START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

How To Support The Gay Kids In Your Life

How To Support The Gay Kids In Your Life

By Rick Clemons for YourTango.com.

I’m 50, I’m gay, and I was once a confused, mixed up, hormones-raging male teen, shamefully hiding my truth. Not only was I dealing with unfortunate physical manifestations of attraction at all the wrong times (as most teen males do), mine were coming to life due to my puppy love for half the guys in high school. I’d rather eat my dissected frog in biology class than admit I wanted to kiss Darrell, Seth, Michael and Cory.

Instead, I tucked my desires, along with everything else, back into my Fruit of the Looms, fully believing no other gay kids existed in my isolated, faith-based boarding high school. I was convinced I was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the only guy of 200 on campus that was constantly assaulted by “Woof, woof, he’s hot” thoughts.

Based on all the evidence before me, I’d convinced myself I was the only freak of nature for miles around the hills of Arkansas. All the other guys were desperately trying to get to third base with the girls. I, on the other hand, fantasized that they were making out with me, wrapping themselves around my chest, and well, beyond that I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I knew was that the sight boy next-door smiles made me weak in the knees. I did nothing further to sort out what was happening to me, except wage a solo battle with the demons in my head. I definitely didn’t explore the possibility of finding other gay kids in my area.

More from YourTango: How Will I React If My Child is Gay?

If you suspect, or know that your child is gay, trust me: they’re feeling the same way I did. Feet glued to the ground, they’re immobilized by any truth to the possibility that there are other gay kids like them. Feeling hopeless and helpless, they charge full-tilt toward the wicked idea that “I’m not good enough.” Left to its own accord, this thinking will take up permanent residence in their brains. Thankfully, you, their parent, teacher, brother, sister, grandparent can be a support system, guiding them to the (very true) belief that gay kids rock. However, before you do that, you need some tools at your disposal to make them feel loved, accepted and appreciated for the beautiful gift they are to the world.

7 Powerful Tools For Helping Gay Kids Be Themselves

1. Assure them they’re normal. Very few gay men and women ever stormed out of the closet filled with self-confidence and sporting their rainbow, “Don’t Mess With Me” cape. Feeling like you’re a freak is normal teen junk stuffed in your backpack… gay kids simply load their bag with a few more pounds of “not good enough” beliefs.

2. Watch your mouth and tell others to do the same. Even the biggest supporters of gay kids learned to clean up their own diarrhea of the mouth. A simple, “That looks a little girly”, or an unintentional, “Stop being such a cry baby”, devastate and cause gay kids to clam up. Thinking before we speak in the presence of gay kids, or kids you suspect might be gay, is a subtle nudge that shows you are a safe confidant.

More from YourTango: Have An LGBT Child? Be Supportive Through Your Concerns

3. Support without retort. As a parent, I often find myself, with my own non-gay kids, doling out support and advice in retort to some flippant remark they make. Slow down, and listen to the gay kids in your life without snapping back with advice responses to their words. Like other kids, gay kids are extremely sensitive, even if they seem tough and try to take care of themselves. It’s wonderful to be at the ready with advice, just be sure that’s truly what’s needed at the time.

4. Go back to school. One of the toughest places for gay kids is school. Taunting, teasing, bullying make headline news daily with stories about gay bullying. Instead of reading the headlines, make the headlines. Reach out to organizations like the Gay Straight Alliance, PFLAG, Trevor Project, and get educated about gay kids and the dangers they face. The more you know, the more they know you care.

5. Make no assumptions. Not unlike the Bubba at school who assumes Joel is gay because he wears skinny jeans, a white t-shirt, and a chartreuse cardigan, you may have seen a feminine man or masculine woman and assumed you knew they were gay.

Instead of carrying a load of “are they, or aren’t they” on your shoulder, instead create a safe space where your actions and words show gay kids that no assumptions are being made. Show them that one of the greatest gifts we can give each other is to not assume. When gay kids are ready to share, they will, especially if they feel safe speaking to you.

