When I knew: Parental homophobia

As a child, I remember the few times my parents mentioned gay people. It was never in a positive light.
The first time I heard my dad talk about anything remotely gay was when Hawaii achieved marriage equality (for a short time in the 90′s). He was talking about seeing the people emerge from the courthouse victorious. I can still remember his words.

“I thought for sure they wouldn’t show them kissing on national television! It was disgusting!”

That was the moment I really understood that my parents wouldn’t accept me as a gay person. Even though, I didn’t have the words to say what I was, I knew I was different, and I knew my parents wouldn’t accept that difference.
What about you? Was there a moment that you knew your parents were pro/anti gay?
What were your impressions of LGBT people from your parents?

  • http://thatswhatsummersaid.blogspot.com Summah

    My parents always seemed to be supportive, especially since I have a gay cousin, with whom my dad is really close. But as time went on, I realized that they don't mind it, however, they believe it's a sin punishable by hell.

  • letsxplor

    OK I'll bite. I was probably 10 or so when I first heard the term homosexual – on TV. My parents were dismayed that the word was said, and of course I had to know what it meant. They tried not to tell me, then said it's when two men or two women date or marry each other. My reaction – an excited "you mean you can do that?!" The folks promptly left the room – they could handle no more.
    As I grew up I learned that if I was gay then I was damned to hell. Didn't folks used to think that being left-handed was an abomination? Reckon I'm "guilty" of that too.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/zcbyrnes zcbyrnes

      So many abominations, so little time :-)
      Were you raised in Alabama?

  • http://livefortheworld.com David

    I think the first time I heard my parents say something one way or another was when my dad, my younger brother and I were in the car. I believe my dad was saying something about gay people and my brother asked if my dad felt uncomfortable or something along those lines. My dad's response was "Just cause he's gay doesn't mean he's going to hit on me. I'm straight and I don't hit on every woman I see, so why is it any different?"

    The response (if not the setup) always stuck with me and is probably why I came out to my parents so soon after "coming out to myself" I guess you could say.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/zcbyrnes zcbyrnes

      well you had some of them "yankee liberal" parents. I wish I had. Though if i had your parents it would certainly make our current relationship a bit awkward..

  • http://www.bessemeropinions.com Joe

    My mother died way before I considered that I might be gay (although I knew I was different) but my dad never said anything anti-gay, and as I brought gay friends around he was always supportive and friendly. I regret, strongly regret, that I never told him that I was gay before he died. I truly believe that both he and my mother would have been OK with it. I will take that a step further. I think my mother knew, before she died. Mothers always seem to know.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/zcbyrnes zcbyrnes

      I think you're right, Joe. Mothers and maybe even grandmothers always seem to know.

      • Russell

        I agree with that competely, although I think dads could know as well, if they were around or knew which signals to pick up on.

  • Russell

    The first time I thought about parents approval, or lack of it, was at breakfast one morning when I was about 10. Somehow the conversation was about jobs that men were good at and jobs that women were good at. We were all rattling off jobs that men could do or would be good at: chef, mechanic, etc when my dad said "well, men make the best lovers"! We all started laughing and going "wooooo!" and dad got embarrassed at what he said, got mad, and out of the blue said "no son of mine will ever be a homo". The laughing stopped and the conversation was abruptly over. I knew that I was gay even at that age, but did not come out to him "officially" till I was nearly 30.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/zcbyrnes zcbyrnes

      What happened when you did tell them?

      • Russell

        He asked me if I had told my brother and his wife. I said no, and he "ordered" me to keep it that way, because "then her family would all know, and none of them could keep a secret". That has been about 16 years ago, and about 5 years ago he (possibly with the help of my mother) did a complete turn-around. Now both of my parents, and my brother and his family, have all come to embrace me and my partner of 20 years.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/zcbyrnes zcbyrnes

          Wow, that's awesome!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/zcbyrnes zcbyrnes

    Quick Note: If you register with IntenseDebate, your comments will be approved automatically. I didn't expect so many comments, I'm glad ya'll are reading!

