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When You Think Your Son or Daughter is Gay

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Parents can take steps to engage with their child in an effective way. (Image: digitalart /

Parents can take steps to engage with their child in an effective way. (Image: digitalart /

I'm concerned because I think my child is gay.

If you are concerned your child is gay, I'm glad you are here. It tells me you're trying to accept and love your child. Many parents miss this opportunity and both the parents and children suffer. I've experienced homosexuality from many angles and feel the way it is handled is of utmost importance to foster a good relationship between parent and child. In this article, I will address the many assumptions parents and others make regarding whether a child is gay or not.

If there is one thing I would like you to take from this article, it is: Gay children who are not accepted by their parents have a higher risk of depression, suicide, drug use, and having unsafe sex. Your love and acceptance could change all of those things.

Being a parent to a gay child can be overwhelming even if you do not have an issue with homosexuality. You may worry about their safety, social acceptance, ability to get a job, having grandchildren, religious outlook, and more. "What are we going to tell grandma?"

Not knowing if your child is gay or not can be equally overwhelming. There are many ways to help your child and help yourself. Sadly, many parents find themselves alienating their children and lose sight of what is truly important: their child's love and well-being.

It seems that some parents have a heightened sensitivity to their children's sexuality. Ingrained within us is a natural desire for our children to grow up "normal" without the hard knocks of society. We fear our children getting hurt and being condemned by society.

We've planned play dates with other children to socialize them. We've bought our little boys trucks and basketballs, and our little girls dresses and play make-up. We've dreamed of the day they grow up, marry and give us grandchildren. Anything that differs from our idea of what they "should be" in order to accomplish these ideals alarms us.

Some parents act on every little sign that their child is gay, only to find themselves doing seemingly crazy things to find out.

Take a look at these questions I've heard from parents. None of these situations confirm your child is gay. However, the way you react to them may be the difference in your child telling you the truth, if someday they realize they are gay.

  • "My 3-year-old son wears my high-heels. Do you think he's going to be gay when he grows up?"

Many young boys like to dress up like mommy. They find those strange-looking shoes interesting and fun to walk in. Mommy's dresses look pretty on her, so why not try them on for fun? I've seen many pictures of small boys in dresses and high-heels. Some boys even put on make-up and ask to have their picture taken.

It's normal behavior to experiment. We don't ask the same questions when a little girl wants to wear her favorite blue jeans or put on daddy's shoes. Let them explore, and believe me, your son is not going to be gay just because he tried on some girly things.

If it turns out he is gay in the future, your reaction could leave a permanent mark. If you treat him like he's done something wrong, he'll believe being gay is also wrong. It won't change the fact that he is gay, it will only preclude him from telling you.

Not to say that every little boy that dresses in girls' clothing will be straight, but I know many men who are straight, happily married fathers with pictures of them in girls' clothing as little boys.

  • "Johnny and my son play every day. They're off to the basketball court to shoot hoops and seem like every day boys. One day they hugged before going to their separate homes. When I ask him why he hugged Johnny he says, "I like Johnny." Is my child gay?"
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Hugging someone of the same sex does not indicate your child is gay. Many straight boys and girls hug their best friends. It's a comfort measure and shouldn't be looked upon as a gay action. While it's true, they may in fact be gay, this is not a definitive marker. Girls frequently hug their female friends and no one thinks much about it. It isn't as common for boys to hug their friends, but a boy comfortable in his sexuality may feel it's no big deal. This is especially true if you've raised your son to be comfortable hugging people. His male friends are no exception.

  • "My son said, Johnny is cute. He's definitely gay right?"

Surprisingly, no. Some children don't realize the implication of saying such things. Besides, is Johnny a cute kid? Can't a boy say so? Some of the interpretation has to come from the way he tells you Johnny is cute. Is he stating a fact or saying how he feels? Simply asking him how Johnny is cute can clear things up. Maybe he does think Johnny is soooo cuuuute! Or perhaps, Johnny is cute because a girl at school said so, or Johnny is cute because he said something ridiculous and that's the new trend at school.

  • "My son spends more time talking to boys on the phone than girls. Do I have a gay son?"

Some boys are very shy about talking to girls. They talk to their male friends about girls, sports, what's on T.V., and how bad their fart smells. Some boys just don't realize the rules of dating, including calling their girlfriend on the phone.