6. Empathize, validate, and reassure. We all love to feel understood. For gay kids, these desires are multiplied tenfold. Whether they come right out and tell you, “I’m gay”, or they play denial dodgeball, your best approach is to empathize with them, validate their feelings and reassure them they’re not the only gay kids in their school, social circles, church, city, state, etc.

More from YourTango: Think Your Child Is Gay? You Probably Don’t Need An App For That

To empathize with gay kids, don’t say you understand because you don’t. Instead, become their ally and let them know you’ve experienced similar feelings of confusion in different ways in your own life. Meeting them on the empathetic playing field makes it easier to validate their feelings. You don’t have to be gay or lesbian yourself to share the moments when you finally understood that it was normal to feel what you were feeling. Finally, reassure them that you care, you love them, and you’ll do everything in your power help them in their struggle.

7. Don’t be someone you aren’t. One of the quickest ways to be unsupportive is to pretend to be someone you’re not. If you haven’t come to terms with your own beliefs about homosexuality, then be honest with the gay kids in your life and let them know you’re still trying to sort out how you feel about homosexuality — not how you feel about them. Gay kids can be defense driven. Even the slightest bit of patronizing will cause them to call “fake!” and not trust you. Honesty, when delivered from a place of compassion, signals to gay kids that you’re an adult with integrity.

Gay kids may not yet be capable of explaining who they are and why they feel the way they do. As adults, we need to proudly own the responsibility for guiding kids, gay kids included, toward their authentic selves. In return, we become our authentic selves, making the world a better place for everyone.

Sign-up for Ricks’ Free Video Series, “Coming Out Without Coming Unglued!”

This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: How To Support Gay Kids In A Homophobic World.

Read more: Love, Relationships, , , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

YourTango

YourTango is a digital media company dedicated to love and relationships. No matter what lovestage our users are in—single, taken, engaged, married, starting over, or complicated—we help them live their best love lives.

41 comments

+ add your own
10:37AM PST on Dec 3, 2013

good advice and do not remain silent when you are present for any bullying

4:01PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

Margot S. @ 1:19PM PST on Nov 29, 2013 Needs to be flagged for spam.

4:00PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

And when someone comes in and posts "Omg are you gay!?" That's when you stick up for your friend. That's when you come in with literal actions and say or do something and others will also. Not ALL parents support this, sorry. A lot of kids are disowned and live in hell forever. Just help your friends stick up for them and be there for them always.

9:28PM PST on Nov 30, 2013

Luckily my parents are supportive. Im gay, and i haven't had any problems at all truly, especially since my best friend is gay too.

1:37AM PST on Nov 30, 2013

Next up on our (least) favorite Care2.com game show broadcast live from Austin, MN. 55912 "The SPAM is WRONG" is Margot S.

Oh boy, the bats are out tonight...

As far as the article is concerned, forwarded to a friend

11:37AM PST on Nov 29, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

11:07AM PST on Nov 28, 2013

ABUSE AND MISUSE OF THE CARE2 WEBSITE FOR FREE ADVERTISING ...

Mary B. @ 8:12 pm PST on November 27, 2013

UNACCEPTABLE AND SHOULD BE DELETED IMMEDIATELY.

11:01AM PST on Nov 28, 2013

It only takes a smile to offer welcome ...
and blessed be the person who will share it.

It only takes a minute to be helpful ...
and blessed be the person who will spare it.

It only takes one joy to lift a spirit ...
and blessed be the person who will give it.

It only takes ONE life to make a difference ...
and blessed be the person who will live it.

Know any of these, if so give thanks ... if you don't, my wish is that tomorrow you will run into one of them. HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

8:29AM PST on Nov 28, 2013

ty

4:09AM PST on Nov 28, 2013

It is a parents' role to support their children in any way they can, after all they will come across enough people only too keen to put them down when they leave home.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Glad I didn't live back then, with all my cats, I would probably be considered a witch.

Amazed the pig didn't even twitch while the goat was playing all over it!

Given the fact that colder weather is coming, one is going to have to grow everything inside, as the…

CONTACT THE EDITORS



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.