*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
Figuring out your own identity can be a difficult, often painful, task.
But what happens when you figure someone else out and they aren’t quite ready to accept it?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) platefoodaway came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for telling my son that he is obviously gay?”
OP began with a little bit of history.
“My son (17m) has apparently been in the closet for the past 7 months.”
“So, my son is fairly masculine/straight acting if that makes sense. However, he’s very obviously had a boyfriend (18m) for the past 7 months.”
“He sometimes baby talks to this boy, hugs him all the time, has called him handsome, share clothes, sits away too close to each other to the point where they’re basically cuddling.”
“He closes his bedroom door when with him but not any other friends, sees him like every day, buys him gifts, and for the past 7 months, he now always smells great, has his hair fixed really nice, and dresses nicer, among other things.”
“Today, I asked my son if he was going to invite his boyfriend on our trip, and he got awkward and said, ‘that’s not funny.’ I asked what he meant, and he said, ‘I’m straight, that’s not funny.’ I laughed, and when I realized he was serious, I started laughing even harder.”
“I told him he was very obviously in a relationship with a guy and did a terrible job at hiding it, he got emotional and started asking me not to tell his dad (my husband already knows, like I said, it was obvious).”
OP was left to wonder,
“Then he got upset saying outed him when he wasn’t ready, he hasn’t said a word to me in a couple days. AITA?”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: YTA
Some responses were less interested in blame than fixing the problem.
“Honestly, deciding if you are or aren’t TA or had malicious intentions or not seems less important than making sure your son feels safe, comfortable, and loved.”
“I think you should go to him and:”
“-First, apologize for laughing at him. No matter your intentions, it’s rude and probably made him feel SO belittled.”
“-Second, apologize for making an assumption about his identity and trying to ascribe your take on to him.”
“-Third, explain that your assumption was simply based on your read of the dynamic between him and this boy.”
“But you realize now that the only people who get to make decisions about what they are, or are not, to each other is the two of them.”
“And whether he has those feelings or not is not for you to dictate, nor demand he explains to you.”
“You can explain that maybe it felt obvious or clear to you.”
“But you realize now that your take matters far less than his, and you’re sorry for imposing your perspective on him or making him confront revelations about himself that he may not have been ready to fully address.”
“Fourth, for the love of god, TELL HIM THAT YOU LOVE AND SUPPORT HIM NO MATTER WHAT HIS IDENTITY IS AND REGARDLESS OF WHETHER HE FEELS READY TO DISCLOSE SUCH PERSONAL THINGS TO YOU YET.”
“Also kinda YTA because laughing in your kid’s face, laughing AT them, is super rude.” ~ Rose8918
“This is the way!!”
“Lots of commenters here are severely underestimating just how terrifying being a queer kid is when you don’t 100% know how your parents might react.”
“He’s obviously scared of a negative reaction from his parents. That’s so clear here.”
“YTA for minimizing his fears and for not realizing that his fears are there because you haven’t done the groundwork of establishing that he’d be safe to come out to you.” ~ SnooRecipes865
OP’s reaction took a lot of the judgments.
“‘For not realizing that his fears are there because you haven’t done the groundwork of establishing that he’d be safe to come out to you.'”
“Parents can lay out the groundwork, and it will STILL be terrifying.”
“Speaking from experience.”
“OP had a horrible reaction, true, but I wouldn’t assume anything about what groundwork was laid. I wouldn’t want other parents to think they failed because they couldn’t remove a societal-based fear.” ~zeocca
“That’s very true.”
“Even if the groundwork were laid, they very likely dug up a lot of that work by laughing at their kid during the revelation.” ~ Reddit
“At 15, I had started saying I was bi to some really close friends.”
“Mom found out and told me to not come out online bc I was 15 it was probably just a phase!”
“Now, 8 years later, I know for sure my parents wouldn’t care and would love me either way, but am still planning on not telling them until I bring a girl home. Groundwork isn’t everything.” ~ itwillhavegeese
Many had personal stories.