Recently, my son's girlfriend broke up with him because he didn't call her. He said, "She didn't give me her phone number." I said, "Did you ask?" He said, "No, I didn't want to seem pushy and I was afraid her dad would answer the phone."

  • "My daughter asked to take another girl to the school dance as her date. Does that mean my daughter is gay?"

Some girls don't have a boyfriend and in today's world girls frequently go with other female friends to dances or even prom. It's a safe way to go to these events and not feel alone as well as not be left out. While it may be an indication your daughter is gay, it's not confirmed.

  • "My daughter said she likes a girl and she wants to date her. Is she gay?"

While it's obvious your daughter is considering her sexuality, it's not a hard-fast guarantee she is gay. Many teenagers, more often girls than boys, experiment with the idea of same-sex relationships before settling on a heterosexual relationship.

You have a wonderful opportunity here to talk with her openly about her feelings and I suggest you do that with loving care. She's telling you because she trusts you. You've proven you are a nurturing parent and she's willing to hear your viewpoint. You don't have to agree and you don't have to bake a cake and have a party, but you don't have to condemn her either. As a matter of fact, if you condemn her, she will likely run headlong into the relationship just to spite you. If she is gay, you will have created a barrier that will be hard to overcome.

Using tactics to prove your child is gay or straight: here are some things I've seen parents do and they simply don't work.

  • One father pulls out magazines with swimsuit models to see if his son will take notice, while another tells gay jokes to see if his son will be offended.
  • A mother offers to take her daughter for birth control just to watch for a reaction or talks excessively about hunky men on television and asks which guy she thinks is cute.
  • Tests like these will not prove or disprove your child is gay. You'll only make them uncomfortable and if they are gay, they won't tell you.

Why won't my child just tell me they're gay?

It's not always your fault when your child doesn't tell you they are gay. Don't take it personally.

Here are a few reasons your child may not tell you they are gay that have nothing to do with you. Obviously, if you are doing any of these things they could be the reason your child doesn't tell you.

  • Television shows gay people being abused, chastised, and murdered just for being gay.
  • Friends at school or other family members talk about gay people negatively, making them afraid to tell anyone.
  • They play on a sports team and are afraid the other team members won't let them be part of the team.
  • The church talks about homosexuality being a sin. Some people will deny being gay to prevent being kicked out of their church or chastised by the members.
  • They don't want to be gay and are doing everything they can to avoid it.
  • They are not ready and/or don't know how to deal with being gay.
  • Some people don't feel it necessary to share their personal feelings about anything, including being gay.
  • They are ashamed and don't want anyone to know.
  • Sometimes they don't even know they are gay.
  • Maybe they are not gay.

There are things you may be doing that make them feel they cannot tell you.

  • If your child feels you will over-react or have strong opinions about homosexuality, they will almost certainly keep the secret.
  • If you tell gay jokes your child may feel embarrassed about telling you they are gay.
  • If you talk badly about homosexuality your child may fear you will hate them for being gay.
  • Gagging, gesturing, or changing the channel when you see gay people on television will make them afraid to tell you.

What can I do to know if my child is gay or not?

There is no test. There is no perfect conversation. There is no amount of discontent that will change them.

Create a dialogue between you and your child. It's best if you started this from the time you started talking to them as babies, but anytime is a good time to start. Let your child know you love them unconditionally and mean it.

Many parents say they love their child no matter what, but when confronted with things they disapprove of, it becomes a gray area. Your child needs to know they can tell you anything and at the very least you will listen with an open ear and logically talk with them about their choices.

If you want your child to feel comfortable to openly tell you they are gay, leave the door open. You will not turn your child gay by letting them know you accept the idea. When you see gay people or talk about them, make sure it isn't negative. These are opportunities to express your acceptance towards gay people and open the door for your child to tell you about themselves.

If you've created an open dialogue with your child and you feel safe doing so, you can ask them how they feel about homosexuality, and if it leads there, ask them if they've ever considered being gay. Be careful not to accuse or degrade the possibility if you want an honest answer. If a straight child feels like you think they are gay it can be equally harmful as not accepting a gay child.

If your child seems to be confused about their sexuality, make an appointment for them with a therapist who specializes in sexuality. Be careful not to choose a therapist that is based solely on a religious principle. Your child will feel alienated and as though there is no place to turn. They likely already feel alone.

