What if your child were gay?

As a teenager, the only meaning to the word gay I knew was, being happy.  Besides, homo sexuality was something people either never spoke of or did in real low tones. But, the term has ever since been used judiciously and is no longer used in a hush-hush manner anymore. Recently, FaceBook launched its “Celebrate Pride” tool to support the same sex marriage post the supreme court rule that declared that same-sex marriage as a fundamental constitutional right in the US. And, back home a lot of our friends changed their profile picture to the rainbow colors.

Well, no, I wasn’t one of them and yes, it’s alright if you did. I didn’t because;

1. I don’t live in America and

2. I don’t know how changing my profile picture to a particular theme will support any cause, leave alone gay rights!

Ever since, I casually went about asking a few parents if they would oblige when their son/daughter some day walked up to them and told them that they were gay. Some refused to comment and the others were in “thought mode” and were taken aback. That said, I’m sure a lot of you have dreaded answering questions on the whole LGBT front and aren’t prepared to listen to anything out of the usual from your teenager in terms of their sexual orientation.

So what happens when your child is suddenly curious about his/her sexuality or if your daughter walks home one day with another girl and introduces her to you as her girlfriend or your son does the same with another boy? Before you wish you drop dead here are some pointers that will help you deal with such a situation;

1. Understand before you undervalue

 Have you yourself understood what LGBT really means? Before you explain to your child that a man who speaks a certain way or dresses a certain way is gay. You may want to get your facts right. So read up all that there is on the content before you falsely teach your child that a guy who wears a pink shirt is gay!

2. Clarity on your own belief

Ultimately it boils down to what you believe in. Children tend to follow your actions than listen to what you preach. So, they are watching you, whether you condemn the whole concept or if you are supportive it’s essential that you have made it transparent to them on what your thoughts are on the said topic. And remember, based on what you think your child will feel as free or hesitant to discuss these matters with you.

3. It’s fine to be in denial

We do belong to a different generation and may not be able to cope with the unexpected things our children do. I’m sure our own parents thought of us in the same manner, so give it some time before you pass your judgment. You might initially be devastated and it will take a while before everything sinks in.  

4. Speak to a counselor

 If you absolutely cannot handle what you’ve just found out about your child then it may be wise to reach out to professionals for guidance. A counsellors job is not to tell you what is right or wrong but to help you deal with the situation you are in. A lot of us are subject to the age-old worry of “what will people say”, hence it becomes vital to include a professional who will guide you and help you overcome all the ill feelings.

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5. Empathize if not encourage

 You should be happy that your child was able to open up to you about their feelings. This shows that you did create a very strong bond while you raised him/her. Take that in your stride and empathize with them than totally abandoning them. The minute you begin to ignore this or refuse to accept the truth your child will no longer trust you.

In India a lot of us did change our profile picture to the rainbow colors but would you still support the cause if it happened to you? In the end the only thing that matters is your child’s happiness so you may want to already be mentally prepared for all that there is to come. A little bit of tolerance and patience will go a long way. Remember, love is for all.

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