When the Closet Door Gets Slammed in Your Face

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Dear Dharma,

My son is gay. I’m fine with that but my husband, and my husband’s family, are not.

Prior to our son coming out to us, my family was close. We could talk about anything (which is why my son felt comfortable coming out) and we spent lots of time together.

Now everything is chaos.

As I was congratulating my son on his bravery in coming out and telling him that we loved him no matter what, my husband was shaking his head and saying, “No, you’re not.”

To say that my husband’s reaction was shock is an understatement! Within minutes my husband was on the phone to his parents, outing their grandchild to him. They later gave him the name of a man that can “pray for and cure” our son.

I have no issue with my son being gay and he deserves to be who he is. I feel like I need to protect my son from his father and his grandparents. Now my son is too scared to tell anyone else and the family is falling apart.

I love my husband and I love my son and I had no idea at all that he felt this way about the issue until it was too late.

What do I do now?

Please help,

Mom on the Edge

Dear MoE,

Oy vay, what a cluster.  I’m sorry it’s gone this way, especially for your son.  You’re right, he was very brave, and now he’s being penalized for that.  What a shame.

Here’s the thing, though.  This was a big revelation for your entire family, by the sounds of it, and everyone needs some time to adjust.

As much as your son should not be penalized for being who he is, your husband and his family shouldn’t be penalized for feeling the way they do about it.  In no way am I saying that their reaction should be condoned and celebrated, I’m just saying, some time and some education can go a long way in a situation like this.

Your first role in this is to run interference.  You need to protect your son from their blatant negativity, and certainly from the man who will pray for and cure him… Gah…

A statement like, “I can see you are having trouble processing this information, and I understand how it must have caught you off guard” is a good starting point. Better than “What kind of idiot are you for reacting this way to our son????”

Bees to honey, right?

Acknowledging their feelings will hopefully open them up to at least hearing something other than exorcism as a solution.  Gah…

Next – do some research.  There are a million sites about this exact situation, and some of the information out there could really help you formulate a strategy that fits yours family… because it’s not a one size fits all kind of dynamic.

The first person you need to reach is your husband.  Because until he comes to terms with this, and realizes his son his still his son and the love is unconditional, you’ve got a camp firmly divided, and that’s no good for anyone.

Your son needs you to fight this battle on his behalf, so consider counselling if you don’t think you are able to make the headway required with your husband.  With or without him.

If that’s successful, which I am really hoping it will be, now you’ve got an ally who can help you navigate the rest of the family with.  Your son needs as many advocates as possible right now, so do everything you can to be there for him.  Consider finding some groups he can join where he can talk this out with people who are going through, or have gone through, the exact same thing… Guaranteed they are out there.

Hoping this was even somewhat helpful, and sending strong and positive thoughts to the lot of you…

Dharma

 

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