Most importantly, don't assume your child is gay until you know for certain, and don't assume your child is not gay either. Regardless of whether they are gay or straight, they are your child and they need you. As their parent, you need them too.

Thanks for reading. I hope you were able to gain something from my article.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Alyssa Schrader on July 03, 2020:

Its not a choice to be gay or not. And im a girl and im gay, my parents think its wrong and that im not. I have a girlfriend and they dont know bc i think if i twll them they will Dis own me or make me break up with her and im only ten for cryin outloud i can be with who i want .

Tams R (author) from Missouri on February 14, 2013:


I care about everyone as a general rule. (possibly to a fault) I pray for the day acceptance is the rule not the exception. I do not believe a person decides to have a life in which people are not going to readily accept them. I'm sure many would prefer to do quite the opposite just to have some "normalcy." I think many parents do not consider that point when they turn their children away.

Thank you for your comment!

promaine from New York on February 02, 2013:

Tams R, Lovely hub, but I also have to say your answers to comments and questions from a place of deep caring and acceptance. Let's hope that all parents of all children (gay, straight, trans or questioning) offer unconditional love (no strings!). Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience! Paul

crissytsu from Texas on July 26, 2012:

I didn't tell my mom I was a lesbian until I was 31 years old (I'm 33 now LOL) for some of the reasons you mentioned above...And after 3 years she's coming around. But even though she wasn't supportive 100% of the time, at my age I understand why and I'm comfortable with who I am so it didn't bother me. I know for a fact that if I had told her when I was in HS, and she reacted the way she did, I would have been completely devastated. I think the most important thing ANY parent can teach their children gay or straight is tolerance of those who are different. Great post. Thanks.

Tams R (author) from Missouri on July 15, 2012:


You're so right. I've heard a few people say, "I told them but they thought it was a joke." Thanks for your comment and compliment.

Jacqui from New Zealand on July 15, 2012:

One other thing I could add - if they do tell you they are gay - believe them. It helps both you, and them.

Otherwise, awesomely awesome hub. Thank you so much for putting this out there. Now, others will not struggle so much with what to do. Awesomely put, and well written.

Tams R (author) from Missouri on July 10, 2012:


You will tell them when you are ready. I'm sorry you feel you have to keep your life a secret.

I can only imagine the freedom you will feel when you don't have to hide.

I wish you well and am glad you appreciated my article.

Take care!


AE Williams from Atlanta, GA on July 10, 2012:

This is a great article, Tamsr. I must say it's a great perspective that all parents should have. I am not a parent, but I am gay and I've been battling with thoughts of telling my family and being honest. We have two open gay/bisexual family members and they are love unconditionally, however, I still feel insecure or strange by admitting the fact. My good friends/co-workers all know, but my family... For some reason I cannot figure why I can't tell them.

I think perhaps I'm a private person or that I'm overly critical of myself. My family is not prejudiced of gay people, but they seem completely unaware of why someone would be. I guess it's just so unfathomable that I feel completely uncomfortable explaining why a person is or isn't gay.... *sigh*. Love the article, definitely good for parents in this day and age.


Miche Wro on June 03, 2012:

Interesting suggestions here. I wish two of my friends parents had this years ago while we were in high school. They were having it hard not only at school but at home.

Tams R (author) from Missouri on April 12, 2012:


Wow! That's all I have to say for your sister. I hope she sees the err of her ways.

I'm glad you speak out as well. It is controversial but should not be.

My daughter has gone on to have a straight relationship, but once had a relationship with a popular town Dr.s daughter for over 2 years. They were not very popular in a tiny town. People came to our home asking to take her to church. I think they planned to pray it out of her.

I remember the day she told me and I just hugged her and told her that when the world chastised her she always had me to run to. I couldn't see it any other way.

Every person seeks acceptance.

The interesting thing to me is that those who are not accepted tend to accept others in the most genuine way. A community within!

tnderhrt23 on April 12, 2012:

Tams R, I am in total agreement. At one point I saw my son balled up in a fetal position crying because my "Christian" sister convinced him he was gonna burn for being gay...It has taken a lot of years to undo that damage. God does not make junk and does not judge for something that is hardwired, that He created. Since we are instructed by Jesus that with the measure we judge so shall we be judged, it is a dangerous practice...but a prevalent one. Sorry, This subject brings out the soap box in me! Again, I applaud your Hub and thank you for your courage to take a stand on such a controversial subject. It sure needs to be said!

