Maximilian Geißler and Andrea Przyyclek
Homosexuality has long been a public issue, especially when it comes to homosexual men. Many celebrities and artists such as the former Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit or actor Dirk Bach publicly stand up for their homosexuality. Lesbians are now publicly professing, such as the actresses Ulrike Folkerts and Maren Kroymann, the singer Marla Glen or the writer Anne Holt. There are gay films that are very successful. The comic artist Ralf König with his gay figures has become popular with heterosexuals as well. There is even “gay marriage” now.
But tolerance often doesn’t go far. The statement “I have nothing against homosexuals” becomes a waste for many people at the latest when their own child confesses to be gay or lesbian. Old prejudices come up, the fear of the reaction of family, friends and acquaintances clears itself. The child’s own and the future suddenly look less rosy. The parents worry about the child’s professional career and they see how their own ideas about a future with grandchildren and daughter-in-law or son-in-law dissolve. Everything they once dreamed and hoped for for their child seems to float away. AIDS, little more than a word so far, is becoming a terrible threat.
Wedding of the first gay couple in Stuttgart
Most of these fears stem from ignorance. Let’s be honest: What do we really know about the life of homosexuals, about their difficulties in a heterosexual world? What do we really know about AIDS? Not much, because many of us don’t (at least consciously) know homosexuals. After all, homosexuals make up only between five (official) and ten (unofficial) percent of the population. That sounds like a little, but it is a lot. In Germany, however, that is extrapolated to the population of four to eight million homosexuals.
To get started, get some facts about homosexuality that will make it easier for you to deal with when your child opens up to you being homosexual:
- Homosexuality is not a disease, but a predisposition to be born with. There are always a few “psychologists” or other saviors who claim that homosexuality is “curable” or homosexuals can be “turned around”, but this is nothing but charlatanism with which some people try to take the money out of worried or stubborn parents to pull the bag. You are gay or lesbian like you are blonde or brown-haired.
- Most boys, for example, recognize relatively early that they are different from the others, but often do not know exactly what is different now. Even if they know, it usually takes a while to actually say it, and even longer for many to tell others, especially parents. They are afraid of hurting the parents and are unsure about their reaction.
- Education cannot change whether someone is gay or not. Homosexuality is not educated. It’s just there. In this respect, no overpowering mother or a nonexistent father is to blame. You can’t educate anyone to be gay.
- Homosexuals are in private and professional life generally as successful as heterosexuals. Sometimes they find it a little more difficult because they have to deal with prejudice, but many emerge from it stronger.
- Homosexuals differ fundamentally from heterosexuals only in their sexual orientation. In principle, however, is this a private matter or do you as parents ask your heterosexual children about their sexual practices? Do you care if your heterosexual son has special sexual preferences? Certainly not. So you shouldn’t really care what your gay child is doing in bed.
- Heterosexuals and homosexuals are equally affected by the immunodeficiency disease AIDS. You can protect yourself against this by using condoms. It is the responsibility of parents to make the importance of protection clear to all of their children.
There are no general signs that a child is homosexual. However, there are some things you can often see. Above all, this includes behavior in the circle of friends and towards parents. Anyone who discovers that he is gay, or suspects it, is initially unsettled, equally to schoolmates, friends and parents. No one can be sure about the reaction from anyone. So he withdraws, waits or looks for a new circle of friends if he already has contacts with other homosexuals. On the other hand, many adolescents withdraw from their parents anyway during puberty. They start to cut themselves off and live their own lives.
If you assume that your son or daughter is homosexual, but have no certainty and shy away from asking directly, it is best to signal that homosexuality is not an abnormality for you. You can do this, for example, by bringing the conversation to a gay colleague or a lesbian actress. It is important that you speak positively about homosexuality. Express that a person’s way of life and sexual inclination have nothing to do with their character.
When you ask your child, ask your question so that he or she can dodge without lying if the child doesn’t want to reveal itself to you yet. So not “are you gay / lesbian?” But “I’ve noticed recently that you don’t get a visitor anymore and often go out alone. I thought about what the reasons might be and I just wanted to talk to you about it. ”You will notice from the reaction whether you can go deeper into the conversation. If your child feels pressured, you can offer to postpone the conversation.