“Yes. This. Thank you.”
“I hate this thread so much rn.”
“So many NTAs, and a lot from the community.”
“I had probably the easiest coming out in lgbtqia+ history.”
“At least for someone who didn’t have other queer folks to turn to, ask questions to etc. I grew up in a smallish town too.”
“My parents were chill, and my 3/4 older siblings were chill. I lived in SoCal and stillllllll.”
“I wasn’t ready to come out until my first gf broke up with me.”
“I needed to talk about it.”
“Plus while I was dating her, I didn’t need the pressure or rules placed on couples in high school. I wanted the bubble.”
“Plus, no matter my situation, I could never predict how my family would react because I, and they, had never really met an out member of the community.” ~ Alauren2
“I didn’t come out to my family until I had moved out. To another country. On another continent. They were accepting, but I didn’t know that.” ~ SnooRecipes865
“I really wish that this comment was closer to the top.”
“For all the commenters saying what a scary time it is today for gay kids, believe me, you can’t begin to imagine what it was like in 1978.”
“That’s the year my Dad asked me at the kitchen table if I was gay.”
“He picked a night when my Mom was in the hospital. Thank the Goddess that just as he asked the question a car on the street crashed into mine, and the question went unanswered.”
“Two months later, I was in the hospital, and at closing time, my Dad walks into the room while my boyfriend was there.”
“The next morning, he calls to tell me he knows, it’s okay, I’m his son, and he loves me. He never told Mom, that was for me.”
“While coming out may be our story to tell, it doesn’t just affect us, we don’t live our lives in a vacuum.”
“Three years before he asked the question, I had been sitting on a bridge railing contemplating jumping.”
“The thought of disappointing my Roman Catholic high school teacher mother and construction father was almost more than I could bear.”
“But families surprise us sometimes. I was one of the lucky ones. I was loved unconditionally.”
“I clearly understand people’s opinions here, but I do believe that OP came from a place of love and compassion, albeit somewhat clumsily. ❤️” ~ certainPOV3369
Others pointed out that this is a complex issue.
“Very much agreed!”
“Also, to expand on your second point a bit: discovering & coming to terms with your sexual identity is rarely as simple as, ‘I’m dating a man, so I’m gay.”’
“He could be bi/pan, or he could be sorting through his previous romantic experiences/crushes and trying to figure out what it ‘meant’ that he was or wasn’t attracted to those people at the time.”
“At that’s not even getting into the internalized homophobia most of us have to fight our way through, just to see ourselves clearly.”
“Basically, it might feel easy for OP to say, ‘He’s gay, he should just accept it, what’s the problem?'”
“But the reality of the situation is far more nuanced than that and involves sorting through and untangling a lot of social conditioning.”
“(OP look up ‘compulsory heterosexuality’ if you’re unfamiliar with the term. It could help you find a more sympathetic perspective to what your son may be going through.)”
“This is all obviously conjecture from my own experience and may or may not apply to this specific situation.”
“But my point is that it’s never straightforward and easy to figure out and come to terms with your sexuality, and the son probably needs gentle support, not mockery, while he navigates that process.” ~ lavinderwinter
Figuring yourself out can be challenging, painful, and time-consuming.
Accepting the person you find yourself to be is even harder.
Patience and understanding go a long way in helping, but support and safety are paramount.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
If the article focuses on LGBTQ+ youth:
LGBTQ+ Youth can get help through:
- TrevorChat — 24/7/365 at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/#services
- TrevorLifeline — phone service available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386
- TrevorText — Text “START” to 678678. Available 24/7/365.
- TrevorSpace — online international peer-to-peer community for LGBTQ young people and their friends at https://www.trevorspace.org/
Trevor Support Center — LGBTQ youth & allies can find answers to FAQs and explore resources at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/trevor-support-center/#sm.0000121hx9lvicotqs52mb1saenel