Tams R (author) from Missouri on April 12, 2012:

BeyondMax, I am glad you enjoyed my hub. I hope it makes an impression on at least a few parents and others.

Tams R (author) from Missouri on April 12, 2012:


You have it right. We were meant to love our children regardless of anything society says is or is not "normal."

There is so much criticism from the outside children surely do not need it from those who are to love them too.

You sound like a phenomenal mother and God gave you your son because HE knew you would love him when the world would resist.

I do not believe GOD makes mistakes, therefore the instinct I've seen in VERY small children cannot be a mistake.

If every person who thought of being gay were an adult I might question this a bit, but I've seen it as young as 3 years old regardless of their parents attempts to influence them.

I find it extremely difficult to believe GOD to be less a loving parent than we can be to our own children. How dare we believe for an instant HE is less capable of acceptance than we are? Just a point I think about often. Secondly, if we are not to judge then why would we judge our child? That is up to GOD. My opinions.

Thank you for your awesome comment.

tnderhrt23 on April 12, 2012:

Tams R, I can not thank you enough for writing this Hub. I am the mother of a gay son who came out to me at the age of 15. I was told by a "homophobic" male neighbor that he was "gay" when he was 8...In all honesty, it is not what I would have chosen for him, given our society, and I feared for his safety, health and comfort in a world that basically believed/believes he was "sin incarnate"...but this I knew then and know now... IT WAS AND IS NOT A CHOICE FOR HIM! IT IS SIMPLY JUST WHO HE IS! It is my job, first and foremost, as his parent, to love him unconditionally, to teach him respect, responsibility, tolerance, and love. I want him to be happy, in whatever his endeavors, and to succeed. We come from a Christian background, and I believe, with all my heart and soul, that God loves us as we are, gay or straight...and I will defend his right to be who he is to my dying breath! My son has grown into a wonderful, loving, successful man who has served his country for 7 years, who loves God and his mom with all his heart and made this Mama proud! And he has blessed my life and the lives of many others throughout his. What mother could ask for more? Your hub is so important, and RIGHT ON!

BeyondMax from Sydney, Australia on April 12, 2012:

That was such a fun read, Tams! You put a smile on my face for sure! Such a sweet hub. =)

Tams R (author) from Missouri on April 09, 2012:


We are all entitled to our own opinions and beliefs. I am sorry we do not agree.

Celia on April 09, 2012:

When you know that God is disgusted by men laying with men & it is not natural at allfor 2 men to have sex ( or 2 females ) it is very difficult to deal with a son in that situation & only hope that they choose a normal relationship that they were created for

Tams R (author) from Missouri on April 07, 2012:


Pride gets in the way of so many things. Parents usually believe they are doing what is best for their child, but frequently impose their own beliefs so strongly they do not see what they are truly missing; an opportunity to love and accept as they would wish for themselves.

This topic is sensitive, but should not be in my opinion. I pray someday all people will be able to be themselves without fear of ridicule.

Thank you again for reading one of my hubs and commenting.

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on April 07, 2012:

Interesting article about a sensitive subject. Many people overreact because of their own hidden fears. It is difficult enough growing up with all that kids have to go through, including the various levels of rejection and bullying. How much more difficult is it if our own parents reject us? Good points.

Tams R (author) from Missouri on February 08, 2012:

Thanks for commenting CM. I believe people in general could learn much from acceptance and creating a new normal.

CM Sullivan from California on February 08, 2012:

I laughed while reading this hub. People can act crazy when it comes to what others in their life think about them and what society in general thinks about them. I feel that parents who obsess about their kid being gay are, in a large part, scared of how it reflects on them in the eyes of friends, family, and society. They don't want to be the "different" family. Interesting article Tams, and funny,(in a look at how stupid people can be way).

Tams R (author) from Missouri on February 02, 2012:

Alocsin, thank you for your thoughtful comment. Thanks for adding the interesting facts about China and India. I think many standards are set out of our own fears.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 02, 2012:

An excellent hub about a sensitive issue. I think too that a lot of how we expect men and women to behave depends on culture. For example, in China, men hold hands. In India, men and women in traditional areas cannot hold hands, let alone hug. Voting this Up and Interesting.

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