“Mom, Dad, I’m gay / lesbian”
How should parents behave when they hear this sentence from their son or daughter? The most important thing is to reassure your child that you love them, whether gay, lesbian or not. The child needs to know that it is and remains your child. Otherwise you should keep calm. Nobody expects you to cheer for joy at such an opening, not even your child. On the contrary, it will probably be very unsafe and may have struggled with it for a long time before giving you this admission. Perhaps it also struggles with its own fate. It will understand if you say, for example: “This is very surprising for me. I have to think about it first. Let’s talk more about it tomorrow. But whether you’re gay or not doesn’t change the fact that you’re my child and I’m behind you. ”
This gives you time to be clear about your reaction, to inform yourself if necessary or with a familiar people to talk about. The worst thing parents can do is to reject the child. You may not believe it, but there are still parents today whose reactions go so far as to send the son or daughter out of the house. These children inevitably end up on the street, and especially gay boys, unless they can find other help, on the street. Some see suicide as the only way out when the family rejects them.
This is how parents can help
- Save up You at the Educating their children about homosexuality. Your children need to know that you can view homosexuality as normal and they can talk to you about it.
- Don’t hide it when you’re surprised, but be sure to assure your child that you still love them no matter where their sexual preferences lie.
- Be patient and do not put your own questions in the foreground, but the questions and difficulties of your child.
- Girls and young women are more sensitive to children than men. Use it carefully if the conversation comes up.
- The white wedding and kids are not the first topic to discuss – wait for it to be addressed.
- Avoid wisdom like "only the right one has to come" or "you are still so young, it will be fine". Many think that a lesbian woman is only lesbian until the right man comes, but that is just wishful thinking of poorly informed parents.
Even if you find yourself unable to cope with the situation, you can make this clear to your child without violating it. Be honest and admit it and seek professional help, for example with family counseling or with a parent group. There are now groups for the parents of homosexual children.
Wedding couple with mother
At the end of this article you will find corresponding addresses where you can find more information.
And another tip
If you are reading this text and have already put your gay child out the door, give your heart a push and bring it back, or at least try to fix the relationship. However, only openness helps. Admit that you acted rashly and became victims of your own prejudices. Your child will probably accept it if you change your behavior accordingly.
What to do with gossip?
When word gets around that someone in the family, neighborhood or circle of friends is homosexual, there is inevitable gossip. The best way to deal with gossip is with openness and truth. If you notice that there is gossip in the family or among friends, acquaintances and neighbors, do not remain silent, but go on the offensive. Ask what exactly it is about, where does the information that the gossipers / gossipers come from and try to approach the subject matter-of-factly. Make it clear to the gossipers / gossipers that the relationship between you and your son or daughter has not changed due to their homosexuality.
Certainly it can happen that one or the other neighbor, friend, uncle Otto or aunt Emma, despite all attempts to educate, cannot be convinced. In this case, you should set priorities as difficult as possible.
Important: It makes sense to tackle gossip. However, this does not mean that the parents should be the ones who tell the world that the child is homosexual. It is solely up to the person concerned, whom he wants to trust and who not. If you are unsure who he or she said, ask.
The website of the Federal Association of Parents, Friends and Relatives of Homosexuals e.V. Here you will find information on everything that moves you when you are directly confronted with homosexuality for the first time and the addresses of local parent groups.
Federal Center for Health Education, Advice and Brochures
Here you will also find the addresses of local aid organizations, advice and brochures
Gay and lesbian associations have come together on this page and provide detailed information on the subject of homosexuality.
A site especially for lesbians. There are book recommendations, chat rooms, etc. – everything about lesbian life
Further contributions by the co-author here in our family handbook
Maximilian Geißler, born in 1963, is a part-time author, and himself homosexual.
Andrea Przyyclingk, born in 1957, is a freelance journalist and author. She lives near Stuttgart.
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