I stumbled on your website out of of desperation. I’m 28 years old. I found out my father was gay when I was 13, but I had to keep it a secret for nearly ten years, because my father said he wasn’t ready to tell my younger brother — or anyone else for that matter.
I was made to accept my family’s situation very quietly and had no one to talk to as it was “a secret.” I love my father and thought we had a good relationship, but lately I feel so angry. Or maybe confused. I fear that this confusion is coloring my own relationships (I’m straight, and tend to go from one bad relationship to the next). I’ve never actually spoken with anyone who has a gay parent before and think that this might help me. Do you know of any chat rooms you’d recommend?
Listen up, parents. See how unfair it is to drag your children into the closet with you? See how they grow up having to sort through warped ideas about honesty, authenticity and successful relationships? DO NOT DO THIS TO YOUR CHILDREN. Spare me the “kids are resilient” blow-off speech I hear way too often from parents who expect their children to keep their secret. This “kid” is 28 and still rightfully angry and confused.
K, my heart goes out to you. Your father selfishly put you in a terrible position that compromised your right to open and supportive relationships with anyone and everyone. I can’t excuse his choices, but one time a son of a closeted gay dad told me he had more compassion for his father’s choices by realizing that, “People who are scared often act in selfish ways.”
It was wrong for your father to expect you to keep his secret, especially from your own brother. I hope you can find some comfort in the suggestion that your father acted out of fear, oblivious to the impact his fear had on you.
Kids of LGBT parents need to be able to talk about it, share with other people who know where they are coming from, and above all, not have to carry the burden of their parents’ shame. I recommend connecting with COLAGE. There is a listserve (not a chat room) for kids of LGBT parents, ages 22 and older. This list is closed to adult children only, so it is safe space for you to share your experiences with other people from similar situations.
In addition to COLAGE, I also recommend counseling. Secrets are toxic. This toxicity was always present in your life as you developed from teenager to adult, distorting your views of what relationships are worthy of your pursuit. Obviously you can’t go back and “fix” your family history. But you are a grown-up now and you have the opportunity to figure out your own criteria for authentic relationships. A counselor can help you sort through this and help you identify and stop the patterns that keep you in your cycle of relationships that are bad for you.