One awesome way to support your gay son (yes, there’s a Lady Gaga costume involved)

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Oh this post from Dan Savage makes me so happy:

14-year-old Elliot (shown in this montage video that he notes “Dad let me upload :D”) has been out to his family since he was 12. For Halloween, Elliot’s mom made his Lady Gaga costume and helped with makeup, and then his dad (costumed as a bodyguard) accompanied him to West Hollywood so that Elliot could go dance and sing with all the other street revelers.

It’s so awesome to see how times are shifting for some gay teens …

Even just in the 15ish years since I graduated high school, there’s been a huge shift in the number of gay teens who are comfortable coming out to their families in high school (or even middle school!) and it’s so inspiring to see parents respond with such deep loving support.

I mean, it seems like such common sense: isn’t it much smarter for dad to accompany his teenaged son to WeHo instead of the 14-year-old likely sneaking out and going by himself? (Because let’s be honest here — if I was a 14-year-old gay boy [which I totally am inside my head] I would get myself in some SERIOUS trouble in WeHo.) Yay for supportive parents who really understand the value of harm reduction!

I grew up a theater dork in high school in a liberal suburb of Seattle, and I shared the stage with several teenaged boys who would eventually come out in college. But absolutely NONE of them were out in the late ’80s/early ’90s. This was definitely the era of “I love my dead gay son.”

A couple years ago, I went to see my cousin in a production at my old high school. Same theater. Same stage. Even the same old teacher directing the show! But after the play it was immediately obvious how things were different: several of the cast members were clearly completely out.

As my family was congratulating my cousin for his performance, an adorable blond boy sashayed over, threw his arm around my cousin, and squealed at us “Doesn’t Austin just look SO GREAT in eye make-up?”

Of course we all agreed (I think Andreas said something like, “Duh: guyliner makes everyone look glamorous!”) and I was left marveling at just how much had changed. My aunt explained that she’d known the blondie since he was in elementary school, and he’d come out to family and friends “years ago” and it was a non-issue.

Even portrayals in popular media have shifted, as anyone who watches Glee and saw Kurt’s coming out scene can attest. His meathead dad was like “Yeah, I’ve known you were gay since you were three. Whatever.” We’ve come a long way since “My dead gay son” was a punchline.

So here’s to Elliot/Lady Gaga and his folks, and all the parents of gay teens who are truly supportive and accepting of their children. As one commenter on the original blog post says:

Miss Poppy and her husband have done themselves a favor by being able to accept the truth and stand beside their son … by doing the hard work and coming to terms with the truth early, they’ve greatly enriched their son’s life and their own.

How many gay men are open with their parents about who they’re dating, what they want out of life, or even what they did last weekend? How many parents are too uncomfortable to even ask? Or too petrified to give advice or even criticism?

By being close with their son and truly knowing him, they are having a more positive influence on him than they will ever know. His odds of being a happy, decent adult have skyrocketed. And since that’s what good parents want, they are much more likely to be happy as well.


Comments on One awesome way to support your gay son (yes, there’s a Lady Gaga costume involved)

  1. Contrary to some stuff I read *cough David Brook's NYTimes column today cough* about how teenagers and youth now are interacting differently than they did "in the good old days", I would consider these the "much improved days" with how open and tolerant kids are of difference, but also how relationships no longer have such a heavy hegemonic, patriarchal tilt to them. You know, the youth these days don't really date. They hang out with friends in groups, on more equal terms, and then commit to each other after that. Less fakeness, more genuineness. So much better! And being able to be out in high school, to accepting peers? Dramatic improvement! I see a lot of hope for the future with what we've got now.

  2. I can attest to the fact that the idea of "my dead gay son" is, well, dead. I graduated in 2005 in OHIO of all places… and until this blog post, I had never even heard the phrase "my dead gay son."

    • FUNNY. I grew up in Toledo, Ohio and left in 2005, and I decided to read a few comments for clues before I googled “my dead gay son.” Here’s to Midwest cluelessness…

  3. Hm, I don't know that not hearing a phrase means that every gay kid is able to come out to his/her parents. I have a gay cousin (in Canada of all places) who will probably NEVER come out to his conservative parents.

    But this article does, indeed, make me feel wonderfully proud of how far our society has come in a few short years. Still more to go, though.

    • I should have been more clear about the metaphor I was making. I guess I was just pointing out that all my gay friends in high school had extremely supportive parents. However, I'm sure there were plenty who weren't out to anyone, let alone their parents. No parents from the era of "I love my dead gay son" that Ariel referenced.

  4. my rather conservative and–dare i say it–backward thinking friend found out that she and her husband were expecting a couple months before we did. she found out a couple months ago that she's growing a little penis inside her. so after she found out, we were hanging out together, and she said to me, "oh shit, what if you have a girl and they get married??" and i broke out in a big idiot's grin and said, "what if i have a BOY and they get married?" her horrified reaction was a little disappointing though. honestly, how can you NOT love your kids for who they are? they are part of us, and we help make them who they are!

  5. In a weird way, my parents (well, my dad mostly) were fairly disappointed when I didn't turn out gay. I think it might have been his fear of me coming home pregnant, or his love of his gay sister, but at least he wasn't open about the disappointment to me…I just happened to come across some old letters from his sister reassuring him that "even though she's straight, she'll be alright".

    That sort of threw me for a loop.

  6. What a great article, so inspiring to hear. I once got into a major argument with my FIL about how kids are coming out younger and younger, and he felt that it was “just a phase” and kids would do it “for attention or to fit in”. I argued, “So what? If it is or isn’t, how is that any different than someone who is gay pretending to be straight?” He was completely not on board. I know that my husband and I will be able to raise someone who is proud of who they are, no matter who they love.

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