Dear Gay Best Friend,
I need some understanding. My 17-year old son revealed to me that he is bisexual.
I have always thought that he was gay. I think I understand gay and lesbian. Please inform me on bisexuality. I asked my son if he was using prophylactics and he said, “Yes, all the time with boys and girls.” My friends are ok, except one, she thinks that I am too calm. Help me out. – Need Understanding
Dear Ms. Need Understanding,
I am glad to hear that you accept your son for who he is, and that you are inquiring about bi-sexuality. But, just as you stated, you’ve always thought your son was gay, so the news should not have been a surprise.
However, there are many stages to coming out, and a young person, such as your son’s age, will go through several stages, and the first is accepting who he is, then identifying his sexuality (gay or bi-sexual), and then how to tell his parents and friends. It’s difficult for many young people to go through the first stage because it’s all about learning how to accept who they are first. It can be very challenging emotionally and mentally. And, I’m certain your son is experiencing a lot of emotions right now. He is confused, and probably questioning why is this happening to him, and if he will be accepted by his friends.
Don’t push him or force him to talk if he is not ready. Allow him to come to you, but at the same time be open and have a listening ear. There are many books out there for him, and you can provide them for you son. The late author, E. Lynn Harris, wrote many novels about bi-sexuality, and covered the topic quite eloquently. There is also my memoir, Hiding In Hip Hop: On The Down Low in the Entertainment Industry From Music to Hollywood. I share a lot about my experiences and coming to terms with my sexuality.
Then there is the second stage, which your son is going through, and that is telling family and friends, and hoping they will accept them. Most times, people are already suspicious and may have questioned their sexuality and it may be of no surprise to them. But, for many others they are rejected by their family and friends, and then feel isolated and out-casted. It’s difficult for them already, and then to be rejected by the people who love you is devastating.
I think it’s very brave and courageous of him to come out and tell you that he is bi-sexual. I’m certain he was struggling with it for some time, and was hoping that you would be open and understanding. And, credit must be given to you because you listened to him, let him know that he is loved, and then you asked a very good question of if he was protecting himself. Bravo to you!
Most young men will state they are bi-sexual because they cannot admit or refuse to accept that they are gay. The definition of someone who is bi-sexual is: Sexual behavior or an orientation involving physical or romantic attraction to both males and females, especially with regard to men and women. In other words, someone does not have to be exclusively homosexual or heterosexual, but can feel varying degrees of both.
Your son may very well be bi-sexual, and have an attraction to both men and women. But, keep in mind, most people are disturbed by homosexuality, and spew hateful speech against any man who is gay. And, if your son is in an urban environment, I am certain there is a level of machismo that he feels he needs to project. So, instead of admitting he’s gay, he may be saying he’s bi-sexual to avoid being ridiculed or judged.
Think about it, when you hear the word or term “gay,” what comes to mind? Most people think of drag queens, transgender persons, and the famous cross-dresser, RuPaul. Gay, for some, means that men like to dress and act as women. They are extremely effeminate, and every other negative connotation you can think of. But, that’s not the case. All gay men do not want to be women, nor dress like women, or act like women. There are many gay men who are just as average as the heterosexual male living in your neighborhood. And, there are many gay men who enjoy watching and participating in sports, and other rigorous activities. Gay men do not act or look a certain way. So, the caricature and over-the-top theatrics you see on television about gay men are blown way out of proportion.
The problem is that there are not that many positive role models for gay men to look up to or emulate. Most celebrities who are gay, unfortunately, many of them are closeted, because like your son, they do not want to be judged, or criticized for who they are. So, they remain closeted and hide their true selves.
I say continue to be encouraging of your son and allow him to come to you to talk. Don’t be invasive, or intrusive. He will push him further away and he may not be as open to discussing things with you. He’s going to experience a lot, and it’s important that he has someone in his life who continues to show him love and support. And, your friend who thinks you’re too calm about it, tell her to mind her own freaking business. It’s your son, not hers. And, if she can’t accept who he is then get to stepping! – Straight From Your Gay Best Friend
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