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/zcbyrnes zcbyrnes

    Quick Note: If you register with IntenseDebate, your comments will be approved automatically. I didn't expect so many comments, I'm glad ya'll are reading! Also, you can vote on each other's comments :-)

  • donbellew

    I think their very silence was enough to tell me. My parents didn't “say” bad things. They ignored them. By pretending “dirt” didn't exist, they kept their world “clean and pure”. I knew I didn't belong in their “clean and pure” world. Never would. Silence is not always golden, is it?


  • donbellew

    I think their very silence was enough to tell me. My parents didn't “say” bad things. They ignored them. By pretending “dirt” didn't exist, they kept their world “clean and pure”. I knew I didn't belong in their “clean and pure” world. Never would. Silence is not always golden, is it?


  • jon

    My parents/mom to be exact- believed she had she god-given right to snoop into the lives of all of her children(and their friends). I had received a letter at her house from a guy I met in London. Of course she opened it and found out. After a 2 hr screaming session she then slashed the tires of my car. Now this was not a ignorant red neck women,just a little mad. When my dad got home to this disaster he promptly left to come back a week later. 40 years later she managed to say she was sorry the nite before she died.

  • MarcFrey

    My parents, mostly my mother, always have had mixed reactions about the LGBT community. They wouldn't often talk about it, but I had noticed that when my mom did, she always used the 'bad' terms, aka queer, faggot.

    As for my dad, I could never tell. He's always been the more liberal of the two, but he was also raised in a heavily catholic family.my mom was reminding me how my sisters dressed me up as a girl when I was 10. This I remembered, what I didn't remember was that my father actually got angry and made me take off the dress. She continued by telling me “Oh, he probably was scared it might turn you gay”.

    This scared the crap out of me. though I had many fears, I also knew that they told me they'd support me with what ever decision I took. So a few months after the latter story I came out. Both are fully fine with it. They both, funnily enough, have been a lot more careful with the terms they use around me now.


  • Michael

    They threw me out at 19 but celebrated my wedding in Spain at 50. Times change people change. (I say that to any young people upset by their parents' responses)

  • GraceSorrow

    My parents, now divorced, are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. My mom is extremely liberal, and my dad is very conservative. My mom has always been spritual, but not religious. My dad is a devout Christian, sings in the curch choir, and has a 'daily prayer discipline'. My mom has always been very vocal about civil rights and gay rights. My dad never said much about gays or lesbians, but taught me to love people of all races because they are all God's children. When I told both my parents, at 15, that I was bisexual, would you believe that my dad was the one who was totally okay with it? My mom tried every rationalization and justification in the book, from “All girls experiment, it doesn't mean you're really bi,” to “Are you sure you aren't just angry at men right now?” Eighteen years later, she still thinks I'll grow out of it. In the meantime, I've had some great talks with my Republican, Christian father, and discovered that his silence hid an incredibly accepting attitude. When his church (Episcopal) started threatening a schism over ordaining gays, my father said that he would end up with whatever segment of the church had the integrity to do so. His statement was simple- 10+% of the population is no abberation, so God must have intended fo there to be gays, and if it came down to a choice between the Church and his God, he'd go with God every time, because in the end, it's all about God. Sometimes people surprise you, and support seems to come from the unlikeliest of corners.

  • Dave

    I knew my father was OK when he suggested I go to a liberal college rather than the conservative one I was thinking about. He said the liberal college even had a gay group on campus. I knew then he suspected so that made it easier to tell him when the time came.

  • san diego sunshine

    mine were terribly homophobic as well. i actually remember my foster mother, (director of medical records for a large city hospital) making fun of a gay couple that was dying and in need of help. she acted out a role playing scenario over dinner one night. i was so crushed beneath it all that she would “fem” it up to show her disgust and i knew from that moment on – i would NEVER be accepted. haven't spoken to her in almost 20 years.

  • Sstevens

    My, mom told me when I came out of the closet that she would support me no matter what. I believed her until she proclaimed that I'm only going through a phase and that someday I would be cured and get married and have beautiful babies and the perfect family that she herself could never accomplish…that doesn't sound very supportive to me. :/

  • http://originalcialis.com/ tiandara

    Parents, especially mothers always know who you are,  even if you don’t tell them, they guess it. Anyway they don’t support this idea they will always love you whoever you would be.