Emily Rizzo

October 1997


Q. I m a 15 year old gay guy who recently met a guy on the Internet. He is 20. We're in love. I gave him my phone number and he gave me his pager number, so I page him and tell him when to call me. A couple weeks ago, his server went down and he couldn't e-mail me. So he called me to let me know that he couldn't e-mail me and that he was OK. My dad happened to be home and we picked up the phone at the same time. He told me to hang up the phone, and said to never talk to this guy again. He said that this guy was a pervert who was just looking for a young boy to prey on. He just assumed this guy is a pervert and he doesn't even know the guy. I still talk to him, though. I page him and he calls me whenever I'm home alone. Fortunately, I get my driver's license soon, and I'll have a little more freedom. I plan to meet him in November. I'll be working at a cat show (I love cats), and he'll meet me there. That is, if our plans work. I m going to meet him in a public place to be safe, and then we're going out to dinner.

Could it be that my dad knows that I'm gay and he doesn't want me to have a boyfriend and have gay sex? Is he trying to protect me somehow from living the gay lifestyle?

One more question. I had sex with a 30 year old guy three times, and my boyfriend says that it's my parents' fault because they try to protect me from the gay world. And that makes me just do opposite of what they want. Is that true? I never even thought about going against my parents. But could I subconsciously be thinking that?

Thanks for your help,

Frustrated with homophobic parents

A. Dear Frustrated,

Well, I'm going to answer you as a parent, although I don't consider myself homophobic, so you may not like my answer.

First of all, I think you're too young to be having sex. So sue me -- I'm old-fashioned, but I think there's a lot to be said for waiting until you are older than 15. At that age you are still figuring out who you are (not just your sexuality), you aren't fully grown up yet and you're still vulnerable. Incidentally, this has nothing to do with your being gay; I'd be saying the same thing if you were straight!

Second, I think your Dad might be right to be a little suspicious -- perhaps cautious would be a better word, though. There are a lot of creepy people out there and you never really know who is behind that screen (did I ever tell you I had six legs, scales and huge fangs?). So by all means meet him but I think you are wise to do so in a public place.

As for your father suspecting that you are gay, well, it's a distinct possibility. That doesn't make him necessarily homophobic so much as over-protective. You know, parents really do worry about their children; it's something that never stops even when they are grown up and on their own. As one father said at my last PFLAG meeting "I wish I'd been able to lock my kids in the house all day long when they were growing up to protect them from all the harmful things out there, but I knew that wasn't possible so we compromised between the freedom they wanted and the control I wanted." Incidentally, he's the very proud and loving father of a lesbian daughter.

Now let's get back to your father. Suppose he really is homophobic and is terrified that his son is going to be "recruited" by some ancient pervert age 20. You have to ask yourself a few questions. At age 15 are you ready to come out to your parents? How difficult will be it be for you when they find out you are gay? Is there a danger that they will throw you out of the house or make your life totally miserable? If so, you might want to consider keeping quiet for a few more years until you are out of the house or at least no longer quite so dependent on them. It's really your call.

A recent survey published in the September 5th issue of the Washington Blade found that 60% of parents polled said they would be okay with the news that their child is gay. Now I know from experience that even those who think they are liberal and gay-friendly can still go through an emotional roller coaster when it is their child who comes out. Still, it's an optimistic figure and it means life is going to be a lot easier for the gay and lesbian kids coming out in the future.

As for your friend's psychological theory -- I'm no professional but it sounds a bit cracked to me. If the theory sounds like horse cobblers to you too then I wouldn't give it too much credence. Personally, I think many people are too quick to blame others rather than taking responsibility for themselves. Do you think your parents made you gay? I've never met a gay person who believed that one! So why would you think your parents "made" you have gay sex?

In my opinion, a large part of growing up is learning to accept responsibility for your own actions, not seeking to put the blame on someone else. Sure, we don't always get dealt a fair hand, but part of life is learning to make the best of what we've got.

Feel free to send in your questions directly to Emily Rizzo at er5@nyu.edu.

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