tell your father.

It is the most normal thing in the world to want to be loved and accepted by our parents. And it’s very painful when our parents cannot acknowledge and love us for who we actually are.
There are some mothers who can accept their son’s homosexuality. And then there are those who absolutely cannot. The same goes for fathers.

What is your instinct about your father’s reaction? No doubt you have imagined telling him many times. How do you imagine his reaction? What kind of person is he? What kind of relationship do you have? What kinds of things has he said about homosexuality in general?

As hard as it is right now, I think it’s important to take your mother’s words at face value. She told you exactly how she feels. She may change. She may not. You are 14 right now with several years yet living with your parents. Your mother may see you differently when you are older. But that is nothing that you can know now.

Until you tell your father, you don’t know what he will say. But you did write that you’re too scared and terrified of what he might say or do. Keep in mind that you are living in their house and are being supported by them and won’t be independent for a while. Some parents reject their homosexual children entirely, no matter what age they are. Some parents can’t believe that a 14-year-old already knows that he’s gay.
There are all sorts of parents. Some come to accept their homosexual son once they get used to the idea. Other parents reject them forever.

It is a very painful, uncertain reality. Given how you have described the situation, I would not hope for any understanding from your parents, as painful as that is. You have to weigh the consequences of telling them both. It might be better to keep it to yourself for the time being. We are in a period of enormous stress due to the pandemic and that news could be very stressful for your father.

I think you need support and encouragement from other gay males. You are in a very important stage of your development. How could you find other gay males to talk with, share stories with and find out about their coming-out experiences? I would say online. Do you have internet access? Do you have time and privacy to do some reading?
If you look up “How do I come out to my parents?” you will see lots and lots of articles. Keep reading until you find the answers that you need.

I hope some of this has been helpful. Keep being you, no matter how your parents react. And seek out support. You will find your own special community to help you through this period. I wish you all the best.


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