When Your Son Thinks He Is Gay
~ 9 min read
Jean and Bill sought a psychological consult regarding their youngest son, Lucas, a senior in high school. Bill described a text message he found on Lucas’s phone to a boy from school confirming that he would be coming over for “man sex.”
Not long before this incident, Bill had gone into his son’s room and found Lucas quickly covering his computer screen. Bill asked his son what he was looking at and, without much struggle, Lucas showed him a male porn site.
Lucas’s parents wanted to know what to do and what to say to Lucas. They didn’t want to do the wrong thing and make things worse. Despite feeling panicked, Lucas’s mom and dad presented themselves in a composed and engaging manner. They struggled to try to make sense of why their son would think he was gay and said they didn’t believe that he really was. No one else in their family had ever had these issues.
In their description of Lucas, they offered that he did not appear effeminate or have other “signs” of being gay. They described him as a follower and insecure and wondered whether he was just wanting to fit into the group of kids most likely to accept him, especially since they had just moved to Boston only a year ago. They were also suspicious about the role of the other boy in seducing him.
Bill and Jean had been going over Lucas’ history in their minds — particularly experiences with girls — searching for answers. They thought it was significant that, not long ago, he had been rejected by a girl he had been dating. They also pointed out when he was 12, they discovered that he was frequenting heterosexual porn sites, and at that point, limited his computer use.
Lucas’s parents admitted that they were relatively traditional in their values and did not want their son to be gay. They believed that Lucas knew their views about this issue and how they would feel if he were gay. Jean described having reacted to the news of this incident by becoming tearful and a bit angry. She initially resisted the idea of letting Lucas know that she would love and accept him no matter what, fearful that this would involve giving him “permission” to be gay and, therefore, encourage him. She informed Lucas that being gay would be an undesirable, difficult lifestyle for him and challenged him about why he would choose that. She seemed to believe she could scare or force Lucas out of thinking he was gay and gave him mixed messages about how she felt.
Despite internally feeling similar to his wife, Lucas’s dad had what he described as an accepting and open talk with Lucas after he found the text. Bill reported that in his talk with his son, he was focused on trying to find out whether Lucas knew for sure at this point that he was gay. In response, Lucas denied knowing or thinking he was gay and said he was just confused — providing some needed reassurance to his parents.
Lucas was 17. His manner and speech immediately displayed stereotypical gay affectations. He readily opened up and seemed curiously eager to announce matter-of-factly that he had been struggling for years with secretly feeling attracted to boys and hiding it from his parents.
Lucas claimed he had never acted on his “crushes” — never consummating anything sexual with another boy. He discussed his recent planned encounter and revealed that the other boy, who was “out” as gay, approached him in a rather persistent and persuasive way. The other boy had assumed that Lucas was gay but maybe had not yet come to terms with it, wanting Lucas to explore that with him. Lucas noted that, although he had felt attracted to boys, he was not attracted to this boy at all but capitulated — hoping that this experience would help him find out whether he was gay or not. Interestingly, he said he was actually relieved when his father “busted” him so that he wouldn’t have to go through with it.
Lucas came across as a kid who was unsure of himself but covered it up with an air of bravado. He seemed a bit mad at his parents and had a slightly rebellious, sarcastic tone in talking about them with regard to this issue. He assumed I already knew what happened when he was alone with his mom at home the day following the discovery of the text message. I told him I didn’t.
Lucas proceeded in telling the story with gusto, but asked me not to let on to his parents that I knew because he felt that they would be even more upset with him. Lucas went on to describe his mom as having become hysterical after finding out about the text, going on a drinking binge, crying and yelling out of control in desperation and despair.
Lucas told me without hesitation that his parents could not handle him being gay, and that he knew he was disappointing them. He said that he was confused about himself anyway but believed he was gay more than he would let on to them.
About Lynn Margolies, Ph.D.Dr. Lynn Margolies is a psychologist and former Harvard Medical School faculty and fellow, and has completed her internship and post-doc at McLean Hospital. She has helped people from all walks of life with relationship, family, life problems, trauma, and psychological symptoms including depression, anxiety, and chronic conditions. Dr. Margolies has worked in inpatient, outpatient, residential and private practice settings. She has supervised others, and consulted to clinics, hospitals, universities, newspapers. Dr. Margolies has appeared in media -- on news and talk shows, and written columns for various publications. Dr. Margolies is currently in private practice in Newton Centre, MA. Visit her website at drlynnmargolies.com.
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Margolies, L. (2013). When Your Son Thinks He Is Gay. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 3, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/when-your-son-thinks-he-is-gay/